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Colorized Photos


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About the Photos

Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • GEORGE WASHINGTON CROSSING THE PIES

Times Square: 1943

Times Square: 1943

This is my first attempt to colorize an old photo (Times Square, photographed by John Vachon in 1943). I researched some of the signs in their original colors so I could be as close as possible in the photo. Such is the case with the "Saludos Amigos" poster and the Schaefer beer sign. View full size.

Question for Shorpy-ites

Does anyone know of a website or anywhere I could research what movies were playing at the Times Square theatres and when? For instance, if I wanted to find out how long "Human Comedy" played at the Astor or "Saludos Amigos" at the Globe, where would I go? Just wondering.

[N.Y. Times archive. - Dave]

Sign colors seem a bit too too dull

I too have made this my desktop background, but after staring at it for a while, I have to question the colors of the signs, which seem too dull and grey to be realistic, even though you explicitly state that you researched them. Even on a grey, rainy day in a grimy, depressed city, I should think the Saludos Amigos marquee, for example, would be more brightly colored. But as someone with only the most rudimentary control of Photoshop, I applaud your efforts nonetheless!

Re: +66

Thanks for the comparison pic of what looks like the exact spot. Very interesting!

My all-time favorite

Great job colorizing my all-time favorite photo shown on Shorpy. I'll be taking my family to see "Wicked" at the Gershwin Theater on W 48th St. in two weeks, so maybe I'll try and get a +68 shot to go along with timeandagainphoto's. I think I have a fedora like the gentleman stepping up on the curb.

Old Vs. New

Am I the only one who prefers the 1943 version to the newer ole?

+66

Below is the same view from August of 2009.

True to Life

Outstanding workmanship!

Zebra curbs

If I remember correctly the stripes on the curb showed the crosswalk limits. The paint they used back they wore off the streets rather quickly, it wasn't the plasticized stuff that they use today. If you look in the lower right corner, you can see the end of the crosswalk stripe and one of the stripes on the top of the curb.

Cold, wet and miserable

The guy just behind the subway entrance looks to be all three of these, with his cap pulled low, shoulders hunched and collar turned up against the rain. I can sympathize with him.

Superb job!

What really makes it for me are the colored reflections of the lights and taxis on the wet pavement. Also the man's brown coat in the foreground. Very well done.

Another success!

I find the mark of a good colourisation is that I have to study it and think "is it or isn't it?" This one's super; well done.

Checker Cabs

Those Model A Checkers are fiendishly ugly, yet I'd give my eyeteeth for one. There are only one or two left in existence. They were run into the ground and then stripped for parts to keep the rest of the fleet running.

Home run!

Would love to see a pic taken from this same location today.

Fantastic.

This was the first photo I purchased from you and it looks even better in color! As a fan of the old NYC two color signals (Ruleta's) I will say that if you look closely at the green section of the signal you will see a cross pattern. That was actually a black out plate that was installed during the war to reduce the visibility of the signals from above (thus eliminating the potential for bombing.) The red section was also so equipped and as such the red section may not have been as visible as you have colorized it to be. And now I will go back to picking fly specs out of pepper! lol. Thank you for a great job. I am now torn between the original and colorized version for the next order.

Color makes this a GREAT rainy day photograph!

Super job on the colorization - can't tell it from an original color print. I love vintage street scenes, particularly those taken around dusk on a rainy day. This scene certainly fits the bill, but it's the color that makes this a great photograph. Many thanks.

Curb corners

What are the stripes on the curb -- a no parking area?

Where the action is

This is a spectacular and extraordinary picture in both black and white and colorized. If you look at and into this photo long enough, you begin to feel the cold rain and atmosphere of March 1943. Some of the events of that month in NYC included the premiere of the musical "Oklahoma" to rave reviews, John Steinbeck married his wife Gwyn in NYC that month. Christopher Walken was born on 3/31/43 in Queens, N.Y. Stephen Benet, author, poet and Pulitzer prize winner died at age 45 in N.Y.C. In Europe, WW2 and the holocaust was in full boil. Americans were using ration stamps and American industry was booming, churning out endless shiploads of supplies for defense. Families were receiving telegrams informing them of their soldiers' news. Patriotism was high but so was fear and worry. After contemplating what might have been happening there and then, you begin to feel you are part of this picture. And you are. Thanks Shorpy for the time machine trip I took this morning via this masterpiece.

Off Color

No question that this is a great colorization job. If I remember correctly that 7th Avenue Trolley car just coming into the picture on the right was mostly yellow.

No Business Like Show Business

"The Human Comedy" was a timely reminder of how absurd our condition can become at times: men, women and children dying by the score in Europe, the CBI and Pacific, and business as usual (it could have been no other way)in Manhattan. Looks like the Checker Cab design team was trying to compete with their Airflow counterparts. Nice technical work by Avzam.

One heck of a work!!

As an artist myself I've long desired to colorize one of these extraordinary B&W Shorpy photos. I have to admit that you've done an especially wonderful job!! Your work is incredible for a first timer. I hope that I do as well when I finally find the time to colorize one myself. Your colorized image now graces my 30" Hewlett-Packard monitor and believe me - it looks spectacular! Thank you for giving me something to enjoy - and for something that I need to aim for.

Thanks again for some wonderful work!

Tom Chatterton

Superb

The B&W version of this image was one of the very first pictures I ever downloaded from Shorpy. Such a deliciously evocative scene. The color version is even more exquisite. This is my new wallpaper. Thank you!

Nice first attempt

Very good job with the colorization. Looks like you can jump into that picture and hail a cab. Better grab your umbrella though.

Perfection

Wonderful job, very well done. Note that the taxi cabs have their headlights blacked out, the civilian car near the corner doesen't. But, 'LK' is correct, the photo looks like it was color from the get go. Perfect this way, I think Vachon would approve.

Sweet

Very nicely done!

Fooled Me

At first glance I assumed this was Kodak slide film. Great job. Amazing what a different feel this gritty, dark version of Times Square has to what it is now. It reminds me of Europe.

Ah, Schaefer

The one beer to have when you're having more than one!
Great job!

Well done!!

Love those yellow taxis!

Oh wow

If you hadn't said it was colorized, I would never have known. The only things that stand out as not quite natural looking are the taxis. Easily the best colorization job I've ever seen.

Impressive work!

That is some impressing coloring. Really brings the picture to life.

 
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