Transportation

Discover dozens of historical photos of turn-of-the-century NYC transportation modes, including horse and cart images, early subway and streetcar images, and photos of famous ocean liners as well aerial photos of blimps and bombers over the Manhattan skyline.

Great Jones Street and Lafayette Place, 1867

Great Jones Street and Lafayette Place, 1867

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.

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NYFD Engine No. 72, East 12th Street, c. 1910

Fire Company and Engine No. 72, East 12th Street, c. 1910

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.

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George Washington Bridge, Opening Day, October 25, 1931

George Washington Bridge, Opening Day, October 25, 1931

The George Washington Bridge was dedicated on October 24, 1931 and opened to traffic the following day, the date of this black and white photograph. Here we see Governor of New York State, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, crossing the bridge with his motorcade. The span between its two towers, the main span, is over 3500 ft., making the GWB the longest main span bridge in the world at the time of this picture.

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Battery Place, Iron Steamboat Company Ferry Terminal, 1914

Battery Place, Iron Steamboat Company Ferry Terminal, 1914

Sure, you could get to the beach by subway, but on this day at the end of July in 1914, you could take the Ferry from Lower Manhattan to Coney Island or Rockaway Beach. The Iron Steamboat Company operated summer ferry service to a number of seaside locations until the close of the season in 1932. In 1914, you could get a ride to Steeplechase Pier and spend the day at the amusement park or the beach.

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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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Bowery and Canal Street, 1929

Bowery and Canal Street, 1929

February 11, 1929 looks like it was a pleasant day on the Lower East Side. The Twenties were still Roaring, with the stock market crash still 8 months away, and these New Yorkers were going about their business, hustling along the snowless streets, on foot, in cars, or on streetcars, or riding above it all on the open air trains of the Third Avenue Elevated. Elsewhere in the world, Benito Mussolini and the Pope's representative were signing the Lateran Pact, giving the Vatican autonomy from Italy, and former Brooklynite and Bowery Boy Al Capone was planning the St.

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Queensboro Bridge with Elevated Train, 1920

Queensboro Bridge with Elevated Train, 1920

Looking East from East 59th Street and Second Avenue across the Queensboro Bridge on this day in 1920, one sees an Elevated Train car, a few trucks and motor cars, and a few pedestrians.  This cantilever bridge opened in March 1909, and approximately 11 years into its existence, seems very much underutilized.  Not so, today. Today there is no time of day or night when significantly more than half a dozen vehicles will be found crossing its spans. 

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A Squadron of U.S. Navy Biplanes Flies of Madison Square Park, 1930

A Squadron of U.S. Navy Biplanes Flies of Madison Square Park, 1930

On this beautiful day in 1930, two squadrons of U.S. Navy planes can be seeing flying over Union Square and Madison Square Parks. The Metropolitan Life Tower lives up to its name, towering over the remainder of the skyline, including the not-so-tall Flatiron building, which cuts like the prow of a ship through the confluence of Fifth Avenue and Broadway.  Drivers of today should look on in envy at the traffic -- or lack thereof -- passing through the famed intersection.

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Bleecker and Greene Streets, 1900

Bleecker and Greene Streets, 1900

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.

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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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