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Thread: A Little More New York in Black and White

  1. #1

    Default A Little More New York in Black and White


    By 1850, a decade after Daguerre took the first picture, photography was already a big thing in New York.

    Purpose-built artists’ studios on 10th Street, Greenwich Village in 1858 (left); and again in 1938, about a decade and a half before they bit the dust. Love those convertible coupes.

    The home of Louis Comfort Tiffany, jeweler and art nouveau craftsman, 1885. Designed by Stanford White, this impressive pile stood till 1936, packed with stained glass and iridescent things. Looking built for the ages, its life span was actually less than either of its creators’.

    Another of White’s concoctions: Washington Square Arch, shown here in 1895 before the statues of George were added. Through the arch you can glimpse another White opus, Judson Memorial Church. Cars drove through the arch till 1971.

    White’s Colony Club, Madison at 31st, 1904.

    A dour portrait of Stanford White, founding partner of the eminent McKim, Mead and White, Architects. In fact White shared his clients’ enthusiasm for the good life conducted in various hideaways around town.

    The second Madison Square Garden, Fourth Avenue, 1892. White designed an apartment for himself in the tower. Here, beneath a nude huntress Diana, he conducted his affair with the beauteous Evelyn Nesbit Thaw, and was famously shot dead by her jealous husband Harry (1906). The building itself expired in 1925. Today’s Garden, where Dubya will soon be anointed, is the fourth.

    Beauty to kill for, Evelyn Nesbit Thaw:


    Somehow she looked different in every picture:


    She must have been iridescent as a peacock feather. Not one woman, but many.

    “Tired Butterfly”, photo by Rudolf Eickemeyer

    Distraught husband, Harry Kendall Thaw. Inncocent by reason of insanity. Insane to have fallen for a pretty face. Insane to have cared so much.

    The entire lurid story:



    Just for fun, four images of women from 1906:

    Gustav Klimt

    Gustav Klimt

    Pablo Picasso

    Also on Madison Square: another elegant icon of the ragtime era, Burnham’s impossibly majestic Flatiron, world’s tallest skyscraper when built, here in 1903 photos by Alfred Stieglitz (left) and his good friend, Edward Steichen (right). Steichen was the poet of murk, and Stieglitz married Georgia O’Keefe.

    Stieglitz and Steichen, much later.

    Three modes of wheeled transport in Madison Square, 1904.

    Lower East Side: airshaft of dumbbell tenements, so-called because they flared out at street and in back, leaving airshaft and consequently legal bedrooms under the code. Imagine the view.

    Car races train on billboard, Madison Avenue at 42nd Street, 1910.

    Lower Manhattan, 1910. Singer now world’s tallest.

    Next it was Woolworth. This photo after 1927.

    Graf Zeppelin over New York, 1928.

    Solid piers on both rivers, 1929.

    Building the Empire State, 1930.

    West Side Highway, the first urban elevated highway. Gone a bit over a quarter century-- after a section collapsed-- this provided drivers with a thrilling ride past ocean liners and skyscrapers, with narrow lanes and sharp angle turns. Built for Model T’s.

    A city of spires, 1931.

    Penn Station.

    Penn Arcade.

    George Washington Bridge before stiffening trusses and second level, 1931. O.H. Ammann, engineer; Cass Gilbert [of the Woolworth Building!], architect. Tower trusswork was to be clad.


    Wallabout Market, Brooklyn, 1932.

    Ellis Island, 1933.

    Gramercy Park West, 1935. Berenice Abbott photo.

    Seventh Avenue south from 35th, 1935.

    512-14 Broome Street between Thompson and West Broadway, 1935. Abbott.

    Queen Elizabeth, 1935.

    Fish, 1935. Abbott.

    Stone and William Streets, 1935. Abbott.

    601 West 23rd Street, 1935. Abbott.

    Firehouse, 1936. Abbott.

    McGraw-Hill with 9th Avenue El, 1936. Abbott.

    General Electric Building, 1936.

    MacDougal Alley, Greenwich Village, 1936. Abbott. At that time, the alley still went through to Fifth Avenue.

    3rd Avenue and 46th Street, 1936. Andre Kertesz photo.

    The Flatiron again, this time in 1937.

    771 Broadway, 1937. Berenice Abbott.

    1937. Abbott.

    Battery Park, 1937.Castle Clinton roofed over: aquarium?

    Rockefeller Center, 1937

    Summer, Lower East Side, 1937. Photo by Weegee (Arthur Fellig)

    Central Park with Savoy Plaza, 1937

    The classic skyline configuration, 1937: a mound with protruding spikes. This was lost with the addition of the World Trade Center. When the Center came down, this configuration did not return; we have a kind of Table Mountain instead.

    Fifth Avenue and 44th Street, 1938: dressed to the nines. Berenice Abbott.

    65 West 39th Street, Garment District, 1938.

    420 East 23rd Street, 1938.

    View from 60 Wall Street, 1938. Abbott.

    The mound and the spikes again, this time from the Brooklyn Bridge. Abbott, 1938.

