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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Kids Cool Off in a Sprinkler on the Lower East Side, 1923

Kids Cool Off in a Sprinkler on the Lower East Side, 1923

Some things never change. One of the joys of childhood is running through a sprinkler in summer. For most this probably conjures images of suburban lawns, but as this photo attests city kids did it, too. On a hot summer day in 1923 on the Lower East Side, these kids cooled off by running in the street under a sprinkler hooked up to a fire hydrant.

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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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The Old Met, c. 1885

The Old Met, c. 1885

The original Metropolitan Opera House occupied an entire city block between West 39th and 40th Streets along Broadway. It was built in 1883, and this photograph shows it not long after its opening, before the fire that gutted it in 1892. The building was demolished in 1967, and the Metropolitan Opera Company relocated to its present quarters in Lincoln Center.

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Broadway and Park Place, 1914

Broadway and Park Place, 1914
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Grand and Thompson Streets, 1927

Grand and Thompson Streets, 1927

Was there ever a time when New York City was not under construction? Here, at the corner of Thompson and Grand in November, 1927, construction is business as usual. The photographer looks east, past construction on either side of the street, toward the West Broadway and the Grand Street Station of the Sixth Avenue Elevated Train, which ceased running in 1938. It was replaced by the IND line, which is probably what is being built in this photograph.

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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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Seventh Avenue and West 29th Street, 1915

Seventh Avenue and West 29th Street, 1915

Streetcars rumble down Seventh Avenue, past horse-drawn carts and seemingly all male pedestrians.  Looking a couple of blocks north, on the west side of the street, one can see the columns of the Pennsylvania Station, which opened in 1910. The buildings look like a mixture of street-level store fronts and upper story residences.

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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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