Construction

New York, it seems, is always under construction. As the industrial revolution enabled engineers to build taller buildings, longer bridges and expansive subway systems, New York had to have it all. The Empire State Building, which began construction in 1930 and took a little over a year to build, is still considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. It remained the tallest structure in the world until 1967. The Brooklyn Bridge, is not just an icon of the New York skyline, it’s also one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States. Our collection of vintage photos document world’s most famous constructions.

Broadway and West 104th Street, 1902

Broadway and West 104th Street, 1902

This black and white photograph, taken in 1902, captured a busy day on Broadway.  Looking south from West 104th Street, we see a number of streetcars rumbling through the construction of the subway, past the construction of a high rise.

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East 23rd Street and Fifth Avenue, 1901

East 23rd Street and Fifth Avenue, 1901

In 1901, the great crossroads of 23rd Street, Fifth Avenue, and Broadway had not yet taken its final form. The Flatiron Building, also known as the Fuller Building, was just beginning construction. In this black and white turn of the century image, the only sign of the iconic skyscraper is the fence around the construction site. The Heinz 57 ad on the side of the Cumberland Hotel was about to be hidden forever.

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South Tower of the WTC Under Construction, February 1970

In this picture taken on February 27, 1970, the south tower of the World Trade Center is under construction. The cranes of Koch Steel top the jagged structure. In the background, the north tower, is substantially more complete than its sister.

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World Trade Center Under Construction, February 27, 1970

World Trade Center Under Construction, February 27, 1970

In this black and white picture taken by photographer Mal Gurian on February 27, 1970, construction of the north tower of the World Trade Center is substantially under way. The south tower in the foreground has made significant progress, but is several month behind its sister tower.

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1 World Trade Center Under Construction, June 27, 1969

1 World Trade Center Under Construction, June 27, 1969

In this southward view, we see the North Tower of the World Trade Center under construction. This black and white picture was taken by photographer Mal Gurian on June 27, 1969. At this point, only about 20 floors have gone up. The South Tower, which was still in the very early stages of construction, is obscured from view.

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World Trade Center Under Construction, June 27, 1969

World Trade Center Under Construction, June 27, 1969

This black and white photograph, taken on June 27, 1969, by photographer Mal Gurian, shows the construction of the Twin Towers. In this shot, we look north past the WTC 2, or the South Tower, which is in the beginning stages of construction, toward WTC 1, the North Tower, which is well under way. Beyond the cranes of Koch Steel are the West Side Piers, absent of any hint of the World Financial Center.

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Metropolitan Life Tower Under Construction, 1909

Metropolitan Life Tower Under Construction, 1909

In this black and white photograph from 1909, we see a group of men and ladies with parasols standing in Madison Square Park, observing the construction of the Metropolitan Life Tower. The main building had been constructed over a decade and half before.  The architectural firm of Napoleon LeBrun & Sons modeled the tower after the Campanile in Venice, Italy. It was the world's tallest building for three years, until 1913, when it was surpassed by the Woolworth Building.

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Gansevoort Street and 11th Avenue, 1930

Gansevoort Street and 11th Avenue, 1930

In this black and white photograph, taken on March 21, 1930, we look north at the Gansevoort Market, the West Side Piers, and the beginning of the construction of the West Side Highway. The photographer was probably grateful it was March, since the smell of the slaughterhouses in summer could be overwhelming. If you look to the right, below the Lamb and Mutton sign, you can see the row of sheep carcasses hanging.

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Erecting a Skyscraper, 1907

Erecting a Skyscraper, 1907

Three iron workers take a break from constructing the Singer Building on a girder high above Liberty Street. The Singer Building was the headquarters of the Singer Sewing Machine Company and, from its completion in 1908 until the completion of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower in 1909, was the tallest building in the world. Thanks to fearless men like this that was a record that was continually broken during the early part of the Twentieth Century.  The Singer Building was demolished in 1968 and is now the site of 1 Liberty Plaza.

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Manhattan Bridge Under Construction, 1909

Manhattan Bridge Under Construction, 1909

The Manhattan Bridge, which connects Lower Manhattan with the Brooklyn neighborhood formerly known as Fulton Landing, was the last of the suspension bridges to span the East River, following the Brooklyn and Williamsburg bridges, respectively. In this photo, taken from Main Street near the Brooklyn Piers in 1909, you can see the Brooklyn Tower and the beginning of the Deck construction. In recent years, this neighborhood has been renamed DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) and has become quite a trendy place to live.

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