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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 Big Apple: 1912

The Big Apple: 1912

New York circa 1912. "Big buildings of Lower Manhattan." Landmarks here include the Singer Building and, under construction, the Woolworth tower. And let's not overlook the Hotel Grütli. Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

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Tall, Taller, Tallest

What a great snapshot(!) in time. This image captures the progression of the tallest buildings in Manhattan from 1894 to 1912:

The 1894 Manhattan Life Insurance Building (black baroque topped building in front of Bankers Trust pyramid, after its 1904 expansion).

The twin-domed 1899 Park Row Building, just to the right of the Singer tower of 1908 (lantern-topped building with flag).

The Metropolitan Life tower of 1909 (in the distance, through the haze).

Finally, the Woolworth Building (under construction, completed 1913).

With apologies to the Beach Boys

With trains on either side of the building, rooms in the Hotel Grutli would have had good, good, good, good vibrations.

Coming soon to a Broadway block near you

This view would soon be transformed by the construction of the new Equitable Building at 120 Broadway, between Pine and Cedar Streets. The old Equitable Building burned down in a spectacular fire on January 9, 1912; the Chicago architecture firm of Graham, Burnham & Co. designed its replacement, which was built between 1913 and 1915. Although it was hardly the tallest skyscraper in downtown Manhattan, the new Equitable was one of the bulkiest, and it was heavily criticized for blocking out the sun from the downtown streets. Shortly after it was completed, New York adopted the Zoning Ordinance of 1916, which placed limits on the height and bulk of tall buildings; this law promoted the "setback" massing that characterizes so many NYC buildings built after 1920.

El of a Photo

The two Tracks shown at the bottom photo are the 6th Avenue (on the right) and the 9th Avenue(on the left) Elevated Lines where they have just diverged from a common track above Battery place and the South Ferry terminal. The 9th Avenue El is also seen further uptown in the photo.

The photo also shows the NYC Municipal building under construction and way uptown, the Metropolitan Life building, shown in many images here.

Those buildings

hold more people than the 25,000 from my town.

What else

I didn't know there was an elevated train on Trinity Place as well as Greenwich Street. Off in the distance is the Met Life Building, with no competition, and at the right the grand old Municipal Building is nearing completiion.


Many buildings in this photo are still going strong. Woolworth, Bankers Trust, 2 Rector St., 111 Broadway and, of course, Trinity Church.

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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