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.
Twelve Postcard Views Of The Vanished New York Elevated
South Ferry Terminals, where all four of New York’s elevated train lines commenced and ended their travels
The most dramatic change in transportation in 19th century New York came with the building of the elevated train, known simply to generations of New Yorkers as the “el” or “L”. Here with 12 postcard views is a brief history of the New York Elevated.
Battery Park Elevated with the Washington Building on the right, and the Whitehall Building on the left.
The first elevated train line was the Ninth Avenue El which began service in 1869 as a single track line which was operated by a cable. The train ran from the Battery to 31st Street.Continue reading →
Looking West Towards Sixth Avenue On 42nd Street – 1890s
We 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.
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
On the north side of the street is the West Presbyterian Church (built 1862, demolished 1911) Continue reading →
The year is 1937 and we are looking north on the west side of Sixth Avenue. The Sixth Avenue Elevated in the background will soon be torn down. Sitting out in front of Roxy Jewelers is a man trying to drum up busness to “sell your diamonds, pawn tickets, gold, silver, jewelry & antiques for the highest prices paid.” The Great Depression saw many people selling off whatever valuables they had to pay the rent or just have enough to eat.
Roxy Jewelers (1191 Sixth Avenue, between 46th and 47th Streets) is long gone, replaced by a full block-long commercial skyscraper, 1185 Avenue of the Americas, (a.k.a. Sixth Avenue) whose major tennants include Hess, The National Hockey League and News Corporation.
Directly across the street from where Roxy Jewelers once stood, you will find this shop at 1190 Sixth Avenue. Showing that some things never change, our “Great Recession” has had an effect on the economy as pawn shops offering “instant cash” have popped up everywhere, having very similar deals to the ones they had in 1937.
Herald Square (Before It Became, Herald Square) circa 1888
34th Street where Sixth Avenue and Broadway intersect is known as Herald Square because the New York Herald newspaper had their building located there. It was designed and completed in 1894 by the famous architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White. The building was torn down in two phases, 1928 and 1940.
This photograph predates the naming of Herald Square. The 71st Infantry Regiment (not their armory, which was on 34th Street and Park Avenue) two story building occupies the triangular spot on the right side that would become the location for the Herald’s building.
Macy’s moved uptown from 14th Street to the Herald Square area in 1902.
The train tracks in the lower right side of the photo are part of the Sixth Avenue Elevated. It was opened in 1876 and closed in 1938 and finally demolished in 1939. There was a much believed rumor that scrap metal from the elevated was sold to Japan and the Japanese then used that steel to make munitions that were used against the United States in World War II.