I am hooked on a photo blog called Shorpy in which members post photographs from the 19th and first part of the 20th century. Some of the images are are from FSA photographers such as Dorothea Lange, Russell Lee, and Jack Delano. There are over 200 Lewis Hine images on Shorpy, mostly of children working in factories and mines. Shorpy was Shorpy Higginbotham, a young boy photographed by Hine who was employed in a coal mine in Alabama. He’s the mascot, if you will, of the blog.
Here’s a recent post from Shorpy of the Bowery in 1910 just around the corner from my office/apartment on Stanton Street. The photographer, apparently, is unknown. It’s a stunning view of the scene along the Bowery just about 100 years ago. Elevated railroads ran up and down Third Avenue and the Bowery, smoke belching–the noise, undoubtedly, deafening.
The photograph above was taken just to the left of the photographer’s more elevated vantage point in the historic image. Houston Street, originally a narrow street, is now a roaring river of crosstown traffic separating the neighborhoods above and below. Soho, short for south of Houston, and Noho, north of Houston, exist as named places because of their relation to this thoroughfare. The street was first widened, I believe, when subway tunnels were built underneath using cut and cover construction, which required demolishing a swath of buildings across Manhattan. The F, D, and B trains run beneath Houston. As a result, there are many blank walls along the street where buildings previously stood.
The restaurant supply building to the left in my photograph is also in the historic photo above.
In the picture above, made with a view camera, the two old buildings at left can be seen in the far right of the historic image. The new apartment building in the rear occupies the space taken by the next five small buildings. Although the remaining stretch of 19th and early 20th century buildings above is probably safe from immediate demolition, much of the historic Bowery is up for grabs.