Tag Archives: Times Square

New York In The Late 1940s As Seen By The Saturday Evening Post’s Cover Artists

Five Classic New York City Saturday Evening Post
Magazine Covers

A magazine with great cover art? The New Yorker fits the bill with every issue having an illustration adorning the covers since beginning publication in 1925.

Over the course of the 20th century photography eventually replaced magazine cover art. But if there was a magazine that could give The New Yorker a challenge in the cover art department, it would be The Saturday Evening Post.

If The New Yorker was the quintessential representative for sophisticates, then The Saturday Evening Post represented the rest of America. The covers of The Saturday Evening Post mirrored America, the same way The New Yorker echoed New York.

Arguably no New Yorker cover artist past or present is widely known to most Americans. The Post fostered the career of a legendary artist, Norman Rockwell. From the late teens until the 1960s Rockwell drew an astounding 321 covers for the magazine. Rockwell’s name and work is still recognized by millions of people nearly 40 years after his death.

But what of the hundreds of other talented artists who illustrated magazine covers? There were only a few artists who worked for both the New Yorker and The Saturday Evening Post. Each magazine wanted exclusivity considering the illustration style was at times somewhat similar.

Every now and then, the Post would feature a New York City scene on its cover.

Here are five examples from the 1940s.

John Falter (1910-1982) drew over 120 covers for the Saturday Evening Post. The April 30, 1949 cover shows Central Park and the skyline of the upper east side. The original cover Falter submitted had a lightning bolt and a rainbow simultaneously, which concerned the Post’s editors. They consulted the weather bureau asking if it was possible to have both lightning and a rainbow appear at the same time? The weather bureau replied they had never seen the phenomenon but where weather was concerned “anything could happen.”

The Post’s Art Department decided to remove the lightning and the illustration appeared as seen here.

Constantin Alajalov (1900-1987) was one of those few artists who worked concurrently for The New Yorker and The Saturday Evening Post. The February 12, 1949 cover has  a young lady in a travel office dreaming of getting away from the cold as she’s surrounded with posters advertising sunny locales. Note there is something never seen in New York City anymore: clotheslines connected from building to building. Alajalov originally drew snowflakes falling in the courtyard, but then decided to remove them when he thought: would anyone be drying clothes in a snowstorm? Probably not. So either remove the clotheslines or the snowflakes. Alajalov chose to remove the snowflakes. Continue reading

Look What The Cops Caught In Times Square – 1935

75 Cattle Get Off A Boat In Manhattan, 3 Decide To Take A Tour Of The City Instead of Going To The Slaughterhouse

After A Chase Through Midtown Manhattan – Cops Catch An Elusive Steer In Times Square

It’s not a rodeo, but a policeman uses a lasso to catch a runaway steer in Times Square. photo: Acme 9/3/1935

It was little before 6 a.m. on Tuesday, September 3, 1935. Labor Day weekend had just ended. The city was stirring back to life to begin a normal work week. At an East River dock on 45th Street, a boat was unloading its cargo, 75 head of cattle, all headed to the nearby slaughterhouse.

72 cattle headed a half-block away to Wilson & Company. Three adventurous cattle decided to take a tour of the city rather than be turned into steaks and cutlets. Continue reading

New York In 1911 As Drawn By Vernon Howe Bailey

6 Drawings Of New York Unseen For Over 100 Years By Vernon Howe Bailey

Times Square The Great White Way (1911)

Obscure publications can yield hidden gems. These drawings by famed artist Vernon Howe Bailey appeared in the Illuminating Engineer in 1911 and as far as can be determined have not been reproduced since then.

Vernon Howe Bailey (1874-1953) was a prodigious illustrator whose work appeared primarily in  newspapers and magazines.

He eventually made his way to the New York Sun newspaper in the 1920s where he captured New York’s architecture and streets  with exquisite on-the-spot illustrations.

Eventually a good deal of Bailey’s New York City work was compiled in a book called Magical City. These illustrations were not included in that book. So for the first time in over 100 years here are Vernon Howe Bailey’s renderings of New York City in 1911.

Looking North on the Speedway to the Famous Highbridge (1911)

As these illustrations were intended for a magazine promoting electric lighting, you will notice that electric light fixtures appear rather prominently in each illustration.

The Harlem Speedway, where wealthy New Yorker’s used to take out their horse drawn carriages for a spirited run, was eventually incorporated into the highway that became the Harlem River Drive. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #65

The New York Times Tower Building Under Construction – 1904

New York Times Building under constructionRecently I had the misfortune of passing through Times Square, now a symbol of the mall-ification of New York.

