Carl Mydans photos of Manville c.1930s

Photo by Carl Mydans • Click to Enlarge

It seems like a life time since I put up some good impactful photos on here… and I apologize about that. It seems like I get busier and busier by the hour lately. In a desperate attempt to keep something consistent going here without spending hours warming up a library chair, I checked out the Library of Congress website… and wouldn’t you know it was fruitful. I found these great photos that were Taken by Carl Mydans. All of these are from the mid 1930’s. The photo above of Main Street has actually appeared on this site before, but the quality this time around is a lot better. Also, it’s just a great photo and worthy of a rerun since we have a lot of new folks on here. Here are some more…

This real estate hut was on Finderne Ave. heading out of town. I believe this one was from 1936, you can expand the photo by clicking on it.

I believe this photo is the Federal Creosote Factory, which famously polluted the entire former Rustic Mall and East Camplain Rd section of Manville, leaving “rivers of creosote” under the ground and prompting the closing of the entire mall and a major federal clean up to happen. You can see Main St. and The Manville National Bank in the background.

The old Finderne Ave bridge driving Main street out of town towards Bound Brook. I’m not sure what year the covered part of the bridge was torn down.

I’m not sure where in Manville this exactly is, but this is just a great photo.

This photo is just entitled “inhabitant of Manville” can anyone out there identify this man?

Another old homestead photo, which seems to be related to the photo above. What a great looking well.

This photo is definitely the same barn as the one above with the gentleman standing in front. Again if anyone can identify the man or the address, please educate us.

This last great photo is obviously standing underneath some sort of water tower. My initial instinct tells me its the one on the North side by the High School, but I can not positively identify it. All of these photos were found in the Library of Congress digital archive. I’d love to hear any of your thoughts or additional information, so as always leave em in the comments section. Enjoy!


23 thoughts on “Carl Mydans photos of Manville c.1930s

  1. Awesome!!!!!!! Library of Congress is such a priceless resource! They have the best Americana photos. Keep up the good work, hopefully someone will help identify your homeboy there.

  2. Is that snow or JM material? ;}
    I will check with Dad on these and see if he can id them. One of our family stories I’ve heard many times is when Dad literally flew over that Finderne bridge, Dukes of Hazzard style, on the way to Somerset Hospital when Mom was ready to deliver!
    Are any of the photos after the Finderne bridge in reverse image? Some of the scribbling on the outer frames seems to be.

    • Gary,
      Just followed a link over to your website & noticed something — In your section of photos from the Manville Library collection, you have a photo of “2nd grade trip to Jersey City” and you’re questioning the location. If the sign does say “Manville – Finderne” as you suspect, that photo was taken along what is now the Raritan Valley line of NJTransit, where the tracks pass under Finderne Ave. It was sort-of around back and down from what’s now the Valero station. It was known as the Manville stop because so many workers at JM used it, even though it’s technically in Bridgewater.
      Those tracks, which were Jersey Central at one time, led to the large terminal building in the current Liberty State Park, across from Ellis Island (which is a worthwhile visit in itself). From there, ferries went to Manhattan and Brookyn.
      Until just a couple years ago, one westbound train in the morning and one eastbound train in the late afternoon would still stop there, but that has since stopped.

  3. I believe the photo of the house & closeline is the house at 158 South 5th Avenue. What you called a barn was actually a garage which belonged to the property which is now the La Casada restaurant. At that time it was a bar. The man standing in front of the garage may be the ar owner, whose name I believe was Batcho.

    • Charlie, that is the house we grew up in. The man is Mr. Batcho. I remember he grew tobacco and hung the leaves to dry behind the garage. He also grew turnips in the yard. It was a four family house owned by our grandparents. We lived in the front, first floor. The garage also had pigeons in it. ron

  4. Wow Charles. Based on the hose in the background there I think you are right. That house in the background looks like that peach house that is still behind the Resturaunt to this day. It looks like they have done some work on it over the years, but there are still a few of those odd shaped windows on that house.

  5. I think the photo of the Finderne Ave. bridge is looking towards Manville, as you otherwise should see the Watchung Mtns in the background. Also, zooming in shows a glimpse of the gas station on the right side of the road that’s still there today.

