Category Archives: Old New York In Photos

Series: Old New York In Photos

Old New York In Photos #128 – Madison Avenue & 26th Street 1870s

Two Photographs At 26th Street & Madison Avenue c. 1870 & 1875

This first stereoview photograph was taken by the pioneering New York photography firm E. & H.T. Anthony around 1870.

We are looking west from the southwest corner of 26th Street and Madison Avenue. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #127 – Bridge Of Sighs To The Tombs Prison

Bridge Of Sighs Connects The Tombs and Criminal Courthouse- c. 1905

Bridge of sighs over Tombs Prison photo Detroit PublishingWe are looking west from Centre Street to Franklin Street. Spanning Franklin Street is the Bridge of Sighs connecting the Manhattan Criminal Courts Building to the City Prison also known as The Tombs.

The name Bridge of Sighs comes from a bridge built in 1600 in Venice, Italy connecting the Doge’s Palace and the New Prison. The dubious story is that prisoners being transported from interrogation at the Doge’s Palace to prison would sigh when crossing the bridge upon seeing beautiful Venice.

The origin of the name “The Tombs” is tainted in apocrypha. Old prison guards at the original tombs building claimed that when the building first opened so many inmates committed suicide while in confinement that the prison was nicknamed The Tombs.

Original Tombs prison in 1895, Criminal Courts Building in background

By The Book

The truth is much simpler. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #126 – Times Square 1906

Times Square 1906  – The New Hotel Astor, Olympia Theatre & Surroundings

Times Square New Astor HotelThis stereoview image of Times Square was taken by the H.C. White Company in 1906. Before The New York Times moved their headquarters here it was called Long Acre Square.

The view is titled, “New Astor Hotel and 20 story Times Building.” We are looking south from 46th Street towards the New York Times Tower. The flatiron-style building opened in 1905. The building was mutilated in 1965 when purchased by Allied Chemical. Today it is unrecognizable after it was altered again in the twenty first century to become a giant garish billboard.

Hotel Astor

On the right is the 500 room Hotel Astor comprising 14 city lots from 44th to 45th Street where Broadway and Seventh Avenue intersect. The 10-story Hotel Astor cost owner William Waldorf Astor over $7 million to build and furnish. The land was purchased decades earlier as farmland  by his great-grandfather John Jacob Astor for $100 an acre. The Grand Ballroom was a baroque masterpiece.

Hotel Astor Grand Ballroom interior 1904

After some labor related delays Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #125 – Singer Building At Night

A Sight You’ll Never See – The Singer Building At Night – 1913

Here is the Singer Building Tower in 1913 with its office lights ablaze in a photograph taken by Underwood and Underwood. The adjacent smaller towers to the right belong to the City-Investing Building.

For less than a year between 1908 -1909, the Singer Building, designed by Ernest Flagg, was the tallest in the world. The Metropolitan Life Insurance Building completed in 1909 took the tallest title away.

This magnificent New York City skyscraper vanished less than 60 years after its completion. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #124 – Central Park & The Dakota 1889

Central Park On A Sunny Day In 1889

It is 1889 and we are looking west across Central Park on 72nd Street towards the Dakota flats apartment building. Unlike today, there are no bicycle lanes, rollerbladers or joggers on the roadway. And the park seems to be bereft of crowds. But the photograph, taken by the Albertype Co., does record a view in which all the elements seen are still present over 130 years later.

In 2021 there are still mounted police patrolling Central Park. Behind this mounted policeman a horse drawn carriage ambles crosstown.

The policeman observes the small group on the sidewalk who have stopped to gaze at the cameraman taking the picture. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #123 – 110th St. Elevated Curve

The 110th Street Elevated Curve of the Ninth Avenue Elevated c. 1905

Elevated train on curve at 110th Street New York City photo: Keystone-Mast Collection, UCR/California Museum of Photography, University of California, RiversideWe see here the dramatic 110th Street “suicide” curve of the El at Eighth Avenue (Central Park West) from around 1905. From this vantage point a great view of the city could be had for the price of the El’s fare – a nickel.

Above 53rd Street the Sixth and Ninth Avenue Elevated lines combined their tracks to run along Ninth Avenue. When the tracks reached 110th Street, they turned east on to Eighth Avenue  continuing into Harlem.

The “S” shape curve was set at a dizzying 60 feet above street level to reach the plateau of Harlem Heights at an acceptable grade. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #121 – Columbus Circle 1947

Columbus Circle September 1947

Columbus Circle 1947 Keystone-Mast Collection, UCR/California Museum of Photography, University of California at Riverside

Columbus Circle 1947 photo: Keystone-Mast Collection, UCR/California Museum of Photography

Our scene shows Columbus Circle looking south from Broadway and 60th Street towards 8th Avenue.

In the foreground are two examples of the iron and glass subway kiosks providing graceful entrances and exits to the original subway. By the late-1960s all the ornamental kiosks were removed by the city. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #120 – Queensboro Bridge 1917

Upper Level Of The Queensboro Bridge – 1917

This view was taken by an official city photographer June 26, 1917 documenting New York’s infrastructure. The Queensboro was the first cantilever bridge over the East River. The photo is unusual because Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #119 – View From The Roof Of The Flatiron Building c. 1910

The View From The Roof Of The Flatiron Building c. 1910

Madison Square From Flatiron Building Keystone-Mast Collection, UCR/California Museum of Photography, University of California at RiversideNew York photographers around the turn-of-the-century were always looking for unique vantage points to shoot from.

Here the Keystone Co. photographer went up to the roof of the Flatiron Building and took this shot around 1910. The gentleman in the foreground could be the photographer’s assistant. As the intrepid hatless man dangles his legs over the edge of the roof, we see the northeast cityscape.

A Good View Of The Buildings Along Lower Madison Avenue

In the foreground the trees of Madison Square Park can be seen. To the extreme right on Madison Avenue is the Metropolitan Life Building, the tallest building in the world from 1909-1913.

Next in our photo the building with the dome is the new Madison Square Presbyterian Church.

Metropolitan Life acquired the original Madison Square Presbyterian Church on the southeast corner of 24th Street in 1903 intending to build their new skyscraper Continue reading