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About the Photos

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 • EAT MORE FISH, 1917

Three Brooklyn Bridges: 1908

Three Brooklyn Bridges: 1908

Feb. 22, 1908. "Three New York-Brooklyn bridges from Brooklyn." An amazingly detailed panorama of New York recorded by George Grantham Bain. Our 3100 pixel wide version (view full size), detailed as it is, is less than a quarter the size of the hi-res scan of the original 8x10 inch glass negative. From the left: Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge (under construction) and Williamsburg Bridge.

 

Glass negatives

These old photos from glass negatives look better than the old photos that are from film. Also better than any digital camera today. I know those cameras were cumbersome but the results look better to me.

Wow!

Talk about a time machine! Why would they take a picture like this? I would think that it would be rather brutal to lug all that equipment onto a roof somewhere in winter and have to wait for the exposure. Some dedication!

I'm glad George made the effort.

[Exposure time for an 8x10 plate outdoors in 1908 would not have been very long. A few seconds at the most. - Dave]

Beautiful picture

I bought this picture from your gallery to give to a friend who lives in Brooklyn, and when it came in, I was amazed at the clarity. She absolutely fell in love with it. Thank you for making her happy.

Robert Gair

He was one of the first to build with concrete. It resulted in a building that didn't shake from his machinery making boxes and bags.

Modern

The Robert Gair Company building looks surprisingly modern, like something I'd imagine people might've built in the 1950-60s.

Brooklyn life

The picture makes we wish I could just zoom in and see what life is like at that point in time in all those windows. A time machine would be nice.

Brooklyn Bridges

Amazing photo... One of my favourites on here...

Another Clue

Judging from the flags, smoke/steam, and drying clothes on the lines (frozen undies, hooray!) it sure seems like the wind is blowing hard. Too unpleasant to go outside if you don't have to, but you have to do your laundry when you have a chance!

Minor Footnote in History

The Robert Gair Company Factory in the distance is where corrugated cardboard boxes were invented by mistake.

Where are the people?

Where are all the people?
Looking back on old NY pics, the streets always seem to be filled with people (traffic, cart vendors etc.)

It is February and it looks like daylight so I imagine that this pic would not have been taken that early in the day so where have all the people gone.

[They're probably indoors, seeing as how it's Saturday and freezing outside. I see two horses and a man and a woman. - Dave]

Superb

My gast is absolutely flabbered. Such detail; so well done.

Denny Gill
Chugiak, Alaska

A Queens Bridge Too!

Way in the background, above the gas tanks in Manhattan, is the Queensboro Bridge under construction.

Amazingly enough

The whole block of houses still seems to be intact.

Still Standing

I love Google map embeds.

The building with the prominent quoins in the foreground is still standing at the corner of Clark and Willow. It looks like it retains the original fire escape and railing. They ought to get a copy of this photo for their lobby!

Going Up

Tall structure going up on the horizon. I wonder if that's the Metropolitan Life Tower. Tallest building in the world from its completion in 1909 until 1913. It's in about the right spot but may be too wide. Just a guess.

Columbia Heights

The pillared porch (lower left of both photos) is about 148 Columbia Heights. Which seems to be one of the few areas in the picture not cleared out for the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.


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Two Bucks

If you look under the Brooklyn Bridge on the left hand side of the picture, there's a sign on the pier that says "2.00 to Boston". It would be interesting to know what that would cost nowadays. And I agree with Mr. Mel - a great picture!

[In full, the sign says "Neptune Line via Fall River $2.00 to Boston." - Dave]

Not much traffic...

Must have been a winter day. Note the snow along the roads. A fascinating image to study for little details like that.

[Another subtle clue to winterness is the first word of the photo caption. - Dave]

Like 3D

The clarity and depth of this picture is exceptional, especially the tall apartment houses like the one above the Shorpy watermark, and the shorter one to right of it, in the front. We've all seen some great photos here, but this is one of the best. I'm still trying to take it all in.

 
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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