6 Drawings Of New York Unseen For Over 100 Years By Vernon Howe Bailey
Obscure publications can yield hidden gems. These drawings by famed artist Vernon Howe Bailey appeared in the Illuminating Engineer in 1911 and as far as can be determined have not been reproduced since then.
Vernon Howe Bailey (1874-1953) was a prodigious illustrator whose work appeared primarily in newspapers and magazines.
He eventually made his way to the New York Sun newspaper in the 1920s where he captured New York’s architecture and streets with exquisite on-the-spot illustrations.
Eventually a good deal of Bailey’s New York City work was compiled in a book called Magical City. These illustrations were not included in that book. So for the first time in over 100 years here are Vernon Howe Bailey’s renderings of New York City in 1911.
As these illustrations were intended for a magazine promoting electric lighting, you will notice that electric light fixtures appear rather prominently in each illustration.
The Harlem Speedway, where wealthy New Yorker’s used to take out their horse drawn carriages for a spirited run, was eventually incorporated into the highway that became the Harlem River Drive.
The Washington Bridge spans the Harlem River at 181st Street just north of Highbridge. Completed in 1888, Washington Bridge stands today minus the fancy lamps and bridge hut in the foreground.
Over the water portion of the bridge, the beautiful sidewalk fence hand sculpted of granite posts and rails now has a high, ugly curved metal fence in front of it to prevent deviants from throwing objects off the bridge. Cars cannot see the original fence because there is a concrete barrier separating traffic from the sidewalk. They wouldn’t want to see it anyway – almost every post is covered with unintelligible graffiti scrawls.
The main branch of the New York Public Library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street is shown here. Automobile traffic is relatively heavy. Were there this many electric lights as Bailey portrays in the illustration? They seem to stretch infinitely.
Pell Street in the heart of Chinatown. Is there a Chinese restaurant that still serves “chop suey?”
Labeled upper Seventh Avenue, this illustration depicts Harlem somewhere above 100th Street on what is now more commonly called Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard.