Our friends at Stuff Nobody Cares About recently posted a new vintage photo for their Old New York in Photos series of the corner of Fifth Ave and 42nd Street captured in 1897.
In the photo, you are looking North up Fifth Avenue from the Southwest corner.
On the extreme left the small wall with the iron fence marks the perimeter of the Croton Distributing Reservoir also known as the Murray Hill Reservoir, on the west side of Fifth Avenue between 40th and 42nd Streets. Beyond the fence, stood massive walls 25 feet thick and over 50 feet high which when filled to capacity held 21 million gallons of water. The old reservoir served New York’s thirsty population from 1842 until it was taken out of service in 1897. The structure was demolished in 1900 and the main branch of the New York Public Library now stands on the site.
Check out the full article for a ton of historical analysis on this particular photo.