Looking northwest from the Washington Monument

The view from the top of the Washington Monument, taken between 1906 and 1915. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 1945. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, FSA/OWI Collection.

The same view in 2021:

All three of these photos are taken looking almost directly down Virginia Ave., but other than the street network, not much remains from the early 1900s photo.  As least two buildings are identifiable in both that photo and the 2021 scene: the white building in the lower right, and the building to the right of it (which is barely visible in the first photo).  They are the Organization of American States and the Daughters of the American Revolution buildings, respectively.

Otherwise, the area looks remarkably sparse in the first photo, primarily because most of the land in the foreground did not exist before the 1880s, when the Potomac River was dredged, and the dredged material used to fill in this area to address flooding issues.  The Constitution Gardens, visible in the lower left of the 2021 photo, would not exist for another 70 years.  Shortly after the first photo was taken, the Navy built temporary offices during World War I.  These “temporary” offices, which are shown in the 1945 photo, lasted into the 1970s, when they were demolished to create the pond and parkland visible today.

Brooklyn Bridge, New York

The Brooklyn Bridge from the south, as it appeared around 1904. The towers of the Williamsburg Bridge are barely visible in the distance. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

016_1904c-2Bloc

The same view in February, 2012:

016_2012

The Brooklyn Bridge hasn’t changed much in the past 108 years, but its surroundings have.  In addition to the Manhattan Bridge behind it, the skyline of the Lower East Side has also substantially changed, with high-rises covering much of the shoreline in this area.

Lower Manhattan

The view of Lower Manhattan in 1900, as seen from the water looking towards the Staten Island ferry terminal. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

015_1900c-2Bloc

A very similar view, taken in 2012:

015_2012

The angles here aren’t perfect: the first photo was taken a little closer to Manhattan and a little further to the east of where this one was taken – the ferry terminals on the right hand side of the 2012 photo are (as far as I can tell) in the same spot as the foreground of the 1900 photo. Still, the two photos capture the same general idea – that Lower Manhattan has changed a lot in the past 100+ years.  One of the challenges in identifying exactly what view the 1900 picture shows is that I cannot identify a single building that still exists today.  Several notable buildings are visible, such as the Manhattan Life Insurance Building (the tall tower in the distance, almost in the exact center of the photo), which is roughly in the same spot as 1 Wall Street, a rather unassuming light brown tower visible on the left-hand side of the 2012 photo.

Miles Morgan Statue, Springfield

This photo, taken around 1908, shows the Miles Morgan statue on Court Square.  The statue itself was created in 1882, commemorating one of the early founders of Springfield, and is one of two notable statues dedicated to Springfield’s founders (the other, located next to the main library, is of my ancestor, Samuel Chapin). Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

Statues

This photo, taken in June 2013, shows what the same scene looks like today.

004_2013

The statue remains, but everything else around it has changed; none of the buildings in the 1908 photo still exist today.  Most of the ones in the background are on the current spot of the Sheraton, and the vacant lot in the foreground is, of course, no longer vacant. Just a few years earlier, Springfield City Hall sat on that site, and within a few more years, the new Springfield City Hall would be built, as part of the Municipal Group that includes City Hall, Symphony Hall, and the Campanile Tower. The old city hall, though, was not intentionally demolished – on January 6, 1905, it burned down, and the alleged culprit was, of all things, a monkey that overturned a kerosene lantern. Like Mrs. O’Leary’s cow, this may or may not have been the case, but either way the outcome was the same, and Springfield ended up needing a new city hall. See this post for a view taken around the same time, but facing the other direction. For another once-prominent Springfield landmark, notice the white, nearly windowless building on the far right in the distance. The side of it reads “Gilmore Opera House.” Built in 1865, it became the Capitol Theatre in 1920, and it was demolished in 1972.