Lenox and 135th Street

This photo of a Harlem street scene is labeled Lenox and 135th Street, and is dated March 23, 1939:

Where exactly was the photo taken?

First of all, the metal structure on the left (note the rivets holding it together, showing that it’s a metal structure):

is clearly a subway entrance:

that has a newsstand and shoeshine chairs glommed onto it, and an adjacent business called “Subway Shoe Repairing & Hat Renovating Shop”:

Note the retracted awnings that would be extended during sunny, hot summers (no airconditioning) on the buildings:

indicating (as much as the bundled up pedestrians do) that this is a chilly day:

But, where exactly was the photo taken? The shadows suggest that this is likely a view of the north side of a street. Looking at Google Street view, it’s clear that no 1939-era buildings exist on any of the 4 corners.

However, all of the subway entrances are oriented with Lenox Avenue and are located on Lenox Avenue and not on West 135th Street. As a result, the photo must be showing either the north-east corner (where the hospital is now), or the south-west corner, where 485 Lenox now stands:

In the end, the shadows prove that the photo is showing the southwest corner of 135th Street and Lenox Avenue – where 485 Lenox now stands. The long shadows indicate that it’s early morning and the men getting their shoes shined are getting ready for the day, and the relatively few window awnings suggest that few people in apartments that faced east thought it worth investing in this sun-blocking feature when the intense heat mostly beat down on south and west facing windows.

Renaming Woodrow Wilson and Thomas Jefferson Houses

Assemblymember Gibbs is convening an effort to rename Woodrow Wilson and Thomas Jefferson Houses – both are currently named after unabashedly racist men (and Thomas Jefferson, of course, bought/’kept’ enslaved people).

Thoughts or comments on this post?