NYC in Black and White (mostly)
June 19, 2008 10:04 AM   Subscribe

New York City in (mostly) black and white. A huge collection of photos starting in the 1880s—some beautiful, all fascinating. Previously.
posted by cerebus19 (18 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, I should have mentioned that there are a few small NSFW pictures about 2/3 of the way down the page. Sorry about that.
posted by cerebus19 at 10:05 AM on June 19, 2008

I'm sorry to say this, but I found one that was just short of fascinating. Only one, though.
posted by shmegegge at 10:15 AM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Too local. I kid, I kid. This is good. Some of these are breath-taking.
posted by nthdegx at 10:20 AM on June 19, 2008

1906 - No cars
1908 - No horses

Crazy. Also, I'd love to see some enterprising person recreate these photos now.

Is that man using a cellphone??

That would make a great SF story. Browsing old photos you come across something that, with modern eyes, is an anachronism (just an eccentricity at the time). Time traveler!

Wow the shift into color....disorienting. It's still 1941 but now it feels like 1971.
posted by DU at 10:23 AM on June 19, 2008

I love the photo from 1900 where a police officer on a bicycle allegedly writes a ticket to two gentlemen on a carriage. I imagine that it's a speeding ticket and that the overzealous officer hands it over while kids in the background are running faster than the carriage was ever speeding.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:32 AM on June 19, 2008

Beautiful. Cool to see how similar turn-of-the-century Manhattan looked to modern Manhattan. The one with the Woolworth Building peeking above the clouds actually choked me up a little bit. Of all the buildings in Manhattan I love, that one has always been my favorite.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 10:48 AM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

that penn station quote is incredible, especially since I ride into and out of the current one every day, and I hate it more every time. There's something that happened to architecture that I can't quite put my finger on. It seems almost to have mirrored the modern art movement, where buildings have become simpler in order to more clearly offer a meta-statement on architecture itself. The difference, however, is that most modern art was/is in some way striking to look at where (excepting folks like Gehry et al.) most modern architecture is just another box filled with polished granite. There are buildings I adore (the chelsea market is one) but they're the exception, and increasingly difficult to find.
posted by shmegegge at 11:21 AM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

great stuff I wish someone would do one of these montages for Brooklyn
posted by any major dude at 11:30 AM on June 19, 2008

I don't know a thing about New York, so I didn't realize that building was gone. Ironically, I was going to post that I hoped it was still there since it looked so awesome. Big interior spaces = win.
posted by DU at 11:32 AM on June 19, 2008

Grand Central is still here and is still glorious -- with big interior spaces!
posted by grumblebee at 11:52 AM on June 19, 2008

This is just magnificent.

A beautiful collection, thank you.
posted by WPW at 12:23 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

This is exactly why this article from the NYT Architecture Issue made me sad. Metropolis Metrolopisis Metropolese Big cities don't grow organically anymore, and Dubai (and other "new" cities) aren't going to prompt these kinds of discussions for a long time. Maybe in a hundred years someone will say "Oh, remember when that series of man-made islands in the shape of the FedEx logo only had ONE tall building shaped like a whale?", but I doubt it.
posted by monkeystronghold at 12:25 PM on June 19, 2008

And this one.
posted by WPW at 12:25 PM on June 19, 2008

These are awesome.
posted by JHarris at 12:35 PM on June 19, 2008

Amazing stuff—thanks very much for the post. I love the quirky, laconic captions: "Federal Crowd Control, 1918. Machine guns in front, modified phalanx. Soldiers on sides assigned to upstairs windows. Wilson feared antiwar riots, losing mind to small strokes." And "Dogs run free."

It saddens me every time I see a picture of Herald Square with the beautiful old Herald Building. If I could bring one building back from the dead, it would be a tossup between that and the old Madison Square Garden (when it was still on Madison Square).
posted by languagehat at 3:24 PM on June 19, 2008

Oh, I do like me some pictures of NYCity. The great grandparents lived on Riverside Drive back before the cars, and if I could go visit them now, I would go in a heartbeat.

Many thanks
posted by IndigoJones at 3:34 PM on June 19, 2008

While I do find these photos interesting, I don't really understand the nostalgia for pre-WWII architecture.

Maybe I'm just too unrefined to get the difference between a giant rectangular prism built in 1910 and one built in 1990.
posted by Target Practice at 4:09 PM on June 20, 2008

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