    4, 6, 8 Fifth Avenue. Abbott, 1938.

    131-137 Willow Street, Brooklyn Heights. Abbott, 1938.

    The spires of Midtown, 1939.

    Queensboro (59th Street) Bridge and Midtown, 1939: four times a day as the river’s flow changes direction: a bridge over troubled water.

    Broad Street. Andreas Feininger photo, 1940.

    Polo Grounds, Eighth Avenue at 159th Street, 1940: where the Giants played before they moved to San Francisco. Demolished 1964; Harlem River in background.

    Cortland Street and Ninth Avenue El, 1940.

    Photos by Andreas Feininger, 1940


    Franklin Square El.

    South Street.

    View from Cities Service Tower, 70 Pine Street.

    West Street.

    Times Square.

    William Street. Buick.

    Seaplanes landed in East River at Skyport.

    Williamsburg Bridge.

    Times Square.

    The right slenderness ratio for a skyscraper; could be 200 stories and it would look right. Lower Manhattan from Brooklyn.

    Browsing the ladies. Times Square.

    Ethnic New York by Feininger, 1940

    Jewish (left); Greek

    Italian; Mulberry Street, Little Italy

    Five by Feininger, 1941

    Day Line.

    Employment Agency. Depression would soon be cured by War.

    Looking South toward Brooklyn.


    West Side Highway at 125th Street.

    Color Photos by Charles W. Cushman, 1941

    Fulton Fish Market.

    Immigrant Woman.

    Lower East Side.

    Lower East Side.

    End of Broadway.

    “Lower First Avenue is Spruce Looking”


    McSorley’s, East Village.

    “Poverty, Young and Old, Black and White”

    Street Scene. This one makes me think of Hopper.

    Queensboro Bridge. Kertesz, 1947.

    Queen Elizabeth, 1948.

    Fireboats greet the SS United States, 1949.

    Times Square looking south towards Times Building, 1949. Movie, 3rd Man one of the great thrillers, starring Orson Welles and Joseph Cotton.

    Andre Kertesz, 1950.

    United States, 1953.

    Washington Square Park. Kertesz, 1953 and 1954.

    Ebbets Field, 1956. Home of the Brooklyn Dodgers before they moved to L.A.

    Yankee Stadium, 1956.

    Times Square, 1957.

    Six by Kertesz

    1959 (left); 1962.

    Washington Square, 1962 (left); 1969.

    MacDougal Alley, 1967.



    This year was a New York nadir. The city seemed doomed. The state of the subway seemed the harbinger of doom. Bruce Davidson chronicled that subway:

    An undercover cop arrests a mugger. This photo is not staged.

    Parting shots from

    Abandoned West Side Highway, a portion of which had collapsed.


  2. #2


    bravo ! Another great picture show

  3. #3

  4. #4
    The Dude Abides
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    NYC - Financial District


    Why is it that the streets always look so much wider in those old pictures?

  5. #5


    Quote Originally Posted by pianoman11686 View Post
    Why is it that the streets always look so much wider in those old pictures?
    Fewer cars?

  6. #6


    If only other 're-runs' were as good as this! Thank you for for putting this back on the schedule for us.

    Do 4, 6 & 8 Fifth Avenue still stand?

  7. #7


    Quote Originally Posted by tdp View Post
    Do 4, 6 & 8 Fifth Avenue still stand?
    No, they don't. In their stead, we have the giant white-brick apartment building (2 Fifth Ave.) that also devoured the eastern-most houses of Washington Square North west of Fifth Avenue shortly after WWII. Home to Edward Koch and the late Bella Abzug. 4, 6 and 8 Fifth Ave. are described at length in Volume 1 of the Landmark Preservation Commission's Designation Report for the GV Historic District, pp. 118-119 (now out of print but available as a free PDF at

  8. #8


    Special thanks for including this glimpse of G.W. Post's sensuous Produce Exchange, which once graced Bowling Green:

    It's among the buildings that I wish that I'd arrived in NYC soon enough to see before their loss. A couple of more shots, culled from the net:

    Finally, what replaced it:

  9. #9


    Quote Originally Posted by ManhattanKnight View Post
    Finally, what replaced it:
    militant Modernism.

  10. #10


    ^^ The two pics above are from a book I recently got where the photographer re-took Berenice Abbot's "New York changing" pics in the 1990s, on the same day of the year (same light), fromt eh same position and using simialr (now antique) equipment. Fantastic book; I recommedn it highly (though a bit depressing as in the above)....

    Bravo Ablarc.

  11. #11


    ^ Thanks for the reference. Here's the link:

    Go to the photographs.

  12. #12

    Default ThankYou!...

    ...for these images!!! I look forward to more!!!

  13. #13

    Default Thank you

    Thanks for the pictures. Can you give us a clue as to the sources you used. Did you scan these in yourself from paper sources? Thanks again

  14. #14


    ^ Scanned some of them, got others from the web. The scanned ones are from a book of old Fairchild Aerial Survey pictures.

  15. #15


    Do you have any idea who the photographer was on the Ebbets Field aerial image? Thanks.

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