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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 • EAT MORE FISH, 1917

Over the River: 1903

Over the River: 1903

New York circa 1903. "East River from Brooklyn tower of Williamsburg Bridge." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

 

Gaping holes

The Williamsburg Bridge was closed to both automobile and subway traffic for seven weeks in the spring of 1988 after an inspection discovered gaping holes in critical support beams due to neglect and rust. In some places it had to be shored up with wood! Since then it has been virtually rebuilt.

My First Bridge to Climb!

This was the first of many bridges two of my buddies and I explored and climbed in NYC in the mid 80's. It happened quite by accident one night as we walked across the bridge and discovered an unlocked stairway that went all the way up to the cradle room and then a ladder to the curved roof.

The room where the suspension cables were anchored to the masonry buttresses was really scary as there was so much corrosion! I also used to ride my motor bike on the pedestrian walkway down the middle of the bridge. There was a ramp on the Brooklyn side but I had to deal with the stairs on the Manhattan side.

I worked high-rise construction at the time to pay for college and I had access to many of the construction drawings to most of the NYC bridges through my school. Over the course of the next three years we climbed the towers (never the cables) of the Manhattan, Queensborough, Verizano and George Washington Bridges. We couldn't climb the Brooklyn Bridge as there was so much hoopla around the '87 Centennial but we did manage to cross the length of the bridge on the underside maintenance catwalk.

Good times! Thanks for the pics!

Cascarets vs. Castor Oil

     A history lesson from the Candy Professor in which he weaves candy and constipation into a lively slice of early 20th century medical history.

Judging by the number of car ferries,

this bridge was badly needed!

To and fro

The "New & Improved" version of the Willie B is the result of the city finally spending the money required to repair this elegant bridge. The bridge was built in 1903. You show me any structure that old that has not been maintained by its owners and it too would be the poster child for neglect.

I grew up on Delancy Street and looked out my bedroom window onto the bridge and watched the subway cross over in either direction, to and fro. Nameless faces travelling between Brooklyn and "The City" (as non-Manhattanites refer to venturing into Manhattan).

I take exception to the posting that refers to the east end of Delancey Street as "grimy." I have fond memories of a wonderful childhood in a diverse neighborhood of working class people.

The view from the Willy B

has changed a little.

*cough* *cough*

All those belching chimneys and that smog in the background makes be cough just looking at it. I'm sure nobody misses coal furnaces.

The I-Wish-We-Could-Forget-It Bridge

Those of us here in the 1980s and '90s remember it as so dilapidated that it was entirely closed for years. It's the local poster boy for legendary infrastructure disrepair.

The Forgotten Bridge

The Williamsburg Bridge is one of the more obscure New York bridges; invariably overshadowed by the stardom of its neighbor the Brooklyn Bridge. Yet it's one of the most beautiful in my opinion; strongly designed, functional and sleek for its time.

Its blunt towers stand there, year after year, like trusty sentinels, doing their workhorse job of shuttling car, truck and subway traffic back and forth between Brooklyn and the grimy east end of Delancey Street, and not complaining that it's almost never included in tourist guidebooks to New York. I love the Williamsburg Bridge.

Cascarets and Uneeda Biscuits

Where can I get me some of them Cascarets? Mebbe at Dannat & Pell?

 
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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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