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NYC in 1940

Here’s an interesting site. Enter an address in NYC and this will show you what it looked like in 1940.

If this picture resolves correctly, it'll show Myrtle Avenue. My Grandmother ran the Wishing Well Tea Shop shown in the photo. She read tea leaves to tell fortunes, until the police arrested her, and she had to quit.

It looks like you can search for street pictures throughout the whole city.

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by Yankee Doodle reply 6109/16/2020

This is awesome OP! Thank you.

by Yankee Doodle reply 109/10/2020

I've already found my childhood home in Brooklyn and sent it to my parents. They can't believe it! The house looks the same with a few esthetic changes...my mind is blown right now!! Thanks, OP😊

by Yankee Doodle reply 209/10/2020

Very cool stuff OP!

by Yankee Doodle reply 309/10/2020

OMG!! Thank OP.

I grew up in the five boroughs (Brooklyn and Manhattan), of New York City and this site was a blast from the past. I have to say, I got a little choked up looking at the old neighborhoods.

by Yankee Doodle reply 409/10/2020

R4 that's why I haven't looked at it yet. I don't think I can handle it right now. Hugs.

by Yankee Doodle reply 509/10/2020

Yeah, I really wish my elders who lived in NYC in 1940 were still alive and could see this, and all the similar amazing nostalgic business you can find on the web these days. It’s bittersweet.

Imagine what will be at our fingertips in 20 years! If we are still here, and still have fingers, I mean.

by Yankee Doodle reply 609/10/2020

I hope they are doing it for 1980 too.

by Yankee Doodle reply 709/10/2020

R7, I laughed from your post, when I thought of all the people in the photos dressed in neon! Remember that? World’s worst fashion trend.

by Yankee Doodle reply 809/10/2020

OP! I cannot thank you enough--this is a treasure. I'm also in HK and my mind is blown. SO MANY of the buildings are still here. And Film Center at 44/9th, who knew that was so old?

by Yankee Doodle reply 909/10/2020

Found where my grandfather lived in the early 1900s (SoHo adjacent). Brownstone is still there - took a picture of it six years ago.

by Yankee Doodle reply 1009/10/2020

DeBlasio destroyed almost everything, so sad

by Yankee Doodle reply 1109/10/2020

1980s

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by Yankee Doodle reply 1209/10/2020

The tall building in the background is still standing. My apartment replaced the 2-3 story small buildings.

Thanks OP.

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by Yankee Doodle reply 1309/10/2020

Ya, well, but we got the old-timey bulges, don't forget that! And hotties!

by Yankee Doodle reply 1409/10/2020

R1 was she a prostitute?

by Yankee Doodle reply 1509/10/2020

This is a treat, thanks!

by Yankee Doodle reply 1609/10/2020

Thank you, OP. This was really nice but I do have quite a few photos of my mother's home from her life. Isn't the interweb amazing!! My parents would have loved it.

by Yankee Doodle reply 1709/10/2020

Thanks for posting. It was cool to see my grandparent’s house in Brooklyn

by Yankee Doodle reply 1809/10/2020

Oh wow r12 thank you! That's the New York I fell in love with 🥰🥰🥰

by Yankee Doodle reply 1909/10/2020

This is wonderful, OP! Thank you so much!!!

by Yankee Doodle reply 2009/12/2020

Amazing seeing where I used to live. The same tree in front of the building - 80 years later, then a sapling, now a tree.

by Yankee Doodle reply 2109/12/2020

A really handsome house back in 1940 - now a blah apartment building.

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by Yankee Doodle reply 2209/12/2020

and NOW

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by Yankee Doodle reply 2309/12/2020

My old Brownstone looked exactly the same, and seems to always have had a bodega next door. I miss living in NYC.

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by Yankee Doodle reply 2409/12/2020

Very cool

by Yankee Doodle reply 2509/12/2020

I found my late grandmother’s phone number from her tea shop on Myrtle Avenue in 1940. Should I call? What if she answers? It’s HEgeman 3-3746.

by Yankee Doodle reply 2609/14/2020

I have spent hours on this site. It's filled in so many holes in my knowledge of NYC history and answered so many questions. Thank you so much OP! You have made me very happy :)

by Yankee Doodle reply 2709/14/2020

I wonder if they have a site like this for Los Angeles.

by Yankee Doodle reply 2809/14/2020

It's fascinating how NYC has changed over time.

by Yankee Doodle reply 2909/14/2020

Live in Brooklyn? Do you know the area between a Union Ave. and Lorimer St; and Devoe St. and Powers St.? It used to be a Cemetery. They removed the bodies, then they built housing there. The link explains it. This was in 1893, so it looks fully developed by 1940.

