Category Archives: Old New York In Photos

Series: Old New York In Photos

Old New York In Photos #65

The New York Times Tower Building Under Construction – 1904

New York Times Building under constructionRecently I had the misfortune of passing through Times Square, now a symbol of the mall-ification of New York.

Dead center, standing at 42nd Street where Broadway and Seventh Avenue diverge is the mutilated former New York Times Tower Building. The iconic building that gave Times Square its name, is now basically an electronic billboard. Before The New York Times moved from Park Row to their new headquarters, this area was known as Longacre Square. We covered the history of the building in a previous story.

What was once a classic building has become emblematic of the entire area. Times Square now means: chain stores, thick crowds moving s-l-o-w-l-y and solicitors every five feet hawking something. Then there’s a bunch of beggars in costumes who somehow get paid by having chump tourists hand over money to take a picture with them.

Our photograph from above shows the New York Times Building in the midst of construction in 1904.  The George A. Fuller Construction Company advertises that they are erecting the new skyscraper. The Fuller Company put up a similar building on a triangular plot two years previous to this at 23rd Street, the much beloved Fuller Building, better known as the Flatiron Building. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #64

Gracie Square, 84th Street and East End Avenue 1949

1949 East End Ave 84th Street 1

1949 East End Ave 84th Street 2

1949 East End Ave 84th Street 3This sequence of photos from 1949 show a car coming down East 84th Street and entering 110 Gracie Square.

The stills are from the movie East Side, West Side starring Van Heflin, Barbara Stanwyck and James Mason.

The vantage point from the dead end of East 84th Street is one you will rarely see in old photos of New York. The wall in the foreground marks one of the entrances to Carl Schurz Park.

Nearly seven decades later the changes in this view are minimal.

84th Street Google 2009Some of the canopy’s to the buildings along Gracie Square are gone. 110 Gracie Square was renumbered for the film, it is really 10 Gracie Square, one of the most exclusive co-op buildings in the city. Built in 1930 as a rental building, famous past residents include Gloria Vanderbilt, conductor Leopold Stokowski (Vanderbilt’s husband), New York Times editor and author Charles Merz, and theater critic and author Alexander Woollcott. A five bedroom penthouse apartment has been on the market for over two years. Why so long? The original price tag was $23 million. Currently the asking price will only set you back $15 million, but be prepared for the monthly maintenance charges of $16,747. In 1937 the building went into foreclosure and the entire building was sold for $450,000!

The building seen in the first two photographs on the northwest corner of 84th Street and East End Avenue is the Chapin School, Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #63

Herald Square 1895

Herald Square Herald Building elevated 34th Street 1895 photo JS Johnston New York City commercial photographer John S. Johnston took this photo a few minutes before 1:00 pm on a lively day in 1895. We are looking north from 33rd Street where Sixth Avenue and Broadway converge to form Herald Square.

This vantage point from the Sixth Avenue Elevated station’s platform was a favorite for many photographers in the 19th century.

In the center stands the New York Herald newspaper building. The paper had just moved from Park Row to its new headquarters designed by McKim Mead and White in 1894.

A train is about to pull into the Sixth Avenue Elevated 33rd Street Station. Trolleys and horse drawn carriages share Broadway’s wide street and the sidewalks are crowded with pedestrians.

The large painted advertisement on the side of its building marks the eight story Hotel Normandie which was completed in 1884 and located at Broadway and 38th Street.

Years after our photograph of Herald Square was taken, the Hotel Normandie received a new advertising sign, but not for advertising the hotel.

On June 18, 1910 the Hotel Normandie unveiled one of the largest moving illuminated advertising signs in the world on its roof. The sign showed a Roman chariot race with three chariots appearing to race one another speeding around an arena. The sign had 20,000 white and colored lights and astounded crowds of people who gawked at its illusion of movement.

Hotel Normandie Chariot Race Sign photo: Byron Co. via MCNY collection Hotel Normandie Chariot Race Sign frame and truss photo: Byron Co. via MCNY collection Advertising sign Hotel Normandie

From the photograph above Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #62

Lower Manhattan As Seen From The Brooklyn Bridge Tower – c. 1905

View Manhattan From Brooklyn Bridge tower circa 1905 locThis unusual view was taken from the top of the New York tower of the Brooklyn Bridge around 1905. Lower Manhattan is in transition from low rise buildings to the ever increasing number of skyscrapers dotting the landscape.

We see smoke rising from many chimneys. Elevated trains make their way across the Brooklyn Bridge while many pedestrians use the bridge’s center walkway.

Near the waterfront atop a building, the Uneeda Biscuit Company billboard is conspicuously advertising one of the most popular turn-of-the-century brands right next to the heavily trafficked bridge.

Postcard Brooklyn Bridge transportation terminal hub on Park Row c. 1905

Postcard Brooklyn Bridge transportation terminal shed on Park Row c. 1905

At the end of the bridge on Park Row, the four and a half story shed structure is the transportation center also called Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #61

Broadway At Night – 1911

Broadway Times Square at night 1911

Photograph 1 Times Square at night

The glow of streetlights wash out some portions of this interesting view of Broadway looking south from 43rd Street in Times Square. But for the most part, many details can be seen in this unusual nighttime view taken by The Detroit Photo Company. There was no date associated with the picture at the Library of Congress which archives the Detroit Photo Company’s holdings; it is listed as circa 1900-1915. So how can narrow down an approximate date?

The main clue is in the marquee of George M. Cohan’s Theatre on Broadway and 43rd Street which heralds the musical The Little Millionaire which ran from September 25, 1911 through March 9, 1912.

