Old Photos of Columbus Circle

  Last modified on May 8th, 2022

It might be hard to imagine Columbus Circle before it became the glass-building-filled intersection that it is today. But we’re going to take a trip back in time … from the mid-twentieth century to the late 1800s.

1957: The New York Coliseum once stood where the Shops at Columbus Circle now live. The exhibition center held hundreds of events highlighting things including yachts, futuristic cars, model rooms, photography, antiques and international flower shows.


1954: This Coca-Cola sign stood on top of the American Circle Building, which was demolished in 1965 to become the Gulf & Western Building. Then, in the 1990s, the new building was renovated to become Trump International Hotel.

1939: Looking east from Broadway

Columbus Circle 1939

public domain via Wikimedia

1936: Another view of the Coca-Cola sign. This photo was taken by Berenice Abbott as part of a project called Changing New York, which includes 200 of her black and white photographs of NYC in the 1930s.

1934: A building wall being prepared for a billboard space which was going for $50 per year. Below the workers sits Nedick’s, “an orange-drink-and-hot-dog chain that operated in the subway until the 1980s.”


1930: The General Motors building was located at 3 Columbus Circle, which is now a modern office building housing tenants including VMLY&R, Versace, Nordstrom, Chase, and CVS.

1924: The Fred T. Ley Building on 57th and Broadway. Ley was a builder who also took part in the construction of the Chrysler Building.

1920: The 24-story Gotham National Bank Building, located at 303-309 West 59th Street, between Columbus and Broadway.

1910: Behind the statue of Columbus is the United States Motor Company, which had a brightly lit sign which illuminated at night.


1905: Left of the Columbus Monument is a sign for Robert Burns Cigar. These cigars were known as “clear Havanas,” which were “machine made cigars that used various amounts of Cuban tobacco in their products.”

1900: construction of the original subway station.

construction columbus circle subway

public domain via Wikipedia

Late 1800s: exact dates of these photos are unknown, but Durland’s Riding Academy was located in Columbus Circle until around 1900, at which point it was relocated to West 66th Street.

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