SS Dorothy Bradford, Boston, Mass

The steamer Dorothy Bradford leaving Boston, with the Custom House Tower in the background, 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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The SS Dorothy Bradford was built in 1889 for the Cape Cod Steamship Company, and brought passengers to and from Provincetown on Cape Cod.  The company shut down in 1937, and the Dorothy Bradford was sold for scrap.

The Boston Public Library estimates the date of this photo as 1930, but it had to have been earlier than that, because the steamer behind the Dorothy Bradford, the SS Mary Chilton, burned in a fire along with almost the entire rest of its company’s fleet in a fire in November 1929.

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.

North End, Boston

The North End of Boston from the Charlestown Navy Yard, in 1870, with the USS Kearsarge in the foreground. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.

The scene in 2021:

Boston’s skyline has obviously changed significantly over the past 150 years, but at least one constant remains in both photos: Old North Church, which is barely visible behind some masts, just to the left of the Kearsarge, in the 1870 photo.  The Kearsarge was a famous ship by this point – during the Civil War, she defeated the infamous Confederate commerce raider CSS Alabama.  After she was decommissioned, a US battleship was named after her; she is the only non-state to have a US Navy battleship named after her.

Manhattan Waterfront from Brooklyn Bridge

The view of Lower Manhattan, looking south from the Brooklyn Bridge, around 1901. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The view from the Brooklyn Bridge in 2013:

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Manhattan’s waterfront is quite different today from 100 years ago. Once a major transportation hub, today the FDR Drive along the waterfront is a major transportation corridor, instead of the East River that it runs parallel to. In the foreground of the first photo are the piers for the New Haven Line, a steamship company that operated ferries between Manhattan and New Haven, with railroad connections to points north. The closest steamship is the SS Robert Peck, which was built in 1892 as the flagship of the line. In 1943, it was transferred to the Navy, and served as floating barracks for part of World War II.

Lower Manhattan (3)

A view of Lower Manhattan from New York Harbor, taken between 1910 and 1917. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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A similar angle in 2012:

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Taken from about the same spot as the first photo of the previous post, the circa 1910s photo here may have been taken on the same day, although the battleship to the left is different from the two in the other post.  This battleship is either a Connecticut or Vermont class ship, built in the first decade of the 1900s and decommissioned shortly after the end of World War I.

Just like in the other post, the 2012 photo here is taken a little to the east of the first one.  The only readily-identifiable landmark from both photos is the Whitehall Building.  However, the Singer Building and its replacement, One Liberty Plaza, help to estimate the angle of each photo.  In the first photo, the Singer Building is immediately behind and to the left of the Whitehall Building, while in the 2012 photo, One Liberty Plaza is to the right of the Whitehall Building.

Lower Manhattan (2)

The view of Manhattan from New York Harbor, around 1913-1920. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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A similar view in 2012:

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There’s a lot going on in the first photo.  New York City has always been a busy port, but it was especially so in the early 20th century.  The top photo shows three major ships – the two battleships, and the passenger liner to the right.  In addition, there are several US Navy torpedo boats visible.

The two battleships are two of the five Virginia-class battleships, which were built by the US Navy between 1905 and 1906.  By the time this photo had been taken, they had already been rendered obsolete by new advances in battleship design, but they remained in commission until 1920, and were scrapped or sunk as target ships by 1923.  As for the ocean liner, it is German, as evidenced by the flag on the stern, but I don’t know its exact identity.  The 2012 photo, on the other hand, shows the type of shipping that is most common today.  New York is no longer a destination for trans-Atlantic ocean liner traffic, nor is it a major military base, but today it is a major port for container ships, such as the Charles Island that is seen in the photo.

New York’s skyline has obviously changed in the past 100 years, although a few landmarks are still visible.  the angle isn’t exact between the two photos – the 2012 one was taken slightly to the east of the first one, but they show the same general view.  Both photos show the Whitehall Building, which is fairly prominent in the first photo, just above the stern of the lead battleship.  Today, its distinctive shape is still visible, just above the middle section of the container ship.  Another major building in the first photo is the Singer Building, seen just behind and to the left of the Whitehall Building.  It was demolished in 1967 to make way for the far less architecturally significant One Liberty Plaza, which is the large, black, rectangular building just above she ship’s bridge.  Also in the 2012 photo is the new World Trade Center.  At the time that the photo was taken, the two tallest buildings were still under construction.