Wednesday, May 23, 2012

New York City municipal archives photos, then and now

The Atlantic Magazine posted 50 of their most favorite photos from the recently opened photograph archive. The NY Municipal archive holds 800,000 photos from 1880- through the 1980s. They are spectacularly wonderful to look at. I spent time with their 50 and then clicked on their link to enter the actual archives at NYC website.

I had a good time last night looking and then googling a street view map that was either exactly at the spot that was depicted int he archive photo or closely approximated it. Here are the results of my tour through then and now:

28th Street Looking east from Second Avenue, on April 4, 1931

42nd Street, looking west from 2nd Avenue. Chrysler Building at top right, "News Tavern" "Goblet Bar" at lower right, ca. 1935-1941.

 A view down an alley, as rows and rows of laundry hang from tenements ca. 1935-1941. Seen looking west from Amsterdam Avenue at 62nd Street.

Italian vegetable sidewalk stand, on Bleecker Street, near Church of Our Lady of Pompeii, in August of 1937.
The fun part about this scene at Bleecker St is that though not directly on Bleecker, but on Carmine St around the corner, there are still vendors on the sidewalk and the area is still Italian.

A crowded street market under New York City Rail Road tracks, looking south on Park Avenue from 123rd Street in June of 1932.

Times Square theaters by day, in New York City. The Times Building, Loew's Theatre, Hotel Astor, Gaiety Theatre and other landmarks are featured in this January, 1938 photo.

The bridge photos at the Atlantic and also the Archive itself are particularly wonderful. I loved the photo of the Brooklyn Bridge painters, and the picture of the mechanic on the bridge, the close-up. I also enjoyed the photos from the 1880s and 1890s, especially Sheep Meadow which is still called sheep meadow today in Central Park, but once actually held sheep.

I loved the photo of the subway power station, and combined with the bridges under construction photos, made me really proud of human ingenuity. The picture of the Washington Bridge under construction, the footings and frame erected, in front of horse and buggies...amazing. We Americans certainly know how to build, don't we?

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