When you say the words “old New York” a monochrome picture may materialize within you. What is old? It depends how old you are. To many people under the age of 40, the 1950s is considered ancient. To modern eyes, the 1950s was a black and white world because most movies were still not made in color and television sets were black and white.
So when you see the old Kodak Kodachrome moments, the pre-1960 vibrant colors still deliver a wow effect.
1950s scenes around New York
At Foley Square where the buildings house the local, state and federal government agencies.
Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village marks the beginning of Fifth Avenue. Continue reading →
Looking south from 26th Street and Fifth Avenue, this sidewalk level view was taken by a tourist and dated on the back, September 10, 1933. The focal point was obviously meant to be the world famous Flatiron Building at 23rd Street where Fifth avenue and Broadway meet.
Mercury -photo via photobucket user steven19798
In the foreground however, there is something very interesting to look at. Although it can barely be distinguished, on top of the traffic signal is a statue of Mercury, the Roman god of shopkeepers and merchants, travelers and transporters of goods.
Beginning in 1931, these 17 inch bronze statues were put up on 104 new traffic signals and poles that ran along Fifth Avenue from 8th Street to 59th Street. Continue reading →
First Traffic Light Signals – Fifth Avenue and 34th Street, 1922
The Beginning of New York City’s Traffic Lights
This ornate traffic light at 34th Street, was one of seven put up in New York City on the heavily traveled Fifth Avenue in 1922.
The city had experimented with traffic signals in 1917 when a device invented by an engineer, Foster Milliken, was installed at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street. The device was a revolving flashlight that would flash signals as red to stop and green for go. This may sound ridiculous now, but in the early days of traffic signals there was no standard for color relating to traffic. Continue reading →
A street level photograph looking east on 42nd Street towards 5th Avenue on a chilly day in 1928. On the left side of the photograph and just to the right of the twin street lamp globes is one of the early traffic towers which would control vehicular traffic flow with colored signals. New York City had been installing traffic lights at very busy intersections since 1920.
The billboard on the northeast corner of 5th and 42nd advertises The Delineator, a magazine devoted to fashion, culture and fine arts. It was published from 1873 until 1937 when it merged with Pictorial Review.
Fifth Avenue Looking North from The Plaza (59th Street) 1930
Two way vehicular traffic is probably a shocking thing to see on Fifth Avenue, but in 1930 it was the norm. Also note: no traffic lights or policemen directing traffic. Pedestrians cross at their own risk.