Two Views of New York’s Historic Madison Square Taken From the Flatiron Building 1903 & 1958
The New York Daily News used to do a feature, where they showed an old photograph of New York and had a modern photograph of the same scene.
From the newly completed Flatiron Building, here is Madison Square from about 1903.
Madison Square Garden and its tower are in the center of the photo. Brownstones and mostly low-rise buildings surround the Madison Square neighborhood. There are so few tall buildings that you can see the East River off in the distance. The building with the columns at the bottom of the photo is the Appellate Division courthouse. A small corner of Madison Square Park can be seen in the lower left,
Fast forward about 55 years and the changes are dramatic.
Daily News photographer David McLane had access from a similar vantage point in the Flatiron Building to take this photograph circa 1958. Continue reading
Looking Straight Down On Madison Square During The Construction Of The Metropolitan Life Tower -1909
The Metropolitan Life Building added a tower to its existing building in 1908-1909 enhancing the skyline of New York. An enterprising photographer from the Keystone View Company made his way to the top of the building to take this incredible stereoview photograph of Madison Square Park and the surrounding area.
Click to enlarge the photograph to bring out some great details.
Dividing the photo into four quadrants starting with the lower right, you can see two workers adjusting rope, one sitting, the other standing on steel beams 700 feet above the street.
In the upper right corner just past the beams we can see horse drawn vehicles along Madison Avenue and across 26th Street. The nearest building in the foreground is the roof of the Beaux-Arts style Appellate Division Courthouse on Madison Avenue and 25th Street. The courthouse is a New York City landmark.
On the northeast corner of Madison Avenue and 26th Street stands Madison Square Garden with its theater sign clearly visible. Directly across 26th Street on the northwest corner is a four story limestone building, home to The Society For The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Next to the SPCA building along 26th Street facing the park, are eight brownstones, with all their stoops intact. Continue reading
The Announcement of The Construction of The World’s Tallest Building 1906
The Singer Building: An Architectural Marvel When It Was Originally Constructed
When you think of tall buildings you probably don’t think a building 612 feet tall is all that important. In 1906 it was considered a staggering height, as a building that size had never been built before.
What is interesting when reading the account of the announced construction of the Singer Building in the Scientific American, is the sense of wonderment in describing how much taller than any other building The Singer Building would be.
Singer Tower Under Construction
The article speaks in flowery language of the proud achievement of being able to construct a building so “lofty.” Overcoming the posed difficulties in constructing tall buildings was merely a matter of “let’s sit down and figure out how to do this.” Coming through in the writing is the confidence that we are witnessing technical advancements coming in leaps and bounds. The reader palpably feels that not just in construction, but in all areas America itself has unlimited potential.
The birth of the modern skyscraper was at hand.
Excerpts from Scientific American September 8, 1906. Continue reading
Penn Station And The City At Night – January 1941
Pennsylvania Station seen at night seen from The New Yorker Hotel January 1941 – photo Underwood & Underwood
Every time you see photographs of New York’s old Pennsylvania Railroad Station you have to ask yourself how could this architectural masterpiece be knocked down and carted off piece by majestic piece to the landfill? The answer resided with the owners of the Pennsylvania Railroad and real estate developers who saw the station as a white elephant: filthy; declining train ridership; losing tons of money and impractical as a revenue generator. The land Penn Station sat upon was too valuable to let this monument to interstate travel remain in place. It would be redeveloped as office buildings and the fourth Madison Square Garden put in its place with the railroad station relegated to an unsightly subterranean labyrinth.
Soon after its destruction lasting from 1963 -1966, the city and New Yorkers began yearning for the old Penn Station. All New Yorkers today await a suitable replacement for the modern underground lair we now possess ignominiously called Penn Station.
Look at this panoramic view of Manhattan looking lit up to capacity in January 1941. Here is the original photo caption:
The electric glamor of New York by night shines out in this shot looking southeast from the roof of the Hotel New Yorker at 34th Street and 8th Avenue. Directly below is Pennsylvania Terminal, its glass roof aglow. Surrounding it are gleaming office buildings and hotels. No more thrilling metropolitan scene could be recommended to the thousands who arrive at this station daily. The beacon-like light in the background surmounts the Metropolitan Life Building (23rd Street Madison Avenue). credit: Underwood & Underwood, January 26, 1941
11 months later this photographic view would not be possible because America had entered World War II. The mandatory brownouts (dimming of all lights at night) in American cities blotted out the spectacle of light and cast a protective veil over New York City that would not be lifted until the conclusion of the war in 1945.
editor’s note; We have changed the title of this story to Old New York in Photos 52-A because someone forgot how to count – there were two number 52’s!