It's hard to imagine New York City as anything other than the bustling city of lights we know it as today, and for good reason. New York's cultural and political significance extends all the way back to the colonial era, as an important trade port; during the Revolutionary War, it was the "British base of command until the end of the war." Later, during the Industrial Revolution, Ellis Island was opened as an immigration center in the New York harbor. In 1899, the opening of the Victoria on Broadway paved the way for the area to become New York's center of entertainment, and by the early 1900s, the subway allowed residents to travel at will throughout the city and in their words, get “To Harlem in 15 minutes!”
The New York of the late 19th and early 20th centuries laid the groundwork for the city we know and love today, and the earliest photos of the Big Apple prove just that.