Monday, November 12, 2018

That 40s show: Get lost in the NYC Municipal Archives's online collection



The New York City Municipal Archives delivered an early holiday gift this month after putting their 1940s tax photo collection online. (Previously these were only available to view in person via microfilm.)

You can browse for yourself — there are 720,000 digitized photos! — at this link. High-resolution versions of these tax photos — print or digital — are available to purchase online.

Anyway, I spent every waking free moment in recent days a few hours getting lost in the archives. I posted a few photos here from this neighborhood, picking addresses that (mostly) will look familiar to you today. The top photo is from 14th Street and Fourth Avenue (now the Zeckendorf Towers, completed 47 years after this shot).

Here we go (in no particular order):

The Con Ed power plant on 14th Street and Avenue C...



The Church of the Immaculate Conception on 14th Street at First Avenue...



The Tompkins Square Library branch on 10th Street between Avenue A and Avenue B...



McSorley's on Seventh Street...



East Houston looking southwest at Norfolk and Essex (P.S. 20 the Anna Silver School is on that corner now)...



Astor Place (where Starbucks is now in the retail space)...



Looking toward Stuyvesant Street and 10th Street from Second Avenue...



The southwest corner of Seventh Street and Avenue B... (where 7B/the Horseshoe Bar/Vazac's is)...



The Christodora House on Avenue B at Ninth Street...



St. Brigid's on Avenue B at Eighth Street...



66 Avenue A between Fourth Street and Fifth Street (where Ink on A, Alphabets, Mast, Lancelotti Housewares, etc., are today) ...



313-315 Bowery (315 would become CBGB ... then John Varvatos ... the Palace Hotel was around until 1993, when the Bowery Residents Coalition signed a lease for the upstairs space)...



224-226 Avenue B between 13th Street and 14th Street (Mona's is in one of those spaces now)...



125 E. Seventh St. at Avenue A (currently Miss Lily's 7A Cafe in the retail space)...



106 Avenue C at Seventh Street...



28-30 Second Ave. at Second Street (now the Anthology Film Archives and Manhattan Mini-Storage)...



... and one spot that's not entirely recognizable today — 25 Cooper Square (now the Standard East Village)

13 comments:

Felton Davis said...

Just as old Hoboken is visibly on display in Elia Kazan's classic "On the Waterfront," so also is old Manhattan on display in the TV series "Naked City," including Nativity Church with its traditional Greek architecture before it burned down. Even more shocking is Greta Garbo sailing down the East River in Eugene O'Neil's "Anna Christie," directed by Clarence Brown. In the background is the 1930 downtown skyline, with only one skyscraper. For a zillion dollars, can you guess what that skyscraper was?

Anonymous said...

OMFG. These photos are amazing. Thanks EV Grieve for sharing this. So nostalgic and telling.

dwg said...

Yes, thanks EV for digging through the archives. Amazing how much is still recognizable.

Anonymous said...

The only difference are the motor vehicles. As late as the 1940s, there are so few. Too bad we cant get rid of them all together, and open up the streets again with less clutter.

Anonymous said...

@Felton Davis - Woolworth Building? Singer Building?

Anonymous said...

A lot less trees in Tompkins Square.

Giovanni said...

Nice finds Grieve, someone could make a whole documentary just using those photos. It’s too bad you have to pay for the high res versions, the detail of the signage and architecture in those pictures must be amazing. Now if we could only find a picture of Gem’s Spa when their sign still had the apostrophe in it. Oh well.

Felton Davis said...

Yes, it was the Woolworth Building, but you didn't put your answer in the form of a question!

Anonymous said...

No trash cans in any of these, except for one public one on a corner. What was the garbage pick up situation then?

Donnie Moder said...

Positive: Fantastic historic resource now available at the click of a keyboard for free! Negative: The photos are blurry, I have had some printed in the past and they simply are not focused properly.

Gojira said...

@Anonymous 9:46 - There wasn't as much garbage because there wasn't as much packaging. You returned soda bottles for the deposit, you didn't throw them away. Stuff didn't come packaged in plastic and cardboard - you went to the store, brought your own bags, or took one of the paper ones they gave you, which you then re-utilized somewhere else. People were far more conscious of the value of using things more than once. Unfortunately, the rise in convenience has also given rise to the overflowing garbage we see in every can and every gutter...

Tom said...

@Donnie Moder - Yes, the photos are all blurry in varying degrees. I'm sure this is because the tax dept photographers had to focus on the sign stand showing the building's borough and tax block & lot numbers, instead of focusing on the subject building.

Scuba Diva said...

I would give [almost] anything to see steeples on St. Brigid's!

@Gojira: Wish I could call up the photo I saw of the vacant lot used as a dump; trash collection in the city used to be pretty abysmal.