Renaissance painters used principles of perspective to imagine what
cities looked like from above, but no one knew for sure until
photographer James Wallace Black went up over Boston in a hot-air
balloon in 1860. The military saw beyond the entertainment factor, and
northern photographers in hot-air balloons were soon tracking
Confederate troops. Black’s fascination with lofty views proved
prescient: 150 years later, Google has taken a similar adventure via
Google Earth, the satellite-imagery program that lets you view aerial
scenery of the entire planet — and the moon, too. Sadly, Black’s next
innovation lacked that staying power. He became the authority on the
candelight-powered projector, a forefather of the slide projector. — BS
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