Monday, February 15, 2010

This Old Photo: Part One


First Shorpy was a kid coal miner who had a short, hard life. But because a few pictures of him were taken one day long ago, he lives on in that ephemeral way that photos can bring us immortality - randomly, sometimes whimsically, very often poignantly.

Shorpy the Website
And now Shorpy lives on as the very name of a website devoted to the mystery and yet the immediacy of old photos.
Each day brings a few new photos, some of which have been lovingly restored by the site runners. And with these instant portraits of long-ago days comes witty, informative, nostalgic, always fascinating and fascinated blog commentary.

It Takes a Village, ca. 1905
Here’s a recent gem from New York City, 110 years ago. Sure, it's a chance for non-New Yorkers to discover this beautiful, still existent architectural gem which has had at least three lives. (Market, courthouse, library.) A kremlinesque colorful lower Manhattan landmark which has posed for paintings, from the Ashcan School all the way to present-day sidewalk artists.

But on a nonspecific day, circa 1905, was the centerpiece of this quick study on early 20th-century urban street life.

HD Web-See
Ramp open the Hi-Def view and drink in the details of a day when George M. Cohan was actually performing somewhere in that city: Take a look up 10th Street - The laundry airing on the roof opposite. The cop, the stairway loiterer, the streetcars, the horse-and-buggies, the wagon piled high with barrels, the horse fountain(?) on the corner of the building. And to the left, on Sixth: The train pulling away, the guy below striding along, reading his paper, a sign on a more distant building advertising a Famous Old Remedy Painkiller (Keep It Handy).

30 Rock, '33
Now quick, jump forward with me. Is this moment in time in the Village really only 28 years before this stunning central Manhattan image? 
And is there any more spectacular city image anywhere than this moody night shot of the brand-spanking new, now-iconic 30 Rockefeller Center?

All images courtesty

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