Mid-Century Manhattan: Fabulous Historical Photos of the Heart of NYC from 1938 to 1960

Arthur W. Grumbine was a telegraph operator with the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad and then Western Union until 1943. He built his first camera from a discarded cigar box at age 12 and bought his first commercial camera, a folding Kodak, as soon as he found full-time employment. He also did all of his own development and printing. Grumbine began to enter his photographs in juried exhibitions in his 30s, winning more than two dozen awards and prizes.

Grumbine began his professional career in photography after a friend working in Dupont’s Photo Products Division suggested he apply for a job there. In 1982, he began working in Dupont’s research laboratories as an entry-level employee. Twenty-three years and four promotions later, Grumbine retired from the company with five U.S. patents and twenty international ones. In his work, he primarily developed and refined Dupont’s Rotofilm and Screen Process Film for pre-computerized printing applications.

He published a three-part article series about his life in Dots and Dashes, the official magazine of the Morse Telegraph Club, in 1985 entitled The Era of Morse Telegraphy. Henry Grumbine donated his photographs to the New York Historical Society.

#1 Times Square at dusk in the rain at the intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue at 46th Street.

#2 Radio City Music Hall at night. 6th Avenue El station at left. (about 1939)

#3 A man wears a sandwich board sign for Gypsy Tea Room on a busy street in Midtown Manhattan, 1950

#4 Central Park South at night on Fifth Avenue and 59th Street.

#5 Facade of Automat Horn & Hardart fast food restaurant taken from Third Avenue El platform at 42nd Street and Third Avenue.

#6 Children play with an open fire hydrant in the street on the Lower East Side

#7 Passengers on the upper deck of a Central Railroad of New Jersey ferry in Jersey City going to Liberty Street in Manhattan, 1950

#9 Entrance of Paramount Theatre at night in Times Square.

#10 Billboard advertisement with winter garden sign in lights in Times Square.

#11 1948 NYC – SLOPPY LOUIE’S restaurant on 92 South Street near Fulton Fish Market in Lower Manhattan.

#12 Pedestrians cross the street in the rain towards Saks – 34th store on West 34th Street in Midtown Manhattan

#13 Replica of Statue of Liberty on top of Liberty Storage Company building near Lincoln Center, 1950s

#14 Small stone sculpture inscribed with the words DOG BAR on the ground at Wallachs clothing store on Fifth Avenue and 44th Street.

#15 A man sleeps on the ground under a sign that reads NO DUMPING by order of Dept. of Sanitation on the Lower East Side.

#16 Cluster of PENTHOUSES high up in the sky along 5th Avenue, 1950

#17 From the 102nd Floor of the Empire State Building.

#18 A sidewalk fortune teller near Chatham Square on the Lower East Side, 1947

#20 A sidewalk merchant sells clothing in front of a bar and restaurant on the Lower East Side, 1948

#21 Reverend Frank Compitiello with lunch cart at Grand and Mulberry Streets, 1947

#30 A street artist draws a caricature of a man in Greenwich Village.

#31 Two men walk by a wooden wall with a rectangular cutout that says FOR LITTLE PEOPLE on the street in New York City. Inscription on verso- For Sidewalk Superintendents.

#35 The Liberty Street Ferry approaching dock in Manhattan in the early morning, 1950

#36 Passengers on the upper deck of a Central Railroad of New Jersey ferry in Jersey City going to Liberty Street in Manhattan, 1950

#37 Spur of Third Avenue El along Park Row from Chatham Square to City Hall area, 1944

#39 Broadway north of 42nd Street at night in Times Square with Astor Hotel to the left and an American Labor Union Party sign for Mayor F.H. La Guardia’s re-election to the right.

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Written by Aung Budhh

Husband + Father + librarian + Poet + Traveler + Proud Buddhist. I love you with the breath, the smiles and the tears of all my life.

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