Photographer Robert L. Bracklow took lots of excellent photos of buildings in New York City in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His photos are in the collection of the New-York Historical Society.

Here are a few of the Upper West Side below (click on the photos to enlarge them). At the time, the neighborhood was undergoing rapid growth because of the development of the elevated train system.

West End Avenue or Columbus Avenue at W. 86th Street, New York City, 1898:


The ad on the fence is for the New York Times. We’ve enlarged it below:

nyt ad

W. 81st St. & the Boulevard (now Broadway), New York City, 1898:


Building under construction on Riverside Drive at W. 83rd Street, with signs advertising windows for sale for the Grant Parade, New York City, 1897:


Advertisements and a small business at the corner of Eighth Avenue and W. 86th Street, New York City, 1898:


What’s amazing is there’s a woman who appears to have set up a shop (or maybe she’s selling food?) in the midst of those billboards on the corner:


For more in our Weekend History series, click here.

ART, HISTORY | 7 comments | permalink
    1. Sally F says:

      These pictures are amazing!! Thanks so much for posting!

    2. Larry says:

      Love these! Thanks for posting. I’ve now spent 2 hours looking through the archives. Great way to spend a frigid Saturday morning with coffee in hand.

    3. Eric says:

      I think these photos are very instructional for those people who cry out that construction is changing our neighborhood for the worse. Certainly at least some of the people who lived here at the time these photos were taken felt that very way about the new, higher buildings that invaded their bucolic surroundings and low-rise streetscapes (but that we now view as cherished and irreplaceable).

      Many new things make the previous generation wary, but come to be prized by the generations that follow. Much of the new and shocking becomes quaint and historic in due course.

    4. 21D says:

      Well said, Eric. But do you think that will be true of the tall rectangle that looms above the skyline from, I believe, 56th street and Park Avenue? What will replace it to make that quaint?

    5. The building at “Riverside and 83rd street” I believe is actually on our block: 84th street. It’s 120 Riverside Drive,

      Love all these photos.

    6. drg says:

      I dont think its 120 RSD. This pic is 7 stories, today that building is 9 stories. Here is a quote from “The Real Deal” web site when 120/125 RSD was sold in 2013:

      “”The two properties, located at 120 and 125 Riverside Drive at West 84th Street, have a total of 93 units between them, the New York Post reported. No. 120 was constructed in 1907 and stretches nine stories tall, while 125 Riverside, built the same year, is 12 stories. “”

      The building in the historic photo must have been torn down with a much larger building replacing it.

    7. Karen says:

      Thank you! Wonderful! Sent me to the collection where I browsed for a while … found photos of 13 trees planted by Alexander Hamilton at his grange (after house had been moved) … incredible.