Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Then and Now: 150th Street and Broadway in NYC

West 150th Street and Broadway, New York City

Broadway at 150th to 151st Streets, New York City in 1986,
West 150th to 151st Streets and Broadway, New York City, 1986.
 The photo above was difficult to identify. The only identifying sign is the W 151st Street sign which is barely visible just above the large "Restaurant" sign in the upper right of the photograph. The main difficulty in identifying the scene, though, was the telescopic lens used by the photographer, which took in a lot of area without providing much surrounding context. Anyway, I did locate the block shown, so this is a comparison of West 150th to 151st Streets on Broadway in New York City from 1986 to July 2018.

Broadway at 150th to 151st Streets, New York City
Broadway and 150th Street in July 2018 (Google Street View).
Because of the massive lens used by the original photographer, it's difficult to show the entire scene in one photograph. However, we can do it in pieces using Google Street View. There are more trees on the block these days (there were a few back in the 1980s when they were just starting to plant some on ordinary blocks), which also makes it difficult to see the whole scene now. Anyway, the photo above shows the approximate position of the photographer back in 1986. He was facing north from just south of 150th Street. Technically, this is Harlem Heights or Sugar Hill, though most people probably would just lump the area in with Washington Heights.

Broadway at 150th to 151st Streets, New York City

As we move a little closer to the scene, the two green awnings on the left become more visible. The original photo was a bit misleading because the foreshortening of the block made it appear at first glance that there was only one long awning. In fact, there were two awnings, which are still there.

Broadway at 150th to 151st Streets, New York City

In the 1986 photo, the nearest green awning has the letters "Th-" with the remaining letters obscured. This was the beginning of "Thirty Six Forty Seven," the address of the first building with a green awning. This photo also clearly shows the blocky windows in the building at the end of the block, further helping to identify this as the location of the 1986 photo.

Broadway at 150th to 151st Streets, New York City

Moving a little further down the block, we come to the second green awning. Although no lettering was visible on that awning in 1986, now it proclaims its own address, "Thirty Six Fifty Seven."

Broadway at 150th to 151st Streets, New York City

Moving just a bit further north, the light stanchion that is visible at the end of the block in 1986 comes into easy view. Once again, the lens used by the original photographer makes it deceptively appear that the light stanchion is further down the street, but close examination of the photo shows that it indeed was on the end of this block, just as it is today.

Broadway at 150th to 151st Streets, New York City

Finally, moving on to the corner of 151st Street and Broadway, we see that where there was a Diner/Deli in 1986, now there is a ... Diner/Deli. Whether or not it is the same one, or simply operating under new management or a new name, is tough to make out. However, a good location for a sandwich place is good whether it's 1986 or 2018. Overall, the character of the block hasn't changed that much, it is still loaded with small businesses. In 1986, these included check-cashing places and discount stores, whereas in 2018 they include nail salons, insurance offices, and electronics stores. But the overall landscape hasn't changed much at all in over thirty years.

Broadway at 150th to 151st Streets, New York City
Looking back to the south from 151st Street, showing the two green awnings.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this entry in my "The more things change, the more they stay the same" series. Please visit some other entries in the series when you have a chance!


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