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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • LAKE GARDA, ITALY

New York Giant: 1908

New York Giant: 1908

New York circa 1908. "The Singer Building." Shortly after its completion. 8x10 inch glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

 

Man on a Ledge

I love looking at these big building and finding a man on a ledge cleaning windows. This time it looks to be the 7th floor at the right side.

Still hold the record

It still holds the dubious record as the tallest building ever intentionally demolished (I presume there's no need to explain the "intentionally" part). As unfortunate as its demolition may be in retrospect, it was not at all surprising at the time. The floors in the tower section were very small in terms of square footage, wholly inadequate for 1960's-style offices.

Today the obvious solution would be to convert the Singer Building into very expensive apartments. Forty-five years ago, however, the idea of living in lower Manhattan would have struck almost everyone as strange to the point of absurdity. You *worked* in the area, and at night it was a ghost town. Things most definitely have changed.

Happy Meal

Bentwood chairs, specifically the Vienna Cafe chair #14 was produced for "mass consumption" beginning in 1859. According to Carroll M Gantz' Design Chronicles, there were more than 50 million Vienna Cafe chairs produced by 1859 and the company had 52 European factories by 1900. So, it might be safe to say that in 1908 this type of dining chair was fairly typical. Looks like this family is prepared for a happy meal quite unlike the happy meals of today!

Obligatory rooftop ladders

Two, at least, on the ornate setback deck.

So it goes

In the 70s, the New York city fathers saw the error of their ways and replaced this striking, beautiful building with a brown Modernist rectangle. Howard Roark would be pleased, at least.

(Trivia: the Singer Building was at the time the tallest building ever demolished.)

 
THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG
Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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