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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • NORWAY IN SEPTEMBER, c. 1920s

Astor House: 1908

Astor House: 1908

New York circa 1908. "Astor House, Vesey Street and Broadway." The hotel, built by the financier John Jacob Astor in 1836, was home to presidents and potentates over its long history. 8x10 inch glass negative. View full size.

 

Watchful Eyes

Thank you for choosing the Astor House; the warmest building in New York. You'll be happy to note from the chimneys atop our building, every one of the rooms in your suite is furnished with two or three fireplaces for your comfort.

Fireplaces aside, I don't recall too many buildings from this era so gratuitously fire-escaped either. I wonder what year they started being required? Curious what Marsh's (Truss?) Office might be too. It must have been successful, having been established in 1820.

The other thing that draws my attention in this photo are the huge eyes above J. Ehrlich & Sons. They look like the eyes of someone who's on the brink of sanity, or has been awake for about 72 hours. Pretty modern advertising concept for 1908 though.. They wouldn't be too out of place today.

Early views of the Astor House

Some of these architectural photos inspire me to look for earlier views that might show the buildings as they were first seen. The New York Public Library's online digital archive includes many 19th Century prints and photos of the Astor house. One of these, an 1848 engraving by J. B. Forrest and F. B. Nichols, depicts the Astor House and its august neighbor, the 18th Century St. Paul's Church. Some of the church's old gravestones can be seen in the photo above. The other print, included here for its wonderment, is a hand colored Currier & Ives print depicting the circus band wagon of Van Amburgh's Menagerie as it passed the Astor House on April 20th, 1846. Huzzah!

Trolley Car Questions

Were trolleys like the one pictured powered by electricity? If so was the electrical power provided via the rails? Could these vehicles be operated on a rainy day?

[The electric power supply is underground, accessed through the slot between the rails. - Dave]

No Ladies?

Astonishing, how sexually segregated American life was back then: there may be one woman at the far end of the block (white hat).

"Cravenettes"

Cravenette is a waterproofing process for clothes (new one on me). So were they offering waterproof clothes or offering TO waterproof your clothes? (if the latter, I wonder how that was done). Either way, great word, as is the visual of the glasses with the big eyes in them.

["Cravenettes" would be outerwear (mainly raincoats) made of cravenette, a rubberless waterproof fabric. - Dave]

It's a Man's World

Where did they hide all the women that day? I'm not finding any unless they're inside the streetcar. Also I was thinking that I must have lived my life without ever having owned a "cravenette" so I looked it up and it is a process of waterproofing fabrics, whatever they may be, hats, coats, suits, etc. and that particular store does seem to specialize in umbrellas, outerwear, things like that. So now ya know. You're welcome.

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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