Picturing the City: New York in the 19th and 20th Century

 Anthony Punch 111385471


Photographs in Digital Archive

New York in the 19th century was a burgeoning city of commerce, industry and finance. Between 1800 and 1900, the population rose drastically in the city and many new experiences and practices developed for the urban population at this time. Methods of communication were improved and with the growth of railways and steam ships in the late 19th century, the other side of the world wasn’t as unreachable as before. The city began to modernize itself and through regulations which control, the people became disciplined. Actions such as queuing for a bus were new, as was being put on hold on the telephone, over the course of these two centuries. Modernity led to the re-orientation of public experiences, and the remaking of spatial practices.

New York City 1918 Evidence of how New York was considered exceptional, and it is easy to see how people would have been amazed by the growth of this city. Lighting, transport, and general hustle and bustle

New York: The Wonder City 1918
Evidence of how New York was considered exceptional, and it is easy to see how people would have been amazed by the growth of this city. Lighting, transport, and general hustle and bustle. What effect would this have had on people?? Walter Benjamin said that ‘Metropolis intensified emotional life.’ We take things such as instant communication, electricity, and transport for granted today but it is important to remember that these were all new experience for the urban population of the 19th century.


Along with this modernisation came increased immigration and more new experiences for locals. Mulberry Street 1900 was now an economic centre, and more discipline would have been learned. Downsides included the increasing amount of slums

Mulberry Street, New York City 1900

Mulberry Street, New York City 1900 (308×255)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Immigrants would compete with each other (English, Irish, Dutch etc.) and more recent arrivals(Jewish, Russian) for space and economic opportunity. This is an example of the reconfiguration of public spaces, with a street becoming an economic centre for these people. The population of New York was still booming in 1900 and would grow further.


New York became a city characterized by extremes in wealth and poverty. The progress being made, commercially, industrially and technologically in these centuries was massive but this gap was becoming a problem, with the amount of slums, and homeless people particularly children, a big issue.



New York City at night (1934)                                                                                                                A beautiful image of the lit up city. Rewind 100 years, who would have imagined this?? The appeal of the city was growing, quality of life and conditions were improving for a large number of people. technology was playing a part in people’s lives, society was changing, and an Urban Transformation was taking place.


One person who captured these new experiences on camera was Jacob A. Riis, a Danish immigrant who came to New York as a journalist in 1870. He took many photos of the big slums which had developed and he highlighted many young homeless people. Of all the new experiences and practices for urban people in these two centuries, I think the increase in poverty levels is by far the most striking, and we can see this in the following photograph.


Homeless children, beggars  A sharp contrast to the glamorous city portrayed in the above photo, and the same contrast still existed towards the end of the 20th century New York, 1870 A sharp contrast even to the immigrant economy photo above, and especiialy to the glamorous nighlights photo.

Homeless children, beggars. Three young boys, hungry and miserable.
A sharp contrast to the glamorous city portrayed in the above photo, and the same contrast still existed towards the end of the 20th century
New York, 1870

Towards the end of the 20th century, New York was one of the leading cities globally, the population was over 7.5 million and the economy was thriving. (Census 1990) No doubt, city life has changed, many new experiences and practices then, now define the lives of people. A simple phone call, trip to the cinema, a photo, street lighting, text messages, were all introduced over these two centuries and we would feel stranded without them today but still many people don’t get to experience these new practices very often.

Is it all worth it?






Donosh, M, 1998. Those "Gorgeous Incongruities": Polite Politics and Public Space on the Streets of 19th Century New York. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 88 No.2, 209-226.


NYPL Digital Collections. 2014. NYPL. [ONLINE] Available at: http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/. [Accessed 05 November 14].
New York Health. 1999. Census New York. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.health.ny.gov/statistics/vital_statistics/1999/table02.htm. [Accessed 06 November 14].
PetaPixel. 2013. Riis Photography: How the Other Half Lives: Photographs of NYC’s Underbelly in the 1890s. [ONLINE] Available at: http://petapixel.com/2013/06/16/how-the-other-half-lives-photographs-of-nycs-underbelly-in-the-1890s/. [Accessed 04 November 14].
World Digital Library. 2014. Digital Photo Archive. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.wdl.org/en/search/?q=new+york&ddc=9&time_periods=1950-2010&qla=en. [Accessed 05 November 14].
National Archives. 2014. Pictures of theAmerican City. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.archives.gov/research/american-cities/. [Accessed 05 November 14].
Vincze Miklos. 2014. Slum Life In New York City During the Nineteenth Century's Gilded Age. [ONLINE] Available at: http://io9.com/slum-life-in-new-york-city-during-the-nineteenth-centu-1584688488. [Accessed 06 November 14].
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Picturing the city: Photographs in digital Archive: Food in New York since the 19th century

