Historical Castle Garden Photographs

In this post we will be examining various historical photographs of Castle Garden in NYC. After each photograph we will give a title to the image as well as a publication date. Below that information we will also provide a brief synopsis of what is contained and displayed in the photograph itself. If you have any questions or comments about the material please feel free to leave them below.

Castle Garden Immigrant Depot Entrance (1870 – 1890?)

Interesting photograph of Castle Garden as it displays one of the entrances into the main immigrant depot. We know that this is the depot largely because “Castle Garden” is written in huge text on the front of the building. What I really like about this historical photograph is the various people displayed infront of the building itself. From the looks of it the people range from immigration officers to actual immigrants. It also appears that this photograph was taken either during the late fall or winter as the trees infront of the building have no leaves. The publication considered to have been taken in the later part of the 1800’s, but we cannot confirm that. The only thing we can confirm is that Castle Garden was in operation from 1855 – 1890.

Castle Garden Main Building (1855 – 1870?)

If we look at this photograph we obviously can see the Castle Garden immigration building (the same one in the previous photograph). What’s interseting about this photograph is that there is practically nothing around the main building, leading me to believe that this photograph was taken in the earlier years of operation. This photograph was used in a publication titled the “The Kings Handbook of New York City” – 1893. We know that Castle Garden stopped operation in 1890, so this is obviously a photograph from a previous date.

Castle Garden and New York City Harbor (1902)

A wonderful panoramic photograph we have in our collection that displays Castle Garden off in the distance as well as the surrounding buildings and areas. If you look really really far into the New York City Harbor you can see the statue of liberty. I really like that you get to see a side street next to castle garden in which you get to see the nearby businesses and horse and buggies. Based on the park in the foreground of Castle Garden I can only assume that this photograph was taken in a late spring, summer or early fall time period in 1902.

Castle Garden and NYC Harbor Aerial Photograph (1902)

We have another aerial photograph of Castle Garden and the NYC harbor, again like the last one it was taken in 1902. In the far distance of the harbor you can see the Statue of Liberty a little better. You can also see the various ships throughout the harbor. Based on the steam coming from the boats and buildings and the leafless trees around Castle Garden I’m going to make the assumption that this photograph was taken during the winter months.

If you would like us to find more historical photographs of Castle Garden or other parts of New York City please leave a comment below and make a request!


History of Harlem and The River Ferries

When the original Dutch settlers began to flock to the hills and valleys of Harlem, the first thing they did was to look around for a suitable name. Immediately a great dissension arose, each stout burgher insisting that the spot should be called after his own native town in old Holland. Finally they decided upon a most happy expedient; they resolved to style the place “Harlaem,” for the simple reason that none of them had come from that village, and as a result, no one could object. Such, we learn, is the origin of the name which for a long time appeared on the steam railroad cars. “New York and Harlaem Railroad.”

In the year 1666, when the sleepy residents of Harlaem were comfortably settled and enjoying life around their immense fireplaces, with long-stemmed pipes in their mouths, and all accustomed to going to bed at four o’clock every afternoon. Someone made the startling announcement that beyond the broad river that flowed past their doors was to be found the most beautiful farming land imaginable, just the site for their favorite “boueries”. This was enough, for once they hastily rose to the occasion. They must have a ferry at once to carry them across to those fair shores where their “boueries” were to be.

The site selected was about 126th street and the East River, where the old “Harlaem Road” terminated. The peculiarly slanting and irregular boundary lines, which even to-day are found in this section of Harlem and which are so at variance with all existing streets and avenues, and form such a bete-noir alike to title-searchers and surveyors, is lasting evidence of the former existence of this early highway.

A ferry meant a ferryman, and in 1667 Johannes Verveelen was duly installed, along with an African American man by the name of “Matthys”. He was allowed to furnish food, drink and lodgings to the weary wayfarers he ferried across, but not a drop to the indians.

Here are some of the curious rates that he charged for carrying travelers from Harlaem to the Bronx shore:

“For every passenger, 2 pence silver or six pence wampum; for every ox or cow that shall be brought into his ferry-boat, 8 pence or 24 stivers; and cattle that swim along over pay but 1/2 price.

