Pictures I Like: Grand Central Terminal, 1930 by Hal Morey

My Story: What a great picture! Cathedral light streaming through the windows of what was once one of America’s greatest places. A unique and… What? It’s not unique?

The Facts: Lots of photographs of Grand Central Terminal (aka Grand Central Station) with light streaming through the glass were taken from 1920 to, well, yesterday. There seems to be great confusion over when they were taken. The above photo may be found on line attributed to 1929, 1930, 1934, and other dates. That specific image is from the N.Y. Transit Museum. Most places claim the photographer is unknown, but there is a tagged photo from Getty Images that seems to identify the photographer. Or else Hal Morey of the N.Y. Central R.R.  just used this picture to advertise his photography.

When is this one? One place says 1926, but no other info:

Here’s another, similar, view tagged 1934, photog unknown:

But maybe the place selling that poster was lazy in its attribution. Because there are photos showing the opposite windows such as this one by John Collier, 1941, which is obviously the same picture from a flipped negative or plate:

 Just so you get your bearings, that kiosk is in the center of the concourse. This is 1920,we are told:

But it’s a cropped version of this one from the New York City Municipal Archives, who date it 1935- 1941:

But, whoever and whenever, these pictures are much the same. The image is striking but how many times can it be repeated before it loses its artistic punch and becomes just more kitsch? I don’t know, but I still like looking at these photographs. All of them.

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11 comments on “Pictures I Like: Grand Central Terminal, 1930 by Hal Morey

  1. Arnie Colon says:

    And the Kodak “Picturama” is making a return engagement to the wonderment of all the digitalists trying to figure out how.

  2. scorpio19th says:

    Great writing on the various photos of Grand Central Terminal. You’re right, every one of them is breathtaking.

  3. T.om says:

    = or it might be 1954 (AP Photo) according to [http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2013/02/grand-central-terminal-turns-100/100451/] while it seems to be a different crop of the first photo here -

    • mikulpepper says:

      I have a hunch that most of these pictures are by John Collier. He was wworking for the government at the time, almost into World War II, when I think the negatives got misfiled or lost in the confusion.

  4. These photos are harder to recreate today because back then there was a lot of smoke in the air from being allowed to smoke indoors. Smoke or some kind of particulate is necessary in order to get light beams so pronounced.

  5. Mark says:

    How much do these go for $?

  6. vnelli says:

    20s…30s,,, 40s …….. no matter ……… its a Classic !!!!!!!

  7. bobsawatzki says:

    Reblogged this on bobsaw and commented:
    Public Domain…or not?

    • mikulpepper says:

      Is the photo public domain? I don’t know for certain (expecially considering that the photo’s provenance is murky) but it has been treated so by all kinds of publishers including folks selling copies. I think once a copyright is as undefended as this one has been, that it vanishes.

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