before the flat iron building

Photographs and images are hugely important to me as I write. The Gilded Hour is set in the 1880s when photography was well established, but it’s not always easy to find the kind of images I need. If I lived in Manhattan  (now there’s a pipe dream) I’d spend a lot of time at the historical museums and libraries and I would have more luck in my searches, but alas. Here I am on the west coast, almost close enough to British Columbia to chuck a rock over the border.  To say I miss the East Coast is a massive understatement.

Every once in a while I come across a photo that takes my breath away. This example is  posted at Ephemeral New York: an 1884 shot of the corner where the Flat Iron building now stands. A big, clear, detailed photo like this gives me a jolt that’s hard to decribe.

The 1902  Flat Iron building  is iconic, as recognizable as the Eiffel Tower (though on a smaller scale) or Trafalgar Square in London. Film makers use it to establish geography almost as a matter of course.  But look at this corner before all that (clicking on the image will take you to the full-sized version at Ephemeral New York). I can almost project myself onto that corner.

23rd Street, Broadway and Fifth Avenue 1884
23rd Street, Broadway and Fifth Avenue 1884