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New York in Black and White (photos and commentary)


Moderator note:

(Dan) 11 October 2009: Images now hosted in the Cyburbia Gallery. See http://www.cyburbia.org/gallery/showgallery.php/cat/6529



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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

Classic skyline view with America, junior edition United States.

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. Kertesz, 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.

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.

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.

* * *

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.
Last edited by a moderator:

Zoning Goddess

ablarc, you've entirely outdone yourself, that was a tremendous series of photos. The first of the Woolwoorth building is just amazing. Thanks for the post. I will have to take a second (and third) look to take it all in.

The Irish One

Vegetarian dinner for 10 cents isn't bad! This was a nice look at New York's past. Any idea what the ratio of flat top roofs to tapered roofs is today? 150 to 1, I'm cynical?? From the sky, tapered roofs give an ethereal quality to the city. One of my favorites pics is Hester St., Lower East Side, 1901. Makes me think of Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in America, many say it was 4 hours too long.

Mud Princess

Wow. Just a beautiful series of photographs, many of them classics (I always loved Abbott and Kertesz). It also reminds me why I was so fascinated with New York City at a different time in my life. Thanks.


Mud Princess said:
Wow. Just a beautiful series of photographs, many of them classics (I always loved Abbott and Kertesz). It also reminds me why I was so fascinated with New York City at a different time in my life. Thanks.
Agreed, quite incredible, and it even had three of my favorite photographers.

The One

Fantastic Images

I can smell the character oozing from many of those photo's :-D

Take a look at Bruce Cratsley's work for modern day examples of black and white New York photo's with modern day twists.

See: Bruce Cratsley: Master of Light and Shadow, 1996 and
Bruce Cratsley : white light, silent shadows, 1998 (Southwest US photo's also)

Repo Man

Awesome - I am always hunting for cool black and white photographs of Cities, especially DC, Milwaukee, Chicago, and NYC. I downloaded about 90 percent of these.

Miles Ignatius

I'll Take Manhattan!

Great and grand stuff! I've got a number of old NYC travel books containing some of these same shots. A photographer by the name of Andreas Feininger did a lot of NY street scene/architectural works that are particularly impressive - when I can get the scanner to cooperate, I'll get them up.

Looking at these shots, I'm reminded that New York is truly our "urban colossus."




Preparing for the 2004 GOP Convention protestors. (joke :-D )

Midtown, 1931. The tracks lead to Penn Station. Post Office spans tracks, may some day be Penn Station. Fairchild.
The Post Office (in front of Penn Station) looks only half-finished here. It runs the full block from Eighth to Ninth Aves; here it looks to run only half-way to Ninth Ave. (?)

Empire State appears... bare without the anteneas. And no extended fence around the observation deck, did no one jump back then? Bryant Park (upper right) had quite a different layout.

Flatiron with Fifth Avenue bus.
Fifth Ave two-way back in the day? (it's southbound now)

Lower East Side, tenement city, looking north.
At first glance I thought this was taken from Brooklyn, due the space between Metropolitan Life (left) and Empire State; you'd have to look somewhat westward to achieve that perspective (just a guess).


"At first glance I thought this was taken from Brooklyn, due the space between Metropolitan Life (left) and Empire State; you'd have to look somewhat westward to achieve that perspective (just a guess)."

Manhattan bows out into the East River between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. All those buildings in the foreground and midground are gone now, replace by x-shaped buildings in a "park": a Ville Radieuse: Governor Alfred E. Smith Houses, 1952.


Problems with some of the photos

This is a beautiful set of photographs -- I really enjoyed browsing through them after having just seen "Hester Street."

Some of the photos did not load properly (the bottom have of the photo is gray). For example, see the photo titled "Tiffany’s, Union Sq."

I'm pretty sure this is not a problem just with my computer since I tried dowloading several times (after clearing my browser cache), and the problems always recurred with the same photos.

