Newspaper Row, New York City

Park Row in New York City, around 1900, when it was known as Newspaper Row. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.


A similar view in 2014:


Today, Park Row forms one side of the roughly triangular City Hall Park, and in the early 1900s it was the center of New York’s newspaper industry.  Known as “Newspaper Row,” it was the headquarters of three major New York papers, from left to right in the 1900 photo: New York World, New York Tribune, and New York Times.  From 1890 to 1894, the New York World Building was the tallest in the world; at 308 feet it was more than twice the height of the previous tallest skyscraper.  The World itself went out of business in 1931, but its former headquarters lived on until 1955, when it was demolished to expand the ramps to the Brooklyn Bridge.  Incidentally, the first photo was taken around the time that my great-grandmother worked in the building, in the biographical department of the newspaper.

As for the other two major buildings in the 1900 photo, the Tribune building was built in 1875, long before the other two buildings, but by the turn of the century it looked woefully inadequate, sandwiched in between its two much taller neighbors and competitors.  Between 1903 and 1905, it was almost doubled in height with the addition of nine stories.  It didn’t help the paper much, though; they merged with the competing New York Herald in 1924, and survived as the Herald Tribune until 1966, the same year that the building was demolished.

The Times building is still there, in a slightly modified state, but oddly enough it was the first one to be vacated by its namesake paper.  It was built in 1889, and was the home of the New York Times until 1903, when they moved to Longacre Square, renamed in Times Square, and built their headquarters there.  Today, the Park Row building is part of the Pace University campus.


Mulberry Street, Chinatown, New York City

The view looking north on Mulberry Street, about half a block above Bayard Street, around 1900. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.


The view in 2014:


In 1900, this part of Mulberry Street was a part of Little Italy, and as evidenced by the picture was a bustling commercial center.  Today, however, Little Italy has shrunk, and this block is now a part of Chinatown.  Little Italy is still there – the “Little Italy” sign over the street is barely visible in the distance of the 2014 photo, across Canal Street, but it now occupies only a few blocks along Mulberry Street.  This section of Mulberry Street is just a block away from the infamous Mulberry Bend, which was at the heart of the Five Points slum in the 19th century, and which author/muckraking journalist Jacob Riis described in 1896 as being “the foul core of New York’s slums.”  All seems well on the outside of the 1900 photo, although I’m sure it was a different story inside many of the tenement buildings.  Many of the buildings are still there – it’s tough to tell on the left side, but most of them seem to bet the same, and the first four buildings on the right all appear to be the same, although with some changes along the way.

Corner of Doyers & Pell, Chinatown, New York City

The view looking down Doyers Street from Pell Street, around 1900. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.


The view in 2014:


These photos show the other end of Doyers Street, 200 feet from this photo, along the narrow, winding street.  Over a century later, it is still at the heart of Chinatown, and even many of the buildings are still there, including the two on the right-hand side of the photo.  The building on the left of the 1900 photo, though, is gone, along with most other wood-frame buildings in Manhattan.

Doyers Street, Chinatown, New York City

The view looking up Doyers Street from Chatham Square, around 1900-1910. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.


The view in 2014:


Doyers Street is a narrow, crooked street in the middle of Chinatown that, around the time that the first photo was taken, began to acquire the nickname of “the Bloody Angle” for the number of Chinese gang-related shootings that occurred throughout the first part of the 20th century.  The “Chinese Tuxedo” signs in the first photo are for a high-end Chinese restaurant that catered to American tastes.  Kind of like an early 20th century P.F. Chang’s, with some gang violence added into the atmosphere.

Grand Central Terminal, New York City

Grand Central Terminal, between when it opened in 1913 and around 1920. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The same view in 2019:


Grand Central Terminal in New York City was built in 1913 on the site of a previous station, and although it is no longer the inter-city rail hub that it used to be, it is still a major part of rail transit in New York City, as seen in the 2019 nighttime photo of the concourse.  The concourse has undergone renovations and restorations along the way, which included building a staircase on the opposite end – using stone from the same quarry as the original structure – but it retains a very similar appearance, even down to the constellations on the ceiling, which can be seen in both photos.  The first photo is dated by the Library of Congress as being between 1910 and 1920, but it was likely taken around the time that it opened, to show the world for the first time what this station would look like.

South Street Docks, New York City

The view looking north along the South Street docks along the East River around 1900, with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.


The scene in 2014:


There isn’t much left to remind visitors of the bustling seaport that lower Manhattan once was, and South Street itself, which was teeming with activity in 1900, is now a quiet street underneath the elevated FDR Drive (named after a person who, when the first photo was taken, was just starting his studies at Harvard).

The first photo shows the docks of the New York and Cuba Mail Steamship Company, also known as the Ward Line. They went out of business in 1954, and their docks are now home to the South Street Seaport, which owns a number of historic ships, including the Peking, the 1911 sailing ship visible in the second photo. The only actual structure from the 1900 photo that still exists today is the Brooklyn Bridge, seen in the background of both photos.