New York

Manhattan Bridge Under Construction, 1908

Manhattan Bridge Under Construction, 1908

A barefoot boy stands on the cobblestones of South Street, in Lower Manhattan, looking northeast past the horsecarts and the ships in the harbor, toward the most astounding piece of construction he's seen in his lifetime, the Manhattan Bridge.  From the looks of things, this bridge has probably been under construction during the entirety of his lifetime, the construction having started in 1901, and not due to be complete until 1910.

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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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Amsterdam Avenue and West 207th Street, 1926

Amsterdam Avenue and West 207th Street, 1926

The streets are bustling in Inwood on this beautiful day in 1926.  Looking west toward Post Avenue and beyond, one can see the Corn Exchange Bank, several dance halls, a Chop Suey restaruant, and the Dyckman Theater.  The theater was a 1,700 seat movie palace that opened in 1913 and ultimately became part of the Loews chain.  This neighborhood is the northernmost in the island of Manhattan, and it is believed to be the location where Peter Minuit bought the island from the Lenape Indians.

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Oyster Seller on South Street, c. 1900

Oyster Seller on South Street, c. 1900

Back when the South Street Seaport had yet to be turned into a tourist attraction and mall, carts like this could be found selling their wares along the pier.  This Oyster Seller is offering free ice water to all -- although it probably tastes a little fishy.

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Herald Square with Streetcars and the Sixth Avenue Elevated Train, 1899

Herald Square with Streetcars and the Sixth Avenue Elevated Train, 1899

Herald Square, pictured here in 1899, was named after the New York Herald, the largest circulation newspaper of the time. The New York Herald Building was designed by McKim, Mead & White, and constructed in 1895. Herald Square could be called the ancestor of Times Square as the hub of New York City life. At the intersection of Sixth Avenue, Broadway, and 34th Street, with access to the Sixth Avenue Elevated Train and numerous streetcars, it was certainly a pre-eminent crossroads, well-trafficked enough to entice Macy's to open their flagship store there in 1907.

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New York Herald Building, West 35th Street and Sixth Avenue, c. 1895

New York Herald Building, West 35th Street and Sixth Avenue, c. 1895

This portrait of the New York Herald Building was taken around 1895 by the H. N. Tiemann Co.  Herald Square was named for the New York Herald, much the same as Times Square was named for rival newspaper, The New York Times.  In this photograph, we can see atop the Herald Building the statue of Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom, and her owls. A bell and two bellringers stand just below Minerva, ready to toll the hour.

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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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New York Central Railroad Train on Eleventh Avenue, 1929

New York Central Railroad Train on Eleventh Avenue, 1929

Before the West Side Improvement Project created the High Line, trains ran down Tenth and Eleventh Avenue. Here a New York Central Freight Train heads south on Eleventh. A flagman, or West Side Cowboy, should be preceding the train, but in this shot is out of the frame. The train is passing the George Kern building. Kern was a packing, wholesale, and retail distributor of pork and beef products, which was bought by Adolf Gobel, Inc., in 1927 for $10 million.

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West Side Cowboy, circa 1930

West Side Cowboy, circa 1930

The West Side Cowboy was a common sight on Tenth Avenue for over 80 years. By law, a man on horseback, waving a red flag, had to precede each train that ran down the avenue. Still, so many accidents occurred that Tenth Avenue became known as Death Avenue. In 1929, the city, the state, and the New York Central Railroad agreed on the West Side Improvement Project, which resulted in the creation of the High Line and the elimination of the street level tracks and the flagman on horseback. Here we see the flagman on Tenth Avenue and West 28th Street, alongside Chelsea Park.

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Thompson and Houston Streets, 1929

Thompson and Houston Streets, 1929

Smile for the camera, boys!  Geez, New York was a tough town in 1929, at least if these guys are any indication. We don't know who these men were, posing for a picture on the corner of Thompson and Houston, but it looks like the only time they'd ever been in front of a camera was for a mug shot. Even the two guys with coke-bottle thick glasses look like they'd teach that photographer a lesson if they could see him.

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