The simplicity of the name of the site Old Pictures belies the breadth and depth of the historical content it provides. Inside, there is a collection of more than 80,000 images dating from 1850 to 1940. The site's database is searchable, but designed for easy and lengthy browsing. Groups of photographs are also assembled in collections based on themes and defining moments, ranging from photos of the U.S. Civil War (warning: contains graphic photos of battlefield casualties) to British Imperialism around the world. We, of course, searched for photos of New York City and found a trove of images that really don't date from that long ago (most date 100 years ago or less), but shows a city that is unrecognizable in some images and just as familiar in others. We browsed through Old Pictures for some time and picked out some shots that we think are representative of what the site holds for visitors interested in real portraits of New York City's past.
- What looks like Riverside Park while looking north, with New Jersey and the Hudson to the left
- FDNY removes a body from the rubble of a 7th Ave. subway cavein in 1915
- Aftermath of the anarchist-attributed bombing on Wall St. in front of the J.P. Morgan headquarters in 1920
- Snow removal, 1908-style
- Penn Station under construction - 1909
- Manhattan's Madison Square in 1913
- At the funeral of Tammany boss Big Tim Sullivan in the Bowery
- Anti-war gathering in Union Square - 1914
- Stuyvesant High School students at work
originalsecond incarnation of the Tombs jail downtown
- The Battery battered in a 1910 storm
- A holdout mansion surrounded by newer apartment bldgs
- Football practice at Columbia University -1916
The NYCTV program "Inside the Archives" features a weekly hour of archival New York images set to music. A collection of photographer Bernice Abbot's mostly architectural photography of the city from 1935-38 called "Changing New York" is viewable at the New York Public Library's site. And the library also hosts a series of photos by Lewis Wickes Hines of the Empire State Building's construction in 1930-31. NYC Then and Now is an interesting pool of photos at flickr that documents alterations––sometimes small, sometimes dramatic––in streetscapes around the city.
(Photo of a Mock Battleship being built in Union Square as part of a WWI recruiting effort. Germania Life building looms ironically in the background. From Old Pictures.)