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About the Photos

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 • BUY WAR SAVINGS STAMPS, c. 1918

The Jewish Market: 1900

The Jewish Market: 1900

New York City circa 1900. "Jewish market on the East Side." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

 

Diagonal Focus

The photographer had a sophisticated camera, and knew how to use it. It is easy to make an approximation of this today with Photoshop, but the sharp focus area in this photo occupies just the lower part of the image, cutting it diagonally in half. This was accomplished with careful use of the swings, and tilts, and other adjustments afforded by the "view" camera - a big wood and leather thing with the photographer under a black cloth behind it.

Such cameras are still in use today, mainly for commercial purposes, but some art photographers are out there, doing all sorts of manipulations to images right in the camera. That camera technology remains very useful even now.

Puzzling

Wow. Someone should make this photo the basis for a jigsaw puzzle.

Rickety

Check out that rickety balcony on the middle left with the mattress on it! Scary if you have little ones.

Irish Maids

Your unwitting racist remark should have read "Jewish housewives."

Fire Escapes

Wow, the 'fire escape' on the leftmost building looks as if it wouldn't hold a fly!

A New Market

This view is looking east at Hester Street from about Essex to the corner of Norfolk Street. This block no longer exists. The south side was torn down at about this time to build Seward Park, and the north side you're looking at here was taken down soon thereafter to build the pioneering intermediate school, PS 62.

Today the recreational facilities of the Seward Park Co-op apartment complex are there, but the space where the street itself was has remained fenced-off and empty until this past summer when the Hester Street Fair and Market was held there over several weekends.

Tevye!?

You made it over to New York!

"Hester Street"

It seems the 1975 film "Hester Street" nailed its street scenes. Perhaps they did research with some of these same photos before filming.

Remnant

This looks like a colonial era building - as does the one a few doors down. Long gone.

Exposure

We're used to seeing so many ghostly images of moving figures in photos of this era. This one is remarkably crisp and clear, especially considering all the activity going on. It must have been shot with a state of the art (for its time) fast emulsion and a mechanical shutter.

New Jewish Market

Here's a discussion on the same photo, including hand-colored postcards of the "New Jewish Market."

Where is Tevye?

What's missing is the fiddler on the roof.

A little bit of this, a little bit of that

The fellow on the lower left is a ringer for Topol (Tevye, the dairyman father in Fiddler on the Roof)

Fiddler on the roof.

Ok, there isn't one, but that guy to the left behind the cart looks like Tevye from the movie version. Also, the young man isn't the only one eye balling the young lady. Perhaps papa, standing in the middle of the photo, is making sure she doesn't become distracted by the young man's gaze. She seems to be doing a good job of it.

Everyday people

I just love to view the full size, and look at the detail on these shots! Many stories of daily life unfolding.

Child labor, the types of food for sale, the difference in clothing and cleanliness of the people. Hairstyles, clothing styles. Who is the housekeeper shopping, who is the homeless woman, what is the story of the disheveled girl in the bottom center with the braid down her back?

The Irish Maids

The Irish (most likely) maids in their nice clean white aprons (buying potatoes from a cart vendor) stand in stark contrast to the overall filth and desheveledness of most of the rest of the content of the photograph.

Ladies holding a wicker basket being the clue as to who is buying vs. selling.

Observations

Tiny details that caught my eye:

The woman hanging out wash in the top left corner;
The suit and coat hanging out to air;
Mattresses airing on the balconies;
The ice man on the far right side of the image;
The young lady seated on the crate, selling what looks to be potatoes and the young man glancing in her direction.

 
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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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