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On Broadway: 1911

New York circa 1911. "Broadway at night from Times Square." With a phantom or two loitering at the subway entrance. Companion to the night view of Times Square posted here on Monday. 8x10 inch glass negative. View full size.

New York circa 1911. "Broadway at night from Times Square." With a phantom or two loitering at the subway entrance. Companion to the night view of Times Square posted here on Monday. 8x10 inch glass negative. View full size.


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Subway Entrance on Times Square

In 1911 the IRT subway ran a slightly different route than it does today. Tracks ran up the east side of Manhattan to 42d street then crossed over to the west side to continue uptown.

This is how the station was originally configured (as seen at the track level):

The cross-over tracks are now the Times Square Shuttle.


In an effort to atone for my FUBAR post (+98 below), I retook the same view below from April of 2011.

100 years later

On my lunch break today I went out today and looked at this location. First of all, no sign at all that this structure, the subway entrance, existed. Today it would sit directly in front of the NYPD booth, where there is clean sidewalk, no sign of a former hole in the ground. But 100 years is along time and I'm sure the sidewalk has been repaired numerous times. Also it looks like this the subway is right in front of the face of 1 Times Square, but in fact there was about 40 feet between it and the building. Also in 1924 no sign of the subway entrance farther down 7th avenue on the right. [Historical map]

It's great to be able to jump back in time 100 years, and see how much has changed, and how much is still the same. On a personal note, my great grandfather, John Larson, was a foreman at Hecla Iron Work in Brooklyn, and that firm apparently made all of the original IRT subway entrances. I don't have any information he worked on this project, but still I feel a little pride looking at these old entrances.

Where is this building?

Has this building been torn down? It looks like the Flatiron building but in going back and forth with the Flat Iron building the facing doesn't look the same but yet the angle of this building looks like it.

[This is the old New York Times building, seen here and here and here. Now covered with advertising signs, it's where the ball drops on New Year's. - Dave]

Thanks very much. I was going nuts trying to tie those buildings together. So the NYT built two kinds of Flat Iron buildings? Do they face each other?

[Two kinds? - Dave]

Much different today

It's interesting how many hotels, theaters, and restaurants are on Broadway below 42nd Street in the photo. Today, there is very little activity below 40th, and most of Times Square activity extends from 40th up to about 48th.

The perils of going from front to back

Ah, I see that Hitchcock was appearing just down the street in The Red Widow, as "Cicero Hannibal Butts," which might explain the "conquest" comment. This is what happens when you don't keep up with Shorpy on a daily basis.


Looks like an ad reading "IT'S A HITCHCOCK CONQUEST" next to the Cohan theatre, likely referring to the actor Raymond Hitchcock, who was a star on Broadway at the time. Oddly enough, both Cohan and Hitchcock were celebrity endorsers of the fine, refreshing taste of Moxie.

Re: +98 I disagree (and Dave)

I humbly apologize for my misidentification of the perspective and thank you both for providing me with the proper location. I based my shot on a very low-res copy of the original photograph that I had. The Cohan Theatre building looked much like the Paramount building and I incorrectly believed the Hotel Knickerbocker was the Hotel Astor. However, after I posted the (incorrect) "now" version, it just didn't look right when I compared it to the hi-res Shorpy shot (especially with "Times" so prominently written in the window right in front and the Macy's sign in the distance). It's been driving me nuts. Looks like I've got another shot to take after I overcome my embarrassment.

George M. Cohan.

On February 13, 1911 the George M. Cohan Theater opened its doors at 1482 Broadway & 43rd Street. Its narrow entrance led to a marbled lobby which had murals depicting the Four Cohans up until the event of "The Governor's Son."

After you entered the theater, you were treated to various scenes from his Broadway successes that were painted on the walls above and surrounding the boxes. The theater was virtually a shrine to his career. Opening night featured "Get Rich Quick Wallingford." The "Little Millionaire" opened September 25, 1911, and was the last production that George appeared in with any family members. The theater became a full time movie house in 1932, and by 1938 it was demolished.

Subway Entrances/Exits

In the original IRT system, entrances had the rounded roof, exits had the angled roofs. None survive today, though there are replicas installed at Astor Place, not St. Mark's, and an elevator at City Hall is similar in style.

This picture is even more important for showing the Times building from ground level, giving an indication at how narrow it really is. It's a shame this gorgeous building was stripped of its ornamentation in the 70s, and soldiers on today vacant, making more money as a billboard than as a rented building. Still, and I forget who said it, but it is the most famous building in the world whose architecture is almost completely unknown.

+98 I disagree

"Below is same perspective (north from 43rd Street) taken in January of 2009"

That's the Times building behind the subway entrance to the right. So unlike your picture, we are standing in Times Square looking north up Broadway, and the street just ahead on the left is 47th.

[Not quite. The view here is looking south down Broadway from 43rd. The next street to the left is 42nd. The big building outlined in lights is the Hotel Knickerbocker. The Hotel Albany was at Broadway and 41st. We can also see the Hotel Normandie sign at 38th, and the Macy's sign at 35th. - Dave]

Macy's sign

According to the company's web site, Macy's moved to its present Herald Square location at West 34th and Broadway in 1902. Were they paying for advertising space at "the competitor's spot" -- Times Square? I love the phantom newspaper vendor slumped over near the subway entrance.

[The sign is on the store, eight blocks away in Herald Square. This view is from the southern limit of Times Square. - Dave]


You can still find those lampposts dotted here and there throughout the city. I think they are called "Bishop's Crooks."


Below is same perspective (north from 43rd Street) taken in January of 2009.

Subway entrance

It's neat to see the subway entrance at the right. There used to be quite a few like that, but now there's only one left, down at St. Marks Place, I believe.

[Astor Place. - Dave]

Phantoms and a great photo.

I always enjoy seeing the phantoms of blurred people and objects in these old photos, it gives a sense of life and reality, that there were real people living there. Cars, trolleys, horses, going about their business the same as we do today.

With a little imagination you can almost hear them!

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