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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 • THE NEW ZEALAND FOREST, c. 1950

Sixth Avenues Busy Corner: 1906

Sixth Avenues Busy Corner: 1906

New York circa 1906. "14th Street Store." Several subplots here, involving roofs, windows and hair. Detroit Publishing glass negative. View full size.

 

Macy's mystery

But what in the world is this guy up to? Tying his shoe? Scraping something off his shoe? Taking a shortcut off the El platform?

(Thanks to Cosmopolite for bringing this brilliant, busy photo back to our attention.)

Macy's Sign

When I walked by 59 West 14th on Wednesday scaffolding was up. Looking at the building yesterday the tracery of "Macy's" has been painted over.

We have a 14th Corner Store Bank Box too!

My husband was given one of these bank boxes to him by his Grandmother and now the bank is being passed down to our 10 yr old son. I would love to pass on the history of this box to him as well. What an interesting box. The box displays serial number 92743, and looks a little different than the one pictured below. It does not have any engraving on the top other than that of the serial number. Looks like the one below has some words engraved on the top where my serial number is located.

Does anyone know anything more about these boxes?

The Bank Box

So I just wanted to comment on the little bank picture that was posted. The box was a giveaway that the store had. Bank in those days a lot of department stores also contained banks. That box was a giveaway for children when their parents would open accounts.

I did a bunch of research on the one I have just like it!

[The box below is not a "giveaway." - Dave]

Piggy Bank from the 14th Street Store

I am soooo enjoy this site. Back in the 1970s as a teenager, I inherited a small "piggy bank" with a serial number, 55738, on it. It is a heavy metal woodgrain lockbox four inches wide with a carry handle on it. No key. Printed with copper-like inlay: "The 14th Street Store 6th Ave's Busy Corner, New York, Henry Siegel, Pres." I would love to know who used it, what they were saving money for, and the value of the box today. I am now in my fifties and still proudly display my antique box.

[This would have been used in the store by cashiers or clerks. - Dave]

Can't decide

What intrigues me more. Is it the skinny building with all the ornate work, or the sign "Dry and Fancy Goods"?

Human hair? Good store!

The human hair store doesn't bother me a bit. Hair was commonly used in beautifully woven and braided jewelry in the 19th century. (I've tried to copy the technique with my own hair - it's difficult!) Women also bought human hairpieces and extensions, much as they do today.

I'm adding this photo to my Shorpy all-time favorites. So much to see!

Macy's was there

The skinny building was also once Macy's, though I don't know if it was before or after this photo. The tracery of the Macy's name can still be seen under the paint over the front door. The building is now owned by the New School University.

The large building on the corner is a high-end condo building now.

Some window washers still use that rig

I worked at a place two years ago that had those hookups outside each window, and sure enough a fellow came by once a year to climb out and use them. He smelled of alcohol, and I hardly blame him!

Wigs, glorious wigs...

From the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, September 22, 1875

Wowsa!!

So much to look at. What a great picture - this is one I could keep coming back to and still see something new. Thanks, Shorpy.

The sliver building

at 56 west 14th street was vacated by Macy's when they moved uptown to 34th street in 1902. With a good eye one can see the Macy's star logo on the facade still today.

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/30/realestate/streetscapes-readers-questi...

Henry Siegel's Fate

I believe the structure in the foreground with its gingerbread being painted is actually the elevated station. The station building on the other side of the tracks matches it.

All of the Henry Siegel's 14th St. Store buildings are still there, although the shorter middle building has had an apartment structure built on top of it. The corner building is now filled with (what else?) luxury condos.

Alas, the story of the 14th St. store itself did not end well for Henry Siegel. It lasted only a decade, and ended with Siegel going to jail. He would end up living in a boarding house in Hackensack.

More of the story can be found in this 1999 NY Times article.

Sharp Shot

Full of interesting detail as it is, this photo is also noteworthy, to me at least, because of how beautifully sharp it is in a technical sense. You can look at almost any part of it and see amazing details.

Human Hair

Three of my granddaughters have donated about a foot of their hair to an organization that supplies hair to make wigs for child cancer victims. I guess O. Henry's Delia has nothing on them.

The Corner today

The West side of the facade is missing two entries (the big arches on the right of the photo), but everything else about the building looks pretty much the same.


View Larger Map

How marvelous!

The entire building is still there, although now it is an Urban Outfitter. The 4-story building getting its gingerbread painted is also still on the street. The elevated streetcar, though, is gone, replaced by the IND, which opened the underground station at 6th Ave and 14th St in 1940.

When you look at the store selling "Human Hair Goods," just imagine it as the place where Delia sold her hair in O. Henry's "The Gift of the Magi." It was written in the same year, 1906, and just a few blocks uptown, at Pete's Tavern, at 129th E 18th St.

Great photo of one of the world's great cities, at a time when it was becoming an indelible part of the American imagination.

Today

The "Busy Corner" building is still around today, as are some others including the very skinny one (no longer with a human hair dealer, alas). The El is long gone, however.

Building maintenance

Nowadays the only place you see regularly-scheduled painting of structural gingerbread is at Disneyland. Don't recall ever seeing a Human Hair Goods store on Main Street, though. An E-ticket attraction that never was.

Human Hair Goods?

Eww. No thanks.

Widow, er, Window Washer

Man, it would kill me to have been that poor window washer. At least he probably talked to the girls on his way up!

Window Cleaner's Choice

Years ago I lived on the eighth floor of a an apartment building in Manhattan that was built around the time this photo was taken. The windows were equipped with iron rings for fastening a window washer's safety belt, similar to rig this gent is using. When I asked why he balanced himself on the ledge of the window instead of using the safety belt he had with him, he replied that he would rather trust his sense of balance than the 90 year old rings. After a closer inspection of the rings, I had to agree with him.

Monumental

Love the building with the sign on the side. It's hard to make a skinny, monumental building. It doesn't look like it's over about 30 feet wide.

Eye Spy

I think those two lasses in the window have spotted the camera.

 
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