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.

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The scene in 2014:

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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.

Wall Street Docks, New York City

The view of the docks at the foot of Wall Street along South Street in New York City, between 1900 and 1905. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The same view in 2014:

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Located on the East River waterfront, across South Street from the foot of Wall Street, the ferry terminal at the left provided passage from Manhattan to Brooklyn. Although the importance of East River ferries decreased once the Brooklyn Bridge and subsequent bridges were completed, ferries still play a role in New York’s transportation, as seen in the 2014 photo, where the site is still being used as a ferry terminal.  The actual boats visible in the first photo are not the ferries; they belonged to the US Army Quartermaster Corps, which no longer has a base in this area.

Mt. Tom Summit House, Holyoke, Mass. (2)

The view of the Mt. Tom Summit House between 1905 and 1915. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The view in 2014:

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These photos were taken from around the location of the upper station of the trolley line; from here, visitors would walk up to the summit. Today, the Metacomet & Monadnock Trail traverses the summit and goes past the location where the photos were taken, on its way from the Connecticut state line to the summit of Mt. Monadnock in southern New Hampshire.

Mt. Tom Summit House, Holyoke, Mass. (1)

The view of the Mt. Tom Summit House around 1900-1905. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The same view in 2014:

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In the late 1800s and early 1900s, mountain-top hotels were all the rage. Among other things, they offered spectacular views, along with cooler weather during the hot, humid New England summers in the days before air conditioning. There were three such hotels in the Mt. Tom vicinity alone, including this one at the summit of the highest point along the range. However, along with being very popular, their isolated location also made them vulnerable to fire. The building in this photo was the second built on the summit; the first, which opened in 1897, burned in 1900. This one would eventually burn as well, in 1929. A third one was built, but closed in 1938, a victim of the Great Depression as well as changes in demand.

Today, the foundation of the hotel is there, but it is filled with the antennas and related equipment, and is fenced-in and off limits to the public.  Hikers to the summit can still walk along the boardwalk, or at least what’s left of it. The part seen in the second photo has collapsed, and other parts of the boardwalk are in various stages of decay, but today it is the only obvious reminder of that was once at the summit.

View looking north from the Mt. Tom Summit House, Holyoke, Mass.

The view looking north from the Mt. Tom Summit House, between 1900 and 1915. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The view in 2014:

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As with the previous photo, it wasn’t possible to perfectly re-create the original image, because it was taken from atop a building that no longer exists. However, the 2014 photo shows the same general view, although from ground level.  I took the photo from around the same spot as the concession stand in the lower right corner of the first photo.  According to the sign on the building, they offered “Salted Peanuts and Kibbe’s Corn Cakes” for five cents.  The building further away on the right-hand side of the photo is the upper station of the railway, which ran trolleys up and down the mountain, carrying passengers for 25 cents per ride.  The boardwalk in the first photo leads down to the station, where the people in the photo most certainly arrived at the summit – I can’t imagine any of them climbing up in such clothing.

Mt. Tom Summit House View, Holyoke, Mass.

The view of Easthampton from the Summit House on Mt. Tom, around 1908. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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Approximately the same view in 2014:

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It’s almost impossible to get an identical view, because the Summit House no longer exists, and the actual site of it has radio towers that are behind fences.  However, these two photos both show the same general section of the boardwalk that once went across the summit. The 2014 photo was probably taken around the spot in the lower left of the 1908 photo where a flat rock protrudes above the boardwalk. Compare to a similar “before” view, and a 2010 view of the location.