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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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Pawn Shop: 1920

Pawn Shop: 1920

A pawn shop at No. 15 Cooper Square (thanks, Evan) in New York circa 1920. 5x7 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Pawn Shop

This is the coolest picture ever. Berel Berkowitz was my great grandfather. My brother has the mandolins in the window.

Elevated track support

That'd be the Bowery El on the old IRT line.

re: The Glass Boxes

Thanks! On closer look, it looks like you're probably right.

The Glass Boxes

The glass boxes appear to contain shoes - the look to be ladies shoes - so the business in the basement is likely a shoe store or more likely a cobbler or shoe repair place.

Anyone have a clue

as to what those glass boxes contain and what's in the basement?

Window Above Barbershop

There's a curtain over the window up there that looks like it reads "SCOOLA".

Is it a private residence? There's a flowerpot and multiple curtains. I'd love to know what it means.

[It says scuola. Italian for school. - Dave]

Pawn shop

Some of the items in that pawn shop are now worth thousands of dollars in today's prices. And I love the painted sign on the right.... Hair Cut 15 Cents.


Those are called "batwing" doors.

Merchandise Then and Now

Amazing just how popular pocket watches were then...not to mention mandolins. Today they would all be Rolexes and Stratocasters.

In The Pawn Shop Doorway...

...If you zoom in a bit it looks like Mr. Berkowitz is peering out his front door to see what's so photo-worthy about his pawn shop. Or he might be trying to figure out how much money he'd be willing to loan on that fine looking camera. And you gotta love the split swinging doors that look like they came out of an old-west saloon.


Did you notice the clock in the barber shop? I'd sure like to have that.

Cooper Square

There are a few buildings on the 5 blocks or so that run parallel to 3rd ave (which is called The Bowery after First St). My wife worked at #20 Cooper Square for a few years. She also watched the 9/11 tragedy from her office window. That building could have been there at that time. A condo hi-rise was built on Cooper Sq a few years ago, the Carl Fisher Bldg, named for the music publisher that was probably there at the time the picture was taken.


I'd guess Cooper Square. The shop next door is Fred J Birck - barber supplies, cutlery. I found a straight razor on ebay in box printed with FRED J. BIRCK 17 COOPER SQUARE NEW YORK CITY ...

Barber shop window

Couldn't help but notice that a shave and a hair cut was two bits!

Pawn Shop

Looks like 15 Cooper Square is the address ... It's the beginning of 3rd Avenue, and I'd wager that's the old 3rd Avenue elevated train there on the left.

Google Maps link.

Great photo!

SHORPY HISTORICAL 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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