Tag Archives: New York History

Old New York In Photos #126 – Transportation Center At Brooklyn Bridge

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.

People

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 Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #123 – 110th St. Elevated Curve

The 110th Street Elevated Curve of the Ninth Avenue Elevated c. 1905

Elevated train on curve at 110th Street New York City photo: Keystone-Mast Collection, UCR/California Museum of Photography, University of California, RiversideWe see here the dramatic 110th Street “suicide” curve of the El at Eighth Avenue (Central Park West) from around 1905. From this vantage point a great view of the city could be had for the price of the El’s fare – a nickel.

Above 53rd Street the Sixth and Ninth Avenue Elevated lines combined their tracks to run along Ninth Avenue. When the tracks reached 110th Street, they turned east on to Eighth Avenue  continuing into Harlem.

The “S” shape curve was set at a dizzying 60 feet above street level to reach the plateau of Harlem Heights at an acceptable grade. Continue reading

The Average New Car Cost $814 & Other Fascinating Factoids From 1924

In 1924, 3,650,000 Cars Were Produced In The USA Costing An Average of $814

10 Factoids From The New York Merchants’ Association

A typical fact filled issue of the Greater New York Bulletin of the Merchants’ Association of New York The February 16, 1925

The defunct weekly trade magazine Greater New York – Bulletin of the New York Merchants’ Association contains news and articles related to business affairs. The Bulletin did not just limit themselves to New York related items, but highlighted national and international stories.

Paging through the 1925 issues of the magazine, I found beneath the feature articles some very interesting two and three line factoids concerning statistics from previous years.

Here are 10 of these factoids with headlines reprinted verbatim, with my comments below them in blue.

1- Use of Telephones
The City of New York contains more telephones than all of South America, Africa and Oceania combined. Within this area lie the great English speaking commonwealths of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and the rapidly growing republics of Brazil, Argentina and Chile. There, too, lie great cities, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Capetown, Melbourne, Sydney and Auckland.

Verizon abandoned their copper lines in New York City a few years ago. How many years before there are no landline telephones, just cellular phones?

2- Nine Big Incomes
Only nine persons reported net incomes of $3,000,000 or greater for 1922, and four of these reported that their net incomes were greater than $5,000,000. Two of these in the 5,000,000 class lived in Michigan, one in New York and one in New Jersey.

Hmmm. Michigan? Calling Mr. Henry Ford? By contrast according to the IRS, in 2012, the top 400 earners in the USA reported average income of $335.7 million. Continue reading

The 1910 Vanishing Of Dorothy Arnold – Part 2

After Dorothy Arnold Vanished In New York City

The Mysteries of The Paramour, The Manuscripts & Her Family’s Strange Behavior

The Theories On Her Disappearance

Today we conclude the story of one of New York City’s greatest unsolved missing person cases. At the end of part one of the story, on December 12, 1910, Dorothy Arnold said goodbye to Gladys King, an acquaintance she had bumped into on Fifth Avenue. Gladys was the last person to see Dorothy Arnold alive.

From They Never Came Back by Allen Churchill (Crime Club, 1960) is part two of The Girl Who Never Came Back.

Dorothy Arnold St Louis Post Dispatch Jan 29 1911Return now to the Arnold home. Never had the well-brought-up Dorothy skipped a meal without warning the family ahead of time. Now when she failed to return for dinner an increasingly worried group ate without her, then began making discreet phone calls to Dorothy’s close friends asking if the girl had dropped in on them. Told she had not, the Arnolds begged that no mention ever be made of the phone call. Later they asked the same girls not to discuss the case with reporters, and it is indicative of the vast difference between society girls then and now that none of the girls ever did. Continue reading

The Vanishing Of Dorothy Arnold. One Of New York’s All-Time Great Mysteries – Part 1

110 Years Ago Today, Wealthy Dorothy Arnold Went For A Walk In Midtown New York & Vanished Forever

Murder? Suicide? Kidnapping? Or Run Away & Start A New Life?

The Strange Disappearance of A Young Woman Who Seemingly Had Everything….Including A Secret Life

Part One

In the annals of missing person cases few are as baffling as Dorothy Arnold.

Time has erased the Dorothy Arnold case from the public’s memory. But for decades, Dorothy Arnold’s disappearance ranked among the most speculated of mysteries in New York’s history.

Dorothy Arnold disappeared on December 12, 1910 after leaving her house to go for a walk and do some shopping in midtown Manhattan. To make finding her whereabouts more complicated a report that she was missing was not filed with police until weeks after her disappearance. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #118 – Herald Square At Night

Herald Square At Night – 1912

This beautiful night scene of Herald Square was taken in 1912. The Herald Building between 35th & 36th Street and Broadway and Sixth Avenue is brilliantly illuminated as the presses work to get the next morning’s paper out.

