Category Archives: Photography

New York City By Day… & Night – 1904

Four New York Locations Photographed At Night – 1904

You’ve probably noticed that most of the old photographs of turn-of-the-century New York City were taken during daylight hours.

At the time the difficulty with night photography was the long exposure times necessary for a camera to effectively capture an image.

There is an extremely rare book I own called The Lighting of New York City put out by General Electric in 1904. The purpose of this publication was to extol the virtues of General Electric lighting apparatus and to encourage homes and businesses in New York and elsewhere to use electric light.

Electric lighting had been around for a little over 20 years, but the book mentions a startling fact: “It is estimated that more than 35,000 arc lamps are in use on Manhattan Island.”

35,000, that’s means outdoors and indoors.

Gaslight was still the predominant means of lighting streets, factories, stores, homes and the waterfront.

The 74 page book contains a photograph on every page accompanied by a short description on the opposite page. Eight of the photographs are day and night views of the exact same location.

Words in Italics are from the book:

At the 59th Street entrance to Central Park, in what is known as Park Plaza, the Sherman Statue was recently unveiled. It is illuminated at night by eight low energy General Electric arc lamps installed on ornamental poles in such a manner that only the pear-shaped outer globe is visible. The installation has received very favorable comment.

Behind the statue on the right is Park and Tilford, grocers to New York’s smart set. To the left on the corner of 60th Street is the Metropolitan Club.

Night illumination of the Sherman Statue by eight three-ampere low energy General Electric lamps. The white building directly in the rear is the home of the Metropolitan Club, so well known to many New Yorkers as the “Millionaires'” Club. Continue reading

Coney Island Celebrates The Anniversary Of The Hot Dog

Celebrating The Hot Dog, 1967 Style

It’s another anniversary for the hot dog.

But there probably won’t be a celebration like the one shown here from 1967.

Here is the original caption from the press photo:

Hot Dog!!!

New York: With a ferris wheel as a backdrop lovely Arlene Shaw, the 1967 National Hot Dog Queen holds a sign proclaiming the 100th anniversary of the fabled “frank.” Arlene will reign over a champagne “hot dog” party to be held on the boardwalk at Nathan’s in Coney Island June 30th celebrating the centennial of that extraordinary edible known as “Coney Island Red Hots.” credit: UPI 6/3/1967

Continue reading

Sheep In Brooklyn – 1901

Central Park Was Not The Only New York City Park To Have Sheep Manicuring Its Lawn

The History of Prospect Park’s Flock Of Sheep

Sheep grazing in a meadow is something you expect to see in the countryside, not New York City. As some New Yorker’s know Sheep Meadow in Central Park once had sheep roaming in it.

But did you know that Brooklyn’s Prospect Park also had its own flock of livestock on its grounds? When this photograph was taken in 1901, Prospect Park had about 30 sheep, with three full-time shepherds to watch over the flock.

While still under design the Prospect Park Commissioners in 1866 proposed “to enclose with a sufficient iron paling and make use of as a pasture ground for deer, antelopes, gazelles, and such other grazing animals as can he satisfactorily herded together in summer upon it.”

Deer, antelopes and gazelles were not confined to the park. After the opening of Prospect Park in 1867 sheep were introduced to graze on its grounds.

Over the years the number of sheep fluctuated to as many as 110 as some sheep were sold off and others acquired.

Paddy Welch was the main shepherd of the Southdown’s and New Hampshire’s, until political influence forced him from his job in the early 1890s. In 1922 Prospect Park increased the value of its herd by introducing pure-bred Southdown’s.

By 1934 city planning titan and Parks Commissioner Robert Moses, had enough of Central Park’s sheep. The 49 pure-bred Dorset sheep in Central Park were moved to Prospect Park to join the hornless Southdown’s on February 19, 1934. The Central Park building where the sheep had been housed was remodeled and became the site of the restaurant Tavern on the Green. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #75

This Craggy Road With Shanties Is…

Before we tell you where this is in Manhattan, we’ll give you a minute to study the photo. One clue, it is an area below Central Park.

Give up? It is an undated, unidentified portion of 58th Street.  The photo comes via the New York Public Library stereoview collection. Continue reading

May Day, New York City In The Past And Today

Those Old May Day Gatherings In New York

SOCIALISTS HOLD MAY DAY CELEBRATION IN CENTRAL PARK – Shown above is a general scene showing the large crowd of socialists as they listened to the speakers during the meeting held in Central Park, New York City on May Day. (May 1, 1935 credit: Acme)

Today is May Day which for anyone who went to elementary school in New York City pre-1980 used to be a joyous holiday, celebrated by dancing around a Maypole.

May Day, a centuries old Pagan holiday whose origins and meaning are debated, is now a day of protest. In many parts of England, Wales, Germany and a few other European countries, the Maypole dance and tradition continues. In the United States the day has sunk into a free-for-all for any group to call attention to all their perceived slights and injustices.

In the late 19th century May Day began to be associated with organized marches and assemblies for worker’s rights, unions and socialism. By the 1930s, communists took the day as theirs to celebrate.

Today you will not see any New York City school children doing Maypole dances.

Brooklyn May Day celebration 10,000 girls at Prospect Park 1919

You will not see the veterans of foreign wars praising the freedoms of the United States and protesting communists.

VETERANS HOLD RALLY ON MAY DAY – Photo shows general view of crowd in Union Square , New York City, scene of recent Communist riots, to participate in rally held by the Veterans of Foreign Wars on May 1st. Later the Reds held a demonstration at the same spot. (May 1, 1930 credit P&A photos)

You probably will not see Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #59 – Jayne Mansfield Makes A 13-Year-Old Boy Very Happy

Jayne Mansfield Gives A Kiss To A Young Fan – 1957

If this happened today, you can be sure some hyper-politically correct maniacs would accuse Jayne Mansfield of being a child molester for planting a kiss square on the lips of an underage boy. But this was 1957 and Jayne was merely fulfilling a a young man’s request. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #74 – Battery Place 1875

Battery Place Looking West from Broadway 1875

What could be a provincial European river city in the 19th century is in fact the southern portion of New York City in 1875.

This stereoview photograph of Battery Place, a street that ran for only three blocks along Battery Park, was taken from Broadway looking west towards the Hudson River and New Jersey.

Battery Place & vicinity 1852 Atlas of New York

The building to the extreme right is 1 Broadway, the Washington Hotel. The original building  which stood on the northwest corner of Broadway was a house occupied by General Israel Putnam and used by General George Washington as his headquarters during the early days of the American Revolution. After the war’s completion it became the Washington Hotel. Continue reading

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