New Perspectives

Aerial photography allowed views of the new skyscraper-dominated skylines. The picture above must have been taken from a plane, because there was no building remotely tal enough in that line of sight to provide that view. The Library of Congress has it as “Big buildings of Lower Manhattan, New York”, “[between 1900 and 1920]” but we can do better than that. Here’s the cast:

A: The Hudson and Manhattan Terminal Buildings.
B: Waaaaay off in the distance, the Met Life Tower.
C: Two Rector Street, before the extra floors were added.
D: The City Investing Building.
E: The Woolworth Building.
F: The Trinity Building, where our office was 2010-2017.
G: The Singer Building.
H: The back of the Columbia Building.
J: Exchange Court.
K: Columbia Trust Company.
L: Manhattan Life Building.
M: the back of the Empire Building.
N: The Municipal Building.
P: A vacant lot, with some construction equipment, at 57-61 Broadway.
Q: Liberty Tower.

Getting a lower-bound date is pretty easy. The Woolworth Building and Municpal Building are both still in construction, although nearly finished. Woolworth was substantially complete by the end of 1912 and opened in early 1913. The main part of the Municipal Building was also complete in late 1912, and it got the statue on top of its cupola in 1913.

The vacant lot makes the upper bound also pretty easy. The Adams Express Company building was constructed there between 1912 and 1914. If we zoom in on the highest-resolution version of the photo:

we see two caissons (the big cylinders) and a lot of other foundation work. So late 1912, maybe early 1913 sounds about right as the upper-bound date; which is almost identical to the lower-bound date. The six months centered on New Years 1913 sounds a lot better than 1900 to 1920.

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