Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bernice Abbott's Charles Lane 1938

Museum of the City of New York: CHARLES LANE (between West and Washington Streets, Perry and Charles Street) SEPTEMBER 20, 1938. Bernice Abbott claimed that Charles Lane was the only back alley she ever found in New York City. The lane was one block long, sandwiched between the New York Central Railroad freight viaduct--seen at a distance in Abbott's photograph--and the elevated West Side Highway. Abbot focused on the Lane’s south side, which in 1938 was still lined with stables and tradesmen shops, as it had been in the nineteenth century. 

First paved with cobblestones in 1893, Charles Lane is still cobblestoned, but its buildings, both old and new, are now residential. Although the elevated highway and freight viaduct have been demolished, the narrow alley has retained its scale and quaint character, after a successful battle in the late 1960s against a proposal for a high-rise housing project.

 Abbott was no doubt struck by this tiny lane lodged between two recently completed transport behemoths, the viaduct and the highway. She may have enhanced the alley's picturesque appearance by arranging an old bucket in the foreground.

11 comments:

Laurie said...

WOw, this is so cool! Amazing, KM.

Tanya said...

I love those old cobblestone streets. So awesome!

Lily Hydrangea said...

this is so cool! I love the comparison between the old & new photographs.

Ming the Merciless said...

Cool photos, especially the first one!

You seemed to find the most obscure places that only insider New Yorkers know.

Hope said...

An amazing post! The cobblestone alleyway is fascinating. Your photos are wonderful and truly bring out the character of this thoroughfare.

P.S. I'm glad you brought back the avatar along with your name, KM.

Jeremiah Moss said...

i love charles lane. sadly it leads to those glass towers.

Bernie said...

I like your then/now series. It's great to see that old and new can coexist.

John said...

I miss Charles Lane. I lived there for 15 years and it was definitely one of the highlights of my life. I just opened an art gallery on Washington Street and I wander down the lane any chance I get...watch out for doo doo bombs.

sonia a. mascaro said...

Very nice this narrow street with cobblestones!

babooshka said...

If I hadn't known where this was I would have said northern england. To me this is so evocative of lassic British Cinema - the days when we still made them.

omami said...

Charmaing photos history is a part of or heritage!!