east river

Financial District Skyline from East River Pier, circa 1935

Financial District Skyline from East River Pier, circa 1935

In this black and white photo of the Lower Manhattan skyline, we can see the Financial District as it looked in the mid-1930s. In the center of the frame is 40 Wall Street, which was for most of May 1930 the tallest building in the world, losing its crown to the Chrysler Building.

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Manhattan Bridge Under Construction, March 1909

Manhattan Bridge Under Construction, 1909

Construction on the Manhattan Bridge began in 1901, and it opened to the public on December 31, 1909.  In this black and white photo, taken from Main Street, in Brooklyn, on March 23, 1909, we see it nearing completion. Both towers are up and the span between them is under way.  The Manhattan Bridge was the last of the bridges connecting the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

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Manhattan Bridge and East River, c. 1955

Manhattan Bridge and East River, c. 1955

Looking westward across the East River from the Brooklyn shore beneath the Manhattan Bridge in the mid-1950s, one could see the Manhattan skyline from the Lower East Side to Midtown. Today there are more highrises along Manhattan's eastern shore, but the apartment houses on the Lower East Side are still there, and the Empire State Building is still visible, although it no longer towers above it neighbors.

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Mason's Materials, East 14th Street, 1916

Mason's Materials, East 14th Street, 1916

This photo of the Murtha and Schmol Co. was taken on June 5, 1916. The company was located at 814 East 14th Street, mere steps from the East River, on the northern border of what is today Alphabet City. At this time, the neighborhood was in transition. Originally Little Germany, by the early 20th Century many of the Germans had relocated uptown to Yorkville, and the neighborhood was repopulated by other waves of immigrants, including Jews, Italians, and Irish.

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New York Hospital and the East River, 1935

New York Hospital and the East River, 1935

This black and white photo, taken on May 19, 1935 from what was then Welfare Island, shows the East River and New York Hospital. Since then, both the island and the hospital have been renamed. Welfare Island was renamed Roosevelt Island after Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1973, and New York Hospital was renamed New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in 1998 after merging with Columbia Presbyterian and receiving a substantial endowment from Sanford Weill. The East River retains its name.

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Horace Ashton, Photographing the Construction of the Queensboro Bridge, 1907

Horace Ashton, Photographing the Construction of the Queensboro Bridge, 1907

In this black and white photograph, taken in 1907, an unknown photographer has captured the intrepid Horace Ashton, sitting on a girder above the East River, capturing the view from his own unique perspective. At this time, Ashton was probably working for the Underwood & Underwood studio.

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View from the Brooklyn Tower of the Brooklyn Bridge, 1909

View from the Brooklyn Tower of the Brooklyn Bridge, 1909

Remember the opening of Welcome Back Kotter with the shot of the sign that reads, "Brooklyn, 4th Largest City in America"? Well, what was true in the 1970s was also true in the turn of the Twentieth Century. Seen from the top of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1909, Brooklyn is clearly a thriving industrial metropolis, a worthy companion to her sister across the river. Had the five boroughs not consolidated into Greater New York in 1898 and remained independent cities, Brooklyn would today be the largest of them.

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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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Aerial Overview of the Statue of Liberty and Upper New York Bay, 1956

Aerial Overview of the Statue of Liberty and Upper New York Bay, 1956

The Statue of Liberty stands at the entrance to New York Harbor, welcoming all to the land of liberty. Looking past her, you can see a string of barges heading into the harbor and an Ocean Liner heading out. Beyond them are the Lower Manhattan Skyline and the East River bridges. The golden age of transatlantic sailing  was coming to an end by this time, and the era of jet travel was about to begin.

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