Posts Tagged ‘New York City at the turn of the century’

Getting out of the water at Rockaway Beach

June 8, 2015

Coney Island may be New York’s favorite seaside playground, but at the turn of the century (and for many decades afterward), Rockaway Beach rivaled Coney as the city’s premier beach destination.

Rockawaybeachpostcardmcny

This 1907 postcard, from the Museum of the City of New York’s digital collection, shows us unspoiled sand, tents and hotels for guests, and a young girl in bathing attire that looks extremely uncomfortable by today’s standards.

Rockaway has been rediscovered again, supposedly by hipsters and surfers—but it’s doubtful that anyone will venture into the water in black tights.

The stunning roof garden of the Hotel Astor

March 31, 2010

Times Square’s Hotel Astor, opened in 1904 on West 45th Street, was an opulent 500-room palace boasting luxurious banquet halls, terraces, tea parlors, and a Louis XV–decorated ballroom.

It also had a huge, elaborate roof garden where Gilded-Age New Yorkers dined, danced, and entertained themselves, catching cool river breezes in a pre–air conditioned era.

It’s been gone since 1967, replaced by an office tower. But back in the day, a New York Times article from 1920 had this to say:

“Down near Times Square the Hotel Astor Roof Garden and Belvedere Restaurant make it possible for the wayfarer to leave the torrid stretches of Seventh Avenue and in a few moments find himself in a real garden surrounded by flowers.

“There is the open-air dancing floor and the restaurant is conspicuous for dangling ferns and trailing vines. A unique feature of the restaurant is the gabled-glass roof over which flows a miniature Niagra.”

The cloth cutters of Ludlow Street

February 19, 2010

Jacob Riis took this photo inside a Ludlow Street tenement apartment circa 1905. Looks like the entire extended family was running its own mini sweatshop.

Notice the little pup under the chair at left. I’d never seen a pet dog in a Lower East Side tenement interior photo before.

He looks pretty content there, with all his people around him.