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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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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.


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.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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