In 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 →
Brooklyn’s Fulton Ferry House and Brooklyn Bridge circa 1885
This view captures the newly built Brooklyn Bridge and Brooklyn’s Fulton Ferry House, a beautiful Queen Ann style Victorian building with its ornate mansard roof.
This picturesque scene showing street railways, horse carts, telegraph poles and light fixtures are all vestiges of the 19th century that vanished long ago. The photo was taken around 1885 from the corner of Everett Street (that is the original spelling) and Fulton Street (now called Old Fulton Street) looking north toward Water Street and the Brooklyn Bridge. Besides the Brooklyn Bridge, the small hotel on the corner of Water and Fulton Street on the extreme right with the striped awning, is the only structure in this photo that is still standing.
The service that became the Fulton Ferry began in 1642. The ferry service moved location several times and Robert Fulton inventor of the steamboat, in the 1810’s secured the lease on the land at the foot of Fulton Street for East River ferry service. William Cutting established a ferry line there starting in 1819.
The Brooklyn Fulton Ferry House building was constructed in 1871 by the Union Ferry Company. Called “The Great Gateway to Brooklyn,” the Ferry House was designed by architect William Belden Olmsted a distant relative of Central Park and Prospect Park landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted.
At a time when fire laws generally prevented construction of any wooden structures, the Ferry House was built of wood rather than iron because the company believed that vapors from the sewage deposited directly into the river and the salt water would cause iron to rust! It was probably more of an economic ploy to save on building costs as iron or brick was much more expensive than wood. The three story building measured 173 feet wide and 35 feet high, with the tower reaching a height of 86 feet and the main floor containing large waiting rooms featuring every modern convenience. Even opting for the cheaper wood construction, the final cost was a lofty $138,000.
As the new Fulton Ferry House building was opening its demise was literally right behind it. The construction of the Brooklyn Bridge which began in 1869 led to an inevitable and slow decline of the viability of Fulton Ferry service.
A 1920’s View Of Lower Manhattan Looking Northeast From The Now Closed Woolworth Building Observation Deck
A tourist in the early 1920’s took this panoramic view of lower Manhattan from a place that is currently off-limits to the general public, the observation deck of the Woolworth Building. The visitors observation deck was shut down in 1941 right before the United States entry into World War II, when the Navy ordered it closed because it offered too good a view of ships in the harbor. Recently even the Woolworth Building lobby was declared off-limits to anyone wanting a view inside of the ornamental entrance.
Woolworth Building 1913
From this vantage point we can see from right to left the Brooklyn Bridge, the East River, the Manhattan Bridge. In the hazy distance is the Williamsburg Bridge. Spread across the lower east side are an array of many small buildings. There are a couple of exceptions, most notably the tower of the New York City Municipal Building, partially seen on the extreme left in the foreground.
When completed in 1913, the 792 foot tall Woolworth Building at 233 Broadway was the tallest building in the world. The Woolworth Building retained that title until the Chrysler Building usurped it in 1930. Depending upon your source and how you are counting stories, the Woolworth Building contains anywhere between 55 – 60 floors.
For the admission fee of 50¢, visitors could get an incredible view of the surrounding metropolitan area from its observation deck. The tour book the building Continue reading →
In 1911 The Proposed McCarren Bridge Was To Replace The “Old” Brooklyn Bridge So It Could Be Reconstructed
Existing & proposed bridges New York City 1911 – note the four lower Manhattan bridges instead of three (click to enlarge)
From the New York Tribune of January 1, 1911 comes this illustration showing New York City with its existing bridges and some proposed new ones.
Sandwiched very tightly between the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge connecting lower Manhattan with Brooklyn, is a proposed new bridge which was to be called the McCarren Bridge named after “Long Pat” McCarren (1847-1909) a state senator who was Brooklyn’s Democratic political boss during the late 1800’s.
Once the proposed McCarren Bridge became a reality, city engineers planned to close and rebuild the Brooklyn Bridge. The engineers feared that the increase in heavy traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge would necessitate additional strength being added, otherwise a support or cable might give way causing a horrible catastrophe. Borings were even made at the site, but the McCarren Bridge was never built.
Other proposed bridges in the illustration show the Hell Gate Bridge which was begun in 1912 and completed in 1916.
Further north on the Harlem River connecting upper Manhattan with the Bronx is another proposed bridge that was never built nestled between the University Heights/West 207th Street Bridge and Washington Bridge. This bridge would have been located at 177th Street in the Bronx and was to be called The Morris Heights Bridge. Continue reading →
In 2000 and 2001 Swann Galleries (a New York auction house) held New York City auctions. All the items: books, posters, maps, ephemera, photographs, prints and art were related to the city. It was a great concept that they discontinued after 2001. It was at these auctions where I first encountered the art work of Luigi Kasimir.
Kasimir was born in 1881 in the Austrian-Hungarian Empire and later came to New York where he repeatedly captured the architectural sights of the city. Today, Kasimir is best known for his detailed etchings, many of which were done in color, which apparently was not the norm for early 20th century etchings. The New York Times distinguished Kasimir from other etchers of the time at a contemporary exhibition in 1926 by referring to him as a “colorist.” Continue reading →