“He is to take for diet, every man for his meal, 8 pence or 24 stivers wampum; every man for his lodging, 2 pence a man or 6 stivers wampum; every man for his horse shall pay 4 pence for his night’s hay or grass, or 12 stivers wampum.”

“Signed, THO: DE LAVALL, Mayor.” “Dated July 3rd 1667”

Ellis Island Historical Photography and Examination

In this post I just wanted to include some great photographs in our collection that Illustrate the nostalgia of Ellis Island and New York City history in general. We will not only list each photograph, but we will also describe and examine of the subject matter and how it relates to Ellis Island and New York City Immigrant history. Also all the images and links are clickable so if you wish to download the image feel free to do so. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to leave them below!

Ellis Island Boat Launch Station – 1913

An interesting photograph showing a boat launch station at Ellis Island. If we look closely one of the riverboats is labeled with a name that reads “W.M. Flectcher”. Obviously in the background of the photograph we see the main terminal building for arriving immigrants to Ellis Island.

Immigrants Arriving to Ellis Island – 1912

In this photograph we see several immigrants arriving to Ellis Island with suitcases and various packages. From what it looks like there are 2 immigration officers in between the arriving immigrants that are directly focused on the camera. A 3rd officer is to the right of them but seems to be more focused on the arriving people. In the background of the photograph you can see the various buildings that comprise Ellis Island .

Boarding Cutter Ship at Ellis Island

This photograph seems to be sporting the arrival of several smaller ships to Ellis Island. What I think is cool about this photograph is the American Flag that hangs on the back of the ship in the foreground. Notice anything different about that flag? Well it seems that it’s missing about 37 stars on it and contains only 13. The number 13 I believe is in direct accordance with the original 13 colonies of America. Anyways besides that you get to see a few buildings and structures that are on Ellis Island as well.

Ellis Island Immigrant Station – 1893

Oh Boy! I love this photograph as it gives us a nice collage of several aspects of Ellis Island. The middle photograph details the main immigration station on Ellis Island. Now you might ask yourself, “Well it looks different than the structure now?” That’s because it is different, the one presented in this photograph was destroyed by a raging fire in 1897. Unfortunately during the fire many of the records were lost for good. Other parts of the photograph show a detention center, a dock landing area, a dining hall and the house of a Surgeon.

Walking to the New York City Departure Boats – 1913

This photograph I think is very iconic in terms of the achievement of the American dream. The photograph above displays several immigrants walking towards the boats that will deliver them from Ellis Island directly to New York City. In the photograph we see the immigrants holding numerous packages and suitcases as they ascend to the boats. We can right off the bat tell that we’re near the docks because to the left of the photograph we can see a life preserver hanging on a wooden beam that reads “Ellis Island”. If we look towards the background and more specifically to the right we can see an Ellis Island immigration officer watching the crowd as it arrives to the boats.

Construction and History of The Brooklyn Bridge

The details of constructing the Brooklyn Bridge towers have been performed under the eyes of all Brooklyn people. Since the tower of Babel and the great pyramid of Egypt, there has been no more massive structures. Block upon block the granite tiers were laid, until a total hieght of 278 feet above high water was attained. The New York tower is thus 356 feet high from the foundation. Further inland the equally ponderous anchorages were progressing, and although not so familiar because largely concealed by the surrounding buildings, are not the least important or least expensive details of the bridge. Still lower structures of solid masonry support the approaches.

In October 1878, a sensation was created by a communication to the N.Y. Sun, purporting to reveal a plot for blowing up the bridge. It was alleged that a certain stone-mason, inspired by the ambition of the “youth who fired the Ephesian Dome,” had secreted charges of dynamite between the courses of stone at the base of the tower on which he was engaged. The explosive was connected by wire with the exterior at points known only to the wicked mason, and at a suitable time, probably while the cities were celebrating the completion of the bridge, it was his intention to wreck the structure. A mysterious diagram was also published, said to be a copy of the working plan of the unprincipled wretch, showing the places of deposit and the line of connecting wires.

