31 beautiful vintage photos show what New York City looked like in the 1940s

Sarah Jacobs
Sunday 10 September 2017 12:48
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Amateur photographer Charles W. Cushman traveled extensively in the US and abroad from 1938 to 1969, capturing beautiful portraits of everyday life.

His archive has been donated to and maintained by Cushman's alma mater, Indiana University, which has kindly given us permission to publish his gallery of New York City photos taken in 1941 and 1942.

These images give a great glimpse into what everyday life in Chinatown, the Financial District, and Midtown was like over 70 years ago.

Kamelia Angelova contributed reporting to an earlier version of this story.

The old Fulton Market on Manhattan's Lower East Side wasn't quite so bustling on this Saturday afternoon in 1941.

Charles W. Cushman Photography Collection / Indiana University Archives

There were still traffic jams on South Street along the East River in 1941.

Charles W. Cushman Photography Collection / Indiana University Archives

Here, a view of the East River and the majestic Brooklyn Bridge.

Charles W. Cushman Photography Collection / Indiana University Archives

Here's a closer view of the South Street Manhattan tower of the Brooklyn Bridge. The tower, which weighs 90,000 tons, helps support over 14,000 miles of wire.

Charles W. Cushman Photography Collection / Indiana University Archives

Three men sit on a bench in Battery Park during lunch hour.

Charles W. Cushman Photography Collection / Indiana University Archives

Cushman snapped this spectacular view of Lower Manhattan from across the water in Jersey City.

Charles W. Cushman Photography Collection / Indiana University Archives

Here's a view of skyscrapers from Wall Street in the Financial District.

Charles W. Cushman Photography Collection / Indiana University Archives

Cushman took this from onboard a ferry that was approaching Liberty Street in September 1941.

Charles W. Cushman Photography Collection / Indiana University Archives

This is a view of the Financial District from the South Ferry port.

Charles W. Cushman Photography Collection / Indiana University Archives

This is a glimpse down Fulton Street, which goes through Manhattan's Financial District, from South Street in 1941.

Charles W. Cushman Photography Collection / Indiana University Archives

Up in Harlem, just north of George Washington Bridge, Cushman captured a shot of Riverside Drive.

Charles W. Cushman Photography Collection / Indiana University Archives

Residents socialize on Clinton Street on Manhattan's Lower East Side on a Saturday afternoon.

Charles W. Cushman Photography Collection / Indiana University Archives

Children and adults gather outside various storefronts near the corner of Broome Street and Baruch Place on the Lower East Side.

Charles W. Cushman Photography Collection / Indiana University Archives

This horse-drawn carriage waits for passengers in Bowling Green.

Charles W. Cushman Photography Collection / Indiana University Archives

The men pictured here are collecting wartime salvage left outside on the streets of the Lower East Side.

Charles W. Cushman Photography Collection / Indiana University Archives

The hot-dog carts in New York City have only gotten bigger and more elaborate since 1942. Here, a vendor waits for business in Bowling Green.

Charles W. Cushman Photography Collection / Indiana University Archives

McSorley's Old Ale House is the city's oldest Irish pub. Located on East 7th Street between Second and Third Avenues, it's been open since the 1800s.

Charles W. Cushman Photography Collection / Indiana University Archives

The Red Cross station on the Lower East Side offers locals various free items during salvage collection.

Charles W. Cushman Photography Collection / Indiana University Archives

Here's a view of the Empire State Building from 28th Street in 1942, 11 years after it was completed.

Charles W. Cushman Photography Collection / Indiana University Archives

This Italian bakery was open for business at 58 Mulberry Street, south of Canal Street.

Charles W. Cushman Photography Collection / Indiana University Archives

Three girls talk outside a candy shop in Lower Manhattan.

Charles W. Cushman Photography Collection / Indiana University Archives

This scene from the Lower East Side looks straight out of a movie.

Charles W. Cushman Photography Collection / Indiana University Archives

Cushman captioned this 1942 image "Sunday afternoon gossip."

Charles W. Cushman Photography Collection / Indiana University Archives

Today the northeast corner of First Street and Bowery is filled with shops and bars.

Charles W. Cushman Photography Collection / Indiana University Archives

Here's a view of the other side of the street, at the southeast corner of the intersection. The pictured barbershop is now a boutique clothing store.

Charles W. Cushman Photography Collection / Indiana University Archives

Cooper Union, pictured here on the right, opened in 1859.

Charles W. Cushman Photography Collection / Indiana University Archives

New Yorkers hurry along an undisclosed block between Avenues A and B in 1942.

Charles W. Cushman Photography Collection / Indiana University Archives

You can see an advertisement for Horton's Ice Cream on this corner of Canal Street. Back in the early 19th century, Horton's supplied over half of New York City's ice cream.

Charles W. Cushman Photography Collection / Indiana University Archives

A statue of Abraham de Peyster, who was mayor of New York City from 1691 to 1694, is seen in Bowling Green.

Charles W. Cushman Photography Collection / Indiana University Archives

This woman enjoys her Sunday newspaper on a stoop in the Lower East Side.

Charles W. Cushman Photography Collection / Indiana University Archives

This is a corner on Pearl Street, which runs south through what is now Manhattan's Financial District.

Charles W. Cushman Photography Collection / Indiana University Archives

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