Life magazine in August 1946 featured a series of photographs taken by Andreas Feininger of New York City at night. The text that introduced the pictures was quite evocative and is worth quoting in full:
In New York the first lights start to come on at night long before the last light has gone out of the sky. The skyscraper workers, scurrying toward the end of day, turn the tall office buildings into bright honeycombs whose illuminated blobs seem to drop down to the darkening rivers around the island. Then the advertising signs taken over the streets of the city, competing so violently with each other that they throw on the sky a glare seen 60 miles at sea. Their clutter is thickest in the streets around Times Square where, in the world’s greatest neon gallery, the enormous acreage of blaring tubes and bulbs and the unashamed piling of color on garnish color make a confusion which is dizzying, outrageous and always wonderful.
The “Crossroads of the World” lies red and gaudy in the reflected light of the street signs as a newspaper truck starts north from 42nd Street along Seventh Avenue to drop its early-edition tabloids through Times Square
The popcorn vendors on Times Square and near it make and sell a sickly smelling, caramel-covered popcorn
Old Roxy Theater, which was once the most famous movie house in the world, now is overshadowed by Rockefeller Center
Timetables of the big movie theaters, like the Astor, govern ebb and flow of the huge tides of people in Times Square
On 52nd Street, west of the cluster of sweaty little clubs that trade in hot jazz, plain bars vie with fancy cafes
Off the loud main stem, Radio City’s Music Hall and Center Theater look prim and sedate compared to Broadway
On the west side of Times Square the bright signs elbow each other too eagerly, creating a self-defeating jumble
Leon & Eddie’s Nightclub on 52nd Street uses every bit of its garish exterior to scream owners’ names repeatedly
44th Street has had so many hit plays in the past few seasons that it is called the Street of Hits. Here in the snarled traffic a Chicago-bound bus finds itself trapped in the theater-going tangle of taxis and cars.
Click here to read the original article, available on Google Books.