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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 • GEORGE WASHINGTON CROSSING THE PIES

Rainy Day People: 1943

Rainy Day People: 1943

March 1943. "New York, New York. Times Square on a rainy day." Photo by John Vachon for the Office of War Information. View full size.

 

Billboards available

Several billboard structures are awaiting their next signage. Are we between uses or has advertising decreased during this period because of the war? In any event, their empty wooden supports just add to the many textures and details of this shot. What a wonderful picture!

I'd rather have the rain

I'd rather have the rain with 1943 Times Square, at least the area had character back then. In 2014 it's just a Disneyfied tourist destination. The locals avoid Times Square unless absolutely necessary.

Quiet - School Zone

Old, usually weather-beaten "Quiet" signs can still be spotted near schools here and there in New York. They're no longer on the municipal Department of Transportation's sign list and I would doubt if any have been installed in many years or even decades.

The school to which this sign referred was a former elementary school on West 46th Street, built in 1894 but vacated sometime prior to the photo's date. In 1948 it became home to the High School for Performing Arts and housed that well-known institution until the early 1980's. After another period of disuse the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School for International Business opened in the building, and remains there today.

I can feel the rain

This picture captures the true essence of a rainy day in the big city, so much so that the viewer can feel the chill in the air, smell the 5 cent coffee aroma wafting out of the H & H Automat and is assured that New Yorkers are not deterred from going about their business by bad weather or wet feet. I remember all these advertising signs from my youth as though it was yesterday (when I was young) and I remember the theaters, those great Taxis, movie stars and films shown and even the air raid drills. "Saludad Amigos" was a Disney animation released in the U.S. in Feb. 1943. Ida Lupino, born in England, was an actress first and later became a director. Jane Wyman was married to Ronald Reagan from 1940 to '49, so he would have been her husband at that time. Ray Milland and Dennis Morgan were top-rated actors for decades. Ruppert Beer was a big seller and the Strand was a first run theater chain. I lived in a small factory town in Ct. and had relatives in N.Y. but always looked forward to our frequent family trips there to visit them since the vibrancy, excitement and stimulating heartbeat of N.Y.C., to me, explained the meaning of "really living" and the activity never stops.

Go north one block and turn south

Another Shorpy picture. It apparently is from the same day, given the Disney movie Saludos, Amigos is showing at the Globe in both photos, and it is raining and it is 1943.

As a 1970s denizen of a very different Times Square, I love these old photos which predate my denizenship by some 30 years.

So dynamic!

I can practically hear, feel, and smell the rain, cabs, people splashing, etc. This is really lively photo.

Who says

you can't take great pictures in the pouring rain? Marvellous stuff, the atmosphere is superb.

Signs Read

I think that the bottom line below the Air Raid arrow is
"SEEK COVER IN BUILDINGS".

The Quiet sign may continue
"SCHOOL
ZONE DAILY"

(I'm not so sure about the last word.)

Signs Of The Time

I saw these 2 almost immediately. The one reading "In Event Of Air Raid Signal" the arrow is pointing to an Air Raid Shelter more than likely in the basement of a nearby commercial building. Those shelters were still around in the 1960s in anticipation of any Soviet attacks. The sign above it, I think, may have been a joke.

Wow!

This picture is so vibrant. It has the power to make one feel a part of it.

The gentleman under the umbrella

on the right bears a strong resemblance to photographer Alfred Steiglitz, then in the last years of his life. If so, the lady conversing with him would most likely be his devotee and gallery manager Dorothy Norman. Probably not his lover and muse Georgia O'Keefe, who by 1943 spent most of her time in New Mexico.

A restored 1939 Checker

Here is a restored 1939 Checker Cab. It has a front end you could spot a mile away.

Checker & Olds

Hard to date the Checker cab, but that is a 1941 Oldsmobile under the umbrella.

+67

Below is the same view (sans rain) from November of 2010.

The same scene 13 years later

Almost the exact same scene was photographed in 1956 for "The Magnificent Thad Jones" LP on Blue Note Records.

 
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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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