Lining the roof of the McKim, Mead & White designed Herald Building are 20 gilt owl sculptures. Electricity would light up the owl’s green eyes. The two illegible lighted discs in the front of the building are a clock and wind dial.

Bennett Monument drawing sculptor Andrew O'Connor viaNY Times 1918Herald owner James Gordon Bennett Jr., was obsessed with owls. Continue reading

New York Illustrated – As It Was 150 Years Ago – Part II

More New York Illustrations From Around 1870

Part II – Familiar Names – Vanished Sites

New York And Its Institutions book cover 1871We continue our look at New York of 150 years ago from Reverend J.F. Richmond’s New York and Its Institutions 1609-1871 (E.B. Treat; 1871).

The names may be familiar, but possibly not the building or site.

While Central Park has remained a constant presence in New York City for over 160 years, it has constantly changed.

There were always developers looking to infringe upon the park with buildings and schemes. A fair portion of Central Park has managed to keep its original spirit, but many of its early additions have changed or no longer exist.

 Central Park

Children's playground Central Park 1870 playing baseballThe Children’s Playground in Central Park. There was no “Great Lawn” when Central Park was built. The Great Lawn opened in 1937, the result of filling in one of the two receiving reservoirs located within the park. The Central Park Playground seen above is an open field where children can play within its great expanse. This section was located in the southern end of the park, now site of the Heckscher playground and ballfields. Continue reading

New York Illustrated – As It Was 150 Years Ago – Part I

Illustrations Of New York As Seen By Artists Around 1870

Part I – Demolished & Mostly Forgotten

Intersection Fifth Ave and Broadway at 23rd St looking north 1870

Intersection of Broadway and Fifth Avenue looking north towards the Worth Monument with The Fifth Avenue Hotel on the left (c. 1870)

Demolition of anything old  goes on every day without regard for New York’s history. I believe a day will come when all the pre-20th century buildings not given landmark protection will be gone. Demolished in the name of progress. Real estate values rule, not history values. That’s always been the way of New York.

When a historic structure like The St. Denis Hotel is obliterated instead of renovated it is a shame.

I see more and more ordinary tenement and commercial buildings falling at an astonishing rate. So I look around trying to see vestiges of things my great-grandparents might have known and been familiar with.

What did they see?

Recently I took out my copy of Reverend J.F. Richmond’s New York and Its Institutions 1609-1871 (E.B. Treat; 1871) and started to re-read it. I had forgotten how many excellent illustrations were in the book. Belying the name, New York and Its Institutions is not solely focused only upon hospitals, asylum, charity and worship facilities. The book thoroughly covers other important sites and buildings with their respective histories. Though it was not written as a guide book, it essentially is one.

What my ancestors saw were these historic buildings which are now not even memories to most New Yorkers, most having been taken down over a hundred years ago,

Let’s take a look at what New York City looked like around 1871 and take in what the visitor and native New Yorker would have seen.

Part I – Buildings No Longer In Existence

Very few lamented the loss of the old Post Office at the corner of Nassau and Liberty Street – — until they saw what replaced it in 1875.

The modest Police Department headquarters at 300 Mulberry Street was replaced in 1909 by a grand structure on Broome and Centre Streets.

Wilson's industrial school for girls 1870 new york Wilson’s Mission House or Industrial School For Girls at 27-29 Avenue A corner of St. Mark’s Place across from Tompkins Square Park.

Broadway Grand Central Hotel 1870The Grand Central Hotel stood on the west side of Broadway opposite Bond Street between Amity and Bleecker Street. Illegal alterations caused a major collapse of the Broadway facade  on August 3, 1973. Incredibly only four people were killed. The remaining section of the hotel was soon demolished. Continue reading

The “Prince” Who New York’s Prince Street Is Named After

Was New York’s Prince Street’s Name Derived From Royalty?

Prince Street Bromley & Robinson 1879 Atlas of New York

Some of the original names given to the streets of New York when under Dutch and English rule have survived to the present day.

Many streets owe their name to local landmarks or the aristocracy and heroes of 17th and 18th century New York, including Delancey Street, Duane Street and Houston Street named after James De Lancey, James Duane and William Houstoun. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #110 – Bootblacks By City Hall Park During An Historic 1863 Moment

A Group Of New York Bootblacks At City Hall Park – July 1863

Bootblacks and other child workers New York City Hall posters theater advertisements 1863

A group of eight bootblack boys line up near City Hall for this stereoview photograph.

Taken by the pioneering stereoview firm of E. & H.T. Anthony of 501 Broadway, the view is entitled, “Brigade Of De Shoe Black, City Hall Park.” There is no date attached to the photo, yet, the timing of this photograph is of historical significance. How do we know?

The fence behind the boys is covered with broadsheets advertising several theatrical productions.

From the information on the advertisements we can narrow down the date the photo is from. Continue reading