Ahh, New York City: the original, glorious melting pot. Yet unless you make a conscious habit of touring the cobblestoned side streets of the Lower East Side or popping into the Tenement Museum every now and then, it can be easy to forget that the whole of this island was once a grimy, industrial, cluttered port. Well... okay, so it's still all those things. But it sure looked a lot cooler in the 1900s, no?* 

Thanks to a collection of high-res images at Shorpy Historical Photos, we can get a detailed glimpse of a past life. Take a bored-at-work gander at the photos below, lifted from a very old New York:


East Side or West? Who's got a guess? Note also: the lack of ladies. 

I spy: an earlier incarnation of the subway, and a perilously perched window-watcher. 

New Fall Issue d217c

Children and, erm, horse carcass...

J'aime l'architecture! 

If you'd like to continue your tour through days bygone, you can browse more images at Shorpy. 

*I do emphasize looked. No one envies these pioneers their sub-par living conditions, sense of social justice or paltry access to medicine.

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