Trolleys and wagons crowding Herald Square

“Herald Square, showing the ‘Great White Way’ and Herald Building,” states the back of this late 19th century postcard, which depicts what was then the city’s theater district as well as a thriving shopping area.

Even without Macy’s, which was still headquartered at 14th Street at this point, Herald Square appears to be as bustling, crowded, and messy as it is today.

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15 Responses to “Trolleys and wagons crowding Herald Square”

  1. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    Certainly looks more human, almost European, than it does today.

  2. Carine Says:

    Thanks for all the knowledge you share on NYC.
    I’ve nominated you for the Illuminating Blogger Award:

  3. S Says:

    Great postcard

  4. wordgrl Says:

    Does anyone know why Broadway was called “The Great White Way”?

  5. Ricky Says:

    I found this at

    “Nearly a mile of Broadway was illuminated in 1880 by Brush arc lamps, making it among the first electrically lighted streets in the United States.

    The headline “Found on the Great White Way” appeared in the February 3, 1902, edition of the New York Evening Telegram.
    The journalistic sobriquet was inspired by the millions of lights on theater marquees and billboard advertisements that illuminate the area, especially around Times Square.”

  6. Rich T Says:

    What’s the dial on the right? I know the left one is a clock.
    Man, I love Ephemeral New York and I live in Nebraska!

  7. wildnewyork Says:

    Thanks! Looks like a compass. Shorpy posted a closeup:

  8. Joe R Says:

    Do you suppose that the reddish building up Broadway, and in front of the tall building, may be the old Metropolitan Opera House?

  9. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    Even though the entrance for the Met opera house was on B’way the stage entrance was on 7th Ave & 40th St. Was going to work there at one time till they found out how old I was or was much too young.

  10. fivepointsguy Says:

    Are the long narrow shadow on the right-hand edge and the reddish brown girder squaring off the lower right-hand corner the 6th Avenue el?

  11. Herald Towers Says:

    There’s something so charming about this postcard. It transports you to the past of Herald Square and yet it looks just as bustling as it does today! It’s absolutely stunning.

  12. A downtown street once called “Newspaper Row” | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] the city marched northward, so did the newspaper headquarters: to new enclaves named for them, like Herald Square and Times […]

  13. A postcard shows off the pretty girls of New York | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Herald Square is interesting—perhaps it’s pictured because West 34th Street was part of the Theater District at the time, and it was the place to see these and other “New York […]

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