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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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Doyers Street, July 4, 1905

Doyers Street, July 4, 1905

The residents of Chinatown were nothing if not patriotic in 1905.  Here we see Doyers Street, looking north toward Pell Street, festooned with 48-star American Flags.  The photographer and the three boys are standing around the midpoint of the street at a location known as the bloody angle.  This location, largely due to Chinese gang wars, which lasted from the early 1900s through the end of the 1930s, is reputed to be site of more violent deaths than any other intersection in the U.S.

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Boys Swimming in the East River, c. 1910

Boys Swimming in the East River, c. 1910

How hot would it have to be for you to strip off all your clothes, climb over all the debris along the shore, and go swimming in the East River? Today, it probably never gets that hot. But for these kids, there was no better way to cool off. In a world without air conditioning, there was the fire hydrant, sprinklers in the park, a couple of crowded public pools, and the river.

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Boys in Front of 14th Street Theater, 1916

Boys in Front of 14th Street Theater, 1916

These boys, just exiting a the Fourteenth Street Theater, look like they are having the time of their lives. It's a beautiful spring day, April 30, 1916 to be exact, and nothing could be better than seeing an auto-racing movie and then palling around New York City with your chums. It's unlikely any of these boys knew or cared, but the theater they just exited had only recently become the "Downtown Home of Paramount Pictures." It had been built in 1866 as the Theater Francais and originally staged French comic operas. 

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