Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Herald Square

Update: Dave, on the Shorpy blog did a feature on Herald Square a few days after I published this post. In it, he presents a photo that stitches together the two photos that were used to make the postcard from NYPL. It's nice work — a lot better than my effort. Also, as often is the case, the comments on Dave's post are quite interesting.

{Herald Square, ca. 1908, a Photochrom postcard by the Detroit Publishing Co.; source: NYPL Digital Gallery}

Before there was a theater district in the vicinity of Broadway and 42nd Street, there was a theater district eight blocks south around Broadway and 34th. In 1873 the Colosseum opened its doors at Broadway and 35th. A few years later it morphed into the New York Aquarium, and in 1883 the New Park Theatre. That theatre gave way to Harrigan's Park Theatre in 1890 and in 1894 it became the Herald Square Theatre which still stands. Not far away, the Eagle opened its doors in 1884 at Broadway and 33rd. It became the Standard Theatre in 1878 and was demolished in 1897 to make way for Gimbel's Department Store. The Schley Music Hall began business in 1900 at 112 West 34th and within a few months became the Savoy Theatre which lasted until 1952.

When theaters began to cluster around Broadway and 34th there was no Herald Square at that location (just as there was no Times Square when they began to cluster at Broadway and 42nd). The intersection of Broadway, 34th, and 6th Ave became Herald Square in 1893, when the New York Herald began building its new home there. The area was then far to the north of the city's commercial core, but soon became a popular destination, greatly more so in 1902 when R.H. Macy built the world's largest department store in the block west of Broadway between 34th and 35th.

This photo was taken about 1908. Though you can't easily tell, the big building at left is Macy's. It does take up the whole block with the exception of the corner of 34th and B'way, which R.H. was unable to purchase. The tall Times Building is near center in the distance. You can't tell, but the Herald Square Theatre lies between the two. The New York Herald Building is at right.

{Herald Square, New York, N.Y., Detroit Publishing Co., from a glass negative, 10 x 8 in.; source: Library of Congress}

Notice that this photocrom postcard was made from a photo taken at the same time and place. The image is cut off a bit at top and bottom and, interestingly, it shows quite a bit more of what's off to the right of the black & white photo. It seems as if a shorter, wider lens had been used for the postcard.

{Herald Square, ca. 1908, a Photochrom postcard by the Detroit Publishing Co.; source: NYPL Digital Gallery}

This is a companion to the first photo, taken at the same time from a close-by vantage point.

{Herald Square, New York, N.Y., Detroit Publishing Co., from a glass negative, 10 x 8 in.; source: Library of Congress}

Here are the two side-by-side. You can the tell what time has elapsed by the time showing on the clocks.

As you can see, the left-most photo was taken about 25 minutes before the right. It took quite a while to move and set up the big view camera that the photographer used.

You can tell something else from the side-by-side photos: The postcard wasn't made with a shorter lens. Instead, the two photos were stitched together to make it. Here's the card again. You can see the meeting point of the two source images just to the left of the girder supporting the elevated train tracks. There's actually a smudge where the front left corner of a street car appears in the left image of the side-by-side photos.

By cropping and stitching I was able to pretty closely duplicate was the maker of the postcard accomplished. Here is my version of the two photos merged to more or less replicate the card. The New York Herald Building is smushed in this version but not in the postcard. That may account for the smudge on the card. The person who stitched images to make the card had to erase the corner of the street car and some pedestrians to make the result look right.

Here, again, is the postcard I put at the top of this post.

The here are the two cards, stitched side-by-side for comparison.


Some sources:

New York Herald in wikipedia


TWO BIG REAL ESTATE DEALS ON BROADWAY, Macy's Store to be Transferred to Herald Square. Mammoth Building on Block from 34th to 35th Street -- Adjoining Block Secured by Other Interests, New York Times, April 20, 1901

OPENING OF MACY'S NEW BIG STORE, New Locality for Trade at Broadway and Thirty-fourth Street, New York Times, November 9, 1902
When the Street plan for Manhattan was laid out in 1811,

Herald Square on the New York Parks web site. The text is brief:
This park was named for the newspaper that was once published directly to its north. The City of New York acquired the area in 1846 as part of the opening of Bloomingdale Road (now Broadway). By the early 20th century, many printers and publishers had located in the area. The New York Herald, founded by James Gordon Bennett in 1835, was best known for its sensational coverage of scandal and crime, and for its enormous circulation. Herald Square's centerpiece monument to Bennett and his son houses a sculpture and clock that formerly topped the Herald building. The bronze figures include Minerva, the goddess of wisdom and invention, and two bell-ringing blacksmiths. The clock and figures were installed on the monument in 1940, and blacksmiths "Stuff and Guff" or "Gog and Magog" have chimed the hours ever since.
A history of the New York stage from the first performance in 1732 to 1901 by Thomas Allston Brown (Dodd, Mead and company, 1903)

Demolished Broadway Theatres, a list on a web site called Musicals101, the Cyber Encyclopedia of Musical Theatre, TV and Film

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

To Secondat,
Thank you for your time, Thank you for your taste, Thank you for putting it all together and for it's accessibility. The quality, the feeling,the texture, the things I love to reminisce about but was never there. Well, maybe 35yrs later.

With all my heart, Thanks and Fughettaboutit