On May 29th 1877, a single wire was carried across the river attracting much attention as the first connecting link, with the “promise and potency” of greater things. The process of cable-making now commenced. Each cable is composed of 5,296 thicknesses of wire laid parallel. The wire is continuous in varying lengths, joined by a small screw coupling, which can never unscrew, the invention of Colonel Roebling and A.V. Abbot. At the anchorage the wire “returns” around a “shoe,” and so is carried from shore to shore until the cable is complete. It is then closely wrapped, forming a solid cylinder 15 3/4 inches in diameter. The total length of each cable is 3,578 feet, and it contains 3,589 miles of

Upon the four great cables thus composed, the suspended superstructure retains it’s inital and primary weight distribution. To avoid any lateral strain upon the towers, the cables are in no way fastended to them, but rest on movable “saddles” at the point of contact. These saddles, with their burdens, move to and fro upon 45 iron rollers of 3 1/2 inches diameter, which readily yield to the varying tention of the wires as the weight is shifted from the land to the river span, or vice versa.

A temporary structure called the “foot-bridge,” was thrown across the river during the cable-making, for the convenience of construction. It was much higher than the roadway of the permanent bridge, following the cables over the summits of the towers, instead of
passing through the arches. A trip across the foot-bridge on a clear, cool day, afforded an exciting and pleasurable novelty. The unaccustomed head would be dizzy, and both hands nervously clutch the wire hand-rails. Between the slats on which on walked were glimpses of gleaming water, and decks of toy ships and ferry boats with pigmy passengers. As our walk was but three feet wide, a ribbon through the air, it easily suggested a reminiscence of the narrow bridge Al Sirat, over which the people of Islam believe that the spirits of the departed must pass to paradise. The faithful tremble, but cross in safety, while unbelievers topple over into the fearful gulf. To avoid such thoughts, the traveler could look abroad and get distraction and delight from the wide panorama which the vicinity of New York affords.

How does the bridge look? is a question frequently asked. It’s external appearance from a distance is familiar from engravings which were exhibited everywhere before either one of the towers had reared its head above the tide. Some new ideas of details may perhaps be obtained from an imaginary trip to New York in July, 1883.

Descending from the horse car (or more happily the elevated railroad?) at the corner of Fulton and Sands streets, we notice no special change from the present aspect of Fulton street, but moving up Sands we find the southwestern corner of Washington street converted into the head of a busy thoroughfare, which closes abruptly at narrow Sands street; but the pressure there will soon be relieved, for a portion of the block bounded by Sands, Washington, High and Fulton has been taken as a public sqaure, that will be worthy the dignity of our bridge, and conduce to the convience of its traffic.

New York City History in 1787

The city received a sudden, strong, healthful, forward impetus in the spring of 1787, through large accessions of its population. Every dwelling-house was occupied. Rents went up, doubling in some instances, fresh paint and new shutters and wings transformed old tenements, and carpenters and masons found ready employment in erecting new structures. The streets were cleaned and pavements mended. New business firms were organized and old warehouses remodeled; the markets were extended and bountifully supplied, and stores blossomed with fashionable goods. Wall street, the great center of interest and of fashion, presented a brilliant scene every bright afternoon. Ladies in showy costumes, and gentlemen in silks, satins, and velvet, of many colors, promenaded in front of the City Hall – where congress was holding its sessions. At the same time Broadway, from St. Paul’s Chapel to the Battery, was animated with stylish equipages, filled with pleasure-seekers who never tired of the life-giving, invigorating, perennial seabreeze, or the unparalleled beauty of the view, stretching off across the varied waters of New York Bay.

The social world was kept in perpetual agitation through distinguished arrivals from various parts of the United States, and from Europe. Dinners and balls were daily occurences. Secretary and Mrs. Jay entertained with graceful ease, gathering about them all that was ost illustrious in statesmanship and letters; they usually gave one ceremonious dinner every week, sometimes two. Their drawing-rooms were also thronged on Thursdays, Mrs. Jay’s day “at home”; and evening parties were given at frequent intervals. The manners of Secretary Jay were described by Europeans as affable and unassuming; and his purity and nobility of character impressed the whole world in his favor. He dressed in simple black, wearing his hair slightly powdered and tied in the back. His complexion was without color. His eyes were dark and penetrating, as if the play of thought never ceased, but the general expression of his face was singularly amiable and tranquil. Mrs. Jay was admirably fitted, through her long residence in the Spanish and French capitals, and her own
personal and intellectual accomplishments, for the distinguished position of leader of society in the American Capital. She dressed richly, and in good taste, and observed the most rigid formalities in her intercourse with the representatives of foriegn nations.

