"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Where & When: Season 2 Game 13

Welcome back for another intermittent game of Where & When.  We hope that the winter hasn’t gotten you too bogged down in slush and cold; if it has, we can try to warm you up with this little challenge:

Where & When S2 Game 13

What I like about this picture is that it’s taken in front of a significant building and a significant landmark, yet we see what surrounds those features, giving a full sense of character to the neighborhood as it was at the time.  I believe you’ll be surprised by the location, especially compared to what exists today (clue).  I’m not going to give too much on this because those with good wit will be able to find this almost immediately, but again you’ll have to put on your work gloves and your thinking cap for this one (which is always my goal, thus he long intermission between games >;)

So have at it; A large mug of cocoa for the winner (location/date) and rum chocolate candy for the rest.  Bonus for identifying the two significant landmarks I mentioned earlier (as they were at the time the picture was taken), double bonus for those whom can identify what buildings are standing in place of the ones pictured here.  Hope it doesn’t take you too long to figure out, but also hope you enjoy the journey.  Talk with you later, have fun and no peeking at the credit!

Photo Credit: Ephemeral New York


1 rbj   ~  Jan 21, 2015 1:43 pm

Gotta be 19th Century.
Hm, Spalding building? West Shore Line trolley?

2 Shaun P.   ~  Jan 21, 2015 1:53 pm

Well, all searches of "nyc spalding building" give me a slightly different looking Spalding Building in Brooklyn, which was torn down as part of the Atlantic Yards project for Ratner's Barclay Center for the Nets. If that building is this building, then was in Prospect Heights, along 6th Avenue. But I'm not sure it is.

As for when . . . 1880s? 1890s?

3 Shaun P.   ~  Jan 21, 2015 1:59 pm

I changed my mind. Not the Brooklyn Spalding Building.

This one was on West 42nd Street near the West Presbyterian Church (there's a small picture on the Church's wikipedia page that shows both).

4 Shaun P.   ~  Jan 21, 2015 2:01 pm

[3] According to wikipedia, the building that replaced the Church was eventually replaced itself by the SUNY College of Optometry.

Bryant Park is across the street.

5 Shaun P.   ~  Jan 21, 2015 2:02 pm

Ah, and the Church was built in 1865, demolished in 1911 or 1912, so the when is in between then. :)

6 rbj   ~  Jan 21, 2015 2:25 pm

[3] Yeah. Now that I see the corner of the church it makes sense. But no pictures of the Spalding building itself.

7 rbj   ~  Jan 21, 2015 2:33 pm

The proper name for the vehicle in the foreground is horse-drawn streetcar. Image search for that brings up the photo credit.

8 rbj   ~  Jan 21, 2015 2:41 pm

Bryant Park dates to 1884, so this was probably late 1880s to 1890s

9 Alex Belth   ~  Jan 21, 2015 3:27 pm

Alls I can say is you guys are mad impressive. I'm just so stumped when it comes to this kind of detective work.

10 Chyll Will   ~  Jan 21, 2015 7:14 pm

Well done, gentlemen. As you can see, this is far more genteel if you will than what it looks like now in that area; more downtown Fifth Avenue (below Union Square) than the uptown skyscrapers we're used to. The year is noted to be c.1900, so you're pretty much correct on that account as well.

Since we're guessing at the year, we can also guess that this was about the time they began considering what would become the main branch of the New York Public Library system. Where the library is now was once occupied by huge stone retaining walls encompassing the old Croton Reservoir, which I featured last season. If this picture was taken in 1900, the walls had been taken down just the year before and the aqueduct had either been diverted or submerged well underground, so there may have been nothing more than an empty lot at that point, next to what was considered a disreputable park shadowed by the Sixth Avenue El Train. Interesting.

Btw, Bryant Park was originally named Reservoir Square from 1847-1884 when it was renamed after abolitionist New York Evening Post editor William Cullen Bryant. Before that it was a potter's field (burial ground for the poor/unknown) from 1823 and a public space dating back to 1686; George Washington's troops crossed his area after the Battle of Long Island in 1776.

Enjoy the brownies, guys!

11 rbj   ~  Jan 22, 2015 8:06 am

Now, what was the pedestrian bridge in the background?

12 Chyll Will   ~  Jan 22, 2015 11:12 am

[11] That's the 42nd Street station of the Sixth Avenue El. That had been there since 1878(!)

13 rbj   ~  Jan 22, 2015 11:53 am

[12] Thanks

4 weeks until pitchers and catchers!

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