Catriona Olivia Moore : 111539677

The Evolution of food in New York City from the 19th Century


 6 Examples of the New York City food scene.(L-R Street vendor, donuts, pastrami sandwich, pretzel, pizza and times square)

When we think about the grand city of New York today and everything that New York stands for, food is always a focal point that is thought of. Between the classic street food vendors, fast food ‘joints’ and famous restaurants, there is an abundance of places to dine around the city of New York.

ny market c1942

A typical New York market c.1942 (Granger.com,2014)

Street food has seen an enormous transformation since the 19th century. The streets used to be surrounded with market stalls and small-scale street-vendors who would sell produce to people out of necessity, whereas now it is more a want. As for the diversity of food in New York, this dates back as far as the early 19th century.


A scene from Washington market in Manhattan, circa 1970.(Nona Brooklyn | What’s Good Today?, 2014)

“The Erie Canal was opened in the 1820s. That allowed us to start shipping a lot of food in from the interior of the country, and we shipped a lot of goods back. We started importing pineapple from Florida and the Bahamas at that time. We’ve always had an obsession with importing food and moving it around the country.” (Nona Brooklyn | What’s Good Today?, 2014)

This imported produce was sold in the nearby marketplaces, though now you might find that the marketplace has almost disappeared, yet the street vendors are still very much in force.


A trio of pictures of Katz’s Delicatessen on New York’s Lower East Side, from the opening in 1888 to present day.(Lower East Side New York, 2010)

As well as the infamous street food around the streets of New York, one can’t help but notice the infatuation that New Yorker’s have with fast food restaurants. There are literally hundreds of fast food ‘joints’ around New York, but the most noted  have to be the famous Delicatessens such as Katz’s. These fast food restaurants are hard to miss with the abundance of neon lights outside, which help to draw in more customers. Electrical lighting has indeed been one of the factors in the emergence of modern urban environments. (Ucc-ie.blackboard.com, 2014)DSC_2269

The largest McDonald’s Restaurant in America, situated on Broadway & 42nd Street, New York. A great example of bright lights attracting customers inwards.(C., 2010)

“If you build buildings with lights outside, you can make them indefinite, and then when you’re through with using them you shut the lights off and they disappear.” ( Andy Warhol , 1975)

The food affair that New York has, has always been amazingly strong and there is no sign of it disappearing, but continuing to grow.



C., N. (2010). NYC ♥ NYC: New York’s Glitziest Fast Food Restaurant. [online] Nyclovesnyc.blogspot.ie. Available at: http://nyclovesnyc.blogspot.ie/2010/09/new-yorks-glitziest-fast-food.html [Accessed 5 Nov. 2014].

Cart, E. (2014). New York Street Food Cart. [online] Dreamstime. Available at: http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-new-york-street-food-cart-image20960571 [Accessed 5 Nov. 2014].

eGullet Forums, (2014). eG Foodblog: johnder, slkinsey, weinoo (2011) – A tale of two boroughs – Food Traditions & Culture. [online] Available at: http://forums.egullet.org/topic/136744-eg-foodblog-johnder-slkinsey-weinoo-2011-a-tale-of-two-boroughs/ [Accessed 5 Nov. 2014].

Granger.com, (2014). Image Search – Food – The Granger Collection. [online] Available at: http://www.granger.com/results.asp?search=1&screenwidth=1680&tnresize=200&pixperpage=40&searchtxtkeys=food&lastsearchtxtkeys=&withinresults=&searchphotographer=&lstformats=&lstorients=132&nottxtkeys=&captions=&randomize [Accessed 5 Nov. 2014].

Lower East Side New York, (2010). Katz’s Delicatessen – Lower East Side New York. [online] Available at: http://lowereastside.org/listing/katzs-delicatessen-of-houston-street-inc/ [Accessed 5 Nov. 2014].

Nona Brooklyn | What’s Good Today?, (2014). Bear Meat, Ice & Celebrity Chefs: A Look at NYC’s 19th Century Food Scene. [online] Available at: http://nonabrooklyn.com/bear-meat-ice-celebrity-chefs-a-look-at-nycs-19th-century-food-scene-and-a-pre-industrial-dinner-at-the-farm-on-adderley/#.VFkSCfmsV1A [Accessed 5 Nov. 2014].

