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Manhattan Skyline: 1915

Manhattan Skyline: 1915

New York circa 1915. "New York skyline from Manhattan Bridge." Another entry from Detroit Publishing's series of sooty cityscapes. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

Biggest Change

My father was born in Manhattan in 1918, and died in January 2009 at the age of 90. He was raised in Greenwich Village and except for 10 years spent in Europe, he lived his entire life in Manhattan. He saw almost all of the evolution of New York during the 20th Century.

Shortly before his death I asked him what he thought was the greatest general change in New York since he was a kid. Immediately he said "The greenery ! New York is so green now! There are so many trees! When I was a kid New York was a dirty and grimy place with almost no greenery, and very few of the side streets had any trees in them. Certainly not in working class neighborhoods. If you wanted trees you went to the park. That's definitely the biggest change."

This is borne out by all these comparative pictures; not a tree in sight in 1915.

Black Maria

What's amazing is the ominous woman striding down the left-side street dressed literally head to toe in black on this seemingly warm spring or summer day. Complete with black hat. We will never know her tragic mission; what dark news she's about to deliver to some poor soul in one of those buildings.

This helicopter mom is nervous

About that child on the fire escape, who looks to be about 3 or 4 years old. That's five storeys up. Such a different world. Or, perhaps, such a different economic perspective from my middle class complacency. Mom was probably overwhelmed with six or seven kids, the housework and cooking and, perhaps, piecework to help keep the family in food and tenement rent. No time for the luxury of worry. And those windows would have to be wide open in a stifling upper storey building.

A hot day

Did anybody else notice how most of the people on the street are crowded into the shade?

So much

for previous claims posted here on Shorpy that cities one hundred years ago were neat, clean and litter-free.

My Best Shot

Here is another view of the skyline in a photo I took Oct 4, 2009 from the Manhattan Bridge. I was attending the celebration of the Bridge's 100th Anniversary.

Market, Monroe and Hamilton

The original photo shows the intersection of these three streets. Hamilton Street (the one with the bend in the middle) was demapped in the early 1930s when Knickerbocker Village was built (see first photo in comments). That development was opened in 1934. At the foot of Monroe Street in the original photo there is a building marked "S. Giuseppe." That was the original St. Joseph's Church. The current structure was built in 1923 at the corner of Monroe and Catherine Streets across from the original site.

First time I ever saw a photo of Hamilton Street, great find!

High and Dry

This gal is just merrily hanging out her laundry with nothing between her and a fast free-fall but a few live wires! At my place of work I couldn't go higher than a common step ladder without a climbing harness and a spotter. Seems to me they worried a lot less back then and didn't try to turn everything into a liability lawsuit.

Zero'th Sister

I was going to mention the interesting similarity of the building below to Moscow's "Seven Sisters," a series of wedding-cake architectural extravagances from the Stalinist era. Then I read the Wikipedia article on Stalin's buildings!

"The Manhattan Municipal Building in New York City, completed in 1915, is reportedly an architectural precursor to the Seven Sisters."

We spent a night in the Hotel Ukraina some years back. Lovely building, but very old, and to paraphrase Mark Twain, "The hottest Summer I ever spent was a Winter's night in Moscow!" 15 degrees outside, 85 inside.

[That's the Woolworth Building below. - Dave]

Laundry Lady

I smiled when I saw the woman on the roof hanging her wet laundry out to dry! I'm afraid I would be scared to death!


This is the same view west on Monroe Street from May of 2009. The building in the right foreground remains as do its chimneys which are now covered in graffiti or hidden by transmitters.

Between Monroe and Cherry

I think the street to the left is Monroe. The street to the right is the unnamed street circled in the map below, in between Monroe and Cherry. That would mean S. Giuseppe's store is on Catherine Street.

Most of it is gone. It's all large apartment buildings on the south side of Monroe and the West side of Catherine. The buildings on the North side of Monroe are still there.

Where it is

The exact location is the intersection of Monroe and Market streets looking west. The first picture submitted by nycer as well as the one directly above is along Madison Street, which is one block north of Monroe. The wedge shaped block was created by Monroe and Hamilton streets. Hamilton was eliminated with the construction of the Knickerbocker Village housing project in 1934. I have a site devoted in large part to the history of this project:

Still There

If I've got it right, these two buildings are still there but now surrounded by even bigger buildings. Amazing.

[These are the Bankers Trust and Equitable buildings. - Dave]

Here's One More

The very white building in the middle background with the American flag waving above it is the first section of the old AT&T Building at 195 Broadway, which was completed in 1916 (the second section - not seen here - was completed in 1922).

Monroe Street

This is a view looking up Monroe Street with Market in the foreground. NYCer's image is nearby looking up Madison Street with Market in the foreground.


Love blooms above the city's streets. Nice

Make that New York c. 1915

This magnificent view contains several skyscrapers completed after 1910. On the left we see the Bankers Trust Building, with the pyramid on top (finished 1912) and immediately to its right, the wide bulk of the new Equitable Building (finished 1915); on the right we see the Woolworth Building, the tallest in the world at that time (finished 1913) and the Municipal Building, with its cute little round temple at the top (finished 1914).

Today's View

I used Google Earth 3D buildings to align the vantage point and then looked at Street View. The buildings match (look at the one the horse is headed toward, and also the building on the block closer to the camera with arched windows).

View Larger Map


It's not a giant lizard, a flying turtle or even the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, but every time I look at this portion of the photo, I see a giant bunny between the buildings, peacefully nibbling its way through the city.

Are you sure this photo is from 1910?

because The Equitable Building wasn't completed until 1915 ... and construction of the Woolworth Building was just starting in 1910.

["Circa 1910" does not mean the picture was taken in 1910. If we knew what year the photo was taken, we'd give it. "Circa" means around -- in the general vicinity. It's a starting point. - Dave]

Madison Street

That's Madison Street with the Alfred E. Smith Houses on the left and Chatham Green apartments on the right.

Hey Kid

Careful on that fire escape!

A modern view

Here's a shot from a nearby location 100 years later.


On the far right is the Municipal Building, and to its left is the Woolworth Building.


  • Chambers Printing Company
  • S. Giuseppe
  • Uneeda Biscuit

Pineapple Towers

Great skyline picture especially especially juxtaposed behind the everyday market street at the bottom. Can anyone supply names for all those massive buildings? -- especially the one that looks like it's wearing a pineapple on top.

[The pineapple is the Singer Building. - Dave]

What a pole!

As a straight razor guy and a collector of things tonsorial, my eye was immediately drawn to, what I believe is, that great barber pole at the bottom of the photo. It looks to be part barber pole and part flag pole. I'd give my brother's right arm to have one like that.

Where it is

The cross street in the foreground is Market, in what used to be Little Italy, now Chinatown. What are the two streets heading downtown? There is no wedge-shaped block like this on Market today.

And now

A view from the bridge.

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