Tom Allison sat in his California hotel room and looked over a negative he had found earlier that day.
He knew he recognized the image, but he was having trouble identifying it.
Allison is no stranger to distinguishing old photographs. It’s what he does for a living through his website, missingphotographs.com. He goes to antique stores and yard sales and buys old photos. Then, he works with ancestry.com and people looking for pictures of their family members to see if any of the photos he’s found match. If they do, he sells copies of the photos.
He has about 250,000 old photographs in his collection.
Last year, Allison went to California for his brother’s 50th wedding anniversary celebration. While there, he was looking through a box of photos and saw a U.S. Geographical Society negative image of a map.
He doesn’t usually work with negatives, but something about this one captivated him. It was an aerial shot from 1969. He bought it with a group of photos and took the lot back to his hotel room.
“What intrigued me was I just knew that I knew this image,” he said. “I knew this river that was in it, and I started looking at it, and it was the Hillsborough River.”
The image ended up being an aerial view of Temple Terrace.
“How it got into that collection, I don’t know,” Allison said.
Allison made a copy of the image and superimposed city streets on it. He also added maps that relate to where the photo was taken as a key at the bottom of the image. On Tuesday evening, he presented the framed photo to the Temple Terrace City Council.
“I thought it would be nice for the Temple Terrace city to have a copy of it,” he told council members.
The picture will be displayed in the lobby of City Hall, said Councilman and Vice Mayor Ron Govin.
“Just a keen eye on this gentleman found it where anybody else would have skipped right over it,” Govin said.
“Thank you very much.”