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Gotham Gulch: 1911

New York circa 1911. "The Canyon of Lower Broadway at Bowling Green and Battery Place." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

New York circa 1911. "The Canyon of Lower Broadway at Bowling Green and Battery Place." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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Some buildings up the street still live

The curved building smack in the center of the photo is 26 Broadway. It was combined with some adjacent buildings (including the one directly to the north) and gotten a new facade, but it's still the same building. The structure on the top is still there, and it has the same number of floors. If you "drive" uptown on Google Maps you can see that today it's across from the Charging Bull statue.

Farther up Broadway is Trinity Church, which of course is still there, and just north of that (and just visible in the 1911 photo) are the Trinity and United States Realty Buildings, which were pretty new in 1911.

The IMM Building

This is a fantastic photo of lower Broadway. The building on the left, correctly identified by another as the IMM building, housed the offices of most of the steamship companies owned by J.P. Morgan's giant shipping conglomerate. On the left we can see the sign for the American Line, one of the original companies in the IMM. In 1903 Morgan absorbed Britain's White Star Line into the IMM. Their office was just a short distance up the street on the left at 9 Broadway. Once can still see the company name by the door to this day though the firm was long ago merged into their rival Cunard line following the collapse of the parent IMM. In mid April of the year after this photo was taken, the street was packed with distressed family and friends trying to discover the fate of their loved ones who had sailed on the Titanic. Twice daily the line posted updated lists of survivors outside the doors to their offices. Mobs of reporters and the morbidly curious also added to the scene of near pandemonium. Few today are aware of the history this section of Broadway has scene crowded with banks, and brokerages and the offices of the now long vanished companies that transported people all over the world before the advent of air travel.

An oldie

That's a 2 horse power horsecar in the lower right, while all the other streetcars in the photo are powered by electricity from an underground conduit between the rails. The nearer horsecar horse is gray or white, and harder to see. The photographer is on the uptown platform of the Battery Place station of the 9th & 6th Avenue El.

And what will replace this?

The building at left is 1 Broadway. It was built in 1882, enlarged in 1886 (that's when the dragon lamp posts were added), and reconstructed in 1922.

Looking at Gotham Gulch today it appears No. 1 is as close to still being there as anything. The tower of the Singer Building (149 Broadway) is at left in 1911. That building was demolished in 1968.

I cannot identify anything else unchanged except Bowling Green park itself.

Only some things still the same

Only some elements of this view are the same as back then.

The building with the dragons is now known as the International Mercantile Marine Company Building, though that company is no longer in it. In this picture it was in its original state as constructed in 1882, before International Mercantile Marine bought it and modified the facade to the present form in 1919.

The road that went around the south part of Bowling Green is now sidewalk.

Be There Dragons?

On the lampposts in front of the building on the far left. Are those dragons?
I can't tell, even with the photo enlarged.

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