I had some ancestors buried there, and their descendants objected to the bodies being moved. I found a mention in the NY Times that the developers sued every living ancestor of the deceased, in order to make them accept the move. The deceased wound up in Green-Wood Cemetery where they were moved again.

I’m not sure I’d want to live over a reclaimed cemetery.

Sorry if you’ve seen this before, but it fascinates me.

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by Yankee Doodle reply 3009/14/2020

This site is not as pretty, but will show the c. 1940 and c. 1980 photos for the addresses. The pictures are not great, but of course, there's a way to order nice copies.

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by Yankee Doodle reply 3109/14/2020

OP Thanks so much! The photo of Wishing Well Tea Shoppe is fabulous. I've enjoyed looking at the photos of the 40s and 80s.

by Yankee Doodle reply 3209/14/2020

This is not new, myself and other New Yorkers have been doing it for some time now....

Pictures are taken from city's municipal archives (NYC Department Of Records and Information Services), and are result of photographs taken for tax purposes.

Since late 1930's by law city requires photographs of lots/property for (property) tax purposes. Until recently to see these archives one had to go down in person and search through volumes of images either in books or microfilm. City has been working over past several years to digitize all sorts of archive information and releasing it online.

Besides property tax photos there are tons of various other collections including NYPD & criminal prosecution, FDNY, Ports and Terminals,

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by Yankee Doodle reply 3309/14/2020

R26 Then you'll get your fortune told from the Great Beyond.

by Yankee Doodle reply 3409/14/2020

My old apartment building looked exactly the same... except no air conditioners in the windows! It must have been brutal in the summer.

by Yankee Doodle reply 3509/14/2020

The photography project seems like a huge undertaking and I think it must have have been a form of stimulus spending during the late, Great Depression.

by Yankee Doodle reply 3609/14/2020

Here is one of my favorites; pictures taken by NYPD going back 1920's or earlier of crime scenes, mostly homicides.

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by Yankee Doodle reply 3709/14/2020

R35

Air conditioning for homes (window or central) has been around since 1940's. Recall in "Father's Little Dividend" Buckley's father shows off the window ac unit he has purchased for the new baby's nursery.

That being said the things were expensive so yes, summers in city (especially Manhattan) were often brutal for many well into 1960's or 1970's. Many new buildings that went up in 1960's or later began offering through wall AC units as an amenity. Otherwise people had to pay for their own.

One reason streets of Manhattan and other parts of city were so crowded on summer evenings was people just wanted to get out from their stifling apartments. You went for a walk, maybe down to a bar, movie, or some place that had AC. Of course for those who could afford they just decamped for upstate, LI, NJ, or anyplace else that was cooler. Hence the whole plot device of "the Seven Year Itch"....

by Yankee Doodle reply 3809/14/2020

R33 “myself and other New Yorkers”.

by Yankee Doodle reply 3909/14/2020

R36

You aren't far off the mark....

The 1939-1941 photo survey of every bit of real estate in NYC was partially funded as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project in cooperation with NYC department of taxation. Idea was to have photographic information available in an effort to aid valuation of properties.

Next photo survey done in 1980's was entirely funded by NYC near as one can figure out.

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by Yankee Doodle reply 4009/14/2020

As mentioned previously, prior to city digitizing and allowing online access, only way to research this treasure trove of pictures (say if doing research on a particular building or street), was to head down to archives and start digging in person.

Interesting thing one notices when looking at these images is just how rural if not desolate many parts of Brooklyn, Queens, and Bronx were still by 1940. In Manhattan you also still had plenty of vacant lots and otherwise undeveloped property.

It is also interesting to see just how much manufacturing and shipping activity there was in city back then.

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by Yankee Doodle reply 4109/14/2020

Here’s my Dad in 1940. Nice car, huh? Notice it has a little flag in front.

