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Two Notes On Postcards

First, the image above is a circa 1901 colorized postcard of the Park Row Building, sent through the mail in 1903. It’s a funny angle, looking northeast from the graveyard of St. Paul’s Chapel, visible on the lower right. The St. Paul Building is past the chapel’s spire, and the Park Row Building is obviously in the center. It’s low resolution – not the fault of the NYPL, but of the original printing process, but let’s look closely at the corner of Park Row and Broadway:

I’ve marked it for clarity:

The purple box is the outline of the Clark Building at 1 Park Row. There is nothing of similar size to its left, to the north. As seen in yesterday’s blog post, the turn-of-the-century building at 3 Park Row was slightly taller than Clark and it’s not here – we’re actually seeing the side windows of the Park Row Building all the way down to the fourth floor. The deep shadow at grade to the left of Clark appears to be where the old 3 Park Row was just demolished, where a vacant lot is after demolition, or where construction is about to begin. The little we can see of 11 Park row, left of that shadow, up against the side wall of the Park Row Building, suggests an ordinary masonry facade was buried under all those ads visible about a decade later.

The second note is less fun. I’m used to the high-resolution prints that the Detroit Publishing Company made, and am still learning about the postcards. As I was browsing through them, I came across some truly horrendous racism in the photos on the cards and the titles used to describe them. (I will not be repeating it here.) It’s not a surprise given the state of society circa 1900 but it’s still a shock. A warning that I probably should have thought of sooner, but better late than never: if I mention a source of information from the past, it needs a trigger warning for this reason. What’s really saddening is finding that racism in the postcards meant for a wide audience after not seeing it in the prints meant for a more selective audience.