Iconic photos of a changing city, and commentary on our Collections & Exhibitions from the crew at MCNY.org
Chartered in 1875, the Manhattan Railway Company operated elevated train lines in Manhattan and the Bronx. In 1879, it leased elevated lines running along Second, Third, Sixth, and Ninth Avenues from the New York Elevated Railway Company and the Metropolitan Elevated Railway; and in 1891, also leased lines from the Suburban Rapid Transit Company. Eventually, all three companies were absorbed by the Manhattan Railway. During the course of its operations the Manhattan Railway Company photographed the construction of the 74th Street Power Station and numerous substations, capital improvements, and activities and events that affected train service.
Below are images of one such event documented by the company 110 years ago.
In the early morning hours of January 12, 1903, a fire broke out at Houston and Allen Streets, in the basement of a building owned by the leather manufacturer Fayerweather & Ladew.
Firefighters remained on the scene for 13 hours and 45 minutes. In addition to the Fayerweather & Ladew buildings on 159-165 East Houston Street and 207-211 Allen Street, adjacent buildings on Houston, Allen, and Eldridge Streets also sustained damage. These pictures capture the loss and recovery effort in eery detail.
These images are among 1,856 photographs in the Museum of the City of New York’s Manhattan Railway Company collection, all of which are on the Museum’s Collections Portal. For more winter firefighting images, be sure to check out Susannah Broyles’s excellent post about the Equitable Building fire.