Iconic Buildings

An extensive collection of vintage pictures of some of New York’s (and the world’s) most iconic buildings including the Empire State, Chrysler, Woolworth and Flatiron buildings, the Times Tower, Grand Central and Pennsylvania Stations, the New York Public Library, and more.

The Old Met, c. 1885

The Old Met, c. 1885

The original Metropolitan Opera House occupied an entire city block between West 39th and 40th Streets along Broadway. It was built in 1883, and this photograph shows it not long after its opening, before the fire that gutted it in 1892. The building was demolished in 1967, and the Metropolitan Opera Company relocated to its present quarters in Lincoln Center.

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Broadway and Park Place, 1914

Broadway and Park Place, 1914
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Woolworth Building Under Construction, July 1, 1912

Woolworth Building Under Construction, July 1, 1912
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Pennsylvania Station Train Concourse, Clock, and Arch, 1940

Pennsylvania Station Train Concourse, Clock, and Arch, 1940

This clock in Penn Station was often photographed. It cried out for it, hanging as it did just beyond the darkened archway. Here we see it in the summer of 1940, hanging portentously above a crowd largely composed of men in uniform. They all know war is coming, that it is only a matter of time.

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Pennsylvania Station Train Concourse, 1940

Pennsylvania Station Train Concourse, 1940

The great Pennsylvania Railroad station was thirty years old at the time of this photograph, and it had yet to see its greatest traffic. Passenger volume would reach its peak during the war years. Rail travel would diminish in the years following the war as other modes of transportation, most notably air travel, gained popularity. By the 1950s, Penn Station would no longer be profitable, and the Pennsylvania Railroad would sell its air rights as means of offsetting the cost of operating the station. This would result in the eventual demolition of station.

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Midtown Manhattan Overview from West 31st Street, c. 1930

Midtown Manhattan Overview from West 31st Street, c. 1930

In this black and white photo from the early 1930s, the camera looks northwest from West 31st Street, taking in the roof of Penn Station and the high-rises that have grown up around it.

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Train Departure Concourse, Pennsylvania Station, 1938

Train Departure Concourse, Pennsylvania Station, 1938

There was a time, not all that long ago, when railroads were the dominant form of travel in the United States, and the train stations of major cities reflected their importance. Pennsylvania Station in New York City was the grand-daddy of them all. Designed by the firm of McKim, Mead & White in the Beaux-Arts style, Penn Station was the ultimate blend of functionality with monumental grandeur.

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Seventh Avenue and West 30th Street, c. 1920

Seventh Avenue and West 30th Street, c. 1920

Looking north from West 30th Street along Seventh Avenue one can see two of the famed works of the architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White, Pennsylvania Station and the Hotel Pennsylvania. The former opened in 1910 and was demolished in 1963, while the latter opened in 1919 and is still operating. The Hotel Pennsylvania  has been in danger of demolition since the 1990s, having been unable to secure, as of 2011, landmark status.

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Southwest Overview of Pennsylvania Station, 1910

Southwest Overview of Pennsylvania Station, 1910

In 1910, New York City opened its Temple of Transportation. In this photograph, taken shortly after the opening of Pennsylvania Station, we can see McKim, Mead & White's neo-classical monument in all its glory. Covering more than 7 acres, Penn Station was the largest indoor space in New York City and one of the largest public spaces in the world.

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