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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Oktoberfest circa 1947 on East 86th Street

Oktoberfest circa 1947 on East 86th Street

Germantown doesn't exist anymore. Even Yorkville is an unfamiliar term to present-day Upper East Siders. But until as recently as the 1990s, East 86th Street hosted many German restaurants, butcher shops, and pastry shops, and at the time of this photograph in the late 1940s, East 86th Street was known as the German Broadway. Nowadays, Oktoberfest is an excuse for Yuppies to go on a pub crawl and puke in the street, but as this photo attests, the finer elements of the tradition have been lost.

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Third Avenue Elevated Station at East 42nd Street, 1915

Third Avenue Elevated Station at East 42nd Street, 1915

This particular station on the Third Avenue Elevated line opened for business in 1878 and remained open until the main line of the Third Avenue El was shut down in 1955. In this shot, taken on March 5, 1915, we look north along the track from East 41st Street toward the platforms at 42nd Street with a southbound local in the distance.

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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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Woolworth Building Under Construction, July 1, 1912

Woolworth Building Under Construction, July 1, 1912
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Fulton Street and Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, 1908

Fulton Street and Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, 1908

In this black and white photo from the spring of 1908, we look east beneath the Fulton Avenue Elevated Railroad at the intersection of Flatbush Avenue. Passengers wait to board several streetcars. Men are engaged in construction.

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Columbus Avenue and West 79th Street, c. 1910

Columbus Avenue and West 79th Street, c. 1910

Looking north along Columbus Avenue from West 79th Street, one can see the 81st Street Station for the Ninth Avenue Elevated Train. On the east side of Columbus Avenue, out of the frame of this photo is the American Museum of Natural History. The Ninth Avenue El became part of the IRT in 1903 and was dismantled when the City of New York purchased the IRT in 1940.

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Mulberry Street, 1905, looking north toward Canal Street

Mulberry Street, 1905, looking north toward Canal Street

Those who have read The Godfather or seen The Godfather II will recognize these as the environs of the young Vito Corleone. A hundred years ago, this part of the Lower East Side was Little Italy, teeming with Italian immigrants looking for a better life. Today the immigrants come from a bit further east than Italy -- China, Viet Nam, Thailand -- but it is still a vibrant home for brave souls seeking opportunity and freedom.

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Bicycle Parade in Central Park, 1895

Bicycle Parade in Central Park, 1895

Central Park and Bicycles have a long history together, coming into existence in roughly the same era. In this late Nineteenth Century photograph, you see an early bicycle club, composed mostly of young men, pedalling their way along the unpaved roads of Central Park.

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Memorial Day in the Bronx, circa 1890

Memorial Day in the Bronx, circa 1890

Memorial Day began in both the North and the South, following the Civil War, as a day to honor soldiers who had died in military service. Initially, the holiday was called Decoration Day, after the practice of decorating the graves of the fallen soldiers, but in 1882, not long before this photograph was taken, the name of the holiday was changed to Memorial Day. In this picture, we see the remaining members of Union Regiment 73 taking part in a Memorial Day Parade on Tremont Avenue in the Bronx.

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