Old New York In Photos #37

Riverside Drive 108th Street – 1894

Riverside Drive 108th St Residence Samuel Gamble Bayne

Left – 360 Riverside Drive, Right -355 Riverside Drive corner of 108th Street, circa 1894- both designed by architect Frank Freeman, both, one time homes of financier Samuel G. Bayne

Viewing Riverside Drive today with its large apartment buildings lining the street, it’s hard to fathom the avenue with any open land and large private homes, but it was only a little more than 100 years ago when dwellings like this dominated the landscape. What is more amazing is that both of these ritzy houses were built for the same man.

Looking east on the south corner of Riverside Drive and 108th Street, the imposing house on the right in the foreground is the formidable residence of Samuel Gamble Bayne, an oil industry pioneer, financier, world traveler, author and President of The Seaboard National Bank.

Samuel G Bayne residence 108th St Riverside Drive rendering Frank Freeman architect

Architect’s rendering 355 Riverside Drive- Samuel Bayne Villa

The large Romanesque Revival villa residence located at 355 Riverside Drive was built from 1890-1891 by architect Frank Freeman who happily called the style “architecture at rest,” because of its massiveness and immobility.

Also built by Frank Freeman is the building to the left of Bayne’s large villa, which was Bayne’s original home at 360 Riverside Drive on the north corner of 108th Street. It was built in 1887 and Bayne lived here for a little over two years. When Bayne desired more space for his growing family, he moved with his wife Emily and their five children to the south side of 108th street to his new villa, selling his original home March 11, 1891 to the Pullman family for $105,000. Continue reading

Share Button
Posted in New York, Old New York In Photos, Photography | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Book Advertisement From 1915: How To Make Love

“What To Do Before And After The Wedding” Among Other Things

Ad Book How To Make Love world almanac 1915So, how did people learn about sex and seduction 100 years ago? From a book of course. This ad appears in the 1915 World Almanac and was just too good not to share.

The text reads:

How To Make Love

(NEW BOOK) Tells how to Get Acquainted; How to Begin Courtship; How to Court a Bashful Girl; to Woo a Widow; to Win a Heiress; how to catch a Rich Bachelor; how to manage your beau to make him propose; how to make your fellow or girl love you; what to do before and after the wedding. Tells other things necessary for Lovers to know. Sample copy by mail, 10 cents.

Royal Book Co. Box 10 So. Norwalk, Conn.

Share Button
Posted in Books, History | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Simplicity Of The First Federal Income Tax

The First Income Tax Form Of 1913 And How Much The IRS Collected

1913 tax form pg 1

click to enlarge

It was 100 years ago that the 1040 individual tax form many Americans dread having to fill out was introduced.

One thing is for sure, it was a lot simpler to file taxes in 1914 than today.

Pictured above is the 1913 1040 tax form which was due March 1, 1914.

With only three short pages to complete and one page of instructions, for most people who had to file the average time to complete their taxes would take about an hour.

Had to file is an important term here, because the first $2,500 or $3,333.33 of income in 1913 for single and married couples respectively, was exempt. After 1914 the rate was $3,000 and $4,000 respectively. Considering very few Americans made more than $1,000 per year in income, the vast majority of Americans were exempt from paying any tax.

According to the Department of Labor in 1913, the average family household income was $827. Continue reading

Share Button
Posted in Commentary, History | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Mystery Man Who Let John Wilkes Booth Escape

Lieut. Charles H Jones Witnessed Lincoln’s Assassination And Claimed Someone Came On Stage And Stopped The Pursuit of John Wilkes Booth

Lincoln assassination witness Lieutenant Charles H. Jones

Lincoln assassination witness Lieutenant Charles H. Jones

On April 14, 1865 Lieutenant Charles H. Jones came to Ford’s Theatre to see General Grant who was supposed to attend that evening’s performance of the play Our American Cousin.

But, General Grant had decided earlier in the day that he was going to visit his children in Burlington, NJ, so he was not at the theatre to the great disappointment of many in the audience including Lieutenant Jones.

Instead of seeing General Grant, Jones witnessed the shocking assassination of President Lincoln.

