Friday, August 14, 2020

Street View of 1940's New York

If you visited Broadway in 1940 then you were spoiled for choice for a wonderful night out. In 1940 Ethel Barrymore was starring in The Corn is Green at the National Theater on West 41st Street. If you didn't like theater, and your tastes ran a little more towards the prosaic, then you could always walk one block up to West 42nd Street, where the Republic Theater had its notorious Girlie Stage Show.

The Republic Theater was Broadway's first burlesque house. It's most famous performer being Gypsy Rose Lee. If a striptease seems a little tasteless then you might have preferred popping to the cinema next door, where the Apollo Theater was showing Mademoiselle Mozart, a French comedy starring the famous French actress Danielle Darrieux.

I know all this because I have been virtually exploring 1940's Broadway on 1940's NYC. 1940's NYC is a fantastic interactive map which allows you to view an eighty year old photograph of any address in New York. Using the map you can explore NYC as it appeared in 1940, just one year before the USA entered the Second World War. These photographs of 1940's New York were taken between 1939 and 1941 by the Works Progress Administration. During these years the WPA took photographs of every building in the five boroughs for the New York City Tax Department.

Broadway in the mid 1980's also had a lot to offer.  Karate Kid Part II was on at the cinema, Cats was being performed nightly at the theater and on Times Square you could buy just about any drug that you wanted. If that sounds appealing to you then get ready to jump into another New York Street View time machine.

80s.NYC is a fantastic collection of vintage photographs of New York City street scenes, all taken in the 1980s. The photos were taken by the Finance Department of New York City in the middle of the 80's. In order to accurately assess building taxes the department photographed every single building in the five boroughs. The pictures could then be used to estimate property values.

Thanks to Brandon Liu and Jeremy Lechtzin you can now travel the city streets of 1980's New York City. Their 80s.NYC map allows you to browse the City's photographic collection by location. Just click anywhere on the map of the city and you can instantly view the vintage Street Views of that location. The map also includes a number of curated 'Stories'. These stories provide historical background to some of the more interesting photos and historical buildings in the collection.

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