West 8th Street New York Streetscape

West 8th Street New York Streetscape

This photograph was taken in the early 1930’s looking east up West 8th Street in New York City, from a platform of the Eighth Street station of the Sixth Ave. Elevated line. At lower left between the station railings can be seen the top of a street car. At center taking up a large portion of the frame is one of the elevated train stations’ conical roofs. In dating this photo between 1931-36, a known photograph in the New York Public Library shows W.P.A. employees removing the street car tracks in November, 1936 that ran up 8th Street. Visually anchored in the lower right by a sign for the cafe Coffee Pot | Lunch Bar, signage for business establishments continues: the restaurant: Riker’s: “No Better Food At Any Price”; (1.)  a vertical sign for the 8th Street Playhouse; and further, the Village Barn, a country-western themed restaurant and club that operated from 1930-67.

Biography: Anne Medcalf Estabrook: 1893-1963

Anne M. Estabrook most likely developed her photography skills while working as a public health nurse in the Southern Appalachian region of the United States in the early 1920’s. (2.) This superb, brooding streetscape taken in New York City’s Greenwich Village from the station platform of one of the City’s popular Elevated Trains was done later, probably after she was married to Dr Arthur H. Estabrook in 1931. It’s unknown as to the extent of her city wanderings with a camera, (3.) although she certainly possessed a refined eye in terms of composition, and in this case timing: a lone woman bundled up in the dusk of Wintertime at bottom of the frame making her way past a newsstand and the Coffee Pot and Lunch Bar cafe.

1893: Born Anne Ruth Medcalf on March 26 in Baltimore, MD. (birthdate source: headstone-Arlington National Cemetery)

1916: Serves as a Red Cross nurse on the Mexican border. A 1964 newspaper account states this was the start of her Red Cross career “with Gen. John J. Pershing’s forces during the 1916 Mexican border incident.”

1917-19: Serves as a Red Cross nurse in France as part of the Army Nurse Corps during WW1 (enlisted 11-15-17 discharged 9-1-19) (4.)

1921-24: Worked as a nurse in Appalachia. In Kentucky, Anne Ruth Medcalf worked at the Line Fork Settlement as a community nurse. A brief biography of her at the Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections online resource states she had come to the Appalachian region from Chicago sometime in the early 1900s where she worked at other settlement sites and became interested in the health issues of the people of Appalachia. 

1928: July 1. Hired as a Nurse: Anne R. Medcalf, Willard Parker Hospital, New York City. Yearly salary is $1,320.00.

1930: U.S. Census: Anne Medcalf listed as writer living in Manhattan.

1931: July 8. Marries Dr. Arthur H. Estabrook (1885-1973) in New York City. A eugenics researcher, today his work is preserved in the M. E. Grenander Department of Special Collections & Archives at the University of Albany | State University of New York.

1939: Illustrates (presumably by photography) an article authored by husband Arthur H. Estabrook, Ph.D. titled “Cancer of the Breast” published in “The Trained Nurse and Hospital Review”. Byline credit given to her as “Anne Estabrook- Free Lance Photographer’s Guild.” 

1940: U.S. Census: Living in Columbia County, New York with husband Arthur H. Estabrook; no occupation listed.

1963: May 15. Dies. Buried: Arlington National Cemetery, due to her WWI service.

Print notes verso: In graphite, believed to be by the hand of the artist: 

C. 1930 ?

Taken by

Anne M. Estabrook

Provenance: Acquired by PhotoSeed in June, 2019 from dealer based in Bayside, New York.


1. The 1939 New York restaurant guide “Dining in New York with Rector” had an advertisement for Riker’s stating they had 24 restaurants throughout the city.

2. Several photographs believed to be by Medcalf, including A Mountain Madonna”, showing a Kentucky Mountain mother cradling her baby, published as illustrations to her article In the Line Fork Country” for the December,1924 issue of American Child Health Magazine.

3. Two other known photographs by Anne M. Estabrook, not in this archive, show a graphic view of the Empire State Building in N.Y.C. taken in the 1930’s through the girders of an Elevated train line and one dated 1934 showing headstones at the Trinity Church cemetery from the perspective of the Rector Street station of the Sixth Ave. El. It may be possible she had been employed by the railroad at this time to document the Sixth Ave. Elevated line, which was very popular for city commuters.

4. The Palos Verdes Peninsula News in California for the issue of April 9, 1967 gives background on Estabrook’s early nursing service. Her husband Arthur H. Estabrook had established a nursing award as a memorial to his wife in 1964, listing details for her 1916 and WW1 service. Another reference from the Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections states she arrived at the Line Fork Settlement in 1921 as aJohns Hopkins nurse”.

West 8th Street New York Streetscape

Image Dimensions24.0 x 18.5 cm

Support Dimensionsunmounted