Lieutenant Jones in 1915 telling his account of the assassination said he saw something that no other history of the Lincoln assassination ever mentions: that a man came on stage a few seconds after Booth had fled the theatre through a side stage door and announced that the assassin had been captured. This announcement the mystery man made was not true, and it delayed the pursuit of John Wilkes Booth.

In an earlier 1908 account of witnessing the assassination Lieutenant Jones said he never entered the President’s box after Lincoln was shot, which contradicts the account he gave below. So does his eyewitness account have any validity?

From The New York Call April 14, 1915

When John Wilkes Booth sprang from the president’s box in Ford’s Theater, April 14, 1865, and challenged the world with his dramatic cry, “The south is avenged,” only one man Continue reading

Share Button
Posted in History | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Ladies Day – Rowing On The Harlem River Circa 1905

Ladies Get Ready For Rowing At An Annual Regatta On The Harlem River

Ladies Day Rowing on the Harlem River circa 1905 photo UPI

At the turn of the century, the male dominated rowing clubs of New York City, Long Island and Hoboken would hold regattas and invite the fairer sex to participate in the rowing races.

Rowing Clubs with names like the Nassau Boat Club, the Harlem Rowing Club, the Nonpareil Boat Club, the Bohemian Boat Club and the Dauntless Rowing Club would hold a “Ladies Day” and open the festivities to women entrants. In some races the women would have assistance from the men as they stroked their four oared gigs or eight oared barges along the Harlem River from Sherman Creek to about 145th Street. This area of the Harlem River has excellent conditions for rowing and the Columbia Rowing teams still holds practices there.

Both sides of the river would be packed with large crowds to cheer the ladies on during these regattas which were usually held by the different rowing clubs in June and September in the the late 1800′s and early 1900′s.

Share Button
Posted in History, New York, Photography | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Stress of Hank Aaron Breaking Babe Ruth’s All-Time Home Run Record

Before Breaking Ruth’s Record, Hank Aaron Had So Many Death Threats, He Had A Security Team Appointed To Protect Him

Willie Mays (l) and Hank Aaron at Shea Stadium June 3, 1972 – the two true #1 and #3 career home run leaders

Forty years ago today, on April 8, 1974, Hank Aaron, under incredible duress, hit his 715th career home run, breaking Babe Ruth’s record.

Aaron finished his career in 1976 with 755 home runs and is now second all-time on the career home run list to Barry Bonds. In my mind and many others, Aaron is still the legitimate home run champion due to Bonds strange physical transformation in which his body became gargantuan and slugged more and more home runs as he aged.

What Aaron had to endure with the constant death threats and pressure is poignantly told in an excellent article by USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale which is reproduced below.

Hank Aaron has the letters tucked away in his attic, preserved these last 40 years. He’s not ready to let them go.

He almost has them memorized by now, but still he carefully opens them up and reads every word, as if he wants to feel the pain.

“You are (not) going to break this record established by the great Babe Ruth if I can help it,” one of them reads. “Whites are far more superior than jungle bunnies. My gun is watching your every black move.” Continue reading

Share Button
Posted in Baseball, History, Photography | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

New York Of The Future As Imagined In 1939

1939 Architects Visualize How New York Would Look In 1950

New York of the future in 1950 as imagined in 1939

Over the years there have been many people who have tried to predict what New York City would look like in the future.

The architects who came up with this vision of Manhattan were way off. Considering that this drawing was made in 1939 and was showing what the city would look like only eleven years later, it is wildly inaccurate. That may be attributed in part to World War II which disrupted almost all building plans.  The artist is V. Hagopian.

Here is the partial text that accompanied the release of this drawing in 1939.

Here’s the New York City of 1950, as prepared by the architects for their great Exposition of Architecture and the Allied Arts which opens April 15th and published today for the first time. And its not a stretch of the imagination at that, for almost every detail of the picture, though not so extensive a scale, can be found in New York today, even including upper terraces on which people may walk.

Starting at the bottom: All freight, trucks and subways will proceed underground. Pneumatic tubes will carry first-class mail at high speed as now, but will be extended to airplane landing stations over the Hudson River piers, and mail after passing through the post office, will be shot at great speed through pneumatic mail tubes leading into office buildings. Street at ground levels will accommodate passenger and other lighter type automobiles.

