Tag Archives: Postcards

Old New York In Postcards #27 – The 10 Tallest Buildings In 1939

Skyscraper Race – The 10 Tallest Buildings In New York City In 1939

When the Park Row Building was completed in 1899, the 31 story office building was the highest in New York and the world at 382 feet. Less than seven years later it was no longer the tallest, with the Singer Building soaring 211 feet higher than the Park Row.

Today the Park Row Building, converted to residences, is not even among the 100 tallest buildings in New York. And the Singer Building was demolished over 55 years ago.

The constant desire by developers to top one another has continued and accelerated in the past dozen years.

The skyline is being overtaken by mostly nondescript glass boxes dwarfing other buildings and eclipsing many of the classic New York skyscrapers.

As of 2022 the ten tallest buildings in New York are:

Rank   Name                                 Height Stories Year Completed Address
1         One World Trade Center 1,776    94        2014                     285 Fulton Street
2         Central Park Tower          1,550     99        2021                     225 West 57th Street
3         111 West 57th Street       1,428     85        2022                     111 West 57th Street
4         One Vanderbilt                 1,401      73       2020                      1 Vanderbilt Avenue
5         432 Park Avenue              1,397      85       2015                      432 Park Avenue
6         30 Hudson Yards              1,270     103     2019                      500 West 33rd Street
7         Empire State Building      1,250     102     1931                      350 Fifth Avenue
8         Bank of America Tower   1,200       55      2009                     1101 Sixth Avenue
9         3 World Trade Center      1,079       69      2018                      175 Greenwich Street
10       The Brooklyn Tower         1,073       73      2022                      9 DeKalb Avenue (Brooklyn)

Recently looking at the 1939 World Almanac there was a list of the tallest buildings in New York.

Here are the top ten from that list-

All heights listed are the Almanac’s figures which may differ from modern estimates.

1. The Empire State Building is located on the site of the original Continue reading

Old New York In Postcards #26 – Broadway 1895-1915

Views Along Broadway From Bowling Green To Washington Heights

Broadway and 62nd Street – The Colonial Vaudeville Theater is on the left, 1913

Broadway means New York City. Sure there are other Broadway’s in the United States, but none have the same clout that New York’s Broadway does. It is the longest street in Manhattan and one of the oldest. What the Dutch called De Heere Straat and later De Heere Wegh, became Great George Street under English rule. The street was paved in 1707, but only from Bowling Green to Trinity Church at Wall Street. After the Revolution, New York’s citizens began renaming streets and Great George Street became Broadway.

Here are some postcard views of Broadway dating from 1895 – 1915 Continue reading

Christopher Morley Describes West End Avenue 1932 – Part 2

Christopher Morley’s Description Of West End Avenue – Part 2

12 room apartments, doormen and an air of upper middle class gentility. All part of West End Avenue’s allure.

In 1932 Christopher Morley took an apartment at 54 Riverside Drive on the corner of 78th Street, a block away from his subject.

Here is the conclusion of Christopher Morley’s essay on West End Avenue.

West End is incomparably the most agreeable and convenient of large residential streets, second only to Riverside Drive—whose decline in prestige is mysterious. For that famous old glue-pot stench that used to come drifting across from Jersey has vanished altogether. West End is well churched and doctored. The abandoned hospital at the 72nd Street corner is something of a shock, but the Avenue hurries on uptown, consoling itself with Mr. Schwab’s chateau, its proudest architectural surprise. I wander past Mr. Schwab’s railings at night, noting the caretaker’s light in the attic and regretting that Charley seems to get so little use of his braw mansion. I like to see the homes of our great barons gay with lights and wassail: I have a thoroughly feudal view of society and believe that we small gentry acquiesce gladly in our restricted orbit provided the nabobs are kicking up a dust at the top of the scale. Sometimes I fear that our rich men have been intimidated by modern doctrines and do not like to be seen at frolic. Nonsense! They owe it to us. When a man builds a French chateau he should live in it like a French seigneur. For the gayety of West End Avenue I desire to see more lights in that castle, and hear the organ shaking the tall panes. Continue reading

Old New York In Postcards #25 – Night In The City

New York Night Scenes

Let’s start by saying in general most of these postcard scenes of New York are not really night scenes. The postcard companies would take a daytime scene and simply transform it into a night view.

Out first view of the Bowery at night circa 1905 is a prime example of day turned into night.

On the extreme left a small portion of the facade of the Bowery Savings Bank can be seen. Above the street is the Third Avenue El.

Continue reading

New York City’s Famous Drake’s Restaurant 1900-1937

Drake’s Restaurant Was Open 24 Hours A Day For 37 Years Until Labor Troubles Set In

In our previous story we briefly told the story of Jack’s a famous New York restaurant that never closed. There was another “never closed” restaurant which was a New York institution for 37 years.

Drake’s was located at 111 West 42nd Street near Broadway. The restaurant was founded in 1900 as Rigg’s as part of the Rigg’s chain. Continue reading

Old New York In Postcards #24 – Pre-Prohibition Manhattan Restaurants 1900 -1920

Manhattan Meals – Some Pre-Prohibition Turn-Of-The-Century Restaurants

Maxim’s Restaurant 108-110 West 38th Street. Maxim’s was the first restaurant raided a few hours before prohibition went into effect January 15, 1920

With few exceptions owning a restaurant is among the most precarious businesses to enter. Long hours, high upfront costs for rent, food and labor and changing public tastes almost insure that few restaurants can make a long and successful run.

