December 5, 2013

Eighty years ago today, Prohibition ended. Time Inc. commemorates the occasion by revisiting its photos of speakeasies in the 1930s. The photos are a little more restrained and genteel than what I imagined speakeasies would be…they kind of look like modern day New York Sunday brunch, except with dressed-up people.

I love the originally-published intro to the photo essay (the photos were shot by Margaret Bourke-White), which describes why New York is way better than San Francisco and Chicago:

The speakeasy [FORTUNE told its readers, betraying a fair bit of patrician hauteur] has flowered successfully only in New York. In San Francisco it is dull and obscure; in Chicago, tough and noisy; in the South almost nonexistent. In most cities, drinking, like eating, is done at home or in the country club. In New York alone has the speakeasy become the instrument of a civilized social life, something between a pre-prohibition restaurant and a coeducational club. There are, therfore, in New York, speakeasies for every taste and purse… . The pictures on these pages present a fair cross-section of the reputable ones. They are probably the first pictures ever taken of speakeasies in action. They may be the last: no one can prophesy the future of these curious by-prodcuts of the post-War age if and when prohibition is repealed. If they survive it will be as restaurants with bars; locked doors will no longer spice the drinks. It is for a future that will want to know how New Yorkers of the ’20s lived that FORTUNE presents this portfolio of Margarte Bourke-White’s pictures.

Read more: Prohibition: Scenes From the Speakeasies of New York in 1933 | LIFE.com

(Source: (http)


Margaret Bourke-White— Caption from FORTUNE: "At luncheon half a dozen dogs feed amicably at their mistresses' side. This bar is chromium, rose and black."

Margaret Bourke-White—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

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July 22, 2013

Absolutely jaw-dropping photos of New York in the 1970s, courtesy of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, and part of a photo essay compiled by The Atlantic’s Alan Taylor.


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July 9, 2013

Collector’s Weekly has a great book review of Robin Nagle’s book, “Picking Up: On the Streets and Behind the Trucks with the Sanitation Workers of New York City” — and some nice vintage-trash-strewn photos to accompany it.

Nagle tells Collector’s Weekly:

In its early days, the [sanitation] department didn’t really function at all. There are some photographs taken for Harper’s Weekly, before and after photos of street corners in New York in 1893 and then in 1895. And the before pictures are pretty astonishing, people were literally shin-high or knee-high in this muck that was a combination of street gunk, horse urine and manure, dead animals, food waste, and furniture crap.


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May 16, 2013
The Times Tower, back before it became a gigantic stand for billboards. Via Lileks

The Times Tower, back before it became a gigantic stand for billboards. Via Lileks

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May 13, 2013

The Museum of the City of New York has released a ton of photos of the Manhattan Railway Company, which operated the city’s elevated railway lines at the turn of the 20th century. Squeee!

h/t @Gothamist


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April 25, 2013
The Woolsworth Building turned 100 yesterday

The Woolsworth Building turned 100 yesterday

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March 12, 2013
1899 - Fifth Avenue at night, looking north from 44th St. The artist is Charles W Jefferys, This illustration comes courtesy of the New York Public Library’s amazing digital archive.

1899 - Fifth Avenue at night, looking north from 44th St. The artist is Charles W Jefferys, This illustration comes courtesy of the New York Public Library’s amazing digital archive.

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February 11, 2013
Apparently, it’s always been hard to find a cab during New York blizzards.

1893 ‘Winter on Fifth Avenue’ - Alfred Stieglitz, via retronaut

Apparently, it’s always been hard to find a cab during New York blizzards.

1893 ‘Winter on Fifth Avenue’ - Alfred Stieglitz, via retronaut

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February 8, 2013

A couple more photos that the Bowery Boys blog posted in its remembrance of the deadly blizzard of 1888 that struck New York 125 years ago. Check out the post for more fascinating info while waiting for Nemo’s wrath.


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January 3, 2013
Manhattan’s skyline, 1880 to 1932.

This amazing series of photos was featured in TIME Magazine’s LIFE Aug 31, 1942 issue, “New York’s Skyline Sits for a Long Portrait.” The photos come from two amateurs of the Pierrepont family: John Jay Pierrepont, “a wealthy New Yorker”, was inspired from his Brooklyn rooftop view and took hundreds of photos from the vantage point until his death in 1923. His great-nephew, Abbot Low Moffat, continued the tradition until the Pierrepont home was bought by the city of New York to turn into a public park.

When Pierrepont took the first photos in 1880, church steeples and ship masts are the tallest structures, with the most recognizable landmark being Trinity Church on lower Broadway. By 1930, the lower Manhattan skyline was dominated by towers after the building boom.

Read the original article at Google Archives.

Manhattan’s skyline, 1880 to 1932.

This amazing series of photos was featured in TIME Magazine’s LIFE Aug 31, 1942 issue, “New York’s Skyline Sits for a Long Portrait.” The photos come from two amateurs of the Pierrepont family: John Jay Pierrepont, “a wealthy New Yorker”, was inspired from his Brooklyn rooftop view and took hundreds of photos from the vantage point until his death in 1923. His great-nephew, Abbot Low Moffat, continued the tradition until the Pierrepont home was bought by the city of New York to turn into a public park.

When Pierrepont took the first photos in 1880, church steeples and ship masts are the tallest structures, with the most recognizable landmark being Trinity Church on lower Broadway. By 1930, the lower Manhattan skyline was dominated by towers after the building boom.

Read the original article at Google Archives.

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December 20, 2012

Bridge construction photos from the TIME LIFE magazine archives.


George Washington Bridge under construction, 1927

Queensboro Bridge under construction, 1907

Manhattan Bridge under construction. 1907

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December 13, 2012
NYC Dim out, Times Square, April 1942. By William C. Shrout for Time LIFE

NYC Dim out, Times Square, April 1942. By William C. Shrout for Time LIFE

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November 26, 2012
Check out this feature from LIFE Magazine back when the U.N. Secretariat building was constructed. The caption/deck reads: “Windows of late-working secretary-general’s office look west over city 38th floor”. Via the Google LIFE archive, Mar 26, 1951.

Check out this feature from LIFE Magazine back when the U.N. Secretariat building was constructed. The caption/deck reads: “Windows of late-working secretary-general’s office look west over city 38th floor”. Via the Google LIFE archive, Mar 26, 1951.

November 19, 2012
God I’ve always wanted to do this: canoe party on the Hudson River. Photo via LIFE Magazine, Sept. 1948, by Tony Linck.

God I’ve always wanted to do this: canoe party on the Hudson River. Photo via LIFE Magazine, Sept. 1948, by Tony Linck.

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November 15, 2012
How New Yorkers on Fifth Avenue handled the snow, in 1905. Via the @NYPL’s endlessly fascinating digital archive. 

Photo credit to: Detroit Photographic Co.

How New Yorkers on Fifth Avenue handled the snow, in 1905. Via the @NYPL’s endlessly fascinating digital archive.

Photo credit to: Detroit Photographic Co.