Aerial Overview of the George Washington Bridge, 1957

Aerial Overview of the George Washington Bridge, 1957

The river is smooth and the traffic is minimal on this bright winter day in 1957. If it weren't for the distinctive Pallisades of the Jersey side, the low-rise buildings of Washington Heights would be indistinguishable from those of Fort Lee, across the river.

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Queensboro Bridge with Elevated Train, 1920

Queensboro Bridge with Elevated Train, 1920

Looking East from East 59th Street and Second Avenue across the Queensboro Bridge on this day in 1920, one sees an Elevated Train car, a few trucks and motor cars, and a few pedestrians.  This cantilever bridge opened in March 1909, and approximately 11 years into its existence, seems very much underutilized.  Not so, today. Today there is no time of day or night when significantly more than half a dozen vehicles will be found crossing its spans. 

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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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Bleecker and Greene Streets, 1900

Bleecker and Greene Streets, 1900

On March 24, 1900, in front of City Hall, Mayor Robert A. Van Wyck broke ground with a silver spade for the Underground Rapid Transit Road.  Two days later, the first actual work on the subway was begun at the intersection of Bleecker and Greene Streets, by William Barclay Parsons, the Chief Engineer, and James Pilkington, the contractor who would reroute the sewers.  Here we see Parsons take a pickax to the pavement, surrounded by a crowd of onlookers.

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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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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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Sixth Avenue and West 52nd Street, 1937

Sixth Avenue and West 52nd Street, 1937

You're looking north from very near the center of the world, in 1937.  The Rockefeller Center complex, behind you on your right, was not entirely complete, although Radio City Music Hall had been open for about five years at the time this photo was taken.  The Sixth Avenue Elevated Line, overhead, would run for another year.  It was closed in December 1938 and demolished in 1939, making way for the development of the area and the replacement of the low rises you see in this photo with majestic high rises that currently line the avenue.

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Museum of Natural History, 1913

Museum of Natural History, 1913

The photo, taken by the Irving Underhill Studios in 1913, shows the Museum of Natural History's 77th Street Facade.  This was the main entrance to the museum until 1936 when it was moved to the Central Park West side at 79th Street.  The view here is northeast from the Elevated Train platform.  The tracks can be seen in the foreground, running along Columbus Avenue.  The Ninth Avenue El closed in June 1940, when the City of New York purchased the IRT line.

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