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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.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Now Highering: 1913

Now Highering: 1913

New York circa 1913. "Broadway, looking north from Cortlandt Street and Maiden Lane." Our second look in recent weeks at the Woolworth Building in the final stages of construction. 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative. View full size.

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Fire Alarm Box Light

In response to the post by Jmarksr: The smaller light beyond the streetlight marks the location of a Fire Alarm Box. This lamp will have a red glass shade. At night, one could immediately locate the nearest fire alarm box by looking for a red lamp.
In my youth, the globes in some towns & cities were red, and in others the globes were orange. I don't know why.
(Some towns also had green lamps on police call boxes.)
The early fire alarm boxes were "Telegraph" boxes which used an ultra-reliable spring-wound clockwork mechanism to tap out the code of the fire box on a dedicated telegraph line to the Fire Dept., where it was recorded as punch marks on a moving paper tape. (Later, some cities converted to an actual telephone system.)
The telegraph system was powered from lead-acid batteries at the Fire Dept. It would function even during a power failure, as the batteries could support the system for many days.


Woolworth could see the completed building from his summer home, Winfield Hall, in Glen Cove on the North Shore of Long Island.

Just for comparison, The Woolworth Building started construction in 1910, and Winfield Hall was rebuilt (after a rather suspect fire) in 1916; the skyscraper cost an estimated $13.5M to build, while the rebuilt Winfield Hall racked up an impressive price-tag in excess of $11M -- including a $2M marble staircase.

Conduit Cleaning

The rectangular panels located between the streetcars' running rails and the centered slot rails were to allow access to the electrical conduit whenever necessary to clear the conduits accumulation of the abundant brown debris seen on the surface of the street.

street light

What is the smaller light (?) just behind the street light across Maiden Lane?

Cable railway

Many people will know of the cable cars of San Francisco, this picture shows a similar system in New York. The Broadway cable railway opened in 1893 and ran Battery Place from Whitehall Street to Broadway - Broadway to Seventh Avenue - Seventh Avenue to 59th Street.
The motive power was provided by a continuous steel cable running in a slot under the street between the rails. The central powerhouse was at Houston and Broadway.

[Those slots are for access to underground electrical conduits. The last of Manhattan's cable-powered lines had been converted to electricity by 1901. -tterrace]

What, pray tell

... is that statute on top of one of the buildings.

[Appropriately enough, it's atop the Walkover Building. -tterrace]

"The Tubes"

Pole sign, "Hudson Tunnels" - The Hudson and Manhattan Railway Tunnels - Known locally as "The Tubes"; service began between Lower Manhattan and Jersey City, July 19, 1909. Known today as the PATH System by the younger folk, but still the Tubes to me.

Mourning jewelry window sign

As anyone who every watched "Antiques Roadshow" or has done any research into old jewelry knows, it used to be a common practice to mourn one's dear departed with "remembrance" jewelry to keep in mind the loved ones who are no longer with us. Some people were in mourning for years and others, like Queen Victoria, mourned her late husband Albert for the remainder of her long life. Lots of this jewelry has black stones or black metal and some of it even incorporated locks of hair of the deceased. Some of it was exquisite and very expensive and is in museums it is so valuable, and some not so much. I had never seen it advertised in other Shorpy pictures though, so this is a first for me.

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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