The Bustle Of New York City’s Garment District 1938
That district is now a shadow of its former self. Continue reading
That district is now a shadow of its former self. Continue reading
These two photographs were taken by the Detroit Publishing Co. on the same day, likely minutes apart. They show Henry Siegel’s 14th Street Store (1904-1914) and the Sixth Avenue Elevated Railroad looking towards the southeast corner of Sixth Avenue and 14th Street.
There is much to see, especially when zooming in on the details by clicking to enlarge the photos.
Besides the orientation of landscape versus portrait there are slight but noticeable differences in the two photos.
On top of the southbound station, a man is painting the roof with two cans of paint, one in front of him, the other behind him. In the other photo the painter is not in frame, but both cans of paint are near one another.
On the fourth floor of the store, two women appear to be watching the photographer as he set up to take his picture. The window openings are in the exact same position as the other photo, but the women are gone. Continue reading
This high definition photograph of Macy’s department store was taken by the Detroit Publishing Company in 1905. Macy’s led the march of modern department stores uptown, moving from their Sixth Avenue and 14th Street location where they had been since the 1858. The “Greatest Store in the World,” opened at the Herald Square location on Saturday, November 8, 1902.
We are looking west from the Sixth Avenue elevated station along Broadway with 34th Street on the left and 35th Street on the right.
Let’s take a close-up view of Macy’s and the surrounding area from our photograph. Click to enlarge any photo.
In the immediate foreground on the extreme right is a small portion of the New York Herald Building with a large owl, wings spread, perched at the corner.
James Gordon Bennett, and later James Jr., owners of the Herald, had a thing for owls. The Herald building was adorned with many of them. Mechanical owls attached to the clock had their eyes illuminated and would light up when the Herald clock struck the hour.
The Herald Building is long gone, but Herald Square retains its name and two of the original owls are still in Herald Square. They are part of a monument to James Gordon Bennett and the newspaper he founded. And yes the owls eyes still light up.
Looking past the Herald Building down 35th Street is the loading bay of Macy’s. Delivery trucks of all type congregate here, including an ice wagon. Continue reading
This photograph taken at Sixth Avenue and 14th Street by Lewis Hine in 1910 is simply labeled “Mendicants.”
It’s a word you don’t often hear today. Mendicant – a beggar; panhandler.
While you may think the main subject here is the blind man sitting by the pole of the el, that would not be the case The focus of the photograph is the little girl who is begging. She appears aged and streetwise beyond her years. But both of them are mendicants.
Hine’s photographs of children at work in major cities usually focuses on newspaper sellers, shoe shiners, telegraph boys, delivery boys and other street trades. In 1910 mendicant was considered a street trade.
Who are these two people? Father and daughter? Grandfather and granddaughter? Or just two people in need who have teamed up to ply their trade?
Where did they live?
Unfortunately Hine did not get the names, ages and addresses of this girl and blind man, as he did with many of his other subjects. Continue reading
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
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.
From the photograph above Continue reading
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.
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
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.
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.
On the north side of the street is the West Presbyterian Church (built 1862, demolished 1911) Continue reading
Gold & Silver – Highest Prices Paid – 1937
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.