    I think that photo is more recent than all the others, based on the road striping; at one time, the bridge was actually 3 lanes wide, with the center lane reversible to accommodate rush-hour traffic. There was a light mounted on the upper part of the bridge structure above each lane, that either lit with a green arrow (lane open in your direction) or a red “x” (lane closed in your direction). Each of the lanes was rather narrow, due to the age of the bridge. (A similar configuration still exists on the old downtown steel-truss bridge connecting Phillipsburg and Easton).

    Towards the end of the bridge’s life, that was abandoned for one lane in each direction – the old three-lane striping has been painted over in black and the wide center area creates 2 wider, safer lanes.

    I believe the bridge was torn down and replaced in the 70s (all the bridge’s strength is in that truss structure you see, so it couldn’t just be peeled off, the whole bridge had to be replaced)(sorry, engineering geekiness leaking out). There should be a “cornerstone” date visible somewhere on the current concrete bridge.

  6. I am pretty sure the great photo looking through the line of front porches is North 2nd Ave between Knopf and Louis Streets.

  7. Just looking at the water tower photo again. I think it is north 9th ave, but you need to reverse the image. The buildings in the distance would be across the tracks, on Washington Ave?

  8. The Finderne Stretch had terrific accidents before the improvements.Why,with the right frame of mind and sufficient horsepower one could get 100 MPH up over the trestle and be AIRBORNE past Sandusky’s.A lot of readers here remember that and 13th Ave.
    When that trestle was designed in 1927 300 horsepower was for Fighter planes….

    The Finderne Stretch was a great ? place to have drag races-test out your new Hemi Charger or Shelby Mustang or GTO or big-block SS Chevelle.Buicks too,few Oldsmobiles and American Motors.
    Talk about scary,Walt Disney had / will get no ride like that.

    Any highway that has switchable lanes designated by a little green “x” or red “X” is bound to have plenty of head-ons.Knowing the amount of liquor sold in Manville in those days only adds to the Miracle of Life.Bridgewater had like 5 cars then,Manville had Rambler Ambassadors.Real crime-stoppers.

  9. In the picture of what you believe is the legs of the water tower is the water tower on north 9th, who ever took the picture they were facing the camer toward brooks blvd. the house on the right is the Malesky’s house and the one on the same side as the water tower is a 2family behind the person taking the picture is the Tarby’s house, i can only assume is was taking by a Tarby. I know this street well because the house next to Tarby’s was mine.

  10. The inhabitant of Manville Was a farmer that live with his mother “BaBa” They had a cow, some, chickens and farmed their small lot at what is now 942 Raritan in Weston. We live the nex block over on Somerville ave.The house directly behind is a Quad Plex apt bldg Built in the late 50’s .By builder John Wilk (hw built most of the homes in the area

  11. You forgot to mention the Milk Machine shown next to Quigley”s bicycle shop on Main St. This before there were all night stores.

  12. Does anyone know when the Roosevelt School was built? I see it in the arial photo that look s like it was taken from the old water tower and looking toward Main St. and JM plant. I also see that Christ the King was not yet built. That opened in 1950.

    • LOL Tony though you wrote this message long ago I happened upon it, and yes, we all settled our differences under the water tower, including us Girls. In those days, we fought and at the end we parted ways, no continuing to fight another day that was it, end of story no gang fights no nothing it was over then and there. easy and simple solutions to problems

  13. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be
    really something which I think I would never understand.

    It seems too complicated and extremely broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

  14. i have LOADS of negatives I found from 1938-39 of Manville. I may make a DVD from. In the process of scanning. Unbelieveable! A man told his everyday living in pictures. Yes-there are more pictures out here! I could share some.

    • Hello Anne. This is Mike that runs this site. If you are at all interested I may have access to a slide scanner. I would be more than willing to help get this stuff scanned and give you the digital copies of the photos. Please shoot me a personal email at I would love to talk to you more about this! I’m a graphic designer by trade… I can help!

      • I own a slide scanner. I live in Neshanic. I can meet you if you are nearby to get them and scan them. If interested, email me. My family lived in Manville many years — Brygier, Mackewicz.

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