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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 • FLY CANADIAN PACIFIC, c. 1950s

Going Up: 1900

Going Up: 1900

Circa 1900. "New York financial district from the Woodbridge Building." The Park Row building at right was the world's tallest office tower. View full size.

 

"Bird's Eye" view

The Wireless Mast

The wireless mast is found on top of the Western Union Building, also designed by George B. Post, built 1872-1875 (demolished 1913). The top floors of the building, originally under an enormous mansard roof, were rebuilt as seen here after a fire in 1890.

Brutally ugly?

Huh? How about fascinating? There is so much variety and interest in this picture - different eras of building, signs, churches, spires, flags, open windows, residential next to commercial and on and on. I could look at it over and over and discover something new every time I did. What do you get with a modern cityscape - one boring glass box after another - no life to be seen half the time.

Park Row streetside

Shows a more appealing view of building even if though overwhelming in height for its neighbors.

St. Paul Building

Left of the Park Row is the 26-story St. Paul Building, built 1895-1898 and demolished in 1958. It was one of the last skyscrapers designed by George B. Post, a pioneer of tall building construction in New York. Alas, it was not well received by the architectural critics of the time, and they were thinking primarily of the front of the building. What we see here are the naked backsides of the St. Paul and Park Row.

The wireless mast

More likely, that tower was part of a signal flag system operated by a newspaper, perhaps the Journal of Commerce or the Wall St Journal or, more likely, the World. Merchants on Wall Street needed to know when cargo vessels were approaching the port. There was a series of flag stations which stretched from lower Manhattan to Sandy and out on Long Island. This tower was probably on a newspaper building on Park/Newspaper Row.

And at the moment of exposure,

a guy on the top floor of the Sheldon Building decides to look out the window, and draw a breath of not-so-fresh air.

Dig the McKinley & Roosevelt Campaign Banner!

Very bottom - middle of the picture. At the time this picture was taken Teddy Roosevelt was Governor of New York and the NY Republican political machine was looking to get him out of the way. Their bright idea - convince him to run as VP with McKinley! At the time the VP position was even more powerless than it is today and the Republicans saw this as a safe parking place for a progressive that was causing them no end of headaches. He was, in effect, kicked upstairs (but he apparently went willingly). Less than a year later (September 1901) McKinley was assasinated and Roosevelt ascended to what he gleefully described as his "bully pulpit"!

Cupola statues

I would like to know more about the statues around the Park Row building cupolas. They are gone now. So are the flagpoles. It irks me that so many classic buildings have been stripped of such unique adornments.

Eeew.

That is one homely skyscraper.

November 3, 1900

Based on the banners in the street, I'd bet that the photo was taken on the day of the great Sound Money Parade (November 3, 1900), in support of the Republican ticket. According to the New York Times the following morning, the 84,000-member parade included trade associations such as the Jewelers McKinley & Roosevelt Club, and the Drug, Chemicals, Paint, Varnish, and Oil Trades' McKinley & Roosevelt Sound Money Club (perhaps called the DCPVOTMRSMC).

Park Row Building

The Park Row Building is still there. It was built between 1896 and 1899. It held the distinction of the world's tallest office tower (391 feet, 30 floors) until 1908 when the 47-story Singer Building went up (612 feet). It was landmarked in 1999.

Gotham Gothic

And people complain about "glass box" skyscrapers! This is one brutally ugly cityscape.

Wireless Mast!

Early radio. Gotta love it.

What a Picture

This one is amazing. Manhattan in 1901. I see laundry hanging on lines. Not an automobile or a window air conditioner. Not an airplane or a dirigible. Not a TV antenna or a radio transmitting tower. What we have is the turn of the last century that would create more scientific paraphernalia in a few years than the world saw since its inception.

 
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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