Old New York in Postcards #5 – Broadway & Fifth Avenue

Postcards of Old New York –  Featuring Broadway and Fifth Avenue

These postcards generally depict New York from 1900 – 1920. We are concentrating this batch on the well traveled areas of Broadway and Fifth Avenue.

pc Broadway S Warren St

As the brief description on the card says we are looking south and east along Broadway from Warren Street. The trees on the left belong to City Hall Park. The wide building with the large central rotunda is the main branch of the General Post Office, which was demolished in 1938. Behind the Post Office stands The Park Row Building, which at 391 feet was the tallest office building in the world when completed in 1899. The Singer Building surpassed the height of The Park Row Building in 1908. To the right of The Park Row Building stands the 26 story St. Paul Building built in 1896 and demolished in 1958.

Interesting to note: the flags are at half-staff on the Postal Telegraph and Cable Company Building on the right.

pc Chambers St Broadway looking west

Looking west on Chambers Street towards Broadway, the tall building in the center is The National Shoe and Leather Bank Building at 271 Broadway. Completed in 1893, the bank building was called “one of the most imposing business structures in Lower Broadway.”

After its completion, the beautiful building at 11 stories in height, dominated all the structures about it. Chemical Bank acquired the building in 1921 and sold the site in 1928 to the 270 Broadway Corporation, a development company who demolished the building. In 1930 a 28 story skyscraper designed by Edward H. Faile went up and still occupies the site.

pc Broadway and Chambers Street Street Cars

This street level view shows Broadway looking north from Chambers Street. The building on the left with the red and white striped awnings is The Broadway-Chambers Building constructed from 1899-1900 and is still standing.

Note the policeman in the middle of the street directing traffic.

pc Broadway N From 42nd

As described on the front of this postcard, this is the east side of Broadway, looking North from 42nd Street. The building that takes up most of this postcard is the 12 story Longacre Building, which was constructed in 1912 at a cost of $1 million dollars.

With the redevelopment of Times Square in the 80’s and 90’s, evictions and demolitions were rampant. In 1992 Dick Falk, a publicist, who was the unofficial “Mayor of 42nd Street,”  became the last tenant evicted from the 12-story Longacre Building. It was demolished in the late 1990’s with almost no sentimental outcry or media coverage.

pc Broadway Union Square

Broadway looking north from 14th Street exhibits no automobiles on the street, just trolleys, one horse drawn carriage and pedestrians. Union Square Park is on the right. The white building in the far background is the tower of The Metropolitan Life Building. The statue in the foreground is of Abraham Lincoln, which is now located in the northern portion of Union Square Park.

pc Broadway 5th Ave from Madison Sq

Broadway and Fifth Avenue intersect at 23rd Street, Broadway is on the left and Fifth Avenue is on the right. This view looking north was probably taken from The Flatiron Building on 23rd Street.  You can see The Fifth Avenue Hotel’s top floor and roof with its large advertising flag on the extreme left. On the extreme right are trees belonging to Madison Square Park. The obelisk in the middle of the lower portion of this postcard marks the burial spot of General William Jenkins Worth (1794-1849), hero of the Mexican-American War and for whom the city of Fort Worth, Texas is named after.

pc Knickerbocker Trust Company

The northwest corner of Fifth Avenue and 34th Street marks the home of The Knickerbocker Trust Company Building built by McKim, Mead and White in 1903. As part of the Panic of 1907, a run was made on the bank, and it experienced a monumental failure on October 22, 1907. Even though the bank, one of the largest in America, had solid assets, many of them were not liquid.  The bank’s owner Charles Barney committed suicide on November 4, 1907. By 1908 all the bank’s depositors had received their money.

The building had ten stories added to it in 1921 and is now mutilated beyond recognition.

pc 5th Ave 42nd st

Looking north up Fifth Avenue from 42nd Street one can see the changes that were underway in the early 20th century. A mix of automobiles, buses and horse drawn vehicles crowd the street as traffic flows in both directions and of course no traffic signals.

The neighborhood was losing many of its brownstone homes as commercial development creeped further and further north. Temple Emanu-El is the Moorish style synagogue on the east side of 43rd Street with the two turrets. The synagogue was located there from 1868-1926. As its members moved further uptown and the land it was built upon became so valuable, the congregation sold the synagogue and moved to their current location of Fifth Avenue and 65th Street in 1927.

pc Fifth ave 58th st. 1907 Banford

This is Fifth Avenue looking south from 58th Street on a day when there was almost no vehicular traffic at all. The large building on the right is the Cornelius Vanderbilt II mansion designed by George B. Post and Richard Morris Hunt. Completed in 1893 and stretching from 57th to 58th Street, the house had 130 rooms! Vanderbilt died in 1899 and his wife continued to live in the mansion until she sold it in 1926. Bergdorf Goodman department store now occupies the site.

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