Posts Tagged ‘NYC in the 1930s’

The skyscraper tree grates at Rockefeller Center

January 13, 2020

Look up to the sky at 50th Street and Fifth Avenue, and you’ll see the iconic skyscraper 30 Rock—the sleek, 66-story beauty at the center of the Art Deco complex of towers developed by the Rockefeller family in the 1930s.

Now look down at the sidewalk you’re standing on. Embedded into the concrete are metal tree grates with a similar Art Deco skyscraper design.

A lovely touch, right? The interesting thing is that the skyscrapers in the grates don’t exactly look like the gleaming buildings at Rockefeller Plaza.

With their stacked shape and tall antennas, these mini-scrapers actually resemble the Empire State Building, standing proud since 1931 just 16 blocks south.

Perhaps the skyscraper grates are less of an homage to Rockefeller Plaza as a mini-city of silver towers and more of a nod to the skyscraper era itself—when the Empire State Building, 30 Rock, the Chrysler Building, and others defined the New York City skyline and became emblems of optimism during the bleak years of the Depression-era city.

[Rockefeller Center, 1930: MCNY]

Down on his luck at the Brooklyn docks in 1938

April 11, 2016

Reginald Marsh painted the city’s extremes: gaudy, seedy Coney Island, sex at burlesque shows, Bowery revelry, and the might and strength symbolized by ships and industry.

Reginaldmarshdocksbrooklyn1938

But his solemn forgotten man (and a second man, lying down on the left) perched at the edge of a dock in 1938’s “Docks, Brooklyn” reveals a loneliness and despair unlike anything depicted in his other paintings and illustrations.

And it just sold for more than $6,000.

The star athletes of Brooklyn’s Boys High School

August 20, 2010

Class of January 1934, that is—back then, when Boys High in Bed-Stuy was a top high school, graduations took place in January and June.

If these kids were 18 in 1934, they’d be 94 now. They got their diplomas during the Depression and were young enough to serve in World War II.

We don’t know what their lives were like. But the Boys High yearbook, where this photo comes from, reveals a bit about their personalities and plans. 

Isidore Friedenthal was voted Best All-Around Man and Best Athlete. Sidney Firestone snagged Best Speaker and Class Salutorian. 

Thomas Walsh was Most Popular and headed to Holy Cross for engineering school. Enoch Stolder got into Syracuse dental. And August Bartoli was planning on “New York University School of Commerce.”