Category Archives: Photography

Panoramic 360 Degree View of New York In 1892

360° Panoramic View of New York City From The New York World Building in 1892

Stitching together 10 separate photographs from King’s Handbook of New York City (1892) as best I could, this image gives us a 360 degree view of New York City.

Taken from atop Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World Building, you can get a sense of what the entire city looked like before the turn-of-the-century, when the skyscraper emerged and would forever alter the skyline. A golden dome topped Pulitzer’s Building with an observation gallery that gave the visitor the following view.

(click to get the full size view)

Probably the three most prominent points in the panorama are from left to right, the Post Office, City Hall and the Brooklyn Bridge.

City Hall & New York World Building c. 1908

At 309 feet, the World Building designed by George B. Post was the tallest office building in the world when completed in 1890.

Think about that for a minute. Just 26 floors. From the building’s foundation to the top of its flagstaff it measured 375½ feet. At the time that height was an outstanding architectural achievement.

The second floor of the beehive, as the interior of the dome of the World Building was known to its employees, also contained Joseph Pulitzer’s office.  Here is how the New York World described the top of its own building just after its completion: Continue reading

This Man Was The Last Living Veteran of The Civil War (Or So He Claimed)

Confederate Civil War Veteran Walter Williams in 1954 At Age 111

Austin, TEX – March 28, – Sports Race Fans: 111-year-old confederate veteran Walter Williams and his wife, sprightly 84-year-old Ella Mae, were paraded past the stands today at the National Sports Car Races at Bergstrom Air Force base. He flew here from his home in East Texas but Mrs. Williams decided she would come by auto. Williams was made honorary commander for the day (AP Wirephoto) 1954

111-years-old?

When Walter Williams died on December 19, 1959 at the reported age of 117, he was the last surviving veteran of the American Civil War (1861-1865).

Now if you have doubts that Walter Williams was really 117-years-old when he died, you are not alone. Scripps-Howard reporter Lowell Bridwell had his doubts and investigated Williams’ claim.

in September of 1959, Bridwell reported he could not find a shred of evidence corroborating Williams’ service or his age.  On the contrary, Bridwell found evidence that Williams was younger than he said. Bridwell discovered there were no records at the National Archives showing that Williams had served in the Confederate Army. But In Williams home state of Mississippi, their war archives listed a Walter Washington Williams as serving in the army a a private.

Walter Williams said he had used several different middle initials when he was younger.

Williams claimed that he was born in 1842. The 1860 U.S. census shows that Williams was age 5 in 1860 meaning he was born in November 1854.

If Williams had joined the army at the end of the war in 1864-1865 he would have been nine-years-old. Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #58 – Shirley Temple

Shirley Temple Does A Long Distance Interview 1935

“Miss Temple, Please!! London Calling”

Hollywood, Calif – Pictured between scenes during her recent picture, “The Littlest Rebel,” Shirley Temple, tiny 20th Century-Fox Star is interviewed by The London Illustrated News over trans-Atlantic telephone. 11-21-35 International News Photos

When 20th Century-Fox signed Shirley Temple to a contact in December of 1933 they were on the brink of bankruptcy, $44 million in debt. By 1934 Fox was out of bankruptcy, due almost single handedly to Temple who would go on to become the world’s number one box office star. Through the 1930s, Shirley Temple’s films earned more money for 20th Century-Fox than any of their other stars.

There  was the long held belief that Shirley Temple was the first choice to play Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (1939). This is only partially true.

If Fox studio chief Daryl F Zanuck had acquired the rights to the film the story, Temple almost certainly would have been the first choice to play Dorothy. But independent producer Samuel Goldwyn had acquired the Wizard of Oz’s film rights. In 1938 Goldwyn sold those right to MGM, not to Fox.

Fox discussed loaning out Temple to MGM to make the film. In exchange MGM would loan out Clark Gable, their biggest star to Fox. But MGM producer Mervyn LeRoy thought Judy Garland, with her superior singing voice, would be the better choice for Dorothy than Temple. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #73 – Jefferson Market Courthouse

Jefferson Market Courthouse, Greenwich Village – 1885

An 1897 book, The Greater New York Guide Book, Manhattan Historic and Artistic by Cynthia M. Westover Alden described the Jefferson Market Courthouse quite simply as “an irregular but unique and handsome structure, built of red brick and sandstone, in the Italian Gothic style.”

In 1885 at 9:25 in the morning according to the clock in its tower, James R. Osgood photographed the Jefferson Market Courthouse for American Architect and Building News.

Since originally being published, this crisp and clear photo has remained unseen for over 130 years.

This view looking southwest is one that has changed in 130 years. but would still be recognizable to any resident of Greenwich Village today. The courthouse still stands on its irregular plot of land at the intersection of Sixth Avenue and 10th Street and is the pride of Village residents.

