Even before consolidation, it was America's largest city, with huge concentrations of immigrants.



1. Under Broadway Construction of the first subway line, from City Hall to 145th Street, began in 1900 and was finished four years later.

2. Grand Central Terminal Until the New York Central was electrified in 1912-13, trains turned Park Avenue into a noisy, smoky railroad right-of-way.

3.Theater District The Floradora Girls played the Broadway Casino, at 39th Street, long since torn down. Theaters flourished south of what is now Times Square.

4. Fifth Avenue By 1902 the city was emptying and dismantling this reservoir, at 42d Street, to build the New York Public Library and Bryant Park.

5. Waldorf-Astoria Actually two hotels, built in the 1890's by feuding Astors, it was demolished in 1929 to make way for the Empire State Building. The current Waldorf is 15 blocks north.

6.Madison Square Garden The second and grandest of four incarnations, this Garden stood at 26th Street and Madison Avenue from 1892 to 1925. Designed by the architect Stanford White, it held America's largest auditorium (8,000 seats) and New York1s largest restaurant.

7. Ladies' Mile The Sixth Avenue El ran down the middle of the popular shopping district; this picture looks north from 18th Street.

8. Park Row In 1902 the world's tallest skyscraper was the Park Row Building, across from City Hall. It stood 26 stories, plus 4 more in its twin domes. It still stands.

9. East River Waterfront New York was a shipping capital Ð its harbor was the world's busiest from 1830 to 1960 Ð and shipyards flourished in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island. Nearly all are gone



West St., 1885

Herald Sq., 1888. 6th Ave. El.

Terminal, 1892. Alfred Stieglitz.

Winter, 1893. Stieglitz.

Broadway, 1894

Herald Sq., 1895

Lower Broadway, 1899. Lots of hats.

Police Parade, 1899. Bowler hats, hardly any women.

Tiffany’s, Union Sq., 1899. Early car and some figures added by artist.

Getting a ticket, 1900

Easter, Fifth Avenue, 1900.One car visible, coming towards foreground.

Hester St., Lower East Side, 1901.

Flatiron, 1903. Burnham.

Broad St., 1904. Stock Exchange and Federal Hall.

Municipal Building under construction, 1904. McKim. No cars.

The Belmont Coach, 1905, four horses. Dogs run free.

Easter, Fifth Ave., 1906. No cars.

City Hall subway, 1907. Turkish headhouses.

Lower East Side, 1908.

Herald Square, 1909. Skyscraper beyond is NY Times Building in Times Sq. Cars have replaced horses.

Automatic Vaudeville, Union Sq., 1910.

Downtown skyline with Singer Building., 1910. World’s tallest.

Downtown skyline with Woolworth Building., 1913. World’s tallest.

Birdseye, 1913, with artist’s enhancement. Hand colored.

Federal Crowd Control, 1918. Machine guns in front, modified phalanx. Soldiers on sides assigned to upstairs windows. Wilson feared antiwar riots, losing mind to small strokes.

Times Square from New York Times Building., 1922.

HMS Leviathan and Singer Building., 1923.

Fifth Ave., 1924. Buses and taxis on parade.

Coney Island, 1928. Walker Evans.

Lower Broadway Tickertape, 1928. For Bremen crew, first east-west transatlantic flight.

1928. Three biggest spires not yet built. Fairchild Aerial Surveys.

1935 Philadelphia, just for fun. Skyscraper density nearly matched New York’s. Fairchild.

Chrysler Gargoyle, 1929.

42nd Street, 1929. Walker Evans.

Building the Empire State, 1930. Lewis Hine.

Icarus, 1930. Hine.

Liberty, 1930. With symbols.

1931. Fairchild.

Midtown, 1931. The tracks lead to Penn Station. Post Office spans tracks, may some day be Penn Station. Fairchild.

Sikorsky Clipper, 1931. New spires gleam. River traffic, piers, ocean liner in slip.

Midtown’s lineup of spires with sky in between, 1931.

Six engines! 1931.

The valley between, 1931.

Brooklyn foreground, 1931. Small scale dense area between bridges on Manhattan side now a Ville Radieuse. Fairchild.

Spires of Gotham, 1932

Tropical Drinks Five Cents, 1932

Subway execs inspect new subway car, 1933. Breakthrough blowers ventilate with windows closed! Cane seats.

Columbus Circle, 1933. No Time-Warner, no Trump International, no Venetian palazzetto.

Just $24 in1626? More than that in 1933.

Three-point perspective, 1934.

Berenice Abbott photos, 1935

Chambers at Oak. Horse-drawn wagon.


