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November 13, 2013

13 Incredible Historical Photos of New York City During World War II

A tale of two cities. A term we use today but for New Yorkers during the World War II era, the city was divided in a different way by a singular date. Before that day, New York being a largely immigrant city, was locked in a debate over the war, stay neutral or fight.

That war of opinions was decisively put to an end on Dec. 7, 1941 with the attack on Pearl Harbor. The following years would be defined with one word: sacrifice. It would consume the city and New York led the way.

New York was a dominant port city and made itself an arsenal for the allies. Every ethnicity rushed to help. New York quickly became the launching point for troops, fuel, supplies. The entire city mobilized, and the price at times, was everything.

Shipfitters on lunch break at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, August 1944

Brooklyn Navy Yard, circa 1940s. Spanning 219 acres, the Brooklyn Navy Yard was the largest shipbuilding facility in the country.

Coast Guard pharmacists march on 64th Street, circa 1943.

Admiral tries his wings, 1945.

Coast Guard marks Maritime Day in New York, May 22, 1945.

Nurse with sailor, circa 1940s.

A WAVES aviation machinist, circa 1940s. The WAVES, or Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, constituted a formal branch of the military, not a women's auxiliary, and its members received military ranks and benefits and were paid the same as Navy men. Replacing sea-bound sailors, the WAVES worked shoreside training pilots, typing reports, decoding enemy communications, and plotting ship convoy routes.

WAVES Naval training school, circa 1940s.

In 1945, a group of newspaper editors traveled to Governors Island to view the headquarters of a major Army command. They also watched the command experiment with chemical explosives.

The Statue of Liberty and the U.S.S. Lafayette, 1945. Amid increasing European hostilities, France’s Normandie sought refuge in New York. In 1941, the Navy assumed the ship and changed its name to the U.S.S. Lafayette. On Feb. 9, 1942, a fire broke out, and the ship capsized. Although salvaged at great expense, restoration was deemed too costly. The ship was scrapped in October 1946.

Apprentice seamen pass Grant's Tomb, circa 1940s.

Following the end of World War II, President Truman spoke to a crowd of 50,000 at Sheep Meadow in Central Park and expressed his gratitude to the men and women of the naval forces.

Crowded ships brought American troops back to New York Harbor for months after V-Day.

(Official U.S. Navy photo courtesy of the New-York Historical Society, via Slate)


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