Reviews: A Lytle Baton Rouge history

Turkish Bazaars on Main Street, grand steamboats chugging down the Mississippi River—you’ve never seen Baton Rouge like this before.

Andrew David Lytle, a well-respected commercial photographer, captured Baton Rouge like no other. Originally from Ohio, Lytle spent 60 years in Baton Rouge and produced thousands of photographs. In fact, the photos taken by Lytle Studio provide one of the only visual accounts depicting life in Baton Rouge in the 19th century.

Editor Mark E. Martin’s new book, Andrew D. Lytle’s Baton Rouge: Photographs, 1863-1910, published by LSU Press, offers readers a chance to see Baton Rouge through Lytle’s lens. Unfortunately, many of Lytle’s glass-plate negatives are gone forever, shattered by his heirs who reportedly threw them down a dry well, unaware of what they were destroying. This amazing volume preserves approximately 120 of the remaining images.

Arranged thematically, Martin offers a unique look at daily life in Baton Rouge from the 1860s to the early 1900s, showing everything from prison life to social life. Mixed in with the mundane, Lytle manages to capture moments of great importance in the city’s history, as well as documenting long-term changes.

An exhibition is scheduled in conjunction with the release of the book this month. Lytle’s photographs will be on display at Hill Memorial Library from March 31 through June 28. Martin is also scheduled to speak at 3 p.m. April 6. A photo demonstration will precede his talk.