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Photographer Note: The commercial photography firm George P. Hall & Son operated in Manhattan from 1886 through 1914. Working out of several studios, the firm documented the changing face of New York City at the turn of the 20th century. Hall & Son's photographs were available for general sale, were published in their own calendars and souvenir viewbooks, and appeared as illustrations in such publications as King's Views of New York, Staley's Views of New York, and Harper's Weekly. George P. Hall (1832-1900) was born in 1832 in Troy, Ohio, and began his career in 1854 as a daguerreotypist in Dayton, Ohio. A year later he opened his first gallery in Indianapolis and then worked in St. Louis, before finally making his way to New York around 1872. He started his commercial photography business at 78 Fulton Street around 1875, and was officially joined by his son James S. Hall in 1886 when firm took the name George P. Hall & Son. The father and son operated the company until 1900, when George P. Hall died. James S. Hall continued to run the business until about 1914. A brief note in the Business Troubles column of the New York Times for June 4, 1914 indicates that creditors were filing a petition against Hall, and that he admitted his insolvency. It is presumed that the firm closed in the wake of these financial difficulties. The Halls operated several studios in Manhattan. City directories published by Trow indicate that George P. Hall maintained a studio at 78 Fulton Street from 1876 to 1883. He moved his business to 157 Fulton Street in 1883, where he was joined by his son; that studio remained open until 1901. Later shops included those at 303 Broadway from 1890 to 1894, at 52 Water Street from 1897 to 1902, at 212 Broadway from 1901 to 1914, at 364 Bowery from 1902 to 1903, and at 230 Grand Street from 1903 to 1904. The Halls made their residences in Brooklyn, and often turned their cameras toward features of that city as well as Manhattan. They also worked as marine and engineering photographers. Collection Note: The collection consists of approximately 1,500 modern photographic prints, 275 glass negatives, and 2 log books, and dates from ca. 1876 to 1914. Photographic prints in this collection were printed in the 1960s and 1970s from Hall's original glass negatives. The large-format views in this collection provide clear, extremely detailed and flattering depictions of a variety of subjects, including Manhattan's early skyscrapers, hotels and theater exteriors, harbor activity, and downtown streets, as well as Brooklyn business areas and resorts. George P. Hall & Son photographed the Battery skyline repeatedly from the 1880s through the 1910s, documenting the dramatic changes that occurred as New York progressed from a lowrise to a highrise city. Many of Hall & Son's views are notable for their high-angle perspectives. Views in this collection also depict many of the U.S. Navy's new steel battleships of the 1890s. Sagtikos Manor and other Long Island sites are well documented. There are also some photographs of the Hall Studios and Hall family members.
Digitized by New-York Historical Society.
George P. Hall & Son photograph collection, ca. 1876-1914. Series IV: Photographs by Subject