Posts Tagged ‘Old New York postcards’

Peeking under “new” Grand Central Terminal

June 24, 2013

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the opening of Grand Central Terminal.

But the train station is brand-new according to this vintage postcard, which offers a fascinating glimpse into the many layers underneath the street-level station.


It’s hard to read the faded print. But just below the street is the triborough train concourse, followed by the suburban train concourse, which is on the same level as the West Side, Bronx, and Brooklyn subway concourse.

Below that is the McAdoo Tube to New Jersey, then the Belmont Tube to Long Island. When did trains from Grand Central stop going to Jersey and Long Island?

Bridges and barracks in an East River postcard

January 4, 2013

This 1940s technicolor postcard shows the sturdy Triborough (aka the Robert F. Kennedy) Bridge in the foreground and the stunning Hell Gate Bridge, which carries rail traffic, behind it.

It’s only one leg of the Triborough though; the bridge connects the Bronx to Manhattan to Queens—leapfrogging over the joined-via-landfill Randall’s and Ward’s Islands.


I’m curious about the barracks-like white and red buildings in the background on what looks like Randall’s and Ward’s Islands. In the 1930s, the island became home to a psychiatric hospital that still operates today; it replaced an older insane asylum.

Are these barracks part of the psych hospital—or used as housing for some other group of people the city didn’t want in Manhattan or the the other boroughs?

“New York Entrance to the Holland Tubes”

May 25, 2011

This 1920s postcard of the entrance to the Holland Tunnel looks like a Hollywood set, not real lower Manhattan.

The “tubes,” as they were known then, opened in November 1927 to incredible fanfare. The New York Times reported the next day:

“When the two flags had parted before the New York entrance, there surged beneath their drawn folds and on into the chill depths of the white-tiled, brilliantly lighted subaqueous thoroughfare, an almost solid mass of pedestrians eager to make the trip from shore to shore afoot.

“It was estimated that within an hour 20,000 or more persons had walked the entire 9,250 feet from entrance to exit, and the stream of humanity, thinning a little toward the last, continued to traverse the tunnel until 7 p.m., when it was closed until 12:01 a.m., the hour set for vehicular traffic to begin its regular, paid passage.”

An enchanted city’s nighttime skyline

May 30, 2009

The East River, South Street Seaport, and lower Manhattan skyscrapers aglow in shades of firecracker-red, yellow, blue, and pink.


The back of this postcard describes the skyline as “a most awe-inspiring sight.” Pretty tough to disagree.