People and Professions

The true dynamic of early-1900 New York City is illustrated best by the people who lived, worked and played there. And as far back as 1876, our authentic photo collection shows New Yorkers—immigrants to America arriving through New York Harbor, laborers, professionals, children and street vendors—and a street life like no other.

Workman Erecting Steel on the Queensboro Bridge, 1907

Workman Erecting Steel on the Queensboro Bridge, 1907

A workman on the Queensboro Bridge plies his trade high above the East River in 1907. The view is northwest from Blackwell's Island, which was later renamed Roosevelt Island, toward Manhattan. In the background, on Manhattan Island, are the warehouses of the American Malting Company, which was forced to reorganize in 1906 as the American Malting Corporation.

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Performing the Rite of Tashlikh on the Williamsburg Bridge, 1910

Performing the Rite of Tashlikh on the Williamsburg Bridge, 1910

Every year for hundreds of years on Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, Jews perform the Rite of Tashlikh, casting crumbs of bread, symbolic of their sins, into a flowing body of water. Here, in 1910, a group of women and girls cast their sins off from the Williamsburg Bridge into the East River. Jews in New York City still perform Tashlikh on the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges.

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Pretzel Vendor on the Lower East Side, 1903

Pretzel Vendor on the Lower East Side, 1903

A pretzel vendor sits, contentedly smoking his pipe, on the Lower East Side, 1903. Assuming the sign for the event at Webster Hall is recent, it's a beautiful day in October. A man dozes in the rear left, and a cat does the same on the pavement beneath a sign for Juicy Fruit gum. To the right of the Juicy Fruit ad is a sign advertising Harry Houdini.

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Rabbi and Student on the Lower East Side, 1907

Rabbi and Student on the Lower East Side, 1907

A rabbi and his student read together on the Lower East Side in 1907. The rabbi wear a tallis, or prayer shawl, and yarmulke, while the boy wears only a simple cap. They appear to be standing in alley, but seem so intent on their text that they appear not to notice the grungy surroundings.

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Workers on the George Washington Bridge, 1930

Workers on the George Washington Bridge, 1930

Here's a view you don't often see. Nine men casually posing for a photo atop the cables of the incomplete George Washington Bridge. There's not one wearing a harness. The George Washington Bridge, initially named, the Hudson River Bridge was built between October, 1927 and October 1931. This photo, taken in 1930, shows the bridge pretty far along, although clearly the roadways are not there yet.

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Hats at a World War I Liberty Rally in Times Square, 1918

Hats at a World War I Liberty Rally in Columbus Circle, 1918

There was a time when everybody wore a hat. Here a crowd of thousands, mostly men, stand in Times Square during a WWI Liberty Rally.  There's not a bare head amongst them. If you look carefully, you can see a couple of women's hats.

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Christmas in the Ward, Bellevue Hospital, 1920

Christmas in the Ward, Bellevue Hospital, 1920

The Bellevue Hospital staff took time out for a photograph during the holiday season of 1920. This ward looks very well staffed, with three doctors, four nurses, and an orderly for three patients. Bellevue Hospital, known most famously for its psychiatric ward, is the oldest public hospital in the United States.

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Don't Be A Scab, 1916

Don't Be A Scab, 1916

Two girls on rollerskates distribute leaflets in Union Square.  They wear "Don't Be A Scab" sashes.  One hopes that they are acting on behalf of their parents and that they themselves are not part of the union.

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Curb Market Activity, 1925

Curb Market Activity, 1925

This photo shows curb market activity on Broad Street in front of the New York Stock Exchange.  This sea of men and boys are relegated to the street to serve companies too small to be listed on the NYSE.  At the end of Broad Street is Federal Hall, which is today a museum.

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Curb Exchange, 1915

Curb Exchange, 1915

A boy in a window on Broad Street signals between a broker on the street and the office.  Curb exchanges catered to the needs of companies too small to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.  Such alternative exchanges eventually grew up to be organizations like the AMEX and NASDAQ.

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