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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • GEORGE WASHINGTON CROSSING THE PIES

Longacre Square: 1904

Longacre Square: 1904

New York circa 1904. "Longacre Square." Soon to be renamed Times Square after the recently completed New York Times tower seen here. 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

 

+106

Below is the same view (south from 46th Street) from November of 2010.

The Times Tower

The building was empty for a long time, but has since been renovated and has tenants, including a Walgreens on the ground floor.

Last year, Mayor Bloomberg drove through an initiative to reserve much of Times Square for pedestrians, with the result that it today looks and feels in some ways more like the 1904 photo than the one shown from 2000.

Electric cab

On the right, facing away from us in the distance past two hansom cabs,is an electric hansom cab with pneumatic tires. You can see the electric motors on the rear axle.

Packard Building

I would venture to say that the Packard building was a stable or carriage repair facility of some kind. That's what The Longacre was known for-If you look around on 8th Ave, there are still a very few buildings that look like the 2 just north of Packard. What a picture! Oh, and Happy New Year

More About the Times Tower

Yes, there really is still a building under the electronic signs. It recently added a new tenant on the bottom floors (the ones with visible windows): Walgreen's new flagship store. (In the early days of the Times Square renewal project, this had been the home of a Warner Brothers store that had some fun items that combined WB characters and Times Square references.)

Sadly, however, if you stripped off the signage, you would not see the grand old facade of the Times Tower. At an intermediate stage in the building's evolution it became the Allied Chemical Building, and the decorative stone and terracotta were stripped away and replaced with a bland white "modern" facing. The present hodgepodge of signage is actually preferable.

The AIA New York Chapter's Urban Center gallery once had a great show with all kinds of serious and whimsical proposals for how the Times Tower might be restored or adaptively reused. I seem to recall that one included a roller coaster! It's too bad none of the better ones were ever adopted and carried out.

Just four years later

Montague Roberts would be pulling away in the Thomas Flyer automobile right in front of the Times building to begin the NY-Paris Race.

1540 Broadway

It seems I took a photo at a similar angle back in 2000 (as, I'm sure, did a few million other people) that includes the Packard dealership's address of 1540 Broadway. A little snooping indicated that this address now contains the Bertelsmann Building and the Virgin Megastore - which I think may be closed now. In my crappy little photo can be seen across the top of the Virgin sign the partial "LSMANN BUILDING" sign at far left.

Packard

occupied the showroom at 1540 B'way from November 1904 to June 1907. Can't find any info on previous tenants. 1540 B'way is now occupied by the Bertelsmann Building.

Understandable Mistake

One might be forgiven for mistaking the Times Building for the Flatiron. They both occupy a similar triangular-shaped block created by the angular intersection of Broadway with (in the case of the Times Building) 7th Ave. and (in the case of the Flatiron Bldg.) 5th Ave. But the top half of the two buildings are quite different. Very difficult to determine whether any of the buildings in this photograph are still in existence today. Today everything is plastered with electronic billboarding. As in "everything". The Times Building is still there (I believe), but is today vacant and serves only as an easel for a number of extremely large, electronic billboards that completely cover the once-grand exterior of the building. The New Year's Eve ball descends from its roof top, but it has really ceased being a "building" in the true sense of the word. The functioning NY Times Building is today a new skyscraper over on 8th Avenue.

Intriguing

Wait, you mean there's a building under all those billboards?

Getting in on the ground floor

I've scanned the photo carefully--am I right? The Packard dealership has a wide field for growth--no autos on the street. And what was the history of the building it occupies? I'm vaguely thinking a church.

Re: Center Stage

Could I sell you a map, sir? Or perhaps a bridge.

Center Stage

And right in the middle of all this urban confusion is the newly minted Flatiron Building. Can you imagine the impression this building must have made at the time. It looks, from this angle, like it could lean over at any moment! Great Photo!

[Another tourist lost in Manhattan. As noted in the caption, the tall building is the New York Times tower. The Flatiron building is 20 blocks away. - Dave]

New York's Finest

Police protection seems abundant. I seem to count six policemen in this photo. And, oh, the glorious, glorious signs, including George M. Cohan at the New York Theater.

Cohan & Packard

1904 was the year of George M. Cohan's big hit, "Little Johnny Jones," which opened at the Liberty Theatre on 42nd Street (somewhere to the right of this picture) in November 1904. The run didn't last long, but "Little Johnny Jones" was successfully revived in 1905 at the New York Theatre, apparently the one we see here with Cohan's name in lights.

So should this picture be dated 1905, or was something else by the great Cohan also showing?

On another front, I thought surely 1904 was early for a full-scale Packard dealership. Wrong! Packard went big time in October 1902.

Oh, to explore this scene in person..

This image comes alive like few have, you can almost hear the clippity-clop of the horses' hooves.

Makes me wish I had a time machine and could spend a day or two exploring those streets.

Thank again Shorpy!

Pre Mouse

Wow! Times Square looked great before Disney took it over.

Extraordinary photo!

It's hard to believe that people once lived there in apartments with flowers in the window and, probably, clothes drying on a line in the back.

This may well be the most remarkable glimpse I have seen of my hometown's past. Thank you Dave!

Guys and Dolls

I'm sure others have noted/ commented how few women we see in some of these "downtown" pics, in any U.S. city.

Also, I don't know that much about how many people had their own horse and carriage for transportation. For example, the guys on the far right, both wearing hats, both sitting "up front" - what's the deal? Driver and passenger? Coworkers in a company vehicle? Two guys commuting together?

106 Years Ago…

Or thereabouts. It is utterly amazing to see a photo of Times Square from this era. To think of how far we have evolved as a nation is evident in this photograph. This area of NYC is a place where my great-grandfather worked and lived a portion of his life. I cannot help but think how the world will be when my future great-grandson (or granddaughter) ventures out into the world 106 years from now.

 
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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