Vintage Photographs of Greenwich Village, including the East Village, West Village, and Washington Square.
In this photo from 1867, this part of the East Village looked pretty rural. Now there's not a tree to be found at this intersection, but two years after the end of the Civil War there were plenty. Here we can see several several horses and carriages, a few pedestrians, a pair of young boys, a few street lamps, and a wrought iron fence surrounding a large house.
In this black and white photograph, taken around 1910, we see the entire company of Engine 72, located at 22 East 12th Street, at the site of what is now Cinema Village. Manhattan Engine 72 was organized and disbanded several times between July 1, 1900 and May 1, 1918, when it was permanently disbanded. This photo shows 11 of New York's Bravest standing atop their High Pressure engine.
The photographer shoots north along Broadway from the corner of East 10th Street. Aside from Grace Church, which can be seen on the right, very little of this view remains. M. Stern & Son Fine Furs and Cloaks has been replaced with a residential high rise, and obviously the drays, coaches, and horsecars are long gone. Thanks to the banner advertising the play Investigation at the Theatre Comique, located at 728 Broadway, we know this scene was captured in the fall of 1884.
On March 24, 1900, in front of City Hall, Mayor Robert A. Van Wyck broke ground with a silver spade for the Underground Rapid Transit Road. Two days later, the first actual work on the subway was begun at the intersection of Bleecker and Greene Streets, by William Barclay Parsons, the Chief Engineer, and James Pilkington, the contractor who would reroute the sewers. Here we see Parsons take a pickax to the pavement, surrounded by a crowd of onlookers.
Looking north along Broadway from 8th Street in this photo, taken on June 13, 1937, one sees two rows of parked cars lining the curbs, and two pairs of streetcar tracks running down the middle of Broadway. Grace Church, which was consecrated in 1846 and declared a National Historic Landmark in 1977, occupies the center of the frame and what was then the Annex to John Wanamaker's Department Store is on the right.
To photograph this street scene from the winter of 1930, the photographer stood in Fifth Avenue, his back to Washington Square Park, and aimed his camera north. From his point of view, it was probably an unremarkable winter morning. Traffic flowed in both directions, pedestrians went about their business, and off in the distance the 14th Street Traffic Tower ensured that everyone kept moving along. For us, however, this photograph is a remarkable moment in time. The cars, the style of dress, and the Traffic Tower itself are all artifacts of a New York City that is no more.
Was there ever a time when New York City was not under construction? Here, at the corner of Thompson and Grand in November, 1927, construction is business as usual. The photographer looks east, past construction on either side of the street, toward the West Broadway and the Grand Street Station of the Sixth Avenue Elevated Train, which ceased running in 1938. It was replaced by the IND line, which is probably what is being built in this photograph.
Smile for the camera, boys! Geez, New York was a tough town in 1929, at least if these guys are any indication. We don't know who these men were, posing for a picture on the corner of Thompson and Houston, but it looks like the only time they'd ever been in front of a camera was for a mug shot. Even the two guys with coke-bottle thick glasses look like they'd teach that photographer a lesson if they could see him.
In this 1908 black and white photo, a horsecar (a streetcar pulled by horses) passes Abingdon Square Park. The park is one of the oldest in New York City, the quarter-acre plot it's on having been acquired by the city in 1831. The southern tip of the triangular green-space is at the intersection of Bleecker Street and Eighth Avenue or Abingdon Square.
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.