Monday, August 09, 2010

out and about on the avenue

Unlike the other three, this photo only incidentally shows a 5th Avenue Coach.[1] The camera is a couple blocks north of its location in last Friday's post and is pointed in the same northwesterly direction.

From the left, you see a photography studio (Marceau's), a tailor (Rice & Duval), Marble Collegiate Church,[2] Holland House hotel,[3] and the Wilbraham Building.[4]

There's a family connection with the church. In the 19th century it ran the Reformed Dutch Schools of New York and parents of my great-grandmother sent her siblings to be educated there.[5] In 1859, her sister, Emma, graduated on the 250th anniversary of the founding of the school. The Times did a write-up of the event which lists, among other graduates, Cornelius Jeremiah Vanderbilt, a son of the great magnate, who had himself been a student there in his time.

{Caption: Up Fifth Avenue from 28th Street, New York, N.Y., by Detroit Publishing Co. c1905; source: Library of Congress}

Here are some details.

1. The coach isn't the main subject of the photo and thus isn't in close focus. Still, you can see much. Like others, this shows horses minimally harnessed and women riding on the highest bench having somehow climbed the outside steps which you can see. From shadows, it seems to be about noon on a day near one of the equinoxes. Judging by clothing, it may be late March or early April.

2. Someone has put a seltzer bottle out where it will keep cool. It's clearly a brisk day, though, judging by the flags, not a windy one.

3. Cabs are coming and going. Pedestrians are finely clothed. You might think there's a special occasion, but it's more likely this is typical day on 5th Ave.

4. I like this suggestion of genteel hubbub. Notice that two pedestrians have top hats as well as the hansom cab drivers.

5. Most of these merchants are located on the block between 28th & 29th.

5. Men's fashion runs to Chesterfield overcoats and walking sticks. Three of the women are in furs.

6. Fur stoles and big Edwardian hats, one being held in place (despite apparent absence of a breeze).

7. His outer clothing seems to suit this man well.

8. The young man with a heavy load seems to be a newsboy. Both women seem to have censorious expressions.

9. Apparently, this shows a man and his son emerging from the art gallery.

10. There's scaffolding above.

11. You can't make out what load this carter is transporting.

12. The electric street lights were elegant. This is an example of the ornamental cast-iron twin lamppost which began to appear on 5th Avenue in 1892.


Some sources:

Holland house, Fifth avenue and Thirtieth street, New York (New York, H. M. Kinsley & Baumann, 1891)

Holland House

276 5th Avenue, Holland House Hotel

Marble Collegiate Church

Marble Collegiate (Dutch Reformed) Church

Anniversary of the School of the Reformed Dutch Church; City Intelligence, New York Times, October 27, 1859, Wednesday, Page 4, 2365 words. First Paragraph: "The celebration of the Two Hundred and Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the School of the Reformed Dutch Church took place last evening, at the Greenwich Church edifice, in Bleecker-street, corner of West Tenth."

School of the Reformed Dutch Church, Two Hundred and Twenty-Seventh Anniversary, New York Times, November 1, 1860

History of the school of the Collegiate Reformed Dutch church in the city of New York, from 1633 to 1883 by Henry Webb Dunshee (Aldine press, 1883)

The Bishop's Crook Lamppost



[1] Like the others, this photo was taken by a photographer working for the Detroit Photograph Co. Also like them, it's found in collections of the Prints and Photos Division of the Library of Congress. Here are links to the preceding three:
[2] The building dates from 1851, but — founded in 1628 — the congregation of the Marble Collegiate Church is the oldest Protestant organization in North America.

[3] It seems appropriate that the hotel called Holland House was located next to the Reformed Dutch Church, but the hotel was named (and modeled) after a famous residence in London belonging to the Whig political dynasty of Holland. Built in 1890, it was thought to be one of the most posh in the city. A lavishly-produced guest souvenir booklet of 1891 celebrates the grandure of 5th Avenue in that time.

[4] Built in 1890, the Wilbraham Building featured apartments designed for bachelors in the Belle Epoque style.

[5] But evidently they didn't send Hannah Eliza herself. She was the eldest and may have been short-changed on that account. See: History of the school of the Collegiate Reformed Dutch church in the city of New York, from 1633 to 1883 by Henry Webb Dunshee (Aldine press, 1883)

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