Midtown West

Vintage images of iconic Midtown buildings and sights, including Macy’s, the Theater District, the Empire State Building, and the Times Tower. Includes Midtown West, from Fifth Avenue to the Hudson River, between West 30th Street and West 60th Street.

The New York Public Library, Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, 1911

The New York Public Library, Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, 1911

This view of the New York Public Library, taken in 1911 from the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, shows the entranceway of the newly constructed building before the famous lions were installed. Streetcars, horsecars, and numerous pedestrians can be seen in the foreground.

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Mitchell the Tailor, Broadway and 40th Street, 1915

Mitchell the Tailor, Broadway and 40th Street, 1915

This photograph, taken on October 3, 1915, shows the northwest corner of Broadway and West 40th Street. The picture focuses on the shop of Mitchell the Tailor (from Boston), whose store was located at 1431 Broadway. Also included in the photo are the Green Cars, New York City sightseeing tours. A Nygard store occupies the location now, and an entrance to the subway is around the corner.

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Broadway and 45th Street, 1915

Broadway and 45th Street, 1915

In this black and white photograph from September 26, 1915, we see the Loews New York theater at 45th and Broadway. The signs boast continuous performance from 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM. Today's showing was Trilby, released on September 20, the drama, set in England and France, was filmed in Fort Lee, NJ. The theater was demolished in 1935, but in 20 years of operation reportedly sold 50 million tickets.

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Seventh Avenue and West 31st Street, 1922

Seventh Avenue and West 31st Street, 1922

In this black and white photograph from 1922, we see Pennsylvania Station from the corner of 7th Avenue and W. 31st Street. Several cars and a street car are going past its columned facade. This monument to transportation, architected by the firm of McKim, Mead & White, would be torn down in 1963. At the time of this photo passenger volume had yet to reach its peak. The streets themselves look empty compared to today.

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Aerial Overview of Midtown Manhattan with B-17 Bombers, 1940

Aerial Overview of Midtown Manhattan with B-17 Bombers, 1940

In this amazing shot, taken in 1940, a squadron of B-17 bombers flies over Midtown Manhattan. One of the planes appears to be impaled on the spire of the Empire State Building. Also visible in the shot are the Chrysler Building and the original Pennsylvania Station, and beyond are the East River and Queens.

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Broadway and West 38th Street, 1910

Broadway and West 38th Street, 1910

By the time of this photograph in 1910, this part of Broadway had become "Broadway," or the Great White Way. The heart of the theater district had been further downtown in the Nineteenth Century, but by the early Twentieth, it had moved closer to Times Square where it resides today. In this photograph, looking north from West 38th Street, one can see three famous theaters along the west side of the avenue, The Knickerbocker, the Casino, and Maxine Elliott's.

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Sixth Avenue and West 52nd Street, 1937

Sixth Avenue and West 52nd Street, 1937

You're looking north from very near the center of the world, in 1937.  The Rockefeller Center complex, behind you on your right, was not entirely complete, although Radio City Music Hall had been open for about five years at the time this photo was taken.  The Sixth Avenue Elevated Line, overhead, would run for another year.  It was closed in December 1938 and demolished in 1939, making way for the development of the area and the replacement of the low rises you see in this photo with majestic high rises that currently line the avenue.

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Pennsylvania Station, Prior to Opening, 1910

Pennsylvania Station, Prior to Opening, 1910

In 1910, the Pennsylvania Railroad Station, or Penn Station, opened to the public. The building, which was torn down in 1963 prompting the creation of New York City's Landmarks Preservation Commission, had been designed by the famed architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White in the Beaux-Arts style. The interior concourse, which you see in this black and white photograph taken just prior to the station's completion in 1910, was inspired by the Roman Baths of Caracalla.

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Herald Square with Streetcars and the Sixth Avenue Elevated Train, 1899

Herald Square with Streetcars and the Sixth Avenue Elevated Train, 1899

Herald Square, pictured here in 1899, was named after the New York Herald, the largest circulation newspaper of the time. The New York Herald Building was designed by McKim, Mead & White, and constructed in 1895. Herald Square could be called the ancestor of Times Square as the hub of New York City life. At the intersection of Sixth Avenue, Broadway, and 34th Street, with access to the Sixth Avenue Elevated Train and numerous streetcars, it was certainly a pre-eminent crossroads, well-trafficked enough to entice Macy's to open their flagship store there in 1907.

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Depression Era Apple Seller at Broadway and W. 32 Street, 1930

Depression Era Apple Seller at Broadway and W. 32 Street, c. 1930

In 1930, the International Apple Shippers Association, overstocked on fruit, came up with short term solution for the unemployed. They sold them apples at a greatly reduced rate on credit. By November, there were 6,000 apple sellers in New York City alone. This remedy only worked while the overstock of fruit lasted, and by the end of 1931 the apple sellers were all gone. Here we see a young woman buying an apple from an unemployed man at Greeley Square. The Sixth Avenue Elevated Station can be see in the background.

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