They’re also important historical documents. "Researchers almost never think of postcards as sources of visual information," McCoy says. "But often the only place you can find photos of a business is on a postcard."
For example, check out this postcard from the Casino Royal, a Chinese restaurant and hot night spot in the 1950s. On the back, comedian Cal Claude scribbled a message about his performance there with Nat King Cole in 1955.
McCoy visits the sites of his favorite postcards years later. By the 1980s, the Casino Royal was an adult entertainment theater and was heavily damaged in a 1985 fire.
The "Palais Royal" card, promoting a "dry goods and fancy goods" department store downtown, dates from 1907. McCoy says the original building was demolished in the 1990s, he visited the site to find an office building that copied the arched entrances of the Palais Royal.