Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A lens to the past

Like individual returns from the 1940 Census being available to the public for the first time, a new cache of public records has newly come to light, focusing on historic New York City. The Department of Records announced that nearly 1 million photos have been digitized from the Municipal Archives collection, which contains more than 2.2 million images going back to the mid-1800s. Maybe you'll spot some of your ancestors? I'm kind of partial to the gingham-clad girls below. Here are a few more gems.

Sunlight floods in through windows in the vaulted main room of Grand Central Terminal, illuminating the main concourse, ticket windows, and information kiosk. Photo ca. 1935-1941
Times Square theaters by day. The Times Building, Loew's Theatre, Hotel Astor, Gaiety Theatre and other landmarks are shown in this January, 1938 photo. (Bofinger, E.M.)
Yankee Stadium, Yankees on the field during a game, ca. 1935-1947
Men cut ice from Kissena Lake in Queens, ca. 1860-1900.
Brooklyn Bridge painters at work high above the city on December 3, 1915

25 comments:

  1. The picture from Grand Central is utterly breathtaking... WOW! As much as it pains me, as a die-hard Orioles fan, the Yankee Stadium snap is fantastic (even if the old pinstripers are not the EVIL EMPIRE:)...

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    1. The Yankees deserve a curse. The Grand Central Station photo is amazing! It looks like a scene from LOTR, maybe the mines.

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  2. These images are amazing! I love NYC and am usually there every few months. I need to devote some time each day to look through all the images. My favorite of what you posted is Times Square.

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  3. How different Times Square looked back then!

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  4. These pictures are an amazing resource,almost like a virtual National Park. Being a luddite, I still would prefer to see them in a big fat book one of these days.

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    1. Pembley PentangleMay 3, 2012 at 11:24 AM

      Your PC's days are numbered, I presume.

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  5. It's always interesting to get a glimpse into the past like this...the light pouring into Grand Central Station is simply awesome, and yet everyone in the station at the time probably didn't give it a second thought. Oh the power of photography!

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  6. These photos are great! Its always interesting to see how the scenery of a big city changes over time.

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  7. Could not resist doing a little magnification and IMDB research. It looks as if the feature at the Gaiety Theater in Times Square that day was "Prisoner of Zenda", starring Ronald Colman. Next door, you could see 23 year old Dorothy Lamour starring in Samuel Goldwyn's $2 million blockbuster, "The Hurricane".

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  8. Golly i love these photo's! I actually just tried going on the Archives website to check out the gallery, but the photo site is down due to overwhelming demand, boo!!!!!

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  9. My favorites are the ones of Grand Central Station and the Brooklyn Bridge painters. The natural light pouring into the station and the fog by the bridge almost have a surreal but crisp quality. There is something magical about black and white photography that cannot be captured in color.

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  10. Look at those guys painting the bridge. They have no fear!

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    1. I don't see any ropes or harnesses ... incredible.

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  11. This photos are amazing!!! My favorite type of pictures are black and white and to see these just makes my heart happy!!

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  12. The light coming through Grand Central Station is outstanding!

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  13. Thirteenth at tableMay 1, 2012 at 11:51 PM

    The most surprising photo to me, a longtime resident, is the shot of Kissena Lake. (Where did all those trees go?) The development--the mall-to-mall carpeting--of Queens is both a blessing and a blight. When I need to shop, some things are available everywhere. But more often, I long to go someplace green, like Vermont, to breathe the air and listen to the birdies sing their golden oldie songs.

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    1. Amen amen. I am so deeply sick of chain stores, malls, and eateries replicating themselves all across the countries. Did you coin that phrase (mall to mall carpeting)? very funny. & SAD!

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    2. I never read it, so I must have coined the phrase--as the last mall was being shoehorned into a former parking lot... and the last mom-and-pop bakery within walking distance closed its doors.

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  14. That photo of the Grand Central Terminal is unbelievably stunning! Wow.

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  15. What amazing pictures! Thanks for posting

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  16. Cornelius LoomisMay 3, 2012 at 11:05 AM

    As a Yankee fan I am partial to the stadium shot, but my favorite is certainly the last shot on the Brooklyn Bridge.

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    1. Don't you love all the men wearing hats?

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    2. Pembley PentangleMay 3, 2012 at 4:10 PM

      Exactly what I noticed! What a business to have been in at that time!

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