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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 • VOLUNTEER FOR VICTORY

Brooklyn Bridge: 1903

Brooklyn Bridge: 1903

New York circa 1903. "East River and Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan." Among the many signs competing for our attention are billboards for "Crani-Tonic Hair Food" and Moxie. 8x10 glass negative, Detroit Publishing Co. View full size.

 

Cable Power on the Brooklyn Bridge

The original Brooklyn Rapid Transit line that ran over the Brooklyn Bridge to the Park Row terminal was indeed a cable-powered line. The line was eventually electrified. Rapid transit service over the Brooklyn Bridge ended permanently in 1944 when the NYC Board of Transportation decided to terminate Brooklyn elevated train service at Jay Street/Bridge Street station. Trolleys then were briefly used on the Bridge tracks. The huge Sands Street and Park Row terminals were later torn down and the Bridge itself was rebuilt in 1952 and converted solely to automobile use. Today, there are three lanes in each direction on the Bridge for cars. The innermost lanes are the rights of way for the rapid transit/trolley lines.

More Recently

I was told that this Fletcher's Castoria sign at Henry & Market Streets, on NYC's Lower East Side, was around until about 2003. There are probably others that are still visible.

Why pilots are regular officers

Interesting factoid about castor oil: WW1 airplane engines were lubricated with it and sprayed a steady stream of the stuff back into the pilot's face, with predictable consequences.

Traffic

Can you imagine the insanity on the river? There's even a ship hitting a bulkhead while turning into its dock. Lucky for them the wind was in their favor. (I now see Denny covered this the first comment. D'oh.) And Castor Oil had a predecessor? I never knew.

Blowin' in the Wind

There are almost as many rooftop clotheslines loaded with laundry as there are Fletcher's Castoria signs. It is interesting to note that even though the Brooklyn Bridge had been open for twenty years, the ferries were still running and would continue to do so until 1924.

Running the gauntlet on the Brooklyn Bridge

Having a close eye on the rails for the El, interesting that they are running a gauntlet track on both sides across the bridge...no switch points, just a frog. Under a closer look, it looks like there is a cable between the rails for a...cable car? Seen just past where the switch points would be if it was a normal switch.

BTW, first post here at Shorpy! Love the site!!

Hang On!

Lots o' signs, yes, but my attention was drawn to that hard heeling-to-port ferry approaching the pier on the opposite shore (right in the photo). Was somebody showing off for the citizenry, or were they perhaps initially headed into the wrong berthing space?

[Probably not. - Dave]

Scuffy the Tugboat

This fantastical scene reminds me of the old Golden Books story of Scuffy the Tugboat, when the two children were peering over the bridge on the harbour, watching Scuffy, as he found himself in a bewildering maze of giant ships all around him.

What's with the ferry steamer in the upper right side of the photo?

His paddles look "full-ahead," while the vessel is listing hard aport and about to ram the wharf? Uh-oh!

Great photo; begging to be colorized by some Shorpy artista.

22 Fletcher Signs !!

One wonders what his advertising budget was - apparently unlimited - Personally, I feel this was overkill and would be annoying enough to cause me to choose the other brand - I easily counted 22 if his signs, including 5 on the Brooklyn side of the river.

Fletcher Ads

I found 20 of these ads. There might be more!

World Series

Now that it is World Series time, in the middle of it actually; can anyone from New York confirm that it's called the World Series because the New York World newspaper promoted the first of these events, and the Series name has no international implications?

[That notion is debunked here. - Dave]

Fletcher's Castoria

I found 20 signs in this photo and there might be more!

Chas. H. Fletcher

I believe I count at least 21 Chas. H. Fletcher signs. Some are a bit obscured, but the text is quite distinctive so I believe I have it correct. If I ever get catapulted back in time, I am opening a sign company! Must have been a lucrative business.

My Bridge

What a wonderful picture of my bridge that I just bought last week from a nice man who told me that I could buy the Brooklyn Bridge for a few hundred dollars. Looking at this picture I believe it was a good investment.

