“In 1914, Lexington Avenue from the foot of Murray Hill to 41st Street and above 60th Street was largely residential,” states the caption to this shot of Lexington at 33rd Street, published in 1975′s New York Then and Now.
The street was in the middle of being paved with Belgian blocks, the text tells us, at the time the photo was taken. Notice the swinging saloon doors on the far right and sign up top for Ehret’s beer.
Fast forward to 1974, when the second picture was snapped. “The Murray Hill section of Lexington Avenue remains residential, but large apartment buildings with ground-floor stores have taken the place of private brownstone homes,” reports the book.
The saloon is gone, a supermarket in its spot now. So is the spire of what was the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany, at 35th Street. It almost looks like it was replaced by the Chrysler Building. And the Belgian blocks have given way to asphalt.
In 2012, the scene looks very similar to the way it looked in 1974. One building from the first photo survives: the brownstone two blocks up on the left, seen with shades on the windows in 1914.