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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.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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The Knickerbocker: 1909

The Knickerbocker: 1909

New York, 1909. "Knickerbocker Hotel, Broadway & 42nd Street." Decked out for the Hudson-Fulton Celebration. 8x10 inch glass negative. View full size.

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O.J. Gude

In 1878 with $100 in capital the O.J. Gude Company was founded and goes on to pioneer the first use of the electric bulb in a billboard sign in May, 1892 just thirteen years after Thomas Edison invents the first light bulb.

More Info from the great great grandson of O J Gude.

The New Dressler?

I just finished reading the book Martin Dressler by Steven Millhauser. This photo of the Knickerbocker is exactly what I imagined one of the hotels described in the book looking like. Wonderful detail and easy to get lost thinking of what's inside.

[The cover of the book shows the Hotel Astor decked out for the Hudson-Fulton celebration. Note the ship's prow over the entrance.]


Who/what would "HF" represent on the flag? BTW, we get to see the subway and the elevated in the same frame. Cool.

[Perhaps the caption contains a clue. - Dave]

ETA: Yes, Dave, I think it does. lol. How did I miss that?!? And there I was, thinking it might be Hill Figger. Go figure.


Really! I never.

The amount of skin showing on that Woman in the Advertisement across the street is simply ruinous to impressionable young minds!

The U.S. Flag

The photo is dated 1909 but the flag on the hotel is a 45 star flag which was replaced in 1908 when Oklahoma became a state.

[Not this one. -Dave]


Today's Wall Street Journal has an article about a Texas-based group looking to turn the building back into a hotel.

The Edison Company

In mid-block we see a sign for some offices of The New York Edison Company, the local electric utility for Manhattan. My father started work with the The Brooklyn Edison Company in 1928 and a few years later most of the NYC utility companies merged to form what is still known as Consolidated Edison (ConEd).

Two by Two

Why two subway entrances on the same corner? Entrance vs exit? Two different lines?

[One for each direction -- they're marked Uptown and Downtown. - Dave]


One of the legends about the original Knickerbocker Hotel comes from the drink called the martini, which was said to have been invented by the house bartender, Martini di Arma di Tagga. In 1912, he mixed dry vermouth and gin together and the mixture gained the favor of John D. Rockefeller, who liked it so much that he recommended it to all his Wall Street buddies, and the drink quickly became a national favorite. Another remnant of the past is a sign for the hotel that can be found in the New York City subway. The “Knickerbocker” sign is posted over a doorway that once connected the hotel to the east end of the platform for Track 1 of the 42nd Street Shuttle.

Going Downtown

We get a good view of the original subway entrances on the corner.

Oh, if i could just reach in!

Our theater company is mounting the musical "Ragtime" this season. I have had to source out the material for our custom-made bunting -- yards and yards of red, white and blue (and white stars). Wouldn't it be nice if I could just ... sigh!


It appears a woman crossing the street was caught in the act of admiring the other woman's attire. Boy glad that's not done anymore!

Darn You Shorpy, Darn You

Another two hours of my life gone! Spent browsing the gorgeous detailed photos on this site, viewing the high-def images, marveling at the detail, enjoying the historical aspect of the photos, and even reading and enjoying the comments. It's a good thing I'm retired so I don't feel too guilty spending all that time here. I've been visiting here over 3 years now, and yet every visit is like finding a new treasure. You're still the best site on the web!

A-bunting we will go!

Wow! When they decorated for a festive occasion back then the did it right. I wonder how many yards of flag bunting they used on that building?

Most of the subway entrances of that style were removed ages ago, but few of them still remain scattered around midtown Manhattan.

The building is still there, but no longer a hotel. Built by John Jacob Astor as a showcase of luxury in a time of economic prosperity in the city, the hotel was destined to close its doors only 15 years later due to changes in fortune. The building was later home to Newsweek magazine from 1940 to 1959, and after major renovation in 1980 it is now used for garment showrooms and offices.

SHORPY OLD 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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