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About the Photos

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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Union Square: 1910

Union Square: 1910

New York circa 1910. "Union Square." The Met Life tower presides over this panoramic view, a composite of four 8x10 glass negatives. View full size.

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Union Square: 2011

I wanted to see what it would look like today in B&W.

Union Square Sequential Stills

In this YouTube video of still photos, starting at 1:47, there is a quick view of Union Square that looks like it was taken from almost the same spot as the four photos in the composite Dave/Shorpy photo.

Good job!

Well put together and all in focus.

Also on East 17th Street

I really should mention the new construction to the right of Barnes & Noble and the Everett Building being built on East 17th Street. It was the Germania Life Insurance Building, soon to become the Guardian Life Insurance Building. It is now the very hip W Union Square Hotel home of the very fine restaurant "Olives."

The Lincoln Building

The building on the very left is the landmarked Lincoln Building or 1 Union Square West. I worked on the eighth floor for several years. The windows, visible in the picture, are very large, and most could be opened fully. No screen, no awnings, just wind and noise. I watched the late 90's renovation of the park every day from there. It was perfect!

Babies 'R' Us

With the exception of a few very new glass mid-rise towers and some unexceptional mid-century mid-rises, this is how Union Square still looks. Like most parts of U.S. cities, building stopped around 1930 and never picked back up again. The building with the front stairs 2nd from right is now a covered entrance to Babies 'R' Us.


The Barnes and Noble on Union Square was my favourite B&N in Manhattan. It was originally the Century Publishing Company Building. They published the "War Series" about the Civil War, contributors to the series were Union and Confederate combatants including Generals Grant and Sherman. It included thousands of engravings, often from photographs by Matthew Brady and Alexander Gardner.

They also published works by Edith Wharton, Mark Twain, Rudyard Kipling and Robert Lewis Stephenson.

The Union Square Market is a great farmer's market. A crisp fall morning in New York City and fresh, organic fall products... heaven!

Tick Tock

I noted that the street clock in the lower left and the clock on the Met Life building are showing the same time (+/-). Fast photographer.

Highrises Cometh

On the right you can see modern NY high rise buildings encroach on mid-1800s tenements, so it won't be long before they are gone too. In a couple short decades, the familiar NY city-jungle of tall buildings and busy streets will be complete.


I can't find the words. You have taken my breath away with this one Dave. I'll be spending the remainder of July right here, and still won't see it all. Kudos.

Union Square Redux

Again, another Shorpy beauty. The street on the left is now known as Union Square West, it really is an extension of Broadway. Beyond the foliage, north of of Union Square Park, is what is stilled called East 17th St, as opposed to Union Square North. The anchor store on that block is a mammoth (for Manhattan) Barnes & Noble which is in the same building that is in this picture. That location is at 33 East 17th St. The bookstore is a major attraction for the neighborhood. Their biweekly lectures, book signings and musical events are usually packed. The structure to the right of B&N, The Everett Building, erected in 1908, still stands. It was given Landmark status in 1988. The building is also known as 200 Park Avenue South and has as a retail tenant, the upscale multi-generational men's clothier, Rothman's.

As mentioned, rising from near Madison Square Park on 23rd St., and high above East 17th Street, The Met Life Building, completed in 1909.

Technical Question

Did you, Dave, enhance the melding of the four glass negatives, or was that excellent job all accomplished circa 1910?

[The melding was done last night. - Dave]

SHORPY OLD 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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