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May 5, 2022

50 Fascinating Photos of New York City in the 1950s

As many great cities lay in ruins after World War II, New York City assumed a new global prominence. It became the home of the United Nations headquarters, built 1947–1952; inherited the role from Paris as center of the art world with Abstract Expressionism; and became a rival to London in the international finance and art markets. Yet the population declined after 1950, with increasing suburbanization in the New York metropolitan area as pioneered in Levittown, New York.

Midtown Manhattan, fueled by postwar prosperity, was experiencing an unprecedented building boom that changed its very appearance. Glass-and-steel office towers in the new International Style began to replace the ziggurat-style towers (built in wedding-cake style) of the prewar era. Also rapidly changing was the eastern edge of the East Village close to FDR Drive. Many traditional apartment blocks were cleared and replaced with large-scale public housing projects.

These fascinating photos were found by Mark Susina that show what New York City looked like in the 1950s.

New York City, circa 1950s

New York City street scenes, circa 1950s

New York City, 1952

New York City, 1952

Lackawanna Car Ferry, New York City, circa 1953

Lever House, New York City, 1953

Lever House, New York City, 1953

New York City apartment building, 1953

New York City apartment building, 1953

New York City, 1953

New York City, circa 1953

Outside the United Nations General Assembly building, New York City, circa 1953

Statue of Liberty, New York City, circa 1953

Times Square, New York City, 1953

Times Square, New York City, circa 1953

United Nations Building, New York City, 1953

United Nations Building, New York City, 1953

United Nations Building, New York City, circa 1953

View looking north from the Empire State Building, New York City, 1953

New York City, circa 1955

View from the Empire State Building, New York City, circa 1955

Rockefeller Center, New York City, circa 1956

Rockefeller Center, New York City, circa 1956

Theodore Roosevelt Equestrian Statue, New York City, circa 1956

Woman and son from the steps of St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York City, circa 1956

Woman and son, New York City, circa 1956

Loew's State Theater, Times Square, New York City, circa 1957

Times Square, New York City, 1957

Coney Island, New York City, 1958

Coney Island, New York City, 1958

Coney Island, New York City, 1958

Coney Island, New York City, 1958

Coney Island, New York City, 1958

Coney Island, New York City, 1958

Coney Island, New York City, 1958

New York City, 1958

New York City, 1958

New York City, circa 1958

3rd Avenue and 52nd Street, New York City, December 1959

Best & Co., New York City, 1959

From the Empire State Building looking north toward Central Park, New York City, 1959

Harbor cruise, New York City, 1959

Horseshoe Bar and Grill, New York City, 1959

New York City Subway, December 1959

New York City, 1959

New York City, 1959

New York City, December 1959

New York City, December 1959

Soviet National Exhibition - New York Coliseum, 1959

White Rose Bar and Harmony Grill, Peter Minuit Plaza, Whitehall Street, New York City, 1959




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