“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.