nyc history

(144 Bleecker Street, NYC click to enlarge)

left photo:
Mori’s Restaurant, 144 Bleecker Street, Manhattan
(November 21, 1935 by Berenice Abbott)

right photo:
Carina on Bleecker, NYC
(January 17, 2014 by Katia Asthalter)

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(click here to enlarge | photo source)

This picture was taken on January 17, 1907- 117 years ago today!  The shot depicts the construction of the stacks in the main branch of the New York Public Library.   After almost a decade of construction, the main building had its opening ceremony on May 23, 1911.   For more history and pictures of the library under construction, read my post “Then and Now: New York Public Library“.

Pictures of the stacks in the 2010s:

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(click to enlarge)

Happy Birthday, Radio City Music Hall!  On December 27, 1932, Radio City Music Hall opened its doors to the public!  Construction began on the project in 1930 on land leased by  John D. Rockefeller, Jr.  His original plan was to help gentrify the neighborhood (coined the “speakeasy belt”) by building a new Metropolitan Opera House but the idea was scratched after the stock market crash of 1929 and Rockefeller instead opted to create a complex of  buildings (Rockefeller Center) to attract commercial tenants.  Another plan that was changed was the name of the music hall Rockefeller decided to build in this complex.    Originally, the name was going to be the “International Music Hall” but was changed to “Radio City Music Hall” when the Radio Corporation of America became one of the complex’s first tenants.  Working on the project along with Rockefeller were Samuel Roxy Rothafel (of the Roxy Theatre/Rockettes) and RCA chairman David Sarnoff.

Some old photos from the 1930s:
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[Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, NYC- November 24, 1937 source]

photographer: Berenice Abbot

 On November 13, 1927, The Clifford Milburn Holland Tunnel opened, connecting Manhattan to Jersey City!  Some interesting facts about the tunnel:
-The tunnel was named after the chief engineer on the project, who passed away from a heart attack before it was complete- sadly, just days before the NJ and NY sides of the tunnel were about to meet in 1924.  His successor, Milton Freeman, also died 5 months later! This left the third chief engineer, Ole Singstad, with the task of finishing the tunnel. (source)

-On the first day open, 51,694 vehicles passed through the tunnel! Cars paid 50 cents, motorcycles paid 25 cents, and trucks paid up to $2.00. (source/source)

-The tunnel cost $54,000,000- equivalent to around $700,000,000 today! (source)

-The tunnel took 7 years to complete, with construction beginning on February 1, 1920. (source)

-Number of ceiling tiles: 3.1 million | Number of wall tiles: 2.9 million (source)


Keep reading to view old photos of the tunnel under construction and its early days!

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(The Great Bartholdi Statue: Liberty Enlightening the World, 1886 source)

Happy Birthday, Statue of Liberty! The Statue of Liberty, designed by French sculptor Frédéric Bartholdi, was a gift from France and took 21 years from its conception (1865) to its completion in New York Harbor. After years of struggling to raise the money for the pedestal (France required the US would provide), the statue finally made its way to America on June 17, 1885 and by April of 1886, the pedestal was complete and construction began placing Lady Liberty on her outlook from Bedloe’s Island. The Statue of Liberty opened on October 28, 1886 with a dedication ceremony led by President Grover Cleveland and a parade that traveled from Madison Square to the southern tip of the Manhattan!

Today is also another special day for The Statue of Liberty:  today, the statue reopened exactly one year after closing due to the damage caused from Hurricane Sandy!  In honor of its 127th birthday and reopening, I put together some old photos and illustrations of The Statue of Liberty under construction and at its unveiling.  Click on images to enlarge.

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[Duane Street, NYC: October 14, 1891 source | enlarge photo ]

I love these photos of construction on Duane and Barclay Streets taken 122 years ago today!

[Barclay Street, NYC: October 14, 1891 source | enlarge photo]


Empire State Building, 1931
photo source

I love this shot of the Empire State Building nearing completion in 1931.  The observation deck hadn’t been constructed yet so the photo was retouched to add it in!  
Here’s a picture of the same view 82 years later:

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(Beach Scene, NY- August 1, 1899)
click here to enlarge | photo source

I’m heading to the beach for the week so I decided to do a post dedicated to old, nostalgic photos from New York beaches.  Can you imagine wearing these “swimsuits”? Those dresses must have been so hot and heavy!

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{About the Photo}

On August 14, 1945, when the surrender of Japan was announced in the United States, ending World War II, everyone took to the the streets to celebrate. In Times Square, a photographer named Alfred Eisenstaedt was taking pictures of the spontaneous scene and spotted a young sailor running around kissing every woman he could find. Just south of 45th street, the man grabbed a nurse and Alfred captured the moment of their kiss, with the intersection of Broadway and Seventh in the background. The photo, entitled V-J Day in Times Square, was published a week later in a Life magazine spread and become one of the most iconic images of the era.

Did you know that another view of the same kiss was published in the New York Times? This one is called Kissing the War Goodbye, taken by photo journalist Victor Jorgensen:

(click here to enlarge photo)

photo source 1
photo source 2

These are 10 of my favorite NYC photos taken in the 1930s!

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(NYC Subway, 1967)

Today, it’s a sweltering 99 degrees in NYC and it feels like 108! Can you imagine commuting in a subway car without air conditioning?  On July 19th, 1967- 46 years ago today- the first air-conditioned subway train went into service on the F Line!  Read about the history of air conditioning on NYC’s subways here.

photo source

This is one of my favorite nostalgic NYC shots. It was taken on July 10, 1913 (100 years ago today!) and features New York City’s buses stopped just north of Washington Square Park. This little section of the city is on my running/walking route so I have a particular fondness to the image!

photo source

On July 8, 1889, the first issue of The Wall Street Journal was published by Dow Jones & Company. Dow Jones & Company had just recently been founded in 1882 by reporters Charles Dow, Edward Jones, and Charles Bergstresser. The publication cost only two cents at the time!

photo source


On June 17, 1885, the French Steamer Isère carried the Statue of Liberty into New York City’s harbor! I love this photo, “Unpacking the Head of the Statue of Liberty”. photo source

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