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.

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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Pennsylvania Station at Night, c. 1922

Pennsylvania Station at Night, c. 1922

What have we lost? Prior to the establishment of the Landmarks Commission, many wonderful buildings were torn down in the name of progress. Perhaps none was a greater loss than the original Penn Station. In this exterior night shot, it looks a worthy successor to the Roman monuments it was meant to evoke.

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Pennsylvania Station Restaurant, 1910

Pennsylvania Station Restaurant, 1910

In 1910, Pennsylvania Station was the paragon of New York elegance. This restaurant, populated by ghosts thanks to the photograph's long exposure, is a far cry from the fast food joints of today's Penn Station. Not only did one enter the city like a god, one was expected to eat like a human being.

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34th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, 1937

34th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, 1937

In this black and white photograph from 1937, a man crosses West 34th Street in the middle of the block between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, pausing for traffic as he heads toward the Macy's entrance. The movie theater across the street is playing "The Longest Night" and "Come and Get It."

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Broadway and West 43rd Street, 1939

Broadway and West 43rd Street, 1939

Times Square in 1939 differs from the Times Square of today only in the details. The Internation Casino may now be Toys R Us, but the essential nature of the place is unchanged. Traffic, enormous signs and advertisements, and throngs of people are still the order of the day.

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Censored in Times Square, 1948

Censored in Times Square, 1948
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A Crowd of Men Ogles Enormous Breasts in Times Square, 1948

A Crowd of Men Ogles Enormous Breasts in Times Square, 1948
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Aerial Overview of the Empire State Building, 1964

Aerial Overview of the Empire State Building, 1964

The Empire State Building is no less impressive when seen from above than from below. In this aerial photograph, taken in 1964, we can see the Art Deco masterpiece in all its glory. It dominates the midtown skyline, stabbing upward into the sky, defiantly daring someone to build a taller building. It would be nearly a decade before anyone would.

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Times Square, looking southwest, 1953

Times Square, looking southwest, 1953

Before he tormented Batman, Cesar Romero sold Schenley whiskey. In 1953, the year of this photo, he also starred in a 39-part television serial, Passport to Danger. Here, from above Nedick's, where you could get a 5-cent orange drink, Romero's image overlooks the bustling traffic of a brisk morning in Times Square.

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