What City is This?
Update: January 6: A reader from Virginia notes that the structure with the tower looks a lot like the Old Northampton County Courthouse in Easton, Pennsylvania. It sure does. Perhaps more indicative, the structure immediately to the left of it matches the original entrance to the Northampton County Prison, next door. The prison was completed in 1871, which would date this image to sometime after that. If this identification is correct, and I believe it is, this view is looking roughly southwest from the hill where part of Lafayette College now stands, overlooking Bushkill Creek and Highway 22, the Lehigh Valley Thruway.
Well done! Thanks!
The Library of Congress has this image identified as Richmond, Virginia, and I’m pretty certain that’s wrong. Although there are some broad similarities between Richmond and the town in the photograph, the details are all wrong. Civil War-era images of Richmond are full of easily-identifiable landmarks, but none match this town. Folks who actually live in Richmond seem to agree — it’s not their city.
So what town is it? You can view a high-res version here. We discussed this over at Civil War Talk, and ran through a lot of possibilities — Vicksburg, Memphis, Nashville, Petersburg — none of them has a match for the building on the hill at left. I’m not even sure this is in the South — something about this says New England or upstate New York to me, but I could be wrong about that.
I’m not interested in running down folks’ guesses — done that already — so if you think you’ve got the answer, post a link to the evidence in the comments. For sure, somebody recognizes this town.