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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 TO THE CARIBBEAN BY CLIPPER, c. 1950s

Williamsburg Bridge: 1904

Williamsburg Bridge: 1904

New York circa 1904. "Williamsburg Bridge over East River." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

 

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My first visit to NYC I was a bit shocked to see all the graffiti on the buildings. I remember thinking as we took the subway and looking out the window how sad it is that all of the buildings have been marred by paint that wasn't meant to be there. It is nice to see the buildings of NYC in your pictures as they stood clean without graffiti.

Steam Replacing Sail....

But slowly! Up to the 1930's there was still a gradually declining fleet of small schooners carrying freight between New York and New England ports. The two-master in this photo, "sailing wing and wing" under the bridge, is one of them. The phrase in quotes is the modern, yachtsman's usage; the contemporary phrase was "reading both pages," where the ship was so perfectly aligned with the wind that the mainsail would fill on one side and the foresail on the other. The jib is blanketed by the other two sails and therefore it's hanging limp.

Williamsburg: the good old days

It's striking to see how shiny and new some of those buildings look--especially the long wooden one in the center right.

And not a hipster in sight!

I suppose they're all gone now. The buildings, that is, not the hipsters.

Curious Structures

What is that structure near the lower left with the white-top pilings? Looks like a life guard in a tower next to a diving platform. There are several more towards the bridge.

Also notice the slanting building with all the windows at the lower right.

Ferryland

I love the little round pilothouse and the walking beam of the steam engine of the ferry "Florida" peeking up behind the buildings in the left foreground - and there are several more beyond and underway in the river. The opening of the bridge must have played havoc with the ferry company's bottom line.

Era Ending

That Sailing Schooner says it all.

Great photo

The far shoreline is now a very nice waterfront park that stretches from just south of the bridge up to 13th Street.

 
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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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