Old New York In Photos #87 – East 69th Street 1931

69th Street Looking East From First Avenue – 1931

This is an ordinary view of an ordinary street, East 69th Street taken on April 4, 1931 from the northeast corner of First Avenue. But even though it is ordinary, there is a lot to notice.

Still under construction at the end of 69th Street and York Avenue are the art deco inspired buildings of New York Hospital-Cornell Medical College. The hospital began construction in 1929 and was opened in September 1932. What had previously been the site of the Central Brewing Company and some row houses, became the home of buildings that housed New York Hospital, Cornell University Medical College, New York Hospital School of Nursing, and the Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic.

On the right side of 69th street is the Roman Catholic Church of St. Catherine of Siena. The church had been located there since 1897 and was soon to be demolished. The congregation moved to a new building on East 68th Street in 1932.

Even with the paucity of pedestrians and traffic on 69th Street, there is activity near the church. Two groups of boys congregate close to the construction supply pile. About a dozen other people are spread along 69th street including two girls on tricycles.

Only one delivery truck is parked on the street while one automobile and another truck account for all of the vehicular traffic.

Children hang out on the stoop behind the one business that is visible in our photo, Square Deal Chinese Hand Laundry. With their sign announcing the “Lowest Prices in the City,” the laundry had reduced their prices and guaranteed that all their work was hand done. How low were the Depression prices? Laundering collars cost 2¢; shirts with open fronts 9¢; linen shirts  12¢; sheets 7¢ and dry cleaning ties was 10¢.

The Chinese laundry also offered darning and mending, two repair skills which have vanished in our disposable society of today.

Besides the hospital, the buildings visible in our photo that remain standing today are the five tenements nearest to Fist Avenue.

1 thought on “Old New York In Photos #87 – East 69th Street 1931

  1. Mitch

    What is striking is that there are no automobiles parked on the street. People could cross easily and kids could play without obstructions or fear of getting hit by a car.


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