Picturetherecipe.com, (2013). A Food Tour Of Hell’s Kitchen, New York | Picture the Recipe. [online] Available at: http://picturetherecipe.com/index.php/recipes/a-food-tour-of-hells-kitchen-new-york/ [Accessed 5 Nov. 2014].

Ramallo, D., Ramallo, D. and profile, V. (2011). Runs 4 Food: New York Food: Carnegie Deli. [online] Runs4food.blogspot.ie. Available at: http://runs4food.blogspot.ie/2011/11/new-york-food.html [Accessed 5 Nov. 2014].

Silver Nutrition, (2013). New York city nutritionist for busy new yorkers. [online] Available at: http://www.silvernutrition.com/new-york-city-nutritionist-for-busy-new-yorkers/ [Accessed 5 Nov. 2014].

Ucc-ie.blackboard.com, (2014). [online] Available at: https://ucc-ie.blackboard.com/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_8608_1&content_id=_167566_1&mode=reset [Accessed 5 Nov. 2014]. 

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Picturing the City: Photographs in Digital Archive-Shopping in New York

Jeremiah Jack Linehan-112472588

Shopping in New York city in the 19th and 20th century

Shopping became a big part of life in New York city in the 19th century. Shopping began with the introduction of the rise of exhibitions, which for the first time in the world gave common people the chance to browse at the latest innovations in the world. The exhibitions then led to the development of the department store in the late 19th century and early 20th and have flourished ever since. They are still going strong to this day. This was a major advancement at the time and it broke down many social barriers which are highlighted in the Domosh article on New York. Even in the heart of the middle-class space on Broadway and Fifth Avenue, classes mingled with different “races” and fashionably paraded. At the same time gender roles could be reversed.

New York City: Broadway


This image shows what Domosh was talking about and how Broadway in New York was advancing at the time.


The second image then goes on to represent how people acted on Fifth Avenue in New York city in the 19th century.Social rules were put in place that everyone could obey and still go about their business. It was the beginning of the tearing down of a class structure in America ,and it began with shopping in places like 5th Avenue. This was all as a result of the development of department stores that went from images such as..

Wholesale Meat market, New York Street


the image shown above is of the department stores prior to development during the 20th century. These kinds only looked after the upper class and discouraged browsing.


The image above shows what shopping in New York became during the 20th century it made major advances. Shopping really took over the city of New York in the 20th century encouraging people to live there and with advancements in transport to visit and shop in New York ,causing the city to grow larger than ever illustrated by the photo below.



  1. Mona Domosh, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 88, No. 2 (Jun., 1998), pp.
    209-226,  Taylor & Francis, Ltd. on behalf of the Association of American Geographers
  2. http://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/image/V0050566.html
  3. http://www.archives.gov/research/american-cities/images/american-cities-065.jpg
  4. http://www.leodis.net/display.aspx?resourceIdentifier=2002527_52915591&DISPLAY=FULL
  5. http://www.europeana.eu/portal/record/92064/D8B93FEAFA72CAF5E178EE948A9CB524E436E440.html?start=2&query=what%3Anew+york+shopping+20th+century&startPage=1&rows=24
  6. http://www.archives.gov/research/american-cities/images/american-cities-053a.jpg
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Digital Maps – A Look at Londons Underground

So began the railway age, an age in which London would be broken up and remade. The construction of the railways saw whole swathes of the capital knocked down to make way for tracks and stations.

–          Jon E Lewis, London: The Autobiography

William Gladstone with directors and engineers of the Metropolitan railway company on an inspection of the world's first underground line, London, May 1862.

The London Underground, which opened in 1863, was the world’s first underground railway system

London, the city as we know it – or at least the beginning of the city as we know it – began its construction in the mid 19th Century. Buildings, streets, homes and lives had to be rebuilt and with this new city came new ideas; new architectural approaches and a new people. Many cultural factors influenced this new city. As Londoners were now a people more conscious of cleanliness, their houses needed to reflect this. We begin to see the emergence of a desire to have a home that could accommodate for private sanitation.

With these new ideas came new technologies – roads began to transport motor vehicles, the city was lit up with electricity and one of the most notable architectural overhauls was to be of Charles Holden’s Underground. London has many networks – roads, electricity, water – but the most remarkable one, the one which was, and still is, imperative in giving London its identity; its spaces, places and connections, was the Underground.

