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NYC Neighborhoods

Fifth Avenue From Start to Finish: The 1911 Equivalent of Google Street View



One of the treasures of the New York Public Library is the photographic publication "Fifth Avenue, New York, From Start to Finish." Luckily for us, this rare and beautiful collection of photographs has been digitized for anyone to view at any time — with the added advantage of being able to zoom in and truly examine the world in 1911 all up and down New York City's central avenue. Let's take a walk up Fifth Avenue in 1911 and see what kind of interesting things there are. You can click on any image if you would like to zoom in for more details. In the above panorama, you can see the Washington Square Arch at the far left.


Of course our most favorite image is a picture of our lovely marble "People's Palace." This picture is especially interesting because it was taken in the year that our library opened to the public.


Above we see some fantastic early model cars as well as the Hotel Brevoort, which is represented in our menu collection.


On this block we find the home of J.A. Scriven, inventor of Scriven's Patent Elastic Seam Drawers.


The United States Aeronautical Reserve is on this block, an organization that in the previous year awarded a "Bomb Throwing Trophy." Read the full article via the New York Times Historical database, on site at any NYPL location.


Corsets were popular women's undergarments at the time and you could buy one on this block at Princess Corsets.


The Houghton Mifflin Publishers are near E. 17th Street while just a few blocks up you'll find Charles Scribner's Sons publishers near E. 21st Street.


There is a Lord & Taylor Dry Goods on this block, a bit more humble than its current incarnation on Fifth Avenue, famous for its Christmas season window displays.


This image is great because you will realize that photo manipulation came long before Photoshop. This policeman is altered artistically. Also, you can spot the Berlitz school of languages, a company that is still making language learning materials today.

There are so many lovely things to see in this collection. Check out the Flatiron Building, Madison Square Park, the Metropolitan Life Tower, Saint Patrick's Cathedral, the Waldorf-Astoria (before it moved to make room for the Empire State Building), the Lenox Library, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Windsor Arcade which was destroyed in a fire. See the homes of famous residents such as Cornelius Vanderbilt, S.R. Guggenheim, Charles W. Morse, Andrew Carnegie, William Roosevelt, John Jacob Astor, and the Havemeyers. There are famous businesses such as the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, Brentano's, Edison & Co., FAO Schwarz, Tiffany & Co., Benson & Hedges Tobacconists, Singer Sewing Machines, and Delmonico's. There are even old billboard ads to gawk at. Poke around and see what you can find!


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