The tenement and alley cats of old New York

This makes me happier than it should

Ephemeral New York

Lolcats they are not: They’re not cuddly, expressive, or internet-friendly. They don’t play the keyboard on YouTube. They’re not even the cute mousers who live in many of the bodegas in our contemporary city.

Catontenementsteps1890mcny

These felines are old-school apartment and alley cats who caught the attention of photographers—perhaps impressed by their toughness and ability to survive on the city’s mean streets.

Rhinelanderhousescat1937mcny

This cow-spotted furball is lounging on a fence post in 1937 at Rhinelander Gardens, a beautiful stretch of circa-1850s homes with decorative cast-iron torn down in 1957 to make room for P.S. 41.

Catinawindow1935mcny

Two years earlier, a similar-looking kitty hangs out on a window frame. No protective screens in that walkup.

Catincitygarbage1952

On Catherine Street in 1952, thanks to residents who failed to put their trash in cans, a hungry alley cat is sniffing out his dinner.

[Photos: MCNY]

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