For most of the 19th century, the intersection of Broadway and Murray Street was the city—a bustling nexus of commerce and city government with notoriously heavy traffic.
This photo, from New York Then and Now, dates to 1887. Without traffic signals of any kind, crossing Broadway could be tricky, as these pedestrians demonstrate.
City Hall Park is on the right; the building on the right corner is A. T. Stewart’s “Marble Palace” dry goods emporium. Note the telegraph and telephone wires on wood poles.
It’s worth remembering too that underneath this stretch of Broadway, the city’s first subway got its ill-fated start in 1870.
Eighty-seven years later, this downtown corner is still busy. Loft buildings and office structures line the west side of Broadway, like the lovely Home Life Insurance Building, constructed in 1894.
A.T. Stewart’s department store building is still there—from the 1910s to 1950 the home of the New York Sun newspaper. The beautiful clock was still there last time I checked.
Today, the intersection looks almost unchanged from 1974, save for more visible traffic and pedestrian lanes markings and the loss of the pub at the corner of Warren Street on the west side. It’s now a bank branch.