37 Fantastic Vintage Photographs Showing Life in New York City in the Early 20th Century

From 1890 to 1930, the larger cities were the focus of national attention. The skyscrapers and tourist attractions were widely publicized. Suburbs existed, but they were largely bedroom communities for commuters to the central city. San Francisco dominated the West, Atlanta dominated the South, Boston dominated New England; Chicago, the nation’s railroad hub, dominated the Midwest United States; however, New York City dominated the entire nation in terms of communications, trade, finance, popular culture, and high culture. More than a fourth of the 300 largest corporations in 1920 were headquartered in New York City.

Below is a collection of 37 interesting vintage photographs afford us the opportunity to look back at New York when it was just entering the 20th century.

Children playing in garbage can, ca. 1918
Candy store, ca. 1918
People in front of J. Lacov Woolens, ca. 1900
Fruit pushcarts
Police officer and crowd on Grand Street, ca. 1910
The push-carts selling “Hot Frankfurters 3 cents and 2 for 5 cents” are parked on Broad Street, ca. 1905
Maiden Lane, ca. 1905
Street cleaning, ca. 1910s
Three children with carriage
Boy sitting on stoop
Boy leaning against window
Boys and storefront windows
Child in hat and coat
Looking north on Orchard Street, ca. 1909
Two children near grate
Boy with box near empty pushcarts
Boy in hat
Girl near storefront window
Boy in front of bread shop
Looking North on Elizabeth Street. The crosstown street is Prince (see sign on corner building at right.) Note the street car track on Prince. Street cars crossed town West on Prince and returned East on Spring. Buses now travel the same route.
Street with carriage, cat, car
Street with cars, ca. 1918
Looking north on Mulberry Street from Canal. The building housing the Villa Rosa Cafe (first on left) is one of the few in the photo no longer in existence. It is now part of the site of the Rectory of the Church of the Most Precious Blood. The cornerstone of the Church (113 Baxter Street, with the property running through to Mulberry) has the date 1901, but the Mulberry Street rectory is of more recent construction.
Looking north on Mulberry Street between Canal and Hester. The number on the store window at right is 126 Mulberry Street.The building has been modernized in recent years and is Vitale’s Florist Shop, F. Vitale, proprietor.
High angle view of street
Looking east on East Houston. The street on the right, where the street lamp is, is Orchard, 1939.
Looking north on Orchard St from Delancey
Stamped Weissner Studio Corner of Elizabeth and Prince Streets, looking north on Elizabeth. The lights strung overhead along Elizabeth are in celebration of a feast day, probably that of St. Anthony of Padua which is celebrated the week of June 13th, ca. 1937.
Looking north on Orchard Street between Stanton and Rivington. The light colored building on the left with the decorative balconies is 159-161 Orchard.
East Houston and Orchard Street, 1939
Surf Avenue in front of Sea Breeze
Pushcart in front of meat market
Man and girl in front of shop
Little girl on sidewalk near elevated subway
Pushcart Boulevard Lower East Side, 1932
Typical old law tenements, 1907
Open door next to storefronts

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