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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 • ROSES BY VINCENT VAN GOGH, 1890

Gotham Noir: 1933

Gotham Noir: 1933

March 15, 1933. "New York city views. Financial district from Hotel Bossert." Large-format acetate negative by Gottscho-Schleisner. View full size.

 

What Time of Day?

When do you think this picture was taken? Maybe early morning - sky/clouds visible and light reflections on one side of the buildings? Or was it one of the "filter" tricks to just make it look like night? I couldn't help but notice that there are no lights on in any of the buildings.

[Sunset. West is to the left. - Dave]

Looked so much better

The setbacks formed such a better looking skyline than the modern rectangle boxes. I'm no fan of the International style.

Wow indeed

I think that pretty much sums it up.

Of Time and the River

I like to think that this stunning scene is just about what Thomas Wolfe could see from his Brooklyn apartment when he gazed at Manhattan in 1933.

Wow

My new desktop for sure.

Tallest buildings

The three tall buildings in the center of this view, from left to right: 20 Exchange Place (flat top); 40 Wall Street, aka the Trump Building (dark spire top); and 70 Pine Street, formerly the Cities Service Building (light spire top). None were more than a couple years old when this picture was taken.

What with the Great Depression and then World War II, there wouldn't be any more significant skyscraper construction for many years, and when construction finally resumed most buildings would have the more contemporary curtain-wall appearance. Masonry construction as seen in these buildings would seldom be used again. Samuel Gottscho really was documenting the end of an era in this picture, though of course he didn't have any way of knowing that.

For many years, the Hotel Bossert in Brooklyn Heights was owned by the Jehovah's Witnesses as part of their vast (4+ million square feet) Brooklyn headquarters complex. A few years ago, however, the denomination rather abruptly announced that it would be moving about 30 miles upstate and put all of the Brooklyn properties on the market. A private developer bought the Hotel Bossert about a year ago and announced plans to convert it into an upscale "boutique hotel." I don't know how much if anything has been done.

[Note: Samuel Gottscho may not have been able to predict the decline of commercial construction, but he was able to cope with it. When his business of architectural photography tailed off, he switched to nature and botanical photography and became highly acclaimed in that field. An interesting bit of trivia is that he did not take up photography until age 50, yet remained active until shortly before his death in his late 90's.]

 
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