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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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The Tombs: 1905

The Tombs: 1905

Circa 1905. "Tombs Prison, New York." The view down Centre Street at Leonard Street. What I wouldn't give for five minutes inside Cosmopolitan Incandescent Supply Co. ("Headquarters for Gas Lamps"), or A. Epstein Novelties & Games! 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

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Another 5-minute Idea

What I wouldn't give for 5 minutes of sitting on that street corner (head covered, of course) and watching that scene unfold. Preferably with a digital video camera.

Tomb it may concern:

Like Madison Square Garden, the name "The Tombs" has applied to a succession of buildings. Shown here is the second building (1902) to carry the name; the original (1838) was styled after an Egyptian mausoleum hence the name, which seems to be just too good to retire with the building.


Ten years or so ago, my father offered to help an upstate NY neighbour, a sort of quasi-Mennonite farmer, find a replacement part for his old gas stove. An old, old gas stove.

My dad, visiting a college friend who still lives in Greenwich Village, looked up a hardware place in the yellow pages that sounded like it might help. They took the train out to Queens or Brooklyn or whatever. It turned out to be a cavernous, gloomy, warehouse of a place, run by a gnomish old guy. My father showed him the broken cast iron part.

The guy looked at it, shouted "Hey, Merl, bring up a Flamemaster Eight Doohicky Support Flange!"

And another gnomish old guy brought out the exact part.

I figure that place started out like the Cosmopolitan Incandescent Supply Co.

Cable Cars

I didn't know New York had them. Wonder if they had recently replaced street cars, former tracks for which are in the street where bricklayers are working.

[These are not cable cars. Electrically powered streetcars, underground power supply. - Dave]

Covered domes

Must be several hundred men visible in this photo and not one without a hat of some kind.

Sorry - Correction

That was the "regular 15 cent dinner" (not 50 Cent, who became a rapper). Thank you. I guess 15 cents was the poor man's rapper.

[Shorpy Tip-O-the-Day: If you were signed in as a registered user, you could edit your comments at any time! - Dave]

Yes, we have no bananas

except for these on the cart in the lower right. I also plan to buy that "Regular 15 cent Dinner." Looks like today is bargain day on the Lower East Side.


Are there a few folks waiting for relatives to be released at the front gate?

What a revelation

I've heard of 'The Tombs' prison mentioned numerous times in various forms of media and always had a mental image of it being situated on an isolated piece of land far away from populated areas. It is interesting to see that it is located within the city.

Old Shops

My friend's father owned a hardware store on the Lower East Side. The business was founded by his grandfather in the 1920s. Talk about 5 minutes in a store, I wish I could go there again. I remember him telling me about a customer coming in, in the 1980s, and buying 10 boxes of nails and screws. Then he asked my friend's father if he wanted the contents of the boxes back. It seems he didn't want the nails and screws, but only the containers. They were of value to him because of the NRA emblems printed on them.

Dave's Time Machine Trip

Dave, don't go to the stores, pick up a copy of the New York Daily News from that wagon out front of the incandescent supply store and put all that money you were going to spend into the stock market! (just make sure to set the time machine before 1929 when you go to collect).

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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