Staten Island photographer Alice Austen snapped this casual scene of a policeman standing on a cobblestone-sheathed Broadway near West 36th Street in 1896. Behind him, the architectural details of the New York Herald Building are on splendid display. The building, designed by Stanford White, had just been completed the year before, in 1895, and was based on the 1476 Palazzo del Consiglio in Verona. The small, dark figures on the building’s roofline are two of the twenty-six bronze owls that Herald editor James Gordon Bennett had installed. Though the building was demolished in segments – the northern half in 1921 and the southern half in 1940 – several of its owls, along with its clanging bell tower, have been installed in Herald Square as a memorial to Bennett.
Behind the Herald Building, a 6th Avenue Elevated Train rumbles along. The El was constructed in the 1870s and remained in use until 1938, by which time it had been replaced by the IND 6th Avenue Subway Line. Its tracks were dismantled in 1939.
Here is the same view on October 3, 2013 (photo taken by the author):
Further detail on the history of the Herald Building can be found at one of my favorite NY History Blogs: daytoninmanhattan.blogspot.com
Photo credit goes to Alice Austen (1866-1952) whose photo collection is available in the NY Public Library’s Digital Archive. Photo ID 79769.