Henry St. Beyond, Towers of Zenith loom in the mist.

Mad King Ludwig in Greenwich Village: Jeferson Market, then Jefferson Courthouse, now Jefferson Library, 6th Avenue.

Murray Hill Hotel with fancy fire escape.

Cities Service Tower. Horse-drawn wagons lingered into the mid-sixties.

Prickly skyline with famous bridge, 1935.

Times Square, 1935. Betty Boop on the marquee. The Astor came down mid-sixties, along with Penn Station and Singer Building: a bad time for beaux-arts. Streetcars in the square, no overhead wires.

Times Square looking South to Times Building. Mid-sixties this was stripped to steel skeleton and re-clothed in kitsch marble by mod illustrator Peter Max. More bad times for beaux-arts.

Berenice Abbott photos, 1936

The El featured potbellied stoves.

Fifth Avenue bus in Washington Square.

Dapper in front of Dock Department.

Billie’s Bar, First Ave. at 56th.

Bowery and Doyer. 3rd Ave. El.

Christopher and Bleecker. A wood-clad survivor.

Church of God, E. 132nd St.

Ferry, Chambers St.

Greyhound and Penn Station.

Herald Sq. Chain-drive trucks also survived into the sixties.

Manhattan Bridge.

Milk Truck, Greenwich Village.

Newspaper (Park) Row. Center building once tallest. Berenice Abbott.

Park Ave. and 39th.

At Hudson River terminus of Cortlandt St., motorized and horse-drawn vans transferred goods to and from barge-borne railcars.

Pike and Henry, Lower East Side, with Manhattan Bridge and a horse.

S. Klein On-The-Square, Union Sq. Contraposto.

Union Square with Turkish subway kiosk. Is that man using a cellphone??

Magnificent Manhattan spires from Willow and Poplar, Brooklyn. Cathedrals of Commerce.

Berenice Abbott photos, 1937

Avenue D and 10th St. Chain-drive truck.

Hester Street.

Riverside Drive Viaduct. .

Oyster House, South Street, under Manhattan Bridge, with pile of oyster shells.

Father Duffy, Times Square. Andre Kertesz, 1937.

Manhattan Bridge from Brooklyn (now DUMBO), Kertesz, 1937.

Henry Hudson Parkway at 72nd St.: fancy interchange. Fairchild Aerial Surveys, 1937.

Rockefeller Ctr., 1937. St. Thomas’ Church at left, site of Jackie O’s funeral. Fairchild.

Simply Add Boiling Water, 1937. Photo by Weegee.

The old Met(ropolitan Opera), Garment District, 1937. Weegee.

Still clean and gleaming, the Towers of Zenith, 1937.

Berenice Abbott, 1938

Duke Mansion, a tobacco tycoon’s, 1 E. 78th St. at Fifth Ave.

40th between 6th and 7th. Zoning generates the form.

Flam &Flam, Lawyers, 165 E. 121st St.

Wall Street from 60 Wall.

From 60 Wall Street.

Cathedral Parkway (110th Street).

Columbus Circle. Building with Coke sign another of Hearst’s skyscraper bases. Unlike the one Foster is currently completing, this one was torn down for the Gulf and Western Building, now re-imagined by Phillip Johnson as the Trump International Hotel.

Jefferson Market with the hulking, deco Women’s House of Detention behind (now demolished for a park). From the barred, open windows, the ladies would hurl obscenities at passersby.

504-506 Broome St. Ancient.

Union Square West. A hilarious jumble gets A+ for accidental design. These lots once held town houses. Their dainty footprints have been preserved, so the buildings have a delicate scale regardless of their height. One is a miniature skyscraper. Scale-obsessed NIMBYs take note: you need to object to a building’s footprint, not its height.

From Jersey, the classic skyline view.

Subway Portrait. Walker Evans, 1938.

Artists and Poets, Washington Sq., 1939

42nd Street Beauties, looking west, 1939.

Clipper, 1939. Europe in 29 hours.

DC-4 Over Midtown, 1939. Hood’s Daily News Building lower right.

Fish market meets railroad under Roebling’s bridge, 1939.

Abandoned in the downpour, 1939. West Side.

Forty-second Street.

Sixth Avenue El, 1940.

Downtown from Empire State. Andre Kertesz, 1940.

1940 Photos by Andreas Feininger

Ninth Avenue El, 8th at 127th, Harlem.

The Bowery.

Bryant Park.

Downtown Skyport with Cities Service Tower.

The original twin towers.

Tower trio. Slender flattop is Irving Trust, tower at right now belongs to Trump.

