Three ways of looking at Delancey Street

This 1919 photo of Delancey Street at the approach to the Williamsburg Bridge shows a messy stretch of tenements, shops, trolleys, and walkers crossing the bridge on foot.

At the time, the bridge was a mere 16 years old.

In 1975, the trolleys and subway stations are gone, as are the crowds. The approach still looks like a mess.

Some of the tenements on the left at Clinton Street are still there, but many have been demolished and replaced by housing projects.

Here’s the same stretch in 2010. It’s still mostly a mess of cars, bargain stores, and a confusing juncture of streets.

But that block of tenements on the left at Clinton Street is still hanging in there.

The first two photos are from New York Then and Now.

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9 Responses to “Three ways of looking at Delancey Street”

  1. Andrew Says:

    So basically… the first is a of a city and the second two are of a suburban highway.

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    You could say that. Looks like at some point between 1919 and 1975, someone in city government decided the car was king.

  3. Christopher Says:

    I was going to say, the first looks like a orderly street with multiple modes of transportation. The bottom too look like sewers for cars.

  4. Jeremy Sapienza Says:

    Agree with Christopher. It doesn’t look messy at all in 1919, it looks like high order on a detailed level. On a separate note, two of the buildings in this area my great-grandfather lived in when he came from Palermo in 1915 have been bulldozed for cars because someone in officialdom willed it so. State action is the opposite of order. What you see in 1919 was planned only insomuch as it is the result of consultations and agreements between many different actors. What you see now is the “plan” of a single strongman to gut the intricate fabric of the city, to destroy the connections made spontaneously by the people on the ground.

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  7. Jimmy Says:

    I want to be able to tell you it is great to see this old bridge from Delancey Street, I can remember being a little boy on 55 Delancey Street looking out on the fireescape and seeing this awesome bridge.

  8. wildnewyork Says:

    It is a pretty awesome bridge. Especially seeing it as a kid, when your world barely extended past your own street corner.

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