Posts Tagged ‘photos of old New York’

Three different ways of looking at 23rd Street

November 13, 2011

“Vine-covered homes and shade trees marked 23rd Street over a century ago,” explains the caption to this 1874 photo of the street, which looks East toward Sixth Avenue.

The photos and captions come from New York Then and Now, published in 1976. “It was not until 1878 that the Sixth Avenue elevated railroad was erected, but the 23rd Street crosstown horsecar line was already a year old.”

Here’s a much less residential 23rd Street and Sixth Avenue, from 1975. “All the buildings visible in the 1874 photo have been demolished,” the caption states, including the Victorian Masonic Temple at the northeast corner, built in 1870.

“The Masonic Temple was torn down in 1910; the present 19-story Masonic Hall Building was erected on the site.”

By 1975, the famed department stores that made 23rd Street synonymous with fashion and shopping at the turn of the century—such as Stern’s and Best’s—were long gone.

The same stretch of 23rd Street today looks very similar to the 1975 version. Except for the Dunkin Donuts, even the stores look similar; the Citibank and Chase on the north side of the street replaced other bank branches.

And the tree on the far right—it looks almost identical to the one on the right in the 1874 photo!

Another day on Avenue B and 14th Street

July 20, 2009

This 1918 photo, from a postcard available at the South Street Seaport Museum, gives a nice snapshot of life at one ordinary Manhattan street corner.

AvenueB1918There’s a street lamp with humpback-style street signs, a tenement building that would have been about 20 years old at the time, an ad for a long-gone cigarette brand, a fire box, and a newspaper box extolling pedestrians to “read the New York Herald.”

A corner bar advertises “pure lager beer ales & porter.”

The best details are the people. A little girl snacking, a woman in a doorway with something wrapped around her head, and a figure leaning out the second-story window, a blanket draped out the windowsill. 

Photo by B. Merlis.