When completed in 1877 by architect Frederick Clarke Withers, the Jefferson Market Courthouse was the epitome of stylish Victorian design. As can be seen in the photograph, surrounding the courthouse along 9th Street, Greenwich Avenue and part of 10th Street was the original Jefferson Market, which began functioning in 1832. The group of buildings housed butchers, fish peddlers and produce dealers. Over the years however, the market became home to a magistrate’s court, a women’s court and a series of cells to temporarily hold women prisoners.

The Jefferson Market was demolished in 1929 for a building that would become the Women’s House of Detention. While excavating on the site for the prison, the workers hit upon the Old Minetta Creek. A 25 foot diameter space quickly filled with 10 feet of water and several pumps were needed to drain the site. Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #57 – Cary Grant & Ginger Rogers

Cary Grant Never Won An Academy Award For Best Actor


The Academy Awards were held February 26, 2017. Millions of people watched. Millions more did not. The Oscars have been declining in TV viewership steadily over the years. It’s true that there are more choices to divert your entertainment time. But could it be that today’s stars don’t measure up to the stars of yesteryear and many people like myself could care less about the Academy Awards?

There are movie stars and then there are Movie Stars. Cary Grant was a Movie Star. Women fantasized about being with him and men wanted to be him.

In 1952 Cary Grant starred with Ginger Rogers (seen above) in Monkey Business, a zany comedy about a scientist (Grant) discovering a potion that when consumed will make you young again. An escaped chimpanzee is responsible for concocting the “successful” potion. The film also had Marilyn Monroe playing a sexy secretary. Monkey Business was made right before Marilyn’s  breakthrough film Niagara.

4/7/70 Hollywood – As singer Frank Sinatra claps for him, actor Cary Grant holds his hands as he accepts a special achievement award at the 42nd annual Academy award presentation at the Music Center. The Board of Governors of the Academy voted the special award for Grant. photo: UPI Telephoto

Cary Grant was nominated only twice for Best Actor in a leading role; Penny Serenade (1941) and None But The Lonely Heart (1944), neither of which are among his best films. Continue reading

10 Things About New York in 1892 That You Didn’t Know

From An 1892 Guidebook – 10 Things You Didn’t Know About New York

14th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues in 1892 photo: KIng’s Handbook of New York

Some of these facts are pretty interesting:

The New York Post Office handled over 600,000,000 pieces of mail matter annually. That may not be so amazing. What is amazing is that they had an annual profit of $3 million dollars!

Trinity Church is part of Trinity Parish. The Parish was the richest in America. Income from its real estate and other holdings amounted to over $500,000 annually

It was free to walk over the 9-year-old Brooklyn Bridge. Vehicles had to pay a toll of 3 cents each way.

At Centre and Franklin Streets stood the City Prison, better known as The Tombs, because of the architectural resemblance to Egyptian tombs. Before the death by electrocution law went into effect in 1889, all condemned murderers sentenced to death by the New York courts were executed in the Tombs. Continue reading

New York City – Madison Square in 1903 and 1958

Two Views of New York’s Historic Madison Square Taken From the Flatiron Building 1903 & 1958

The New York Daily News used to do a feature, where they showed an old photograph of New York and had a modern photograph of the same scene.

From the newly completed Flatiron Building, here is Madison Square from about 1903.

Madison Square Garden and its tower are in the center of the photo. Brownstones and mostly low-rise buildings surround the Madison Square neighborhood. There are so few tall buildings that you can see the East River off in the distance. The building with the columns at the bottom of the photo is the Appellate Division courthouse. A small corner of Madison Square Park can be seen in the lower left,

Fast forward about 55 years and the changes are dramatic.

Daily News photographer David McLane had access from a similar vantage point in the Flatiron Building to take this photograph circa 1958. Continue reading

Covers of 100-Year-Old Souvenir New York View Books

New York City Souvenir View Book Covers From 1911 – 1919

New York of To-Day published by L.H. Nelson 1913

According to NYC & Company over 58 million people visited New York City in 2015. Many of them possibly bought a keepsake to bring back home; a t-shirt, mug or some other knick-knack.

Souvenirs have remained a constant in the world of tourism. Since about 1880, view books have been one of the souvenirs that appealed to visitors of New York City. With everyone now  having a camera to photograph where they were and sights they have seen, view books are pretty much on their way to becoming extinct.

During their heyday from the late 1800s until the 1940s view books were a popular and inexpensive souvenir choice. Most view books generally ranged in price from a quarter to a dollar. They generally contained anywhere from a dozen to 400 photographs of buildings, tourist sights and attractions. Many had plain covers, while others had covers to attract the eye.

