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.

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.

Main Street, Northampton Mass (2)

The view looking west from the corner of Main & King Streets in Northampton, around 1907. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.


The view in 2018:

Taken around the same time as this photo, from the opposite end of Main Street, not a whole lot has changed with the buildings.  However, just about everything else has – the busy intersection no longer has trolley tracks, but has plenty of cars, along with pedestrians and protesters outside the courthouse (left).  As previously mentioned, these photos were taken around the time that Calvin Coolidge was beginning his political career; he would’ve seen this view daily as he walked the half a block from his law office to the courthouse.

Main Street, Northampton, Mass

Main Street in Northampton, looking east from in front of City Hall, around 1907. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.


The same view in 2014:


From this angle, downtown Northampton appears virtually unchanged in over a century.  The first photo is the view that then-state representative Calvin Coolidge would’ve seen as he walked out of City Hall and headed towards his law office.  Within a few years, he would become mayor of Northampton, and from there he quickly moved up the political ranks.

Times Square

Times Square, as it appeared around 1905. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The same view in 2014:


The tall building toward the right-hand side of the 1905 photo is actually still there – it’s the Times Square Building, and was the headquarters of the New York Times in the early 20th century, hence the name “Times Square.” The New York Times hasn’t used the building in a century, but it’s still there, covered in billboards, and with the famous New Years ball at the top. Because of the building’s narrow dimensions, it’s actually more profitable to cover it in billboards and electronic signboards instead of renting it out.  Otherwise, all of the other buildings in the first picture are either gone or are completely hiding behind billboards and signs.  I think I like the 1905 photo better.

Corner of Main & State Streets, Springfield

The northeast corner of Main and State in Springfield, sometime in the 19th century.  Photo from Picturesque Hampden (1892).

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The same location, around 1892. Photo from Picturesque Hampden (1892).

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The corner in 2014:


Many of these Springfield street scenes follow a predictable pattern over the past 150 years or so – first, a pre-Civil War Federal style commercial block, followed by a larger, more ornate building in the latter part of the 19th century, and finally some sort of modern, 20th century structure.  In this case, we clearly see all three generations of commercial development at the corner of Main and State, culminating with the MassMutual Center of the 1970s.  Of particular interest is the building in the second photo – above the entrance is a sign that reads “G. & C. Merriam & Co Publishers,” the publishers of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Today, the company is still headquartered in Springfield, just up the hill on Federal Street.  See this post and this post for a few other angles of the neighborhood that is now the MassMutual Center.