Dead center, standing at 42nd Street where Broadway and Seventh Avenue diverge is the mutilated former New York Times Tower Building. The iconic building that gave Times Square its name, is now basically an electronic billboard. Before The New York Times moved from Park Row to their new headquarters, this area was known as Longacre Square. We covered the history of the building in a previous story.

What was once a classic building has become emblematic of the entire area. Times Square now means: chain stores, thick crowds moving s-l-o-w-l-y and solicitors every five feet hawking something. Then there’s a bunch of beggars in costumes who somehow get paid by having chump tourists hand over money to take a picture with them.

Our photograph from above shows the New York Times Building in the midst of construction in 1904.  The George A. Fuller Construction Company advertises that they are erecting the new skyscraper. The Fuller Company put up a similar building on a triangular plot two years previous to this at 23rd Street, the much beloved Fuller Building, better known as the Flatiron Building. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #61

Broadway At Night – 1911

Broadway Times Square at night 1911

Photograph 1 Times Square at night

The glow of streetlights wash out some portions of this interesting view of Broadway looking south from 43rd Street in Times Square. But for the most part, many details can be seen in this unusual nighttime view taken by The Detroit Photo Company. There was no date associated with the picture at the Library of Congress which archives the Detroit Photo Company’s holdings; it is listed as circa 1900-1915. So how can narrow down an approximate date?

The main clue is in the marquee of George M. Cohan’s Theatre on Broadway and 43rd Street which heralds the musical The Little Millionaire which ran from September 25, 1911 through March 9, 1912.

The other clues are the billboards posted on the building to the right of the Cohan theatre advertising Broadway productions; one proclaiming “It’s a Hitchcock Conquest”; another for Mrs. Fiske, and another for a drama called Bought and Paid For. Raymond Hitchcock’s play The Red Widow ran from November 6, 1911 to February 24, 1912. Bought and Paid For had a long run from September 26, 1911 until October 1912. But the advertisement that narrows the date down is for a musical titled Peggy which only ran from December 7, 1911 to January 6, 1912. Of course the advertisement could have remained up after the show had closed, but with ad space being valuable in Times Square, it is unlikely.

Checking the Library of Congress’ holdings we find a second similar photo almost certainly taken the same night of Times Square from 46th Street looking south,

Times Square at night 1911

Photograph 2 Times Square at night

A few more interesting things to notice while zooming in on the details of the second photograph: Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #43

Giant Times Square Advertising Billboards Of The Past

New York's Times Square at night 60 Years ago, 1954 photo: Charles Shaw

New York’s Times Square at night 60 Years ago, 1954 photo: Charles Shaw

The New York Times article about the new eight story high, block long, LED illuminated billboard that will be put into use on Tuesday night, November 18, 2014, made me think about some of the classic advertising signs that were in place during the 1940’s and 1950’s at the crossroads of the world.

Bond Clothiers sign, 1948, Times Square looking north

Bond Clothiers sign, 1948, Times Square looking north

Chief among these ads was the dramatic Bond Clothiers sign taking up the entire Broadway block between 44th and 45th Streets. The 200 foot wide, 50 foot high billboard was brightly lit up at night and had a waterfall cascading between the two large scantily clad statues flanking it. The figures appeared nude during by day and had electric lights draped around them which produced a quasi-covering effect on the statues when the lights went on.

With two miles of neon, it was a colorful spectacle to behold in person, especially at nigTimes Square 1948 Bond Clothiers at night billboardht. The sign was only up from 1948-1954.

We previously showed what the area looked like at night in our story about the giant New York snowstorm of 1948.

The Bond sign replaced an earlier sign for Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum that also was breathtaking with its neon aquatic design. Designed by Dorothy Shepard, it occupied the site from about 1936 to 1948.

Times Square Wrigleys Billboard sign Ad postcardThe other billboard Continue reading

Times Square January 11, 1954 – Lots of Snow And Cold Weather

January 11-12, 1954 – Biggest Snowstorm In Five Years Hits New York

Times Square Snowstorm Jan 12 1954

60 years ago, on Monday January 11, 1954 New York City got walloped with a 10 inch snowstorm with temperatures dipping down to 15 degrees. The storm continued on through Tuesday making travel difficult and it gave sanitation department workers extra long shifts for snow removal. It was the heaviest snowfall in New York City since December 19-20, 1948, when more than 19 inches fell.