There’s an epic family story about a bar brawl at one Christmastime. The bartender said that my Gay Great Uncle ‘sounded German” (WWI US vet) which he might have since his parents were German immigrants. Anyway, there were at least 4 guys on my Dad’s side fighting over, probably nothing.P. My Mom was appalled. R37 reminded me that it was a tough neighborhood.

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by Yankee Doodle reply 4209/14/2020

Your dad was quite handsome, r42.

by Yankee Doodle reply 4309/14/2020

As for air conditioning, my Grandma always had awnings. Until she died in 1996. You can see them in the 1940 OP photo. It was a work-around before air conditioning was affordable. She even kept them after she had A/C. I love the look, and would have them myself, if my condo association would allow them.

by Yankee Doodle reply 4409/14/2020

[quote]Here’s my Dad in 1940. Nice car, huh? Notice it has a little flag in front.

Gurl, the flag is across the street.

by Yankee Doodle reply 4509/14/2020

[quote] R49: Gurl, the flag is across the street.

R49, You’re too smart for this place.

by Yankee Doodle reply 4609/14/2020

This van delivered ice and coal.

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by Yankee Doodle reply 4709/15/2020

r37, I'm surprised at some of the pictures how men's pants were pulled down. I have to wonder if the murderer did that to embarrass them or the crime scene photographers were pervs.

And what is with that bloated scrotum of the one guy? Did he start that silicone trend?

by Yankee Doodle reply 4809/15/2020

R42, maybe the bartender said your uncle "sounded gay" and "sounded German" thing was your family's way of cleaning it up.

by Yankee Doodle reply 4909/15/2020

Great site, OP. Thanks.

by Yankee Doodle reply 5009/15/2020

R48

Bloating of abdomen, face and genitalia are a normal part of decomposition. Rather than go on and on, found a post on internet that pretty much covers things.

That corpse with bloated face, abdomen and scrotum (also nude) means death occurred anywhere from 12 to 18 hours in summer, and 1 to 2 days in winter.

These signs of decomposition are what doctors, medical examiners, corners, and others use in part to affix time of death. If you watch LE or detective dramas when they as "doc" for an approximate time of death; these signs are what he or she will initially go by. Even study of maggot infestation yields clues about time of death.

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by Yankee Doodle reply 5109/15/2020

Some of those crime scene images have been colorized....

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by Yankee Doodle reply 5209/15/2020

Many of these crime scene and other images taken by NYPD were stored deep in archives of the old Police Headquarters on Centre Street. When it was sold to be converted into luxury housing (what else?), everything had to be shifted out to new building at 1 Police Plaza.

For decades city dumped old mugshots (on plates or negatives) in Hudson river or the harbor as means of disposal. For some reason these old crime scene and other photos, negatives, film, etc... were spared that fate. Apparently there are plenty more, but it costs money and takes time to digitize and preserve old film/negatives. City received a huge grant from National Endowment For The Humanities to get the work going, but FWIU there are still plenty more images left.

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by Yankee Doodle reply 5309/15/2020

[quote] Here’s my Dad in 1940. Nice car, huh? Notice it has a little flag in front.

It’s nice he let you ride in the front seat.

Oh, wait.

Oh, FLAG. My bad.

by Yankee Doodle reply 5409/15/2020

Fantastic find, OP.

Thanks for sharing it.

by Yankee Doodle reply 5509/15/2020

I wish I was alive for New York before it became what it is today. Unfortunately I was born by the time the city had already started becoming a big plastic ball of nothing. I'd give anything to be able to live in New York in its glory decades.

by Yankee Doodle reply 5609/15/2020

This site is easier to use, just type address, plus it has 1980s images.

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by Yankee Doodle reply 5709/15/2020

Thee 80s images are blurred and shite.

by Yankee Doodle reply 5809/15/2020

Just like the 80's, r58.

by Yankee Doodle reply 5909/15/2020

NYC in the 1970s & 1980s was fun for young people (reference Fran Lebowitz), but it was really scary for other people. That’s why Rudy Jullani did so well, politically, when he did.

by Yankee Doodle reply 6009/15/2020

Beautiful but now lost (demolished) Park Savoy Hotel 1940

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by Yankee Doodle reply 6109/16/2020
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