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On Broadway: 1903

On Broadway: 1903

Circa 1903. "Flatiron Building, New York." Looking south down Broadway at this seminal skyscraper, with Fifth Avenue to the right. Also a nice view of the Albemarle Hotel and, at bottom, the obelisk of the Worth Memorial, resting place of Mexican-American War hero Major General William Jenkins Worth (and, incidentally, one of only two monuments serving as mausoleums in Manhattan). 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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Probably a dressmaker's dummy

The mystery object is probably (part of) a dressmaker's dummy. He's holding it almost upside down; the three legs would normally be sitting on the floor. There might be another section that goes on top of the part he has - see this picture from 1913. A tailor tries a dress-in-progress on a dummy like this to make sure it's shaping up correctly.

It *might* be a bird cage, but the ones I've seen didn't usually have the main support pole running straight up the center like that.

Mystery object

What is this guy carrying? Can't be a TV antenna...

Not the only odd monument

Visible at the left edge through the trees of Madison Square Park is the 1876 statute of William H. Seward by Randolph Rogers. Seward served as New York's governor and later represented the state in the Senate, but of course is most famous for orchestrating the purchase of Alaska ("Seward's Folly") while Secretary of State.

Soon after the statue's dedication, a rumor arose that sculptor Rogers saved money by adding Seward's head to an existing cast of a statue of Abraham Lincoln. He had been paid to do an entirely new statue. Rogers never confirmed or denied the rumor, but it's obvious that the statue's proportions are all wrong. The body is that of a tall man, which Seward definitely was not, and Seward's head is much too small for his(?) body.

Today the Seward statute is overshadowed by Shake Shack, a large food kiosk where hipsters and trustafarians wait in hours-long lines for expensive hamburgers.

I'd like to put the pieces together

Love it. .. This would make a great puzzle, full of rich details showing the hustle and bustle of city life 110 years ago.

One of only two

One of only two monuments serving as mausoleums in Manhattan, the other being General Grant National Memorial, better known as Grant's Tomb.

Things To Come

The streets shown in this photo, except for some horse emissions and some circular street stains, are exceptionally clean. No Burger King or McD wrappers, Starbucks containers, lottery scratch offs, NY Post front pages or other detritus.

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