After we published a series of photos of Broadway taken in 1920, several readers suggested that we take the same pictures today and compare the two. Luckily, one of our readers did just that for us, and put the photos together in the wonderful side-by-side gallery below.

On a walk with his daughter on Saturday, Evan Balafas took pictures at each of the spots that Arthur Hosking focused his camera on in 1920. Evan moved to the Upper West Side six years ago, and got the history bug.

“Never had a particular interest in history before moving here. I moved here from North Carolina – where most of the construction is brand new – and ever since have been fascinated by these amazing 100 year old buildings that we all live in. I love that the architecture of buildings like the Ansonia and the Dorilton still exists among the Starbucks and Apple stores. I live on Riverside in the 90s in one of those 100 year old (but less architecturally impressive) buildings.”

Check out the photos below. What a great project!

Below is the view looking North from 59th street:

59th compare

Looking North from 60th:


Looking South from 64th:


Looking North from 66th:


Looking North from 69th:


Looking North from 72nd:


Looking North from 79th:


Looking North from 84th:


Looking South from 87th:


Looking North from 90th:

90th compare

Looking South from 96th:


Looking North from 96th:


ART, HISTORY | 31 comments | permalink
    1. Karen says:


    2. Kate says:

      Love this! Also — amazed how the buildings in the view looking north on 79th remain largely unchanged. Buildings are almost all still there.

    3. Scott says:

      Pretty cool. Impressive how many buildings from back then are still standing and doing great. This reminds me why I love NYC. It ain’t the “culture” on Broadway or the shopping. It’s our buildings. We have the best buildings anywhere.

      • webot says:

        agree. and while we need new construction, we need to encourage quality, elegant designs like in decades past..

        Surely today’s developers -with a little encouragement via zoning, taxes, bonus,etc – can build like those in the past and contribute to our cityscape.

        Also adaptive re-use of old buildings should be encouraged even if they are not official landmarks.

    4. Giovanni says:

      The old black and white pictures are made even more amazing by the haze that was hanging in the air back then from all the coal and wood burning stoves and industrial pollution. Every picture has the same haze hanging in the air, which adds some visual drama but of course was extremely unhealthy for everyone to breathe. NYC’s air was probably like Beijing’s air is today our air, almost unbreathable at times. It’s good to see that this part of life in NY has improved too.

    5. Josiah says:

      what’s also striking is to see how much the trees have grown…

      • Zeus says:

        Like almost 100 years have gone by.
        Of course the trees have grown.
        And 99.9% of the people in the old photos are long gone dead.

    6. dcortex says:

      I’m no expert, but I seriously doubt you could see air pollution in b&w picture until the 50’s, 40’s or at least 30’s in NY. I believe the artifacts in the picture are Vignetting

    7. Gale says:

      Thank you so much, Evan, for taking these photos! Love this!

    8. Nancy says:

      Great feature!

    9. Eli says:

      I agree with Kate. Was amazed to see how unchanged 79th street is. This is about to change but unlike others I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

    10. Native Anthony says:

      Particularly as you head uptown, the view remains more and more the same. Broadway north of 97th has remained largely the way it was in 1920.

      We live in a beautiful, beautiful corner of the world. When friends and family from Europe visit, they are always amazed that we have anything like this so close to Midtown.

      Is anyone else familiar with the photos of the area taken in the 1880s just as the streets were being graded? I have a spread of three photos taken from the rooftop of a building on Broadway b/w 103 & 104 (where the pet store is now) facing west and showing old country houses and truck farms!

    11. Walter says:

      Yes that is in fact smog in the photos, one report from 1928 showed that sunlight in NY was reduced up to 20-50% at times due to all the city’s air pollution. The 1920s was the beginning of the movement to study and limit smog in the US. Mainly this was from the low grade coal and oil being burned in apartment building boilers, and recall also they still burned the garbage in many building’s incinerators. Of course things just got worse and worse until thr 50s and 60s which saw the worst smog conditions in the City’s history, killing hundrds of people including Dylan Thomas in 1953. See:

    12. pjrod says:

      Very cool – thank you for doing this. It also reminds me how much I hate scaffolding!

    13. Dave says:

      Nicely done!

    14. Carol M says:

      What a wonderful trip down memory lane. I remember as a child riding the trolley cars and seeing many of the old buildings and street lamps in the pictures. In the Washington Heights area, the midways along Broadway were open with benches and pathways for playing or walking. I still have some of the ration stamps given out during the Second World War Thank you so much for sharing…

    15. dcortex says:

      Thanks for the correction Walter

    16. Carol says:

      The pictures are wonderful. What I notice most of all–other than the welcome presence today of some of those grand old buildings–is that nowadays we see less and less sky and more and more obstacles to those clean, uncluttered old vistas.

    17. Alas, for the loss of sky and road space.

    18. Jean says:

      I try to show these types of photos on my Facebook page:
      New York City ( Manhattan ) in Old a photos and Post Cards.

    19. Brenda says:

      Interesting how many old apartment windows had awnings. I was told by my mom buildings had to eventually remove them because they created a fire hazard…careless window tossing of still smoldering cigarettes…
      Also remember so well the benches lining the midsections of Broadway were a daily meeting spot for older residents who couldn’t quite make it to either
      park….some were almost clubs! Especially for those who came after the war, seeking friends, common language, memories,etc. I would walk my grandpa there after school….it made his day!

    20. Wendy says:

      fabulous. Thanks for sharing!

    21. KG says:

      Great job with the juxtaposition. Keep this series coming.

    22. rib says:

      How did the streetcars get the electricity to power them? I don’t see overhead wires or poles on top of the streetcars.

    23. mo says:

      lovely photos and great project!keep going!
      the photos reinforced my feelings: i love my new york skyline but i also love the old buildings that are often more interesting in architectural detail and warmth and i miss seeing sky.
      contemporary buildings are beautiful even when they are not towers and the persistant unaffordable housing built to the sky seem full of unbridled hubris and a lack of consciousness.