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Along Fifth: 1908

Along Fifth: 1908

New York circa 1908. "Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street." Where hustle meets bustle. 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

Detector of the Unwary

I wonder how many succumbed to the 18 inch high railings in the right foreground?

Best Ever

Best Shorpy scene ever.


The library was built from 1897 to 1911, so it was under construction when this photo was taken circa 1908.

The library is out of frame on the left, across 5th Avenue, on the same side of 42nd Street as the photographer.

The subway pole and metal pipe railing in the photo's right foreground (i.e., the southeast corner of the intersection) can be seen, along with the library itself, in this photo:

Re Old New York

Funny, this photo made me think of Henry James!

North South reply

Since 5th Ave runs NNE and the shadows are cast almost straight down the street , this shot was taken at app 2 pm with the camera facing almost due north .

Old New York

I think I see Edith Wharton out for a stroll with friends.

Down below

For some reason I am really enjoying the elderly gentleman peering down the manhole over at the right. That little scene looks to me like a New Yorker cartoon waiting for its caption.

Facing North or South

An amazing photo. I doubt if even a single building in this photo is still standing. Can anybody tell whether this photo is facing north or south? In 1908 Fifth Avenue was obviously a two-way street, but today it's one way southbound traffic. If the photo is facing south the NY Library is out of view on the right, if it's facing north the Library is out of view on the left.

This is why....

....I always check in to Shorpy.

What a fantastic photograph.

Street lights

The street lights of "the old days" are so artistic compared to the lights of the present. Even the street signs have class.

A Mostly Automobileless Street?

It is interesting to note that in 1908, years after the automobile was common-place in New York and other large cities, that I can discern but a few of these "Horse replacements" in this busy street scene.

The first that I see is beneath the "Fifth Ave." sign to the left, the second between the first two delivery wagons and a third and possibly a fourth are to the right of the large street light. Anybody see more?

Or - Quite possibly it is a cold day, owing to everyone's attire, and most of those "Gas Buggies" are already garaged and up on blocks for the winter.


The patch on the police officer's left arm is the oldest patch still in continuous use in the NYPD. It is a brown horse's head and neck, centered over a yellow spoked wheel.

The Traffic unit/squad/division (it has had various names over the decades) was one of the first specialized NYPD units. This was at a time before traffic lights, etc., and was in response to the chaos visible in the photo.

I wonder

Would a man get dirty looks back in the day if he was on the street without a hat?

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