The other clues are the billboards posted on the building to the right of the Cohan theatre advertising Broadway productions; one proclaiming “It’s a Hitchcock Conquest”; another for Mrs. Fiske, and another for a drama called Bought and Paid For. Raymond Hitchcock’s play The Red Widow ran from November 6, 1911 to February 24, 1912. Bought and Paid For had a long run from September 26, 1911 until October 1912. But the advertisement that narrows the date down is for a musical titled Peggy which only ran from December 7, 1911 to January 6, 1912. Of course the advertisement could have remained up after the show had closed, but with ad space being valuable in Times Square, it is unlikely.

Checking the Library of Congress’ holdings we find a second similar photo almost certainly taken the same night of Times Square from 46th Street looking south,

Times Square at night 1911

Photograph 2 Times Square at night

A few more interesting things to notice while zooming in on the details of the second photograph: Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #60

Broadway on the Upper West Side Close-up Circa 1908

Details Of Life and Architecture From One Photograph

Broadway 70th closeup of people(Click to enlarge any of the photographs.)

From the Detroit Publishing Company comes a great photograph showing the busy thoroughfare of Broadway on the upper west side of Manhattan. The photo above is just one detailed portion of the main photograph (see below).

By zooming in we can clearly observe details otherwise unnoticed. We see three children taking in the sights of the city while riding in the back of an open horse drawn wagon. Pedestrians walk across the street without being too concerned about the light vehicular traffic. Notice the woman in the center of the photo holding up her dress slightly so it did not scrape the street. But it wasn’t just women who were careful: all New Yorkers had to be rather adept at avoiding horse urine and manure that littered the streets. On the right, horse waste can clearly be seen near the man stepping off the curb.

But where exactly are we on Broadway?

Here is the answer…

Broadway north from 70th streetWe are looking north on Broadway from 70th Street to about 79th Street. There are two main buildings that stand out in the photograph. On the right between 71st and 72nd Streets is The Dorilton, an exceptionally ornate apartment building by architects Janes & Leo, completed in 1902. On the left on the northwest corner of 73nd Street, just beyond the subway station, is the Ansonia Apartment Hotel completed in 1904.

Broadway 70th closeup subway station trolleyZooming in again on the details in the center portion of the photo, trolley number 3061 makes its way down Broadway, passing the  subway station of the IRT at 72nd Street. It appears workers are repairing or painting the doors leading to the station.

Now let’s look at some other details. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #59

Looking West Towards Sixth Avenue On 42nd Street – 1890s

42nd St looking west from Fifth Ave Dr. Parkhursts Church Horse Trolley 1889 ph HN TiemannWe are looking west along 42nd Street towards Sixth Avenue in a photograph taken sometime during the last decade of the 19th century.

A cropped version of this photograph appeared in the must own book New York Then & Now 83 Matching Photographic Views from 1864-1938 and from the 1970s by Edward B. Watson and Edmund V. Gillon (Dover) 1976.

42nd St looking west from Fifth Ave close up photo HN Tiemann

close-up of trolley

When published in the book the date was given as 1900, but on the original photograph (seen above) taken by the firm of H.N. Tiemann, the caption says 1889 and lists the church as Dr. Parkhurst’s. This is definitely incorrect as Parkhurst was presiding at the Madison Square Presbyterian Church. The building next door, the Spalding Building was not constructed until around 1890, so there is doubt as to the true date of the scene.

Rapid transit is on display in the form of a couple of horse drawn trolleys and the Sixth Avenue Elevated’s 42nd Street station in the background.

West Presbyterian Church 1897 photo Byron & Co via MCNY

West Presbyterian Church 1897 photo Byron & Co via MCNY

On the north side of the street is the West Presbyterian Church (built 1862, demolished 1911) Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #58

Panoramic View of Columbus Circle – 1904

Columbus Circle Trolley 1904 photo: National ArchivesThis phenomenal panoramic street level view of Columbus Circle comes via the National Archives. On their website it is misidentified as Eighth Avenue Trolley, (true – Eighth Avenue changes names to Central Park West) Downtown (which it certainly is not.) Click the photo to greatly enlarge.

We are looking north from 59th Street (Central Park South). The Columbus monument is not visible, but would be to the extreme left near where two gentlemen are standing in the street. Directly behind them are two subway kiosks for the entrance and exit of the soon to be opened New York City subway system.

Besides the subway, the new metropolis is emerging in other ways. An automobile is heading east towards Central Park South. To the left of the automobile, a trolley makes its way up Central Park West. To the left of the trolley is one of many horse drawn vehicles traveling up and down Broadway. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #57

Aerial View of Lower Manhattan – Late 1920s

Lower Manhattan from airplane looking south 1934In this aerial view looking south upon lower Manhattan in the late 1920s, the first thing you notice is the concentration of skyscrapers in lower Manhattan contrasted to the low profile tenements in the foreground that make up part of the lower east side.

There are also an abundance of piers along the East River, most of which have now vanished. Looking at the harbor, a large number of boats are active in the bay and on the Hudson River. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #56

Manhattan Looking North & West From Madison Square Garden Tower – 1893

view North and west from Madison Square Garden Tower 1893This photograph taken by the firm of H.N. Tiemann shows the emerging profile of New York around 1893. The tallest structures visible are mostly steeples of the many churches that are spread throughout Manhattan.

We are looking north and west from 26th Street between Fourth and Madison Avenues from the tower of Madison Square Garden, designed by architectural giants McKim, Mead & White in 1890.

Scottish Rite Hall photo Kings Handbook of New YorkBesides churches, there are two buildings that are prominent in the photo. One was a former church, in the center lower portion of the image, the Scottish Rite Hall with the steeple tower at the corner of 29th Street and Madison Avenue. The building Continue reading