Turn of the Century NYC Google Maps

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The Brooklyn Bridge under construction around 1880.

New York is a dynamic city that’s forever transforming. Buildings rise and fall, stores and restaurants come and go and the landscape evolves with new developments in housing and parks. It’s hard to keep up with all the changes and remember what it used to look like. If you enjoy browsing the interactive images from Google Street maps of the present, how would you like it from a 19th century view?

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Developer Dan Vanderkam has partnered with the New York Public Library and their massive photo archives to create just that. You could spend hours zooming in and out on familiar streets and landmark areas just by clicking on the red dot. The vintage photos are linked straight from the NYPL website.

Begin your journey to the past here at OLDNYC

Fulton Street Trading Cards from the 19th & Early 20th Century

Just as it is a diverse hub of activity today, Fulton Street in Downtown Brooklyn was once home to a score of lively businesses and factories. Long before that time, it was an Indian Path that lead to Hempstead Plains in Long Island. Fulton Street, like many other places in America, was named after the American Inventor and Engineer, Robert Fulton.

The proof of this active commercialism can be seen in a colorful and fine collection of advertisements, commonly known as Trading Cards. They were the grandaddy of the modern-day business cards. In my opinion these lovely cards have a lot more heart and appeal than their modern counterparts. Frankly, anything that is painstakingly designed, hand-drawn and crafted without the use of modern technology, tends to be. Like most advertisements in the past, companies relied heavily on dramatic and sweet art work, elegant fonts, and background embellishments to sell their products.

Half the time these masterpieces had little to do with the actual product. For example, in the trading card above, what does cute, chubby children and a terrier on a beach have to do with furniture, bedding, and stoves? Perhaps the advertisers were sending a subconscious message to consumers: Make sure your home is well furnished for when they come home after a long day of frolicking in the sand!

Either way, the trading cards were often pleasing to look at, and the mind-set and sensibilities of people in the 19th century were far different than ours.

Check out the full 245 card collection that has been digitally restored and showcased in the Brooklyn Public Library Databases.

The Fulton Street Trade Card Collection