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View South from the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower, 1912

View South from the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower, 1912

In this hand-colored photograph, taken in 1912 by Irving Underhill, we see a very different Lower Manhattan Skyline than we would today. In fact, Underhill was taking the picture from the tallest building in the world, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower. The Woolworth Building, which would take the title in 1913, was not yet completed. It can be seen at the vanishing point of the horizon. To its right is the Singer Building, which is now 1 Liberty Plaza, and a little further right, merely a speck in the harbor, is the Statue of Liberty.

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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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Aerial Overview of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Croton Reservoir, 1929

Aerial Overview of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Croton Reservoir, 1929

This aerial photograph, taken in the late 1920s, offers a view of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Lower Reservoir in Central Park, and the skyline of Central Park West. The Lower Reservoir was drained in 1930, having become redundant some years before, and was filled in to create the Great Lawn. During the early years of the Depression, the site became a Hooverville, until Robert Moses ushered the project along in the mid-1930s.

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Aerial View of Midtown Spires, c. 1950

Aerial View of Midtown Spires, c. 1950

In this aerial black and white photo from about 1950, we see the spires of Midtown East, including the Helmsley Building and the Chrysler Building. The midcentury haze obscures southern manhattan and Queen, giving the sense that the world beyond Midtown Manhattan ceases to to exist.

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1 World Trade Center Under Construction, June 27, 1969

1 World Trade Center Under Construction, June 27, 1969

In this southward view, we see the North Tower of the World Trade Center under construction. This black and white picture was taken by photographer Mal Gurian on June 27, 1969. At this point, only about 20 floors have gone up. The South Tower, which was still in the very early stages of construction, is obscured from view.

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The Flatiron Building after a Snow Storm, 1906

The Flatiron Building after a Snow Storm, 1906

In this view south from East 26th Street and Fifth Avenue, the Flatiron Building looks like it is plowing through the snow. It looks like a substantial amount of fresh snow has blanketed the city, all of which has been shoveled by hand. The streets are as clear as they are likely to get until the hooves of the horses tramp it into slush. But luckily for us, some anonymous photographer captured the clean beauty of this moment forever.

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Workman Erecting Steel on the Queensboro Bridge, 1907

Workman Erecting Steel on the Queensboro Bridge, 1907

A workman on the Queensboro Bridge plies his trade high above the East River in 1907. The view is northwest from Blackwell's Island, which was later renamed Roosevelt Island, toward Manhattan. In the background, on Manhattan Island, are the warehouses of the American Malting Company, which was forced to reorganize in 1906 as the American Malting Corporation.

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Workers on the George Washington Bridge, 1930

Workers on the George Washington Bridge, 1930

Here's a view you don't often see. Nine men casually posing for a photo atop the cables of the incomplete George Washington Bridge. There's not one wearing a harness. The George Washington Bridge, initially named, the Hudson River Bridge was built between October, 1927 and October 1931. This photo, taken in 1930, shows the bridge pretty far along, although clearly the roadways are not there yet.

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Aerial View of Yankee Stadium and the Harlem River, 1933

Aerial View of Yankee Stadium and the Harlem River, 1933

In this photo, the camera looks west from a plane or an airship. Below is Yankee Stadium, empty. In the foreground is the newly built Bronx County Courthouse, designed by Max Hausel and Joseph H. Freedlander, and beyond the stadium is the Harlem River, spanned by the Macomb's Dam Bridge. Not much traffic is on the road or the river. Hardly the New York of today.

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Lower Manhattan Skyline through Brooklyn Bridge Cables, 1923

Lower Manhattan Skyline through Brooklyn Bridge Cables, 1923

This view of the Lower Manhattan Skyline from the walkway of the Brooklyn Bridge is enhanced by the geometrics of the steel support cables and lattice.  The cables themselves were, in part, made from inferior wire that a subcontractor snuck into the project.  Rather than remove them, Chief Engineer Roebling let them stay, reasoning that the bridge would now be only four times stronger than it needed to be rather than six.

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