Afternoon Rush Hour At The Manhattan Entrance To The Brooklyn Bridge Transportation Center / Terminal Shed c. 1903
While the structure no longer exists the scene still does- commuters heading back to Brooklyn after work.
This structure unfamiliar to modern New Yorkers is the transportation center also called the terminal shed at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge on Park Row.
The building not only provided pedestrian access to the bridge but to the elevated and trolley lines. We tell the story of the transportation center here. It was demolished by the city in the 1940s.
The photo titled Manhattan Entrance To Brooklyn Bridge was taken about 1903 by the Detroit Publishing Company.
Let’s zoom in and take a brief close-up look at our photo.
I particularly like the two men in the foreground standing near the railing of the uncovered section of the second story. They are both aware of the photographer and stare directly at the camera.
The young man on the left in bowler hat and bow tie does not seem to be in a hurry. There is something endearing about his knowing grin and relaxed attitude with his hand languishing over the railing.
About a dozen feet away the other young man in glasses and straw hat does not appear as happy. Maybe he’s been waiting for a friend who is late or reading the about Tammany Hall corruption in the newspaper that he has stuffed in his pocket.
Unlike the slovenly masses of today, at the turn-of-the-century if you were out in public you dressed nicely. All men and women wore a stylish hat. The women would wear ankle length skirts with shirtsleeves, while men, with the exception of day laborers, donned suits.
While children are not abundant in our photo a few can be seen.
Here a father holds his son’s hand while passing a paperboy who is organizing his newspapers.
You’ll notice among the few children you see scattered about, many are carrying newspapers. One paperboy is carrying a large load inside the transportation center. Park Row was where many newspapers had their headquarters so the proximity to the transportation center meant the news was literally “fresh off the press.”
Between foreign language press and English language newspapers, New Yorkers had a wide array of reading choices. A paperboy sold papers for a penny or two apiece depending upon which of the three dozen daily newspapers they were peddling. The boys generally had their regular selling spots and if necessary would fight to protect their turf. At the end of the day a paperboy might have earned half a dollar in commissions if he was lucky.
Another group of teens congregate near the side of the transportation center. One leans against a pillar, while two boys nearby are holding a conversation
A patrolman keeps on eye on traffic both pedestrian and vehicular as another paperboy passes by. Horse drawn open cart delivery wagons bypass the transportation center and are driven directly onto the bridge’s roadway.
To the right of the transportation center a sign that says “Gold Dust” advertising Fairbanks washing powder.
There is signage to help to get to your destination. This sign on the balcony has the classic hand with finger pointing the way to trains.
This sign was difficult to see as it was in darkness under the structure, but if followed, this sign would direct you to the through trains to Coney Island and the Brooklyn elevated railroad.
Also on ground level is a large sign for the elevated or “L” trains.
The one thing that appears to be missing from the transportation center is good outdoor lighting. The only light fixture visible is this unusual large globe hanging from the third story.
Regarding the light in the last picture, it’s possible that this was an arc light. If so, a single light would have been bright enough to light up most of the entire station. Arc lights produce an extremely intense, bright light — so much so that some towns in the early 1900s used only one or two to light up the entire town at night.