42nd Street

Forty-Second Street in Manhattan


The 42nd Street is a major cross-town street in Manhattan. Many famous buildings in New York City were erected along 42nd Street, including the headquarters of the United Nations, Chrysler Building, Grand Central Terminal, New York Public Library and the Times Tower. Fifth Avenue divides the 42nd into West 42nd St. and East 42nd St.

The 42nd Street was designated by the Commissioners' Plan of 1811 and constructed about 1825. One of the first notable buildings to be erected on 42nd St. was Hospital for the Relief of the Ruptured and Crippled, at the corner of Lexington Avenue. It opened in 1870. The following year the Grand Central Depot was completed. Many theaters opened along the street after the 1870s. The eight-story Hotel Bristol, on the corner Fifth Avenue, was completed about 1877, then one of the largest hotels in NYC.

In 1899, the old Croton Reservoir, built in 1839, was demolished to be replaced by the New York Public Library.

In the early 20th century, the 42nd Street was the busiest cross-town street in Manhattan, especially after Grand Central Terminal opened in 1913. Skyscrapers were constructed, including Chrysler Building, completed in 1930, on the corner of Lexington Avenue. It was the tallest building in the world for a short time, before the construction of the Empire State Building. In the 1970, the area was in decline. Revitalization began in the 1980s.

Several historic hotels were erected along 42nd Street, including the old Hotel Wellington on the corner of Madison Ave., Grand Union Hotel, Belmont, Bristol, Devonshire, Pabst Hotel, Commodore (Grand Hyatt New York) Hotel Manhattan, Knickerbocker Hotel and others.


42nd Street


Antique photos of NYC




Copyright © Geographic Guide - Old images of NYC.


Forty Second Street


The 42nd Street, looking west from Fifth Avenue. Aeolian Hall and Sterns Department Store are on the right. The the Times Tower is in the distance. The New York Public Library is to the left. Photo taken about 1914, published in this vintage postcard by American Art Publishing Company.


Manhattan photographs


20th century NY


Intersection of East 42nd St., Park Ave. and Pershing Square, with the Grand Central Terminal in a recent photo. The Grand Hyatt New York (former Hotel Commodore) is to the right. The MetLife Building (former Pan Am Building) is in the background (credit: Julienne Schaer / NYC & Company).


19th century

42nd from Fifth to Lexington Avenues.


Pershing Square, September 1942, and the Information Center of the City of New York. Pershing Square is an area in Forty-second Street, under the Park Avenue viaduct, opposite Grand Central Station, named after General John J. Pershing, in 1919. In 2018, it was closed to traffic and transformed into a pedestrian plaza. Photo by Marjory Collins, from the Library of Congress.


Old Buildings 42nd street

Hotel Wellington is on the northwest corner (right) of Madison Avenue. Hotel Bristol in the distance.


Hotel Manhattan

Northwest corner of Madison Ave. and 42nd St., between 1901 and 1907.


NYC 19th century

42nd Street in 3 parts, from the shore of Hudson River to the shore of East River - 1879.


42nd Street Station


Grand Union Hotel


NYC 42nd Street



Grand Central Station

Photo between 1900 and 1904.


Hotel Bristol


United Nations Buildings


Knickerbocker Hotel


East 42nd Street


Belmont Hotel


Pershing Square




Forty-Second Street in Manhattan



Antique photographs