The seedier side of Broadway by a 1930s painter

Cigarette ads, a burlesque house, a struggling theater, a flea circus and freak show (likely Hubert’s Museum): If you visited 42nd Street on the west side of Broadway at Times Square in 1932, this is what you’d find.

“42nd Street West of Broadway” was painted that year by Edmund Yaghjian, an Armenian immigrant who depicted daytime scenes of the 1930s cityscape and nocturnes that showcased the Depression-era Art Deco feel of the New York at the time.

After studying and then teaching at the Art Students League, Yaghjian took a teaching job in 1942 that forced him to leave Gotham for South Carolina, according to The Johnson Collection in Spartanburg, SC.

His New York City, the city of almost 90 years ago, is on view online at Artnet.

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11 Responses to “The seedier side of Broadway by a 1930s painter”

  1. CW Says:

    Nice piece of work. And, beyond Times Square is the McGraw Hill Building, completed in 1932, same year as the painting.

  2. aspicco Says:

    That looks like the old McGraw Hill building in the background… the green one… between 8th & 9th on 42nd

  3. Mykola Mick Dementiuk Says:

    Yes it is. I tried to do the same in my novella about 1960s in Times Square. Now out of print. Seedy yes, but nothing it became by the 1980s. I could no longer hang out there. Here’s the full novella, enjoy.

  4. The seedier side of Broadway by a 1930s painter | Real Estate Investing Says:

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  5. Shelly Says:

    Thanks for sending the link to the other Yaghijian paintings. The tug boat one sticks out to me. I love how he contrasted the billowing smoke stacks of the tugs in contrast to the smoke stacks of the buildings in the sky.

  6. Michael Says:

    Is that the Grolier Bldg in the background?

  7. The seedier side of Broadway by a 1930s painter — Ephemeral New York – Naked Cities Journal Says:

    […] The seedier side of Broadway by a 1930s painter — Ephemeral New York […]

  8. Tom B Says:

    Going from Gotham to South Carolina in 1942 had to be a real cultural shock for Edmund. How do they paint those Billboard letters and faces?

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