Nothing better illustrates the spirit and character of this formative period than the movements in its polite and every-day life. But a mere glimpse must suffice. The infant republic was interesting, and vastly promising, while it had not yet learned to walk. Its capital was the sea of a floating community composed of the most diverse elements. Curiosity, critism, and cavil were in the air. The importance attached to the doing of national hospitalities in the Old World, could not be ignored in the New. Entertainments were something more than mere profitless amusements; then, as before and since, there were strong links in the chain which binds nations together.

New York City Historical Street Scene Photography

In this post we are going to take a look at a few photographs in our collection that consists of various aspects and perspectives relative to the streets of NYC. Below each photograph we will give a brief synopsis pertaining to various elements of the photographs. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below!

Elevated Railroad on 110th street NYC – 1896

Interesting photograph we have here. What we can see is an elevated railway about 8 stories in elevation. Based on the leafless tree in the foreground what I can assume is that this photograph was taken either during the fall, winter, or early spring. Underneath the elevated train we can see people walking along the roadway. To the bottom right of the photograph we see excavated land which might be the early stages of the construction of a new building. What I find most interesting about this photograph is the fact that the train on top of the elevated railway is a steam engine. Very rarely throughout history has there ever been Elevated Steam Engine trains, the exception for this is of course trains that traveled over rivers and valleys (bridges). Seeing a steam engine though on an elevated railway just seems abnormal.

Busy Broadway Street – 1897

Wow is Broadway in New York City busy or what in this photograph! Look at the amount of people on the sidewalks as well as the carts going down the street. In the foreground of the photograph we can see a trolly car with a few passengers upon it. In the middle of the photograph on the left side of the street we can see scaffolding with what appears to be 4 men on the very top of it. I’ve zoomed into the photograph and it’s quite grainy, but I can make out that 1 man is on his hands and knees (repairing something?), while 3 other people watch over him. Behind the men on the corresponding building there is a large sign that reads “To Lease”. I’m guessing that these men are working on the build (remodeling) for which to hopefully get it lease out for someone who would like to start a business. On the far right side of the photograph in the foreground we see a lamp post (oil lamp post) that extends to about 2-3 stories high. Ultimately though if we look at the photograph as a whole we get the idea of how busy Broadway was and the amount of commerce that was going on.

Union Square in NYC – 1893

This photograph displays Union Square in New York City in 1893. In the photograph we see many horse carriages as well as many NYC patrons walking on foot paths throughout the square. The trees along the footpaths have no leaves and are bare, telling us that this photograph was probably taken around the winter months. On the left and the bottom of the photograph we see trolly railways that extend and fork off at Union Square. At the bottom of the photograph we also see a small monument.

Immigrant and a Pretzel Vendor in NYC – 1896

I like this photograph a lot because you get to know the population and the individual street life of people in New York City in 1896. What we see here is an immigrant on the left and a female pretzel vendor on the right. The man on the left is holding a pipe in his hand. The woman pretzel vendor on the right looks like she is holding a handful of pretzels in his left hand and possibly some potatoes in her right hand. To the right of the woman there seems to be many different baskets of food. The baskets in the backgrounds seem to consist mostly of pretzels or some other type of pastry food.

Postman at a Letterbox in NYC – 1896

In this photograph we obviously can see a United States Postman retrieving mail from a letterbox. The New York City postman uniform is quite interesting if you taken notice at his hat. His hat in a sense almost resembles that of a policemen or military helmet. It looks like he wears a suit-like uniform with leather shoes.  His leather mail-bag is HUGE, I’m guessing he travels down numerous streets throughout various parts of New York City.  From looking at the background architecture of the buildings in this photograph, I have ascertained that this is 5th avenue. The organization of the streets, the overwhelming lack of businesses, the lack of densely populated crowds absolutely says that this is 5th avenue.

New York City Transit Line History (1918) – YouTube Video

Just wanted to share our latest YouTube upload which explores and examines a vintage map of New York City, more specifically a transit line map that was produced in 1918. In the video we zoom in and look at various historical aspects of this vintage map. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below!