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Higher Powers: 1912

Higher Powers: 1912

New York circa 1912. "Broadway and Trinity Church." In the distance, the Singer and Woolworth buildings, the latter under construction. 8x10 inch glass negative. View full size.


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In Spired

Until the Brooklyn Bridge was built, the spire of Trinity Church was the tallest building in NYC. On Sundays after services it used to be a thing to climb the stone staircase and peer out the small ports in the spire.

I had an opportunity to climb it in January 2005. Fascinating clockworks, but the spire was cold and dirty, with more than a few dead pigeons.

Lovely and shapely Lady in Black

Nice to see that I’m not the only one whose eye was caught by the woman in black.

Ah! the soaring vertical lines!

This photograph so captures the power of the early 20th city, as well as being a wonderful example of the importance of camera placement and capturing a scene in its authentic geometrical glory. Nothing here of the depressing wide angle distortion and toppling buildings characteristic of google streetview/cell phone camera culture.


Spot the person without a hat. (Tip -- there isn't one!) Amazing that among all these folks, I could not find a single one not wearing a hat. How times have changed.

Oh, and as to the lovely and shapely lady in black, walking away from us in the lower right, I can only wish I'd been the gent walking behind her.

The attention to detail was astounding

From fashion to construction.

Oh to be a milliner in 1912

I walked in that exact spot 99 years later, in the spring of 2011, taking pictures of, among other things, the Trinity Church graveyard. There were similar throngs of people but, whereas in 1912 most people were normal weight and possessed of significant sartorial savvy (including being elegantly hatted), in 2011 most people (excluding, for the most part, denizens of Wall Street) were overweight, dressed like slobs, and, if any hats were worn, they were baseball caps. I much prefer the street vibe of 1912.

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