PEABODY — Traffic in Peabody Square isn't what it used to be.
Long before the turn of the century, the streets leading to and from the center of Peabody were congested not with cars, but trolleys, horse-drawn carriages and pedestrians.
Bill Power, author and Peabody Historical Society president, takes readers on a historical journey through Tanner City's past and present with his latest book, "Then & Now: Peabody."
Power takes century-old black-and-white photos and compares them to pictures of present-day Peabody. The contrast is a journey of history, preservation and change —not always for the better.
The book is an expanded version of Power's local newspaper series of the same name. The author said he wanted to show people how the city's historical landscape had changed.
"I think every time we lose a building, we lose something," Power said.
The book is visually driven, with photos on nearly every one of its 96 glossy pages. Power weaves the old and new with captions filled with historical tidbits about the buildings, streets and people of the city.
Power tried his best to snap the contemporary photos from the same point of view as the original. He often stood in the middle of busy roads to get the right shot and endured more than a few insults from drivers trying to avoid him.
The work is better for it. The cover photos are a prime example of Power's compare and contrast work.
Turn onto Elm Street from Central Street today, and drivers travel down a mostly unremarkable road lined with homes and businesses.
About 175 years ago, the unpaved thoroughfare was lined with tall, shady trees as far as the eye could see and quaint white fences marked off one house from the next. A sign hanging from the building is for the long gone George W. Pepper, wholesale confectioner, America's first candy company.
Power is also a realist. He knows not every building can be kept forever.
"I mean, you can't save everything," he said. "You can still appreciate the loss."
The book was released March 31 from local history publishing house Arcadia Publishing. It's his second title for Arcadia. He wrote "Peabody in Vintage Photos" in 2002.
"Then and Now: Peabody" is available for $19.99 at D&R Market on Foster Street, 7-Eleven, Walgreens and the Historical Society's headquarters at 35 Washington St., as well as the local Barnes & Noble and Borders stores.