Early photo from the Brooklyn Bridge (1881)

Early photo from the Brooklyn Bridge (1881)

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The 1881 photograph of Downtown Manhattan from the under-construction Brooklyn Bridge shows a drastically different Manhattan skyline than the one that would emerge within the next 20 years. As seen in the photograph, most buildings reach no more than five stories, and the overall landscape is low save for a few high buildings in the background. These were churches and the first skyscrapers—the Tribune Building and Western Union Building, offering a glimpse of what was to come. The tall, slender, tower seen in the foreground of the Trinity Church spire is the 175-foot, 1885 MCCULLOUGH SHOT TOWER. Shot towers produced round bullets by dropping molten lead from a great height. 

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