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Old Times Square-Long Acre Square-Cobblestone-NYCTimes Square, then Long Acre Square. 

We’ve been doing a bit of research about Times Square these days, in a forthcoming book about the history of Broadway that we’re working on. The Library of Congress has as great repository of vintage photographs and we’d thought we’d share the striking evolution of Times Square from 1898 to today.

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Tomorrow, September 5th marks what would have been the 104th Birthday of the original Pennsylvania Station by designed by architects McKim, Mead & White. For the occasion, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite vintage photographs of the train station, ranging from the architecture to the fashionable commuters to the sad demolition which sparked the creation of a landmarks commission. While we lament the loss of the stately station, its demise has assured the survival of many other wonderful buildings in New York City, including Grand Central Terminal. With the recent news that Penn Station will get an upgrade of tenants, which is a step forward, we’re still hoping for a transformation into a world-class train station.

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Photographer Bruce Davidson tells the story of how his stunted endeavor in feature films sent him back to his “roots in still photography.” He grabbed his camera and took to the dimly lit and graffiti-strewn New York City subway cars, taking photos of riders, waiters, lovers, and more. The photos he uncovered have popped back up on sites like Imgur, so we put together this small selection of his photographs from 1980, which are featured in his book, Subway.

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frank-lloyd-wright-guggenheim-museum-nyc-original-001The Guggenheim’s original four story tower built by Frank Llloyd Wright’s son-in-law, William Wesley Peters. Image via Guggenheim

In a city where nothing is sacred and almost every architectural landmark is liable for an overhaul (take 5 Pointz for instance), it may come as no surprise that many of NYC’s most famous museums had also undergone many drastic changes over the years.  Just how drastic some of those changes were may shock you though. We’ve mentioned in the past how you used to be able to drive up to front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (in an era when most people didn’t have cars yet no less), but now we’re going to provide you with this list of photos portraying the original incarnations of NYC’s most famous museums.

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Take a trip back to the ye old days of A.D. Nineteen Hundred and Ninety-Three (1993). Harlem still had its true grit, 8mm was king of art house film, and the Queen was Latifah–at the Apollo Theater, at least. Photographer and blogger Gregoire Alessandrini gives us a rare peak into this quintessential New York neighborhood’s past through a 4 minute film of a ride he took on the M101 bus along Amsterdam and Lexington Avenues by way of 125th Street. The grainy black & white film is not the only thing about the video that has high contrast. It is remarkable to see the differences between the New York of today and the New York of just two decades ago.

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10004337005_6452cfbc04_zA vintage double decker bus of the Fifth Avenue Coach Company. Image Source: Flickr.com by the MTA

Fifth Avenue has it all: opulent retail, national embassies, corporate headquarters–but no Subway line. Why is this? Not only is there no line now (and no plans for one in the future), but no elevated trains or trolleys have ever operated on one of the world’s grandest thoroughfares. In fact, the avenue’s transit history is one of the most complex of any street in New York City. (more…)