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© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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West Thirty-Eighth: 1908

West Thirty-Eighth: 1908

New York circa 1908. "Thirty-Eighth Street west from Fifth Avenue." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Who Put Those Tires There?

Notice that the chauffeur is waiting in the left front passenger seat, not the driver's seat.

This is because the driver's entrance on the right hand side of the car is blocked by the spare tires on the running boards.

Stripeless Barber Pole

Can someone ID the device in front of the cigar shop just past the columned entrance in the lower left of the frame?

[Might be a subway entrance lamp. - Dave]


Below is the same view from November of 2010. As noted below, some of the buildings on the right remain.

1908 Delaunay-Belleville F6

The car appears to be a 1908 Delaunay-Belleville F6 or so, as suspected by roverdriver. Not this exact model, probably, but very close. (note

Looks expensive.

Business Directory

  • E. Kumke
  • G. Abraham, Ladies Tailor
  • Haas Pharmacy
  • Henesey
  • Loretta, Gowns
  • Mark Rafalsky & Company
  • Max Williams. Rare Engravings & Etchings. Framings.
  • Millius, Hair Goods
  • Miss Vera Millinery
  • Spencer Corsetieres
  • Tea Room
  • Thibault, Cleaning and Dyeing
  • Tucker, 435 Fifth Avenue

Re: Streelights - Me Bad

Geez, I really screwed up: the picture I sent was way wrong. Here, homefully, is the correct one.

Actually, more than you might think

An addendum to my previous comment: A little further looking shows that the "Millius Hair Goods" building survives as the first building past Lord&Taylor, was well as pretty much everything beyond it.

Not much left

Looking at Google street views, it appears that everything up to and including the Doric columns was wiped out for 420 Fifth Avenue, a 30 story po-mo tower constructed in 1989-1993 which used to house a huge CompUSA store and which now is home to the Girl Scout headquarters and the Rockefeller Foundation. The "daylight lofts" building, however, survives.

The car

Looks to be a Pope or a Pope-Hartford, not a Franklin. That round rad is pretty unique.

[The Franklin also had a round radiator. - Dave]

More guesses

Several makes used a radiator shape like that one. Possibilities are- Delaunay-Belleville, Germaine and Maudsley among others. I believe it is a Delaunay.

[Note that the grille opening on our car is a circle set at the top of a larger circle. Does that match any of these? - Dave]

Newer Neighbors

Many of the buildings in this picture are still standing. But Henesey and most of the buildings on the right to well down the block were replaced in 1914 by Lord & Taylor's flagship Fifth Avenue store.


I can't help it: I love those streetlamps of the period.

[Looks more like a stove to me. - Dave]

Daylight Loft

Useful for folks who need good natural light for their work. Artists come to mind.


Is that a Franklin?

Being born with the defective collecting gene

I sure am glad I don't collect fire hydrants! But if I did, that one next to the ghost sure is cool looking.

No rain?

Interesting - the sidewalks are dry but the street is wet. Did they open the hydrants & spray them to keep the dust down?

[Or it's winter and the streets have been salted. - Dave]

Daylight Lofts

I believe "daylight lofts" had big windows and no electric lighting, sort of the way a "coldwater flat" has water but if you wanted it hot you did it yourself.

A lofty idea

I'm guessing that a daylight loft is one of those suites at the topmost floor with windows built into the ceiling.

What make of car is that?

That looks like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, except the license plate doesn't read GEN II.

Daylight Loft

Most likely a "Daylight Loft" is exactly what it sounds like, useful only during the day. 1908, electricity was still a luxury for many. No gas lighting either in many of these buildings on the upper floors! go to the store ouside and get yourself some kerosene lamps. In the 1960's you still had folks living in apartments called "coldwater flats" that did not include hot water!

Conveyor in background?

Way down the block. It can be seen just above the buggy roof on the left side of the street. As it appears the street slopes downhill a little, it looks as though some type of bridge runs from one side of the street to the other about 10-12 feet above street level. It doesn't look strong enough for any type of railway/subway and the sides don't look like it would be a walkway (nobody's on it.) Any guesses? It's kind of odd even if it is a conveyor system of some sort.

[It's a people conveyor -- the Sixth Avenue El. - Dave]

$900 a month??

Regarding the the Office for Rent sign, is that $900 for a month or a year?

[$900 per year. - Dave]


With mortality rates being what they were in prior centuries, most women probably spent most of their lives wearing black.

Can someone tell me what a "daylight loft" is?

The death of mourning

Now there's something that died out, literally, in the 20th Century that you don't think about much -- the rituals of mourning -- the observance of set periods after the death of a loved one during which certain practices were observed and certain activities were forgone. For example, what kind and how long you wore the kind of mourning garb the Henesey firm supplied, depending on your relationship to the departed.

The Smell of a Bygone Era

Horse apples, auto exhaust, a recent rain, a tea room, all mixed with the pungent odors emanating from a dry cleaners and a tobacco store.

A Pretty Short Era

Interesting how cars and horses commingled in 1905. It didn't take long for things to change dramatically.

If I could turn back time

I would take all the money I could spare to the Max Williams Rare Engravings & Etchings establishment and buy up the low-priced, not-yet-famous artists works and then have an auction at Sotheby's next month to recover my stock market losses. Just think, in 1908, Picasso was just 27 years old, Van Gogh had been deceased just eighteen years, Norman Rockwell was only fourteen years old and Grandma Moses had not even started painting yet, having begun at age 76 in 1936. Boy oh boy, if only, huh? Why Auguste Renoir still had eleven years to live at this time. I could'a been a contenda. I could'a been somebody. Back to reality, I better get to the Dollar Store before they close for the day. Carry on.

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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