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[Detail] New York city views. Sutton Place (Samuel H Gottscho)

U.S. History

Architecture and Interior Design for 20th Century America, 1935-1955, documents building styles and trends, particularly in the Eastern United States. The majority of photographs focus on New York City and its environs. The collection also records gardens, exteriors, and interiors of homes of middle and upper class people. These photographs provide a measure of the texture and culture of this segment of mid-century America. An interesting subset of this diverse collection is a large group of images of the 1939 World's Fair.

Students can use the collection to study key elements of New York city life from 1935-1955, and compare them with a modern city today. Students might also compare another city during the same era to the one represented here.

1) Cityscape

This collection includes photographs of New York City over a 25-year period. Images include the city's unique skyline, neighborhoods, and transportation systems. The photographs show how the city grew "up," rather than "out" as a result of its geographic location.

Search on city views and names of particular buildings, such as Socony Building , Rockefeller Center, or Chrysler Building. These will yield images such Looking Northeast from Empire State Building.

Several images show the infrastructure of New York City: its bridges, highways, and city streets. Bridges over the East River and the Hudson River link Manhattan to the boroughs (other parts of the city), the suburbs, and to the neighboring state of New Jersey.

Search on Brooklyn Bridge, Queensboro Bridge, and Manhattan Bridge for images of these structures and their surroundings.

Images of New York's streets within the collection capture the hustle and bustle of city life. Search on city traffic, express highways, and elevated highways for photographs of street activity.

New York City is comprised of many different neighborhoods. Search on specific place names, such as Tudor City, Times Square, Columbus Circle, and Lower New York, to find districts within New York.

2) Business

Stock Exchange

New York Stock Exchange Oct. 11, 1955

Images in Architecture and Interior Design for 20th Century America provide examples of the great variety of economic enterprises that define New York City. Some photographs show office buildings and interiors of individual offices; others, such as New York Stock Exchange, show the type of work that takes place. To find photographs that depict New York as a financial center, search stock exchange, and Wall Street, and banks and corporate headquarters by name, such as Chase Bank or Seaman's Bank for Savings.

To locate images of large retailers, search by store name, such as R.H. Macy or Tiffany's, and by type of business--shoe stores, markets, and vendors. Add 5th Ave. to some terms to narrow the search to the more "fashionable" stores.

3) Leisure and Play

The collection includes photographs which show activities people participated in for pleasure and amusement during this period.

For example, Park Scene with Carriages and People shows people spending their leisure time in parks. To find this and other similar images, search Central Park, Bryant Park, or playgrounds.

Entertainment is important to people who live in or visit New York. Movie houses, Broadway theaters, and restaurants attract millions of people every year.

Capitol Theater Marquee

Capitol Theater Marquee Aug. 30, 1959

Search theaters, Times Square, and Radio City Music Hall for interior and exterior photographs of movie houses and theaters.

Search restaurants by name, such as Schraffts, Stouffer's and Wolf's.

Search Coney Island for photographs of this popular amusement park.