New York’s greatest walk.

Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges.


Downtown gunsmith.

Three icons: Empire State; Horn and Hardart (The Automat), New York’s original restaurant chain, long gone; lamp standard, now being re-installed.


Central Park looking southeast toward Grand Army Plaza. The baronial Savoy-Plaza Hotel dominates with its vast, vaguely French roof and twin chimneys: another major Beaux-Arts landmark demolished mid-sixties. Replaced by Stone’s vapid GM Building, recently acquired by Trump.

Elevated station, Downtown.

Underwear and kosher chickens.

What happens when you burn coal.

A Greek temple burning coal.

Flatiron with Fifth Avenue bus.

Garment District stacked factories steam hats.

Arm wrestling in Harlem.

Harlem night club.

Lower East Side, tenement city, looking north.

Streetwall: Park Avenue South.

Raymond Hood, master of Deco.

Seventh Avenue.

South Street, now a theme park and mall.

At the foot of 42nd Street: Normandie with three fat stacks in the middle, Queen Mary with three skinnier stacks at bottom. Normandie burned here, Nazi sabotage claimed. Normandie was that time’s biggest and fastest (Blue Ribbon).

1941 Photos by Feininger

Forty-second Street. Mid-size Beaux-Arts skyscraper on north side of street is Times Building, of New Year’s fame. Building still exists but reclad in mid-sixties.

Classic skyline view with America, junior edition United States.

Downtown from Jersey.

Midtown from Jersey.

Horror vacui, Hebrew style.

The hats match the canopies. Macy’s, 34th St.

Charles W. Cushman Photos, 1941
A color photographer with a black-and-white soul.

The classic pyramid, here with harbor traffic and puffs of pollution.

Suits on the pier. What are these men doing?

Fulton St. from South St.

Broome St. and Baruch Pl., Lower East Side. Not a sidewalk café.

Lower East Side: street as living room.

Lower East Side: street as conference room

Municipal Building, Courthouse and Jail. Big arch seemed futile before El removed.
Fairchild Aerial Surveys, 1941.

Charles Cushman photos, 1942.

Lunch, 5 Cents: looking up Broadway to Singer Building.

Collecting the Salvage on Lower East Side.

Pearl Street, 1942.

Central Park. Feininger, 1943.

The Fashionable People [harassed by the homeless]. Weegee, 1943.

Murder in Hell’s Kitchen. Weegee, 1944.

Coney Island. Weegee, 1945.

The photographer Weegee (Arthur Fellig).

Hole where plane (B-25) hit Empire State Building, 1945.

Andre Kertesz photos

Brooklyn, 1947. Andre Kertesz.

Lower 5th Avenue. Kertesz, 1948.

East River Esplanade. Kertesz, 1948.

Metropolitan Life and Empire State. Kertes, 1950.

City. Kertesz, 1952.

Skyline with Rooster. Kertesz, 1952.

Washington Square. Kertesz, 1954.

A city of spires. Just before the flattop invasion, late fifties.

First view of Manhattan from the Queen Elizabeth, 1953. The module of the window.

Liberty, 1954.

Times Square with James Dean. Dennis Stock, 1955.

Balcony. Kertesz, 1957.

Guggenheim under construction, 1958. Car and building share design philosophy.

MacDougal Alley. Kertesz,1958.

Queen Elizabeth and skyline. Andre Kertesz, 1958.

Sixth Avenue. Kertesz, 1959.

Man Sleeping. Kertesz, 1960.

Whitehall street from Peter Minuit Plaza near Battery. Cushman, 1960.

Four photos by Kertesz

Rooftop, 1961.

Harlem, 1963.

Washington Square, 1969. Edge of Arch at left.

Washington Square Arch, 1970.

Woody Allen and Cleopatra Jones,1971.

Lying Men, Washington Sq. Kertesz, 1974.

Kertesz, 1979.

World Trade Center. Dennis Stock, 2001.

* * *

Three New York Buildings



Two Greatest Beaux-Arts Buildings Demolished:

The main waiting room. Groined vaults in coffered stone.

The Baths of Caracalla.

The way to the trains.

Groined vaults in steel and glass.

Seventh Avenue. McKim, Meade and White, architects. 1903-63. The building made it to age 60.

613 feet!! In 1908!

Ernest Flagg was the architect.

This building also made it to age 60 [1908-68].

Another five years and they would have preserved it.

French Beaux-Arts.

Vacant and awaiting demolition.

From Broadway.

Queen Elizabeth and skyline. Andre Kertesz, 1958.


Return to Index

Site Maintained by