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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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No Lions Yet: 1908

No Lions Yet: 1908

The New York Public Library under construction circa 1908, sans Patience and Fortitude. 8x10 inch glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

A Song Inspiration


Mister Loesser used to tell his song writing grandson, Frank, how he would spend his free afternoons whistling a happy tune on NY city street corners and looking for a well turned ankle.

In 1956 Frank took his grandfather's story and turned it into a number three hit tune on each of the various charts at the time.


One almost gets the feeling that the two policemen were there to control the wheeled traffic and not the pedestrians. People seem to be able to just cross the street wherever and whenever they wished. And, thanks to all the bowlers, you can see why people would choose a red carnation as a guide to meeting someone they didn't know. "I'll be at 42nd and Fifth, wearing a brown bowler" just won't work.

Some Observations

The bottled water wagon passing the former reservoir site. The hotel Albany smack in the middle of what would become Bryant (as in William Cullen) Park. The aforequestioned fire alarm boxes have been gone for years and all the parking meters are being removed, replaced by a credit-card-capable something called a "Muni Meter."

Time flies

As usual so many things to comment on in a great photo. For starters the glass vault in the lower right hand corner, the old style low pressure fire hydrants, the soon to change street lighting, The old Gamewell combination police and fire call boxes. In about 15 years all this would be gone with the next wave of municipal design and last until the 1960s.

PS. Has anyone run across photos of the old Croton Resevoir which took up the site the library and Bryant Park now occupy.


Looks like a time traveller in the lower left corner checking his iPad. Maybe he's reading about the death of Steve Jobs, or maybe he's looking at himself on Shorpy. Great picture!

Rooftop Spare

Love the spare tire on the roof of the car on the left.

Where there's smoke

The old gaslight at the bottom right has a glass globe that is a dark colour, which I suspect is red. On the light standard there appears to be a fire alarm telegraph box. These have disappeared in most cities. Are they still used in New York City?

Doomed to fail

Briarcliff Bottled Water - now there's a business doomed to fail. Who would ever pay for bottles of water? Also, do the lion heads on the windows all have names?

No lions

And no ghosts, either. High speed camera?


1908 - an interesting time in America. The first decade of a new century, with memories of the Civil War finally beginning to recede into the past. We look at this photo from 103 years later, and we see the horses and buggies, the lone automobile chugging its way down the street, the bowler hats and the ankle length skirts - the indicia of a bygone, pre-war(s), pre-"modern" era. But the people strolling along Fifth Avenue on that sunny day, near the end of the second Teddy Roosevelt administration, were "moderns" in much the same way we view ourselves today. Electric street cars and lanterns!! A brand new, strikingly beautiful public library to house, and make available to Everyman, the store of the world's knowledge! A broad, paved avenue in the heart of America's most urbane and sophisticated metropolis! Well-dressed cosmopolitans touching their hats as they pass one another on the bustling boulevard!

These folks - like us - were riding the cusp of history, a time of enlightenment and civic improvement and technological advancement never before seen by mankind. An exciting time to be alive!

Probably Not in Plastic Bottles

I was immediately drawn to the Briarcliff Table Water wagon. It appears that folks wanted bottled water even back then!

I'll get you my pretty!

From the women's clothing and their severe faces, one has to wonder if the building is being used to clone the Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton as Miss Gulch - a great actress).

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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