Beck’s Underground Map of 1933

If there was one invention that changed the layout of the London map more than any other, it was the train and its railway. The growth of these railways had an intense impact on London. It shoved the City’s domestic population out, making way for a major commercial centre.

War-time: London residents are pictured sheltering from air raids at Bound's Green Underground station, in December 1940

War-time: London residents are pictured sheltering from air raids at Bound’s Green Underground station

The journey of the first Tube train took place on 9 January 1863, with the first day of public service being appreciated by 40,000 travellers. By 1884 there were more than 800 trains serving all or part of the Inner Circle every day. An estimated 300,000 people took shelter in Tube stations in 1917 according to police reports of German bomb raids on London. By the end of the war in 1918, the Underground was carrying 70 per cent more people than in 1914. Nowadays, more than nineteen thousand people work on the Tube, connecting almost two billion people a year with their city, their history and each other.

Ciara Greaney 105674247






London: The Autobiography, Lewis Jon E, 2009: Goodreads

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London – Sanitation and Modernization

By Anthony Punch-


A cholera outbreak in 1854, along with the Great Stink in central London due to the build-up of human waste and effluent in 1858 brought about the implementation of a sewerage system in London, which was created in the 1860’s by Joseph Bazalgette. Until then, waste was fed into the Thames River, which the fast-growing population of London also used as a water resource. This helped cause cholera outbreaks due to contaminated waters which killed many Londoners, especially those living in the overcrowded slums in the city.

Edward Bazalgette, director of The Sewer King, remarks:
“It’s hard to overstate the influence (Of the sewers). The building of the sewers was one of the great modernizing projects that helped define not just London as a modern city but the metropolis in general”


London sewerage system (1950 by London Mapping Network)

This map of the London sewerage system (London County Council Main Drainage, 1950) shows the network which was so vital.

Among London’s efficient networks making it such a prosperous modern city, is its sewerage network. The storm relief pipes along with the diversion of waste away from the Thames, played a major role in the cleaning of the city and therefore the modernization of the city.

This infrastructure improved hygiene levels and thus the health of the population which increased quality of life and led to more spaces being available for public use due to the lesser amount of waste building up in slums and on streets.

Scientist Michael Faraday highlights the stench from the river at the time (Mid 1800’s) Debates are currently ongoing as regards further work on the sanitation of London, with occasional flooding sometimes bringing about sewerage problems

Scientist Michael Faraday highlights the stench from the river at the time (Mid 1800’s) Debates are currently ongoing as regards further work on the sanitation of London, with occasional flooding sometimes bringing about sewerage problems


London Sewerage System 1890

The introduction of public baths to London (1840’s) as a public health measure to address the hygiene issues was an important step – people could wash themselves and clean their clothes in these baths.

Hygiene and sanitation are sometimes taken for granted in the modern world, but the role they play in the public sphere is important, impacting both the health and behaviour of people. Public spaces provide people with a platform to display themselves and socialise. An unhygienic person today would be frowned upon, and a nasty smell would be dealt with in a swift manner, which shows how the city has changed and modernized.

Anthony Punch




Tim Lambert. 2010. A Brief History Of London, England. [ONLINE]

Available at:http://www.localhistories.org/london.html.

[Accessed 13 October 14].


Sanitation. 2011. Sanitation In Victorian London. [ONLINE]

Available at: http://cai.ucdavis.edu/waters-sites/sanitation/.

[Accessed 09 October 14].


Sewer History. 2007. London Sewers. [ONLINE]

Available at:http://www.sewerhistory.org/articles/whregion/slate_london_sewers.htm.

[Accessed 13 October 14].


Mapping London. 2014. London’s other underground network. [ONLINE]

Available at:http://mappinglondon.co.uk/2014/londons-other-underground-network/.

[Accessed 09 October 14].


Goheen, Peter.G, 1998.

Public space and the geography of the modern city.

Progressive Human Geography, 22, 479.

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Digital Urban Maps- Public Parks in London City

Catriona Olivia Moore: 111539677

There is an abundance of public parks in London city today, but the most famous and most celebrated parks are Hyde Park and St. James’s Park.

Hyde Park London c.1833

-Schmollingers 1833 map of Hyde Park.(English.illinoisstate.edu, 2014)

Hyde Park was opened to the general public in 1637 by King Charles I. The Park had originally served as a hunting ground for King Henry VIII where he and his court would be seen hunting for wild deer in the area.