Going through my collection, I selected a few view books that date between 1911-1919.

These examples are relatively common for collectors. When they were new I think would have caught the eye of a visitor, because they are still striking today.

Scenes of Modern New York published by L.H Nelson 1911.  A nice cover featuring The Williamsburg Bridge (completed 1902), The Fuller Building aka Flatiron (completed 1902) and The Subway (opened 1904).

New York Illustrated published by C. Souhami 1914. A colorful panorama of lower Manhattan taken from the Brooklyn tower. On the left is the tallest building in the world, The Woolworth Building (completed 1913). To the right is the 40 story Municipal Building (completed 1914). On the waterfront, South Street with its docks and shipping activity was still the hub of maritime New York. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #72 – Hotel Netherland circa 1912

The Hotel Netherland Fifth Avenue and 59th Street c. 1912

Located at 783 Fifth Avenue on the corner of 59th Street, the Hotel New Netherlands, was built by the Astor estate under William Waldorf Astor and leased by General Ferdinand P. Earle. For 33 years it was one of the finest of New York’s hostelries.

After the Hotel New Netherlands opened on June 1, 1893, a guide book noted the new hotel’s room rates as “unannounced, but among the most expensive.”

The New Netherlands was on the European plan, which meant you didn’t necessarily have to have your meals at the hotel, but you could eat there for an extra charge.

For a comparison the most expensive New York hotels on the European plan; the Normandie; Vendome; Brunswick; and Gilsey had rooms starting at $2.00 per night. the Waldorf was $2.50 per night. On the American plan with meals included, the Windsor was $6.00 and the Savoy was $4.50. The only other hotels besides the New Netherlands that did not list their prices were the Grenoble and the Plaza.

Architect William Hume designed what was at the time the tallest hotel in the world at 17 stories and 229 feet. The hotel had a fine panoramic view of the city. The seemingly endless green expanse of Central Park was directly across the street.  From the higher floors looking past the park you could see the Hudson River and looking southeast was a clear view of the Brooklyn Bridge.

It’s an interesting design and as you look up at the ornate hotel you will notice a hodgepodge of styles.

The hotel was renamed in 1908 as the Hotel Netherland. Later it was the home to the famous Louis Sherry’s restaurant from 1919-1925. When the hotel closed in 1925, it was soon demolished and replaced by the 35 story Sherry-Netherland Hotel in 1927.  The address of the new hotel was changed to 781 Fifth Avenue.

The exact year our photograph by the Detroit Publishing Company is not certain. It probably falls between 1912 -1914 based upon the vehicles in the street. A look at the scene around the hotel shows a bustling metropolis in action. Examining the details is always interesting, you can click on any photo below to enlarge.

The Hotel Netherland’s advertising sign and roof line are quite a sight. The turret is absolutely great. Some of the hotel’s windows are open with curtains parted to let in light on this sunny day.

On the corner of the Netherland are these fantastic light fixtures. Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #56 – Johnny Weissmuller a.k.a. Tarzan of the Apes

Johnny Weissmuller Takes A Dive – 1948

Three Things You Didn’t Know About The Cinema’s Most Famous Tarzan

Tarzan Takes Off

Johnny Weissmuller better known as Tarzan of the Apes flies through the air with the greatest of ease, as he rehearses at Marshall Street Baths today (Monday) for his forthcoming Aquashow with Belita as his mate. February 16, 1948 (photo: Paramount)

Olympic multi gold-medal winner Michael Phelps is arguably the most famous swimmer in the world today.

If you had asked anyone living during the 1920s or 30s to name a male swimmer, Johnny Weissmuller (1904-1984)would have been the answer 99 times out of 100. In 1950 the Associated Press named  Weissmuller the greatest swimmer of the first half of the 20th century.

Before Weismuller gained film stardom playing Tarzan of the Apes, he was setting swimming speed records during the 1920s. Weissmuller won five gold medals in the Olympics and 52 national championships. Weissmuller’s most amazing accomplishment as an amateur swimmer is that he never lost a race.

Weissmuller went on to play Tarzan a dozen times in films from 1932 – 1948.

Here are three things you might not have known about Johnny Weissmuller and Tarzan.

1 – How did Weissmuller get the role of Tarzan?

In 1932 screen writer Cyril Hume was working on a script called “Tarzan the Ape Man.” Hume had seen footage of Weissmuller that had been deleted from the film Glorifying The American Girl. Weissmuller had appeared in that film wearing nothing but a fig leaf and holding actress Mary Eaton on his shoulder.

Without realizing he was being asked to do a screen test Weissmuller was talked into into seeing director W.S. Van Dyke and producer Bernard Hyman by Cyril Hume. At the meeting Weissmuller was told to strip. Continue reading