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Pearl Street: 1890s

Pearl Street: 1890s

New York circa 1890s. "Street view, 21-23 Pearl Street." Glass negative by Robert L. Bracklow (1849-1919), a member of the Society of Amateur Photographers of New York. View full size.


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When I first saw this picture, I thought it was a backlot "New York Street" at a movie studio! The odd mix of buildings, the way the street curves to cut off the horizon, and that there are only two people in the picture -- way too "picturesque" to be real.

Quiet on the set!

I feel like I am looking down a classic "New York Street" from some Hollywood studio backlot, with false front buildings galore until I realize that it was photos like these of real life NYC that gave rise to the sets being referenced.

Melville's birthplace

Photographer Bracklow was just steps from Herman Melville's birthplace at 6 Pearl Street. If my orientation is correct, he could have reached the spot by turning about-face on the sidewalk and walking less than two minutes.

I recently commented on Melville's connection to the old Custom House on Wall Street. Here we are .4 mile southwest of that Shorpy photo.

The history of the house

Here is the history of 21 Pearl Street and the same street view Daytonian in Manhattan used in his blog.

Those two

look like they break noses for a living.

Lost and found

"I know I left my bottle around here somewhere. Oh, wait -- there it is!"

"Bandits' Roost"

Those two characters look like they belong in Jacob Riis's famous 1888 photo --

Early chain link

A friend called my attention to the fence to the left of the two men. He said "First time I've seen this in a photo from before 1920."

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