Editorial Feature

20 Incredible Vintage Images of New York City

The Big Apple, pre-instagram

New York City is one of the most recognizable cities in the world, from its iconic architecture to its vibrant cultural centres. Take a look at these historic photos to see how the Big Apple has changed, and how it's remained the same.

This photo, taken in 1918, shows actor Douglas Fairbanks holding up Charlie Chaplin in front of a crowd of hat-wearing spectators. The celebrity duo were promoting liberty bonds: war bonds that were sold to support the allied cause in WWI.

One of New York's many famous bridges, the Bayonne Bridge connects New Jersey with Staten island. At the time of its completion in 1931, it was the longest steel arch bridge in the world.

In 1964 New York World's Fair filled Flushing Meadows Park in Queens with futuristic-style pavilions. The theme of the international exposition was "peace through understanding". This was the fiberglass roof of the Tent of Tomorrow.

This retro 1948 snapshop of NY patrolman James Murphy on his beat highlights how many things have changed in the past 70 years — from the uniform and the squad car, to the cobbled streets of East Harlem.

In 1944, Coney Island Amusement Park was home to this terrifying-looking contraption. It was a 300-foot parachute jump, where brave souls were hoisted to the top and then dropped back down, with only the chute to slow their descent. It closed in 1964.


This group of narwhals is crowding round as their newest member is weighed in at New York Aquarium in 1969.The Aquarium opened on December 10, 1896 and is the oldest continually operating one in the US. Fun fact: the collective noun for narwhals is a "blessing."

The mania of Wall Street's Stock Exchange in 1962 looks almost peaceful from above. At its peak it would contain over 3,000 brokers and clerks trading in person, but has now diminished in size due to the rise in computerized trading.

At present, Madison Square Garden has been through four iterations. This image from 1925 shows the construction of the third version of the popular indoor arena, which was built at the cost of $4.75 million in 249 days by boxing promoter Tex Rickard. It was demolished in 1968.


This picture of a smoggy New York Port, taken on the East River in 1946, shows just how the city's skyline has changed. At the the The Empire State Building was the tallest building in New York and was the first building in the world to contain over 100 floors.

This quintessential picture of a New York parade celebration shows the July 4th procession in 1942. You can see the columns of US Army infantrymen marching up Fifth Avenue with the Empire State Building looming in the background.

Some things never change, especially when it comes to the crowds that swamp Fifth Avenue on a sunny day. Zoom into the picture to check out the array of old-school street signs and vintage sunglasses.

It also wouldn't be New York without the nightmare traffic jams blocking up the roadways. This one in 1967 was caused by drivers trying to get into the city when public transit was on strike.

It's not just cars that have to queue in the City That Never Sleeps. This image shows the congestion at La Guardia airport, with planes having to line up through the smog to get off the runway.

Behold the inner workings of Wall Street. This photo from 1962 shows the stacks of gold bullions that help make up the wealth of the city's financial district — inspiration for many a heist movie.

In the back room of the Museum of Natural History sit all the specimens that aren't currently on display. This family of African antelope has been covered in cellophane by their taxidermist while in storage.

The Statue of Liberty is one of the most iconic symbols of New York, and the views from her crown are one of the most coveted.

The technology inside the Wall Street office of a stock market trader back in 1997 will have been state of the art, but now the huge cubic monitors will be unrecognizable to most people.


This snapshot of the famous championship match between Joe Louis and Joe Walcott in 1947 shows Louis lying on the canvas after being knocked down by Walcott. Louis was so appalled by his performance that he attempted to leave the ring as soon as the fight ended, but he was restrained.

This fish-eye photograph of the inner workings of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum shows the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed architecture in all its glory. The ramp spirals from ground level to just underneath the ceiling skylight, displaying the art along the way.

The Statue of Liberty provides a fitting backdrop to the fireworks over the harbor on Liberty Weekend in 1986. Liberty Weekend was a four-day celebration of the centenary of the Statue, which was originally completed in 1886.

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