Three different views of Lower Fifth Avenue

“Crossing Fifth Avenue at 22nd Street is a finely turned-out brougham carriage with a well-dressed driver and sleek horses,” states the caption to this 1889 photo, from New York Then and Now.

It’s a Gilded Age street: lovely cast-iron lamp posts, a towering tree on the west side of the street, and Victorian-era window shades for an air condition-less city.

Things would change drastically for this part of Lower Fifth, as the 1975 photo, also from New York Then and Now, reveals.

The New York Jockey Club building was bulldozed in 1900, replaced by the Flatiron Building. The Fifth Avenue Hotel on the left corner at 23rd Street is now a 14-story office building.

And of course, the Empire State Building, opened in 1931, towers over everything.

Today, the block looks similar to its 1975 version—but the stores are much more upscale. Lower Fifth has been transformed into a high-end shopping strip crowded with women on weekends.

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12 Responses to “Three different views of Lower Fifth Avenue”

  1. D. Says:

    “Lower Fifth has been transformed into a high-end shopping strip…”

    Which it used to be (“Ladies’ Mile”).

  2. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    Used to prowl the area around Madison Square Park in the 60s & 70s (in the photo upper right), was crowded with various women sitting, shaking their legs as they stared back at you. How easy it was back then…

  3. Really Says:

    Crowded with everyone, as is all of New York, not just with women.

  4. wildnewyork Says:

    That is true, but there seems to be a heavy female to male ratio in the Anthropologie to Club Monaco stretch. It’s Ladies’ Mile once again indeed.

  5. focusoninfinity Says:

    Have you shown the earliest known photo of New York City?

  6. wildnewyork Says:

    You mean this one?

    http://ephemeralnewyork.wordpress.com/2009/12/23/is-this-the-oldest-photograph-of-new-york/

  7. James Taylor Says:

    You can make out Eisenberg’s in the ’75 photo!

  8. wildnewyork Says:

    I know! I meant to point that out so thank you for doing it.

  9. East Villager Says:

    Those original streetlamps are so beautiful What happened to them? Why were they removed? It’s like the removal of the old subway stations (the only remaining one apparently being the Astor Place station).

    – East Villager

  10. East Villager Says:

    Also, the sidewalks look substantially wider in the first image…I recall reading elsewhere that at some point the avenue sidewalks were narrowed. Sad.

    – East Villager

  11. James Taylor Says:

    Actually I remember reading somewhere that the subway entrance at Astor Place is in fact a replica, and wasn’t installed until 1986. If anyone knows better feel free to dispute this…

  12. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    I remember when both sides of Astor Place, uptown and downtown, had elaborate subway entrances but that was in the 1950s and 60s when drunken Beatniks were pretty much everywhere.

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