The scene shown here is Times Square looking north with the Hotel Astor on the left. Directly across the street is the famous Bond Clothiers advertising sign.

The snow did not result in shutting down New York City schools. Some elementary schools did allow girls to be dismissed 15 minutes early to spare them from being pelted with snowballs by the boys. Just outside of the city it was a different story as Rockland, Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk Counties generally did close public and parochial schools for the day.

The snow ended at 7:05 a.m. on January 12. Highways were mostly kept clear, but most drivers played it safe and left their cars at home. The real problem was that over the next two days the temperature in New York kept dropping. It went down to a low of 11 degrees, freezing the snow into hard packed ice, making it difficult for pedestrians to navigate the streets.

Western Rockland and northern Westchester counties, saw the temperature dip to as low as two below zero. In northern Maine the temperature was minus 25.

The cold wave stuck around for a whole week. The temperature hit a two year low in New York City on the morning of January 18. The mercury registered just 8.8 degrees at 1:30 a.m.. The weather finally changed on January 19 when the temperature rose to 40 degrees.

Old New York In Photos #29

Advertisements & Scenes of Times Square In Vintage Color Photographs 1954

Times Sq 7 1954

It’s been almost 60 years since these photographs were taken by an anonymous amateur photographer who was interested in the signage, ads and the streets surrounding a vibrant, now vanished Times Square.

The city began sterilizing all the flavor from the crossroads of the world in the late 1980’s. It was a few years later that most New Yorker’s began noticing the mall-ification of Times Square. True, Times Square had denigrated into a rather sleazy place from the mid-1960’s until the “revitalization” took place. But what has it become?

For anyone who lived through Times Square’s final heyday in the 1950’s, today the place must seem extremely distasteful with its countless tourist barkers, ill-planned pedestrian plazas and glass monolith buildings sheathed in gaudy LED light ads. It’s overcrowded with people moving slowly, chain stores, costumed kitsch characters and modern day hucksters hawking their products to tourists for a “real New York experience.” Give me the days of three card monte games and prostitutes over eight people wandering around in Mickey Mouse costumes any day.

As Nik Cohn said in 1997, ‘Times Square has always changed every 20 years. But this time it’s changed to a corporate, generic American city that doesn’t particularly express the uniqueness of New York.”

Times Sq  looking southeast 1954But let’s go back in time to 1954 when it was a better time for Times Square. Legitimate theatre was still great, movies offered up Cinemascope entertainment and real Broadway characters (not criminals and freaks) roamed the streets.

Enjoy these Kodachrome views of what you would have seen looking around Times Square on a sunny, warm July day in 1954.

Minimal commentary has been added for identification purposes. Click any photo to enlarge.

Times Sq 6 1954Times Square looking south from 46th Street. Shown are: Times Tower Building, Bishop’s Crook Light, Hotel Astor with The Astor Roof Garden, Victoria Theater showing About Mrs. Leslie starring Shirley Booth and Robert Ryan, on the extreme left a portion of the statue for the giant block long Bond Clothes advertisement.

Times Sq 1954 1Looking west from Broadway and Seventh Avenue along 45th Street. Shown are: the Astor Theater with a large billboard for Indiscretion of an American Wife starring Jennifer Jones and Montgomery Clift, and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musicals Me and Juliet  and The King and I, and the 26 story Hotel Piccadilly at 227 West 45th Street. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #25

42nd Street and Broadway New York Times Building 1915

42nd st Times Building 10 3 15

We have previously featured an overview of the Times Tower Building and Times Square. Now we present a street level view looking west from Broadway. The date is October 3, 1915 and there are a handful of people milling about on the street.

Only the first three stories of the Times Building are visible and a newsstand in front of the building is selling out-of-town newspapers. In the background are some advertisements.  Below the “Some Baby” billboard there is one on the window for a Chop Suey establishment, which is right next to and above a popular chain restaurant, Child’s.

Times Square New Year’s Eve: Celebrations Of The Past

4 Photographs Of Times Square On New Year’s Eve 1952-1965

Another New Year’s celebration tonight. What did it look like half a century ago?

Pretty much the same.

Here are four photographs of Times Square as it appeared during New Year’s Eve celebrations during the 1950’s and 1960’s.  The amount of light emanating from the vicinity leads to an overexposure, making this a difficult scene to capture.

Times Square New Year’s Eve 1952

Times Square New Years Eve December 31 1952

Continue reading