Is there a chance they have become corrupted on the server?

If possible, could they be uploaded again to the server?

If necessary, I could list each affected photo, but I think it will be evident which ones are having problems.

I really enjoyed these photos and would love to see the complete set!

Thanks, ablarc for posting these -- they are a treasure!


Thanks a million...love this series. I am lucky I have a couple meetings a month in Manhattan... so I get to get out of the burbs from time to time and into the city.


National City Building?

Amazing, Depressing, Inspiring set of pictures. I never tire of looking at the way it was. The money, (billions of dollars cumulative!?!) Imagination, Craftsmanship, the man hours, labor and love that went into creating these magnificent structures that were so easily discarded like yesterday's trash, for what? I was one when Penn went, and seven when the Singer building went, and though I'm from New York I never set foot in either one, and for that I am saddened. Luckily I visited the WTC just months before, not realizing it would be my first and only time to view New York from the top of the World in lower Manhattan. (I love the ESB but the view just isn't the same). THAT was inspiring, even now, years later and many miles away.

I do have a question,

Does anyone know anything about this building (A Greek temple burning coal), when it was built, for whom, demolished when and replaced by?

I believe it is the National City Building by McKim, Mead and White. I think it was replaced by 60 Wall St, J P Morgan/Deutsche Bank Building in the late 80's, but there is NOTHING to be found about it. I see it in so many pictures of old, but it's never captioned, always taking a back seat to the taller and grander buildings surrounding it. That Greek Temple at the top has always intrigued me. I never get to see the base of the building and really wonder what it looks like up close. Thanks!


I'm not seeing

I'm not seeing any pictures. :-c I'm working on a project for my Mom who turns 70 on Monday. I sure would like to include some of those picks.


I'm not seeing any pictures. :-c I'm working on a project for my Mom who turns 70 on Monday. I sure would like to include some of those picks.
I think your out of luck. The original poster is no longer an acitve member. I'm sure there are plenty of similar photos out there though.


Hi, I just joined and i love B/W photos of NYC, i used to live there many , many years ago... to many to count ;-)

Anyway, i can't seem to get the images to come up on this page :(

Am i doing anything wrong?

Thank you... :)


Hi, I just joined and i love B/W photos of NYC, i used to live there many , many years ago... to many to count ;-)

Anyway, i can't seem to get the images to come up on this page :(

Am i doing anything wrong?

Thank you... :)
No... the original post is over three years old. Depending on where the photos are hosted, they sometimes disapear after awhile. The original poster is no longer active on this site so I'm afraid you out of luck.:-(


Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator note:

Apparently, the photos were included in a thread on a forum where ablarc remains a frequent poster. That thread got over 430,000 views, killing his bandwidth. The photos in other ablarc threads remain.



As a lifelong New Yorker, and a lover of the past and history. It was nice to see what NYC looked like back then. If anyone has any old photos of Harlem it would be nice to see. I'm 51 and most of the buildings were being torn down when I was a kid. I was born on 120th & Madison Avenue in one of those classic buildings. It's torn down now. A big nasty building is in it's place. 1831 Madison Avenue. There were brownstones all up and down Madison and especially across from Mt.Morris Park which is now Marcus Garvey. I can't understand why people can't respect the past or landmarks. Also, a lot of famous folks were born in that area as well.


What a fabulous photo collection - my favorite is the shot with the Navy blimp---looks surreal. All wonderful and dramatic with stark beauty (I love black and white!) .


I :) Broadway Shows


Big thumbs up on a great photo collection! Being a history buff, I just love this stuff!


Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator note:

The images in this thread are now hosted in the Cyburbia Gallery. See http://www.cyburbia.org/gallery/showgallery.php/cat/6529 . It took a while to rebuild this very popular thread, and it's going to suck up a lot of bandwidth in the future, but given that Ablarc has been hosting the images in the past to our benefit, it's our turn to host them now..
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