Lower East Side

How ya doin', circa 1910

How ya doin', circa 1910

In this black and white photograph, taken on the Lower East Side around 1910, a pushcart vendor and his customer enjoy a chat. In some ways, this scene is not very different from one you would see today.

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Curbside Carts in Little Italy, 1920

Curbside Carts in Little Italy, 1920

In this black and white photograph from 1920, a woman walks along the sidewalk in Little Italy, past a Neapolitan pizzeria and a row of curbside carts selling produce. The absence of visible street signs makes it hard to know exactly which block this was. In 1920, Little Italy was far larger than the three blocks along Mulberry Street it is today.

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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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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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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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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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Delancey and Clinton Street Traffic Jam, 1923

Delancy and Clinton Street Traffic Jam, 1923

Imagine coming off the Williamsburg Bridge into this mess at Delancey and Clinton Streets on the Lower East Side.  It's enough to send you right back to Brooklyn.  The traffic jam depicted in this 1923 Black and White photo shows a snarl up of cars, trolleys, and the Third Avenue Rail line.  Even by today's standards this is vehicular congestion of epic proportions.

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