NYC Grid is a photo blog dedicated to exploring New York block-by-block and corner-by-corner. Each post covers a new street or feature with a focus on the mundane and ephemeral.

  

Wednesday
Sep042013

Before & After - 1st Avenue at 61st Street

before
after

The above photo is interactive. Drag the yellow handle in the middle to reveal more or less of the before or after image.

I love this photo because, unlike so many of the other Before & After posts, this one is completely unremarkable in terms of subject matter. While other photos have focused on popular neighborhoods or landmarks, this image is just a simple everyday street scene on the Upper East Side in the late 1930's. Of course I also love how persistant the building in the center has been over the decades! The creator of the original image is Walker Evans, a prolific photographer who is well known for his Depression-era work for the Farm Security Administration. His work for the FSA (approximately 1,000 large format negatives) is the only portion of his portfolio in the public domain as the rest of his work was handed over by his estate to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Photo source:  Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Collection.

Monday
Sep022013

Before & After - SoHo at Mercer Street & Broome Street

before
after

The above photo is interactive. Drag the yellow handle in the middle to reveal more or less of the before or after image.

Throughout the 1940's and 1960's the neighborhoods that would later become SoHo and Little Italy were under a constant threat of demolition due to the unrelenting power of Robert Moses and his plan to build the Lower Manhattan Expressway. Though this part of Manhattan is now an expensive and chic neighborhood, that was hardly the case 50 years ago when the former factory hotbed was in a deep localized depression. The expressway plan was aggressively pursued by Moses and it was only thanks to the tireless efforts of preservationists like Jane Jacobs that LOMEX, as it was known, was finally derailed. However the plan made it far enough that many individuals photographed the cast iron facades of Broome Street and other surrounding blocks, anticipating their demise. This is one such photo. Thanks to the thoughtful urban planning of Jane Jacobs and others we now have the opportunity to enjoy a renewal in this unique architectural neighborhood.


Photo source:  Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

Friday
Aug302013

Before & After - Mott Street

before
after

The above photo is interactive. Drag the yellow handle in the middle to reveal more or less of the before or after image.

For more than 100 years Mott Street has been the unofficial Main Street of New York's Chinatown. And based solely on these photos all that seems to have happened in those 100 years is the installation of a crosswalk light. Other than that, the block is startlingly unchanged. The majority of the buildings on the west side of the street remain with only a few new coats of paint and some new windows. Even the brand new stuff like the shiny Citibank building on the east side loosely mirrors the original building with its wrap-around signage.


Photo source:  Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

Wednesday
Aug282013

Before & After - Madison Square Park & Flatiron Building

before
after

The above photo is interactive. Drag the yellow handle in the middle to reveal more or less of the before or after image.

If you've ever stood and waited for an order at Shake Shack in Madison Square Park, you may have noticed a large dead tree with its own little fenced-off patch of land. Some may have written it off as just another in a long line of crazy art installations in the park, but they're wrong: It really is just a big dead elm tree in the midst of an otherwise immaculately maintained park. The reason it's still there, according to a 1995 New York Times article, is as a nest for squirrels.

Now, what I love about today's photo is that we have an opportunity to see the tree before it was trimmed back to its current sad state; it's right there near the middle of the image. Of course the trunk is noticeably bulkier in the modern image, but you can clearly see the original tree in the 1905 photo as it follows the same path. You can also notice that the fountain changed. The current one is a modern reproduction of the original from the mid 1860's. Apparently that original fountain didn't make it to the early 20th Century.

This photo also features the Flatiron building. I hear it's quite popular.


Photo source: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

Monday
Aug262013

Before & After - Broadway, The Canyon of Heroes

before
after

The above photo is interactive. Drag the yellow handle in the middle to reveal more or less of the before or after image.

Though Broadway enjoys many different nicknames as it meanders up Manhattan, the most famous might be "The Canyon of Heroes". Between Bowling Green and City Hall the street is both narrow and flanked by very tall, classic-looking office buildings. This combination creates one of the most famous stretches of road in American history. Serving as host to countless ticker-tape parades over the last hundred years, these few blocks typically just serve as a funnel for thousands of tourists who come to gawk at our big bronze bull.


Photo source:  Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

Friday
Aug232013

Before & After - City Hall

before
after
before
after

The above photos are interactive. Drag the yellow handle in the middle to reveal more or less of the before or after image.

In the early 1800's the majority of New York City still existed solely below Chambers Street, so it made sense to build the new City Hall on the northern edge of that boundry facing south. Unfortunately for those early planners, the City just kept growing. Now we find ourselves with a City Hall whose back is turned to the majority of its population. (There's a political cartoon in there just waiting to happen.) To make matters worse they didn't even treat the rear of the building with the same respect as the front. The most visible parts at the time were clad in ornate white marble while the back was just simple brownstone. It wasn't until a renovation in the 1950's that the entire building was covered in the limestone that we see today. As a result, the old 1919 photo above is a completely different exterior than what you see in the 1984 and 2013 photos.


Photo source: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division 1, 2

Page 1 ... 2 3 4 5 6 ... 98 Older Entries »