Land Ho!

What an amzaing picture. Could study it for days and not get bored. From Uneeda Biscuit, to Carter's Small Pill - Small Dose - Small Price Pills; to the two railcar ferries, to the WHOA! WAIT A MINUTE! What's up with the ferry listing hard to port with lots of propwash behind it heading for Brooklyn, just south of the bridge?!? Looks like it's trying hard to bank to port with props in reverse to avoid slamming the pier (but looks like it's too late to miss it!). Maybe the captain had to go too fast to make it across the busy water traffic and didn't have enough room to slow down. But if the captain hadn't sped up, there'd have been a collision. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. The captain probably needed one of the many advertised tonics after that ferry landing!

Hard to starboard !

Looking to the right of the bridge,on the Brooklyn side,you'll see a ferryboat at a really bad angle! She's tilting hard to port while making a starboard turn, churning up the water real bad. Almost looks like she's trying to avoid the dock.

Carter's Liver Pills

Carter's Liver Pills may not have had the exposure that Chas H Fletcher's had on these billboards but they gave them a run for the money. Those early 1900 nostrums lasted into the post WW2 Era and even after that. The public finally caught on and I don't believe they're easily found anymore. However the pharmaceutical ads of today are blasting the same cure-all messages but they cost a lot more money.

Decisions, decisions

With this dime burning a hole in my pocket I could either buy two Cremo cigars or spend five hours at Steeplechase Park.

Steeplechase Park Bargain

10 cents for five hours! Heck, I'd give $100 for five hours to be able to travel back to 1903 to experience Tilyou's Steeplechase Park. From the old photos and video clips of it I have seen, it was a happening place. Even today with all our technology, I'd bet folks would still have a wonderful time!

One more thing

And at least eight signs for Fletcher's Castoria!

Hyphenated

Don't forget the billboard for Pe-Ru-Na!

Ah, memories

Wow, think there are enough ads for Fletcher's Castoria?

I remember that gawdawful stuff from my childhood. Whenever we'd visit my grandmother she'd slip us a dose in some chocolate milk. Apparently daily BMs were high on her list.

I want more Chas. H. Fletcher ads!

Wonderfully detailed photo. I could study it for hours.

Mixed traffic

It must be the rush hour. Look how close the electric elevated train from Brooklyn with the trolley poles is to the cable Bridge Only train in front of it. The white disk on the front of the cable train tells which cable, set of interlaced rails, and station platform it is using. The elevated train uses its trolley poles when it runs on the ground beyond the end of the El structure in the outer reaches of Brooklyn.

For those of you good at spotting details:

Did anyone notice any "Fletchers Castoria" ads?

What a country!

The year this was taken was during the huge migration from Europe which lasted several decades. Just imagine the amazement of those often poverty-stricken, downtrodden, oppressed people arriving at Ellis Island with everything they owned on their backs and being brought to the city in which they must now make a new life and seeing, for the first time in their lives, this magnificent panorama of mind-boggling industrial activity, ships from around the world, sky scrapers everywhere, phenomenal bridges and modes of transportation, bustling well-dressed, smiling healthy people, ads everywhere for appetizing, abundant food and other worldly pleasures, religious steeples and domes, the smells of ocean and fumes and foods all mingled together and offering an endless buffet of opportunity and freedom. I find this beautiful picture breathtaking.

Thank you Shorpy from a descendant of the huddled masses.

Top o'the World?

This view looks like it was taken from the top of the New York World Building on Park Row, which was seen earlier on Shorpy. Although the advertised height of the World Building (349 feet) was somewhat exaggerated, the top was still pretty high up!

Ferry Boats

Wonderful collection of vessels on this very busy waterway. In contrast, an almost leisurely pace on the bridge.

Lots of Laxative

Charles H. Fletcher certainly made his presence known in this vicinity. According to Wikipedia, he was a very successful laxative maker. Did Manhattan need it very badly?

 
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