“Vine-covered homes and shade trees marked 23rd Street over a century ago,” explains the caption to this 1874 photo of the street, which looks East toward Sixth Avenue.
The photos and captions come from New York Then and Now, published in 1976. “It was not until 1878 that the Sixth Avenue elevated railroad was erected, but the 23rd Street crosstown horsecar line was already a year old.”
Here’s a much less residential 23rd Street and Sixth Avenue, from 1975. “All the buildings visible in the 1874 photo have been demolished,” the caption states, including the Victorian Masonic Temple at the northeast corner, built in 1870.
“The Masonic Temple was torn down in 1910; the present 19-story Masonic Hall Building was erected on the site.”
By 1975, the famed department stores that made 23rd Street synonymous with fashion and shopping at the turn of the century—such as Stern’s and Best’s—were long gone.
The same stretch of 23rd Street today looks very similar to the 1975 version. Except for the Dunkin Donuts, even the stores look similar; the Citibank and Chase on the north side of the street replaced other bank branches.
And the tree on the far right—it looks almost identical to the one on the right in the 1874 photo!
Tags: 23rd Street photos, Masonic Hall 23rd Street, Masonic Temple 23rd Street, Masons in New York City, New York in 1975, New York in the 1870s, New York street, New York then and now, photos of old New York, West 23rd Street