Near the end of the 17th century, King William III had 300 oil lamps installed for the walkway from Kensington Palace to St.James as he feared the walk was too dangerous. This is an example of how illumination was seen by many as a deterrant to crime for the city.


-An aerial view of Hyde Park, as it appears today.(Climatecars.com, 2014)

St.James’s Park in London is the oldest of the Royal Parks, surrounded by Westminster, St.James’s Palace and Buckingham Palace.

Green Park and St. James's Park c. 1833

-Schmollingers map from 1833 depicting Green Park and St.James’s Park.(Wikipedia, 2014)

Charles II laid the park out in a formal french style during the 17th century, mirroring that of the gardens in Versailles. The long narrow lake that can now be seen was contructed during that time. The park was redesigned during his reign, with boulevards and avenues of trees. The boulevard was a typical area where you would find the court to the king, strolling along, self-representing themselves.

 boulevard st james palace

-St.James’s Palace to the left, with the boulevard to the right.(English.illinoisstate.edu, 2014)

These parks were in historic times, places where people of nobility would portray their elegance and their wealth to others. They were a place for all to enjoy, where people could celebrate and gather, and where the first signs of modernisation was beginning to occur.


(Accessed on the 14/10/2014)

Climatecars.com, (2014). Try Green Sightseeing or Enjoy London Parks Hyde Park London –. [online] Available at: https://www.climatecars.com/2012/07/10/green-sightseeing-london/hyde_park_london/ [Accessed 4 Dec. 2014].

English.illinoisstate.edu, (2014). Allison Muri – Digital Natives or Digital Strangers?. [online] Available at: http://english.illinoisstate.edu/digitaldefoe/archive/spring10/teaching/muri3.html [Accessed 4 Dec. 2014].

Ermengem, K. (2014). Hyde Park, London. [online] Aviewoncities.com. Available at: http://www.aviewoncities.com/london/hydepark.htm [Accessed 4 Dec. 2014].

Ermengem, K. (2014). St. James’s Park, London. [online] Aviewoncities.com. Available at: http://www.aviewoncities.com/london/stjamespark.htm [Accessed 4 Dec. 2014].

Royalparks.org.uk, (2014). History and Architecture – St James Park – The Royal Parks. [online] Available at: https://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/st-jamess-park/about-st-jamess-park/history-and-architecture [Accessed 4 Dec. 2014].

Royalparks.org.uk, (2014). Home – The Royal Parks. [online] Available at: http://www.royalparks.org.uk/ [Accessed 4 Dec. 2014].

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Digital Urban Mapping- Public spaces in London

The city of London is an old city rebuild many times. The city has continued in its long running history to make use of public space.  The importance of public space is vital to a live span of a city and London is no exception. These public spaces are not mute and show layers of power.

One of the most famous public spaces in London is Trafalgar square. Over the past 30 years they have been intelligently shaped and managed so that they keep getting better. The result is the most dynamic core of any city in the world. ( http://www.pps.org/reference/internationalsquares/). Today Trafalgar square still remains a public space and great tourist attraction in London showing how throughout history London has used public spaces for many functions including some economical.


Another famous public space in London is St. James’s square. This is a classic example of the how the English and in particular the people went about their design of a public space. The square is geometric with even sides. A fenced parked in the middle, it is also the first square of this type to be produced in Westminster in London. Uniform rules apply for the architecture of the building faces. Only very slight variations between the individual houses. Only inhabitants would have a key to park in the middle of the square.

( http://londondiaryblog.wordpress.com/2013/07/17/bradshaws-hand-book-to-london-the-west-district-iii-st-jamess-square-no-24/)

even in the imagine shown here the power is evident in the use of St. James’s square as a public space in a massive city like London. These public space enabled the exchange of ideas which in time contributed to parliamentary democracy.

The coffee shop also enabled forms of regulated social mixing which encouraged forms of urban encounter and communication element to early forms of democracy and capitalism. In 1675, Charles II ordered all the coffeehouses in London shut, declaring that they are ‘seminaries of sedition’. But protest was so overwhelming that the king rescinded his order in a matter of days.



1. http://www.pps.org/reference/internationalsquares/

2. http://www.londonbb.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Trafalgar-Square_Maze_013.jpg

3. http://londondiaryblog.wordpress.com/2013/07/17/bradshaws-hand-book-to-london-the-west-district-iii-st-jamess-square-no-24/

4. http://www.rakehell.com/article.php?id=206

Jeremiah Jack Linehan- 112472588

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