Old New York In Photos #76 – Around The Flatiron 1906

Around The Flatiron Building 1906 – Looking At The Details

We’ve profiled the fabulous photographs of the Detroit Publishing Company held by the Library of Congress before, but with over 40,000 photographs in the collection there are always interesting views to examine.

This sceneĀ  looking south from 27th Street and Fifth Avenue shows moderate traffic at a typically busy time. (Click any photo to enlarge)

If we look at the clock on the extreme right, near the Fifth Avenue Hotel (not visible), we can see the time is 8:53 in the morning on a sunny day.

Two smartly dressed women with great hats are walking west along the edge of Madison Square Park. A policeman walks with his white-gloved hands clasped behind his back and his distinctive helmet perched upon his head. The NYPD liked their officers to be tall and actively recruited men who were six feet or taller.

The man in the white helmet is a sanitation worker, dressed in a suit! As you can see, even in 1906 people knew bicycles were an effective way to navigate Manhattan. With the city powered by over 100,000 horses, you didn’t have to concern yourself too much with a car hitting your bicycle, as horses outnumbered cars about 10 to 1.

In 1906 there were only 130,000 motorized vehicles in the entire United States, and about 10,000 in New York City.

It only took another twelve years before cars outnumbered horses in New York City.

At the corner of 26th Street and Fifth Avenue a unique four sided street sign is affixed to the light pole.

Two horse drawn carriages make their way north up Fifth Avenue as one man in a bowler hat crosses the street without paying too much attention to the traffic. Another man stands on the sidewalk, hands in pocket looking at the passing vehicle.

In the rear of one delivery wagon loaded with barrels, there are also blocks of ice alongside the gigantic tongs that were used by the iceman to carry his load.

Further down Broadway at about 24th Street another policeman stands in the middle of the intersection helping to direct heavier traffic near the Flatiron Building.

Finally, the centerpiece that frames the photograph, the Flatiron Building, when it was just four years old and still creating a sensation.

As the New York Tribune said just after the Flatiron’s completion in June, 1902, “Since the removal of the scaffolding… there is scarcely an hour when a staring wayfarer doesn’t by his example collect a big crowd of other staring people… No wonder people stare! A building 307 feet high presenting an edge almost as sharp as the bow of a ship…is well worth looking at.”

115 years later, people still stop to stare at the Flatiron…and admire a glorious architectural achievement.


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