CLIFTON -- For an English major with no formal art training, Sandra Giordano is doing well for herself in the world of photography.
Giordano, 38, shot the photographs for her new book, "Clifton: Then and Now," the latest in a series on city history.
The book features historical photographs of Clifton buildings and parks a century ago compared side by side with their present-day counterparts.
In "Then and Now" Giordano details some of the ornate architecture of Clifton's downtown buildings.
"When you live here all your life, you walk past these buildings on Main Street and don't notice them," she said.
Released last week, the book is the third volume about Clifton in Arcadia Publishing's "Images of America" series (those sepia-toned paperbacks stacked in the history section of Barnes & Noble). While the previous two tomes, "Clifton" and "Clifton: The Boomtown Years," focused primarily on the city of yore, Giordano's book takes a look at what has and hasn't changed around town.
Before Corrado's came to town, for instance, the Fairyland amusement park used to occupy the supermarket's Main Avenue location.
"Fairies in blue tutus would stand by the entrance," said Giordano. "It didn't last very long."
Giordano landed the book deal after responding to a call for proposals on the Arcadia Web site. The editors liked what they saw, and gave her a template for the book and a year to write it.
For the freelance writer and former middle school English teacher, churning out the text was the easy part. Digging up quality historical photographs, though, was a challenge -- until she got some expert help.
"[Passaic city historian] Mark Auerbach kind of came out of the woodwork while I was working on the book," Giordano said. Auerbach was able to hook her up with an array of photographs and postcards, as well as old-timers eager to share their memories of Clifton. Her research gave her a new perspective on the city.
The book project also let her sneak in a few shots of her kids.
"I tried to recreate the old pictures as much as possible," said Giordano. Several of the historical photos featured children, so Giordano trotted out Joseph, 5, and Christina, 8, to pose in the same locales as their 19th-century counterparts. Doing so helped break up the summer days that Giordano dragged the pair around Clifton to get her "now" shots.