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The Presbyterian Building: 1908

The Presbyterian Building: 1908

New York circa 1908. "Presbyterian Building, Fifth Avenue and West 20th Street." Still anchoring this corner of the Flatiron District, 127 years after its completion in 1895. 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

 

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Mail, Man

I see one of those newfangled letter/package postal boxes right around the corner from the lurking gentleman.

No traffic cones

Leaves more room for vehicles. But don’t go over the edge.

Early Phone Booth?

Would that be an early phone booth on the sidewalk in the lower right side of the photo?

[It's the entrance to the Revell religious bookstore. - Dave]

And to spare

I'm intrigued by the lone lanky gentleman standing -- leaning, actually -- at the corner, against the building between the two plate-glass display windows of the Crouch & Fitzgerald store, dapper in his Chesterfield and bowler, hands in pockets, ankles crossed, as though he's got nothing but time. Something about his attitude is so universal that it seems to strike through time itself, negating its effects and reducing (or elevating) him to any such man at any time -- even today.

The birth of the American Gilded Age

One hundred thirty-nine years ago tonight, March 26, 1883 Alva and Willie K Vanderbilt gave a ball in their newly completed residence at 660 Fifth Avenue (their petite chateau -- New York had never seen anything like it). By almost all accounts, that ball firmly established the Vanderbilts in the inner circle of NY society and kicked open the gates to the Gilded Age. Soon, staid brownstone mansions were abandoned and replaced with urban Indiana limestone palaces. Entertainments veered towards grandeur and opulence.

Yes, I'm aware of the gross excesses and inequities. But I am fascinated that one ball was the catalyst for so much change. The Presbyterian Building featured today would not look as it does without the Gilded Age.

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