100 years ago many of New York’s older restaurants shut down because of an unexpected decline in business- the victims of prohibition.

Once cafes and restaurants lost the right to sell beer, wine and liquor many closed soon after the Volstead Act went into effect in 1920. Some restaurants known for fine cuisine were able to ride out 13 years with no alcohol sales. Other restaurants would turn to selling spirits illegally. Others like cafeteria and luncheon type restaurants survived, having always been patronized for their food.

All of the following restaurants shown below closed long ago.

Restaurant and Cafe Leo

Cafe Leo 14th Street New York CIty Restaurant and Cafe Leo stood on the southwest corner of 14th Street and Fourth Avenue. Note the Star of David over the entrances, not always the sign of a Jewish establishment, but a decorative element. In this case however, proprietor Leo Greenbaum was letting potential diners know this was a Jewish owned business. By 1923 Cafe Leo vanished from the city directory. Continue reading

The Big Department Store In New York In 1898 – Siegel-Cooper

Some Facts About Siegel Cooper – The Big Store 1898

Siegel Cooper Dpartment store postcard 18th Street 6th Avenue New York CitySiegel-Cooper Department Store has been gone for over 100 years. But in 1898, Henry Siegel and Frank H. Cooper’s emporium was the Amazon of its day.

In the 1890s Siegel and Cooper successfully operated a department store in Chicago before setting their sights on an expansion in New York.

What Siegel, the driving force of the concern, conceived in New York was not just a department store, it was the “Big Store.” The Siegel-Cooper Department Store was built on Sixth Avenue between 18th and 19th streets. It was a great location, then being New York’s primary shopping district known as the “Ladies Mile.” Within a half mile stretch of Sixth Avenue between 14th and 23rd Streets could be found the giants of retailing including Macy’s; Altman’s; Hugh O’Neill’s; Adam’s Dry Goods;, Ehrich Brothers; and Simpson, Crawford & Simpson.

The Siegel-Cooper Big Store building opened on September 12, 1896 and was an instant smash with the public.

Siegel-Cooper provided the nineteenth century shopper with a incredible array of goods, from abdominal bands to zephyrs and everything in between. Perhaps the most unusual article available for sale was “Baby”, a live, baby female elephant. Baby was sold within two weeks of the store’s opening for $2,000.

Among the store’s innovations was a nursery with trained nurses Continue reading

Old New York In Postcards #23 – The Bronx

The Bronx In Postcards 1905-1920

McKinley Square looking East – Bronx, NY

A short visit to the vanished Bronx of of a century ago.

It truly was the “Beautiful Bronx.”

Woodmansten Inn-Williamsbridge Road & Pelham-Parkway, Bronx, NY

A place to dine in style was the Woodmansten Inn. The Woodmansten Inn specialized in French cuisine and could seat 125 patrons. It was a busy place conveniently located across from the Morris Park Race Track (yes, the Bronx once had a horse racing track). Continue reading

Old New York In Postcards #22 – 1950s New York City In Color

Color Postcards of New York City In The 1950s

The world famous Radio City Music Hall

When you say the words “old New York” a monochrome picture may materialize within you. What is old? It depends how old you are. To many people under the age of 40, the 1950s is considered ancient. To modern eyes, the 1950s was a black and white world because most movies were still not made in color and television sets were black and white.

So when you see the old Kodak Kodachrome moments, the pre-1960 vibrant colors still deliver  a wow effect.

1950s scenes around New York

At Foley Square where the buildings house the local, state and federal government agencies.

Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village marks the beginning of Fifth Avenue. Continue reading

Old New York In Postcards #21 – 1920s & 1930s New York City Aerial Images

New York City In The 1920s & 1930s As Seen By Airplane

A Vanished Skyline

Peenn Station Area from airplane 1920sWhen in lower Brooklyn, Queens or bicycling across the George Washington Bridge, I look at the New York City skyline. It has become something I do not recognize.

New York is a city that architecturally alters itself every year. It comes as no surprise that there are buildings that now obscure the sight of what were once tourist magnets.

The Woolworth, Bankers Trust, Equitable, Municipal, Citicorp and Chrysler Buildings are dwarfed by new neighbors. Fifty Seventh Street is now an ugly amalgamation of needle glass towers selling for $40 million to absentee owners.

I never experienced the grandeur of the classic Manhattan skyline. It had mostly vanished by the 1960s in a spate of modern construction in the financial district and midtown. However, even through the 1980s there was not an infestation of buildings that blocked New York’s most notable structures.

But in the past fifteen years the New York skyline has been overhauled. In the process obliterating the uniqueness of New York. New, mammoth unattractive buildings are now spreading like a fungus in the city. The skyline seen now could be Chicago, Los Angeles or Houston. It has been impossible to stop a bunch of undistinguished architectural monstrosities to destroy the vistas that made New York famous.

Let us return to the 1920s and 30s when New York City looked like NEW YORK CITY. Here are some aerial postcard views showing what was once a picturesque city.

Click on any image to enlarge as all of these postcards are real photo. I scanned many (not all) of them at 300 dpi so the detail is pretty clear when enlarged.

New York from the south aerial view 1930sLooking north we have a fantastic overview of the entire southern portion of the island.

aerial lower manhattan east river 1930s aerialAnother classic view when approaching Manhattan from the south showing the piers and many turn-of-the-century and art deco buildings that proliferate in lower Manhattan.

Aerial view of Lower Manhattan from the Hudson Looking east across the Hudson another at the southern tip of Manhattan. This view captures most of the important buildings in the financial district.  Continue reading