Wall Street, New York City

The view looking up Wall Street around 1903, with Trinity Church in the distance. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The same scene in 2014:

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Perhaps ironically, the only building visible in both photos is also the oldest building that is readily visible in the 1903 photo.  Trinity Church, located on Broadway across from Wall Street, was completed in 1846, and its steeple made it the tallest structure in the city until the completion of the New York World Building in 1890.  Today it is dwarfed by the 20th century skyscrapers of the Financial District, but it remains a fixture in the area.  Today, this area of both Wall Street and Broad Street is closed to vehicular traffic.

There is another building that is (sort of) seen in the 1903 photo and still exists today, although it isn’t visible in the 2014 photo.  The Federal Hall National Memorial, formerly the US Customs House, isn’t really visible, but the statue of George Washington in front of it is barely visible, on the right-hand side of the intersection of Broad & Wall Streets.  The building was built in 1842, on the site of Federal Hall, which was formerly the first capitol building of the United States, and the location of the first inauguration of George Washington.

J.P. Morgan & Co., New York City

The headquarters of J.P. Morgan & Co., at 23 Wall Street, between 1900 and 1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The location in 2014:

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Both buildings in the photos were owned by J.P. Morgan & Co., directly across Broad Street from the New York Stock Exchange.  However, in an unusual reversal, the taller building was replaced with a much shorter building, which was completed in 1913, the same year that J.P. Morgan died.  Intentionally built only four stories high in a neighborhood surrounded by much taller buildings, it showed off the fact that the company was able to afford using such a high-value lot for such a short building.  It was the target of the September 16, 1920 Wall Street bombing; much of the interior was destroyed, and the shrapnel damage is still visible on the exterior of the building.

New York Stock Exchange

The New York Stock Exchange around 1904. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The building in 2014:

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The first photo was taken right around the time that the current New York Stock Exchange building was opened, and in the intervening years the building saw the 1920 Wall Street bombing, the economic boom of the 1920s, the 1929 crash and Great Depression, all the way up to the September 11 attacks and the latest economic recession.  Today, it is still at the heart of the financial district, and it is also a major tourist site, as seen in the 2014 photo.

Broadway Looking South from Vesey, New York City

The view looking south on Broadway between 1905 and 1908, toward the Singer Building, which was under construction at the time. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The view in 2014:

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When it was completed in 1908, the Singer Building was the tallest in the world, although it lots its title just a year later, when the uptown Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower was completed.  It was the headquarters of the Singer Manufacturing Company, of sewing machine fame.  It was demolished in 1968, and to this day holds the title of the tallest building ever intentionally demolished by its owner (the qualifications being necessary because of the destruction of the Twin Towers on 9/11, right across the street from the location of the Singer Building).  It was replaced by the architecturally-insignificant One Liberty Plaza, the black skyscraper in the center of the photo.  Because of its location opposite the World Trade Center site (the right-hand side of the building from this perspective), it received some minor damage following the September 11 attacks.  Incidentally, there is at least one building that is visible in both photos – the Trinity Building, with the cupola, visible just beyond One Liberty Plaza, was completed in 1905 and still stands today.

Draper Hotel, Northampton Mass

The Draper Hotel in Northampton, around 1907. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The building in 2014:

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This building was built in 1871, on the site of the earlier Warner House hotel, which had burned the year before. The new building was originally known as the Fitch House, hence the “F” at the top of the building just below the pediment, but by the time the first photo was taken it had become the Draper Hotel. Today, only the westernmost third of the building remains; the hotel closed in 1955, and the two sections on the right side were demolished and replaced with the present-day one-story building.

SS Nantasket and Custom House Tower, Boston

Boston’s Custom House Tower as seen from the waterfront, with the steamer Nantasket in the foreground, probably in the late 1920s. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

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The scene in 2013:

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Boston’s skyline has changed substantially, but the Custom House Tower remains much the same as it appeared when it was completed in 1915.  It was the tallest building in Boston until the Prudential Tower was built in 1964, and to this day, remains the 17th tallest in the city.  Although no longer used as a custom house, it is now a Marriott hotel.

The Boston Public Library dates this photo to around 1934, but it had to have been earlier than that, because the Nantasket burned in a fire in November, 1929, along with almost the entire rest of the company’s fleet.