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Guide to the Robert M. Lester Photograph Collection
1946-1956
 PR 215

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Jennifer Lewis and Margaret Evans

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on August 23, 2017
Description is in English.

Container List

Series I: Photographs

Scope and Contents note

Series I dates from 1946 through 1956 and includes 733 3 x 4 inch or smaller gelatin silver photographic prints and 35mm contact prints dry-mounted in groups on briefly captioned boards. Some of the boards have punched holes and may have originally been arranged in albums; most of these mounts have been dated with a stamp on the front and bear stamps on the verso with Robert M. Lester's name and mailing address in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Photographs are arranged by date.

A large number of photographs of the United Nations Headquarters complex, under construction between East 42nd and East 48th Streets along the east side of First Avenue during the period of Lester's photographs, is depicted at various stages of development between 1947 and 1953, from initial excavation to the final dominating tower of the Secretariat building. Lester used a variety of vantage points to capture the construction, including several rooftop views. Other construction photographs focus on the building of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace building in 1952.

The East and Hudson rivers, including large ships, small boats, and the Brooklyn, Queensboro, and George Washington Bridges were captured by Lester's camera. Photographs along the Hudson River in upstate New York are also included.

Photographs from December 1947 depict the snow-covered cityscape of New York in the aftermath of a major blizzard. Other New York street scenes focus on the theaters, marquees, and signs of Broadway and Times Square.

Greenwich Village art shows, including the Sculptors Guild Exhibition in the spring of 1948, are detailed in a series of photographs, many of which show lively crowds gathered in Washington Square Park.

Included in this series are a few aerial photographs, such as those of Coney Island and Ebbet's Field taken from an airplane in 1950; also included are views of Idlewild (now John F. Kennedy International) and LaGuardia airports. One self-portrait of Robert M. Lester is available in a folder of undated photographs at the end of the series.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Hudson River; Tompkins Cove, NY
1946
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Century Centennial
1947 Apr. 26
Box: 1 Folder : 3 United Nations construction; scenes in New York City after blizzard
1947 Dec.
Box: 1 Folder : 4-5 Central Park; Chelsea; the Cloisters; East River; George Washington Bridge; Gracie Square; Greenwich Village Art Show; Hudson River; Hunter College sign; Newburgh, NY; Radio City Music Hall; St. Mark's in the Bowery; Sutton Place; Times Square; Tompkins Square; Washington Square Park
1947
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Columbia University; Sculptors Guild Exhibition in Greenwich Village
1948
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Battery Park Underpass construction; Broadway; Brooklyn waterfront; East River; Lillian Wald Houses
1949 Feb.
Box: 1 Folder : 8 East River; United Nations construction
1949 Mar.
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Easter Parade; Hudson River (and ships); Idlewild Airport [now John F. Kennedy International Airport]; United Nations
1949 Apr.
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Broadway and Times Square
1949 May
Box: 1 Folder : 11 West 42nd Street; West 45th Street
1949 June
Box: 1 Folder : 12 42nd Street road repair
1949 Aug.
Box: 1 Folder : 13 East River; United Nations
1949 Sept.
Box: 1 Folder : 14 Chelsea; East River; United Nations
1949 Oct.
Box: 1 Folder : 15 United Nations
1950 Jan.
Box: 1 Folder : 16 East River; United Nations
1950 Feb.
Box: 1 Folder : 17 Battery Park and Castle Clinton; East River; Fulton Street; United Nations
1950 Apr.
Box: 1 Folder : 18 Hudson River; George Washington Bridge; Times Square (theaters); United Nations; Weehawken, NJ (Hamilton-Burr duel site)
1950 May
Box: 1 Folder : 19 Beekman Tower; Hudson River; Queensboro Bridge; United Nations
1950 June
Box: 1 Folder : 20 Broadway; East River; Irvington, NY; John Street Theatre; Rockefeller Guest House on East 52nd Street; Staten Island; Times Square
1950 July
Box: 1 Folder : 21 Coney Island and Ebbet's Field (aerial views)
1950 Aug.
Box: 1 Folder : 22 East River; United Nations
1950 Oct.
Box: 2 Folder : 23 Broadway (theaters)
1951 Mar.
Box: 2 Folder : 24 The Cloisters; Fifth Avenue and 43rd Street; Tenth Avenue
1951 Apr.
Box: 2 Folder : 25 Central park; East River Drive; First Avenue and 49th Street; Fifth Avenue and 59th Street; Plaza Hotel; St. Jean Baptiste Church; Sherry-Netherland Hotel; United Nations
1951 May
Box: 2 Folder : 26 Broadway; East River; United Nations; Ward's Island Park
1951 June
Box: 2 Folder : 27 Broadway; East River; United Nations; Rivoli Theatre; Hotel Astor
1951 Aug.
Box: 2 Folder : 28 Idlewild Airport [now John F. Kennedy International Airport]; La Guardia Airport; New York Harbor (aerial view); United Nations
1951 Sept.
Box: 2 Folder : 29 Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (construction); United Nations
1952 Jan.
Box: 2 Folder : 30 Battery Park area; East 52nd Street
1952 Feb.
Box: 2 Folder : 31 Manhattan skyline from Queens
1952 Apr.
Box: 2 Folder : 32 Battery Park (construction); Broadway (marquees and billboards); Brooklyn Bridge; Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Central Park; East River; First Chinese Presbyterian Church; Presbyterian Church of the Sea and Land; gold ingots piled on Hudson River docks; India House; Old Slip; South Street
1952 May
Box: 2 Folder : 33 Battery Park; Chinese Junk; East River; George Washington Bridge; Hudson River; Manhattan from The Bronx; Queensboro Bridge
1952 June-1952 July
Box: 2 Folder : 34 Broadway (theaters); The Bronx; Fifth Avenue; Harlem River; Highbridge Tower; Jumel Mansion; Yeshiva University
1952 Aug.
Box: 2 Folder : 35 Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (construction); United Nations
1952 Sept.
Box: 2 Folder : 36 Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (construction); United Nations
1952 Oct.
Box: 2 Folder : 37 Broadway (theaters); Manhattan House (200 East 66th Street); New York State Supreme Court; Rivoli Theatre
1952 Nov.
Box: 2 Folder : 38 Broadway (theaters); Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
1952 Dec.
Box: 2 Folder : 39 42nd Street; Beekman Place; Bryant Park; Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Central Park; East River; Highbridge Tower; Queensboro Bridge; Times Square; United Nations; Saks Fifth Avenue; White Turkey Restaurant and Gobbler Bar

General note

[multiple dates mounted together]

1950-1952
Box: 2 Folder : 40 Pennsylvania Station (interior); Old Merchant's House (East 4th Street); First Avenue at 49th Street
1953
Box: 2 Folder : 41 Horn & Hardart Automat; Broadway (theaters)
1954
Box: 2 Folder : 42 Columbia University
1956
Box: 2 Folder : 43 R.M. Lester at the United Nations construction site; portrait of Levering Tyson; Pennsylvania Station; United Nations; theaters; the Mauritania; Times Square; the Cloisters; Town Hall
undated

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