There are few streets more emblematic of New York City’s cultural success than Broadway. In a modern context, most people associate this famous street with midtown’s theater industry – a prolific haven for some of the world’s best playwrights, actors, dancers and performers.
Beyond its glamorous image, most New Yorkers understand how essential Broadway is to how the city functions. Historically it has always been prime real estate for business & entertainment, due to the massive amount of foot traffic.
One of its most striking features is that it completely breaks the grid, winding its own, organic path from State Street at Bowling Green, all the way up to the Bronx and 29 miles into Westchester County.
The reason that Broadway shows no regard for Manhattan’s grid is because the city was literally built around it. Long before settlers arrived this path thrived for centuries as a place of commerce and culture.
It was known as Wickquasgeck trail, named after the native tribes that carved its path through the brush, swamps and rocks of “Manahatta” (Island of Many Hills). Various dialects define Wickquasgeck as “the end of the marsh, swamp or wet meadow”, “place of the bark kettle”, and “birch bark country”, which was suitable at the time but seems like a long forgotten dream to New Yorkers walking that path today.
When the Dutch arrived, they immediately saw the potential of this trail and widened the path significantly. They called it the Heeren Wegh or Heeren Straat, meaning “Gentlemen’s Way” or “Gentlemen’s Street” – an homage to a street in Amsterdam – “High Street” or “the Highway”. It was renamed “Broadway” by the British due to its its unusual width.
As the centuries passed, the city thrived and this once rural path was converted into a technological marvel – a river of innovation and commerce snaking through the heart of Manhattan leaving a trail of iconic landmarks in its wake: including Times Square, Herald Square, Columbus Circle and Belvedere Castle in Central Park.
To this day it continues to play an integral role in the evolution of New York City, and will likely continue to do so, well into the distant future.
A painting by Thomas Horner depicting each building from the Hygeian Depot corner of Canal Street to beyond Niblo's Garden in the year 1785
Engraved illustration depicting the corner of Broadway & the Bowery in downtown Manhattan.
The East side of Broadway and Broome Street looking North, capturing the hum and activity of downtown Manhattan during a cold winter.
Watercolor Illustration of Broadway and Vesey Street Looking South.
A slightly elevated perspective of a bustling street known as Broadway, which remains a hub of commerce and culture to this day.
An aerial photograph shows a large crowd of spectators enjoying a parade on Broadway.
Photograph shows traffic and businesses along Broadway, one of the busiest streets in the city. Taken by George Stacy in 1865.
Photograph taken in 1865 shows the "National Bank of the Republic" (NBR) surrounded by other commercial buildings, pedestrians and traffic on Broadway.
Photograph of the Fifth Avenue Hotel, across from Madison Square Park, New York City.
A photograph shows a famous intersection of downtown Manhattan, lined with trolleys and a vastly different urban landscape.
Aerial view of Union Square on an overcast morning. The streets are sparsly dotted with pedestrians and street cars.
Photograph of Broadway near John Street filled with carriages and pedestrians.
Photograph of traffic on the corner of Canal Street and Broadway.
A colorized photochrom print depicting an aerial view of Bowling Green and its surrounding buildings.
Aerial photograph showing Columbia University Campus looking north from Broadway and 116th Street.
One Times Square was completed in 1904 to serve as the headquarters of The New York Times, which officially moved into the building in January 1905
Photograph of a busy downtown street, Looking up Broadway from Custom House.
Photograph shows busy intersection at Houston Street looking east from Broadway. An elevated train track visible in the background.
Photograph of 149 Broadway, The Singer Building Facade from the southeast.
Photograph of wall paintings on Houston Street which would grace the backdrop of many films and mark the style of the era.
Photograph of the subway station at 71st Street and Broadway for Interborough Rapid Transit (Original Line).
Photograph of Manhattan Valley Viaduct station's east stairway and platform showing a new escalator built over the stairs.
Learn all about NYC’s distant past as "Mannahatta" or the "Island of Many Hills".
Research the natural forces that shaped the environment, along with the people who formed the landscape and culture.
Welcome to the History of New York City - A Unique Online Gallery of NYC's Origins, Curated and Digitally Restored by Fine Print New York.
We're opening our archives to present this Collection of Vintage Photos, Historical Images and Rare Lithographs. This Exclusive Series of High Quality Art Prints are only Available for Purchase Exclusively on this Site.
Joseph Gornail, printer/photographer and founder of Fine Print New York. Joseph grew up in SoHo, Manhattan and is part of a long lineage of NYC printers, learning the family trade from his grandfather. While working for Dolo Records/Stretch Armstrong in 1996, Joseph founded All City Marketing & Printing, and in 1999 Co-Founded the legendary street wear company "Orchard Street " with lifelong friends Benjamin Holloway and Greig Bennett. Fine Print NYC was established in 2004 with a Nike project being the launchpad for a commercial printing company that has not only survived, but thrived in the digital age.
Steven Garcia, designer/illustrator and creative director of Fine Print New York. Born and raised in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Steven attended Fashion Industries High School and F.I.T. before building a successful career at Saatchi & Saatchi for as a professional retoucher and storyboard artist in 1995. Steven started ShinyDesign in 1998 and partnered with Fine Print in 2004 as the exclusive design firm for the company. Steven has independently worked on major advertising campaigns for many brands over the years, such as Snapple, The Waldorf Astoria and Sony to name a few.
Together, Joseph & Steven are responsible for the curation and direction of the History101.nyc project, which has been under development since 2006. They have a long history of collaborating together, going back as far as 2001 when Joseph was gallery manager and Steven was a curator at The New York City Urban Experience, an art gallery & museum that was located at 85 South Street and owned by Mike Saes of the Nike Bridge Runners and True Yorkers.
We cover a great portion of the city's history, ranging from its earliest days as New Amsterdam to the late 1980s. Artists are currently working on photos from the 90s to present day,
Here's a current list of what is covered:
There are currently 714 photos, lithographs, illustrations and maps on this site. Each one has been digitally restored and cleaned up by hand, which makes this collection truly unique.
Digital licenses are available for educational institutions (schools, universities, non-profit organizations). Please contact email@example.com to discuss conditions for licensing.
NOTE: Any form of commercialization or redistribution of these images, either as tangible goods or third party licenses, is expressly forbidden.
History101.nyc is an ad-free and non-profit learning resource. We do not sell prints of these images. All operational costs are covered by Fine Print NYC
Absolutely! Feel free to send us an email with a preview of the image and we will let you know if it's a good fit for the archives.
We welcome any feedback that you may have. If it proves to be historically accurate the changes will be reflected on the site shortly after our correspondence.
We have collaborated with NYC's Municipal Archives, The Tenemant Museum, Bronx Historical Society and a number of prominent NYC photographers to produce a series of limited edition postcards which free of charge, but only available via street distribution, primarily in Manhattan.
Yes, we can repair, restore and cleanup your old family photos, slides and negatives. You can either send us the digital files or the original photos to be professionally scanned.
We can restore just about any level of damage or signs of aging, within reason. As long as most of the photo is intact we cn work with it. The one flaw we cannot fix is source material that is blurry. A poorly take photo can only be improved so much.
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History101.NYC is an ad-free learning resource available to the public at no charge.
This project is dedicated to exploring New York’s fascinating heritage through the restoration of vintage photographs and prints.