Spotlight: Aerial Photography of Woodstock Festival Site

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the iconic Woodstock Music Festival, which took place August 15-18, 1969 at a farm near Bethel, New York. The festival, billed as three days of peace and music, drew nearly half a million attendees and has become legendary in American history.

Although the Special Media Division doesn’t hold notable records directly related to this event, the Cartographic Branch does hold aerial photography that shows what would eventually become the site of the festival. This aerial image, from June 9, 1942, is found within Record Group (RG) 373, Records of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and shows the rural fields and pastures that would eventually host this legendary event.

Aerial photographic exposure showing the Woodstock Festival Site near Bethel, New York. This is the entire exposure. RG 373, DN5383, Exposure 116 (Spot Number: 03A-0556). Dated June 9, 1942.

Although taken over 20 years before the iconic festival occurred, the area remained rural in 1969. The concert site was located at the crossroads just below the Filippini Pond, near the center of the exposure. The image below has been cropped and edited to show concert stage location and the concert field.

Woodstock Festival Area
Cropped and labeled version of the 1942 aerial image showing the locations of a few landmarks associated with the Woodstock Music Festival. This image was created from RG 373, DN5383, Exposure 116 (Spot Number: 03A-0556). Dated June 9, 1942.

The Cartographic Branch holds millions of aerial photographic prints and negatives covering large areas of the United States and also many foreign areas. For more information on researching aerial photography held by the Cartographic Branch, see our other blog posts:

Researching Aerial Photography of the United States : RG 145 Aerial Indexes Now Digitized

Researching Foreign Aerial Photography

Researching Foreign Aerial Photography – Captured German Aerial Prints


2 thoughts on “Spotlight: Aerial Photography of Woodstock Festival Site

  1. This is VERY cool! I spent most of the weekend explaining to folks where the original stage was and told them to use West Shore Road and the tree line which hasn’t changed much in 50 years as reference

  2. The upper left hand corner of Exposure 116 also shows Max Yasgur’s house prior to his purchase of the farm from Mel Stevenson circa 1963.

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