This Is What 5th Avenue Looked Like In 1900

The historian Michael Beschloss recently tweeted this picture of 5th Avenue and 51st Street in New York City in 1900.

Looking at the picture, it’s hard to believe that that was only 113 years ago.

Fifth Avenue was dirt!

Things changed fast in the early decades of the 20th Century. The picture below, from “Flames on Fifth Avenue,” is from the Easter Parade in 1929, the year the stock market crashed. The picture is of a group of women lighting Lucky Strikes in a protest in support of equal rights for women. In the 1920s, it still wasn’t considered appropriate for women to smoke. Or work. (They had only just gotten the right to vote.) That was only 84 years ago!

And both of these pictures look quite different from today.

Here’s the Google StreetView version of 5th Avenue and 51st Street, the same block as in the top photo above. The first one is looking north, toward the park. The second, south toward Washington Square. (I can’t tell which way the 1900 picture is looking — if you can, please tell me). A lot has happened in the past 113 years…

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