Elevated sidewalks even with the second story level in the buildings and crossing above the streets at intersections will forever remove the streets from our midst.

Share Button
Posted in New York | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Graffiti As Vandalism, Not Art

Museum of The City Of New York Graffiti Exhibition Doesn’t Show What The Majority Of Graffiti Is – Unintelligible Scrawls By Vandals

I caught the newest exhibit at The Museum of the City of New York entitled “City as Canvas,” which glorifies the practitioners of graffiti and their “work” during the 1970′s and 1980′s in New York City.

For anyone who thinks that graffiti is something to be celebrated in a retrospective by an exhibition at an important cultural institution, here is some evidence to contradict that viewpoint.

Iouri Podladtchikov, Olympic half-pipe king visits the lower east side with typical graffiti defacing a grand old building.  photo - Casey Kelbaugh for the New York Times

Iouri Podladtchikov, Olympic half-pipe king visits the lower east side with typical graffiti defacing a grand old building. photo – Casey Kelbaugh for the New York Times

A typical display of current graffiti “art” as seen in this building covered by spray paint on the lower east side really is a better representation of the so called graffiti artist. It pains me to see old handcrafted stone buildings covered with paint. The beautiful Queensboro Bridge girders and stonework are always being cleaned and re-painted due to these miscreants who attack our public property with their spray cans, markers and etching knives.

Subway graffiti photo taken Feb 8, 1982

Subway graffiti photo taken Feb 8, 1982

The onslaught of graffiti began in earnest in the subway system in the 1970′s where riding a train was a demoralizing prospect. Almost every single car was covered in dripping unintelligible paint and marker scrawls, which obliterated any blank spaces. Continue reading

Share Button
Posted in Commentary, New York | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

How They Lit New York For Easter – 1956

Crosses On The Lower Manhattan Skyline

New York City skyscrapers lit with crosses for Easter March 29 1956

This lighting display in the financial district of Manhattan was a surefire way to attract  attention during the Easter celebrations of 1956.

3/29/1956 New York – Huge crosses, formed by lighted windows blaze above New York’s skyline as part of an Easter display in Manhattan’s financial district. This scene photographed from the roof of the Municipal Building features 150-foot-high crosses in the following buildings (L-R) the City Services Co.; City Bank – Farmers Trust Co.; and the Forty Wall Street Corp.  (United Press Telephoto)

Share Button
Posted in New York, Photography | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Classic Hollywood #30

The Strange Tale Of How Obi-Wan Kenobe (Sir Alec Guinness) Eerily And Accurately Told James Dean He Was Going To Die In His New Car

James Dean Ursula Andress 1955 8 29 ph Earl Leaf

James Dean and Ursula Andress attend a benefit, one month before Dean’s death in a auto crash

James Dean is seen here talking to one of his “girlfriends,” the 19-year-old Swiss actress Ursula Andress. This photograph was taken at a benefit for the “Thalian’s Ball” on August 29, 1955 at Ciro’s in Hollywood and shows them in a non-combative mood. The sexually ambiguous Dean may have been set up on dates with Andress by the studio publicity department. Regardless, press accounts at the time refer to Andress and Dean as dating one another.

Even though Andress spoke very little English, their relationship was considered very stormy.  At one time it was reported by a tabloid that Dean was said to be taking German language lessons so that they could “argue in another language.” Andress would go on to fame as Honey Ryder, the first “Bond Girl” in 1962′s Dr. No.

Dean, an avid auto racer, agreed to purchase a new sports car on September 21 1955, a silver Porsche 550 Spyder that he nicknamed “Little Bastard” which was then painted on the car.

Two days later on September 23, Dean was eating at the trendy Villa Capri Restaurant on McCadden Street in Hollywood and spotted actor Alec Guinness trying to get a table without any success. Guinness was exhausted having just arrived from London on a 16 hour flight for his first trip to Hollywood. As Guinness and his companion, screenwriter Thelma Moss exited the restaurant, Dean ran after them to intercede. Continue reading

Share Button
Posted in Books, Classic Hollywood, Movies, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments