Things You Should Know If Visiting New York City In 1873

Thousands of children are imported from Italy each year to turn them into organ-grinders and street beggars.

12 Helpful Hints And Notes From 1873

Standing on Broadway by New York City Hall circa 1870

A tourist standing on Broadway by New York City Hall circa 1870

From the wordily titled – Wood’s Illustrated Handbook To New York and Environs: A Guide For The Traveller or Resident With Minute Instructions For Seeing The Metropolis In One or More Days Together With Numerous Valuable Hints To Visitors On Nearly Every Topic That Arises Upon The Subject of Sight-Seeing, G.W. Carleton Publishers, 1873, we learn surprising things about New York City.

If you lost something of value in public there was an excellent chance that it would be returned to you.

Saturday was the fashionable day for ladies to attend public entertainments – alone!

Wood’s Handbook’s aim was to point out interesting things about New York City without preaching to the reader.

As the guidebook says;

We think the sight-seer may now be safely left with the “Handbook ” to the guidance of the Index and Map and to his own inclinations and judgment.

He will speedily discover that our object in the preparation of this volume has been not to confuse and weary him by stale remarks and hackneyed observations about this or that, but to put him in a position to see, and admire, and criticize from his own stand-point of taste and opinion. We think the sight-seer requires ready hints, not stupid essays; and if we conduct him to a remarkable locality or a well-known structure, he will not care to have us stand perpetually at his elbow telling him what to admire, and what he ought not to be pleased with.

Since the book contains no “hackneyed observations,” the section called “helpful hints” are what we thought were worth highlighting rather than the sights to be seen.

From among the many listed, we have culled, a dozen of the helpful hints for visiting New York:

1- A GLASS OF BRANDY, in an emergency, can be obtained at any apothecary. No wines, ales, or liquors are permitted to be sold in New York at any bar on Sunday. The guests of a hotel can be served with them, however, at table or in their rooms.

2- ORGAN-GRINDERS and STREET-BEGGARS — Thousands of children are annually exported from Italy to the United States for the purpose of making them organ-grinders and street-beggars, of whom a multiplicity are to be seen in New York. A bill has been brought before the Italian Parliament, designed to put a stop to this disgraceful traffic in children. It punishes with five years’ imprisonment all persons exporting children under twelve years of age to foreign countries, under any pretext. Continue reading

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Old New York In Photographs #43

Giant Times Square Advertising Billboards Of The Past

New York's Times Square at night 60 Years ago, 1954 photo: Charles Shaw

New York’s Times Square at night 60 Years ago, 1954 photo: Charles Shaw

The New York Times article about the new eight story high, block long, LED illuminated billboard that will be put into use on Tuesday night, November 18, 2014, made me think about some of the classic advertising signs that were in place during the 1940’s and 1950’s at the crossroads of the world.

Bond Clothiers sign, 1948, Times Square looking north

Bond Clothiers sign, 1948, Times Square looking north

Chief among these ads was the dramatic Bond Clothiers sign taking up the entire Broadway block between 44th and 45th Streets. The 200 foot wide, 50 foot high billboard was brightly lit up at night and had a waterfall cascading between the two large scantily clad statues flanking it. The figures appeared nude during by day and had electric lights draped around them which produced a quasi-covering effect on the statues when the lights went on.

With two miles of neon, it was a colorful spectacle to behold in person, especially at nigTimes Square 1948 Bond Clothiers at night billboardht. The sign was only up from 1948-1954.

We previously showed what the area looked like at night in our story about the giant New York snowstorm of 1948.

The Bond sign replaced an earlier sign for Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum that also was breathtaking with its neon aquatic design. Designed by Dorothy Shepard, it occupied the site from about 1936 to 1948.

Times Square Wrigleys Billboard sign Ad postcardThe other billboard Continue reading

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Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery Epitaphs

To Be Remembered – Some Thoughts About Inscriptions On Tombstones

Green wood Henry Croatman epitaph 1120840
 
Henry Croatman                                                  Eddie Brewster Croatman 
Born January 17 1845                                                Died Dec. 2, 1878
Died June 4, 1876                                                        Aged 19 Mo’s 26 Days
 
Come view the grave and drop a tear                           Budded on earth
O’er your kind brother once so dear                              To bloom in heaven
Who once delighted in your charms
But now he’s bound in deaths cold arms
 

When wandering around Green-Wood cemetery in Brooklyn I especially take note of  monuments with epitaphs. Rather than gravitate towards the costly and grand monuments that abound in great numbers, I am drawn to those anonymous graves with no known fame attached to them. It is interesting to see how these people, buried long ago, are eulogized in stone.

Green wood John F Abbott epitaph 1100936John F. Abbott
Died Sept. 23rd, 1857
Aged 23 Years and 10 Months
A Good Life Hath But Few Days
But A Good Name Endureth Forever

 

Many of these monuments mark the last resting spots of common people with unextraordinary lives. But we all have a story to tell. Tombstones try to do that. How can you sum up a person’s life with a few sentences?

Green wood Ann Lee epitaph 1160006A Tribute of Love to
My Dear Wife
ANN LEE
Died Feb. 25, 1887
Aged 58 Years
A fond and faithful wife,
A dear devoted mother,
And a kind friend to all
 

Without their simple marker and words engraved upon them, these people’s lives would go completely unrecognized. Today, it is hard to fathom that thought, considering all the information that is now collected and shared about us.

Green wood C Ella Ellison epitaph 1120836C. Ella Ellison
Wife of John T. Ellison
Born March 22, 1846
Died December 20, 1900
 
A Loving Daughter,
A Devoted Mother,
A Faithful Wife

 

Continue reading

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This Man Was The Last Immigrant To Pass Through Ellis Island

60 Years Ago – Ellis Island Closes

Arne Petterson last Ellis Island immigrant, 1954 photo: A.P.

Arne Petterson last Ellis Island immigrant, 1954 photo: A.P.

On November 12, 1954 Arne Petterson became the last alien immigrant to pass through Ellis Island, when the busiest immigration station in the United States permanently closed its doors.

Petterson is seen here waving goodbye on a ferry in New York Harbor as he was on his way to be picked up by a friend who would sponsor him for citizenship.

Petterson, 48, was a Norwegian merchant seaman from Narvik who had overstayed his shore leave while in New York. In 1942, during World War II, Petterson survived a German u-boat attack on his ship, the Leiv Eiriksson.

Ellis Island was in operation for 62 years and processed over 12 million immigrants.

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Smoking Cigarettes For A Living

Here Is A Real Chain Smoker

Man tests cigarettes for a living photo Acme 1945This is not part of some government secret test program to see how many cigarettes you need to smoke before you develop cancer. Testing cigarettes was part of Sol C. Korn’s job as the director of various cigarette and cigar company’s from the 1920’s until the 1960’s. In 1945 when this picture was taken he was president of the Fleming-Hall Tobacco Company.

The caption reads:

Sol C. Korn, cigarette authority, puffs prodigiously as he makes the final and severest test of a a cigarette – the smoking. It’s just a job to him. Credit: (Acme 4/20/45)

Even with all that smoking, Mr. Korn lived to the age 70, passing away in 1962.

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World Series Photos Delivered Instantly

Before The Internet, The Quickest Way To Get Photos Back To The Newspaper- Via Pigeon

Walker Cooper Phil Rizzuto pigeon delivers negatives 1942 world series

Walker Cooper, Phil Rizzuto and Private Harry Myers and carrier pigeons, October 4, 1942 photo: New York Journal-American

You would have thought by 1942 there was a quicker way for a newspaper to get photos from one place to another than using a carrier pigeon. Apparently not.

Before game four of the World Series at Yankee Stadium, Private Harry Myers, the Journal-American’s pigeon specialist, shows the Cardinal’s Walker Cooper and the Yankee’s Phil Rizzuto how photographic negatives of the World Series game are sent by pigeon from the ballpark to the newspaper’s offices for same-day publication of the photos.

Amazing.

Maybe it was just the New York Journal-American’s method, as I cannot imagine all the newspapers releasing pigeons during a baseball game.

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One Big Reason Baseball Is Dropping In Popularity

Catering To The Next Generation Of Baseball Fans

You may have read that one of the 2014 World Series games was competing for viewers with a Thursday night football game. The television audience for the World Series ended up being less than half of that of the football game.

No surprise there as football has become the dominant televised sport in America. So besides letting World Series games be played at night when the next generation of fans is going to bed, what else is MLB doing to discourage young people from getting to like baseball?

This photograph below will clue you in:

Group Seating Citifield September 2013

Group Seating Citifield September 2013

This photo taken in mid-September 2013 shows a class trip of 12-year-olds at Citifield, the New York Mets ballpark.

It was a beautiful sunny weekday and the Mets and San Francisco Giants were playing for nothing, nada, zilch. Both teams had been eliminated from any playoff possibilities weeks earlier.

Obviously with group seating the Mets gave the kids the best possible seats in the house to get them engaged and interested in the game, right?

Well of course not. Group seats are usually in the farthest reaches of the ballpark and these were no exception, in the corner of the upper deck in right field in section 503.

Now I understand why the Mets and most other teams put group seats in generally undesirable places. These are seats that will usually never be sold, because who wants to pay $15 or more and sit in the stratosphere. The Mets are not going to give $75 seats away for $15 to a group.

But this photograph below shows the kids view of the game and the reality of how many fans were at the ballpark just 10 minutes before starting time.

Citifield 10 minutes before game time

Citifield 10 minutes before game time

It never got much more crowded than this when the game got underway. The announced attendance was 22,897. Everyone there knew that there was no possible way that there were even 12,000 people at this game. The ballpark remained as you see it: thousands of empty seats in huge clusters.

There were schoolgirls sitting on either side of me and both were attending their first baseball game. Being a chaperone on this trip, they asked me questions and tried to watch from our birds-eye vantage point. As the game progressed, with the exception of the few boys who follow baseball, most of the children lost interest rapidly.

For many of the kids who were in attendance this would be the only game they would ever go to because they had no interest in baseball before the game, and were not going to have any interest after the game.

What could the Mets have done?

They should have taken the thousand or so children that were in the four to five large groups seated in the far reaches of the upper deck and moved them to seats anywhere closer to the field. When I actually mentioned this to the Mets personnel man in charge of groups in our section he looked at me like I was crazy and said that was not possible.

It was indeed possible if someone from the Mets ticketing, marketing or publicity department could have had a bright idea and made an executive decision and said something like, “Hey, the season’s virtually over and our ballpark is pretty empty today. You know what might get us more fans in the future? Let’s move these kids down to decent seats so that they will be close enough to be involved in the game. Maybe some of them will come to appreciate and love baseball if they can actually see what is going on up close, rather than watching the jumbotron screen or straining to see the ant-size ballplayers from their mile away seats. This would be a good way to develop a new generation of Mets fans.”

Well that never happened and it probably never will happen. Unless MLB and their teams realize that they are rapidly losing a huge part of their future baseball audience, baseball  will be as popular here as cricket.

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Classic Hollywood #35

A New York City Cop Takes Exception To Claudia Cardinale’s Dress – 1971

Claudia Cardinale 1971 Streets of NYC 2Disturbing the Peace

New York, NY – A New York policeman is not deterred in his duty as Italian actress Claudia Cardinale turns on her charm in front of Grand Central Station. After telling Cardinale to “move along,” the policeman rubs shoulders with her as he goes his way and she goes hers. Front view of the departing actress shows why he asked her to move. The dress she wore to plug a new movie caused a mid-town traffic jam. (UPI) 8-3-71

Here is how Claudia was causing the traffic jam —

Claudia Cardinale 1971 Streets of NYCI love the men’s faces in the background, while the cop scowls and bumps into Cardinale. For 1971 this mode of dress on the city streets was considered very risque. Today it would barely attract attention, let alone have the police intervening.

A member of the Turner Classic Movie Fan Forum, FrankT65, posted a behind the scenes account of what occurred here.

Frank was responsible for running a publicity junket for Paramount’s The Red Tent starring Claudia Cardinale, Sean Connery and Peter Finch. Here is how Frank describes the event:

We had lots out of town press coming in for a junket and if anything we would have plenty of publicity coverage for the film.

Our VP in charge of marketing was Charles Glenn….a man who believed in the publicity stunt, which had been considered by many to be outdated. I myself loved publicity stunts…it got you out of the office and in with the public where a public relations person belonged. Problem was there were too few stunts you could connect with THE RED TENT. Finally someone came up Continue reading

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It Is Now 88 Years Since Houdini’s Death, And No Word From Him Yet

Houdini, Debunker Of All Psychic Phenomena STILL Has Not Communicated From The Other Side

Houdini Emerges from jail cell

When Harry Houdini claimed he could do something, he would prove it. For instance, he said he could escape from any jail cell, sometimes with multiple gates and holding areas. Here he is seen emerging from a penitentiary holding only shackles and locks next to his near naked body. The demonstration would usually blow the superintendent or warden of the prison away. Before entering the cell Houdini was searched and stripped. How did he escape from all those jail cells?

Usually Houdini opened the lock with a carefully hidden key or pick – use your imagination to figure out where he hid it or click here to find out.  All over the United States and Europe, Houdini performed this trick as a jail breaker hundreds of times and it rocketed him to fame. The one thing Houdini couldn’t escape was death.

On Halloween in 1926 Houdini died. He promised his wife Bess that if there was an afterlife that he would be able to break through from the other side and communicate with the living.

But as we wrote three years ago no one has heard from the late Harry Houdini, because as he proved time and again all spiritualists, psychics and seances are fake.

Yes, it has been 88 years since Houdini passed and there is still a $1 million award available from the The James Randi Educational Foundation to any person who demonstrates any psychic, supernatural, or paranormal ability. But of course no one will ever claim the money, just as Houdini is never communicating from beyond the grave.

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Old New York In Photos #42

Central Park Transverses 1863

Central Park Transverse at 79th St looking east 1863

Central Park Transverse 79th St looking east 1863

Central Park Transverse (which one?) 1863

Central Park Transverse (which one?) 1863

 

Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux, the designers of Central Park, had amazing foresight to build transverses through the park so that omnibus, carriage and horse traffic, could get crosstown without disrupting the flow of the landscape. Users of the park today are the beneficiaries of the uninterrupted paths and vistas as automobile traffic crosses the park out of sight and mind.

These two photographs are from stereoviews taken in 1863 by E. & H.T. Anthony & Co. who took some of the best images of mid-nineteenth century New York. They show the recently opened Central Park with little activity and just a few buildings in the background.

The photo on the left shows transverse number two (I never knew they had numbers assigned to them) that cuts across the park from East 79th Street to West 81st Street. On the left can be glimpsed the southern edge of the Croton reservoir, one of two reservoirs that were in Central Park. The Croton reservoir was drained and filled-in in 1931 and the former reservoir located between 79th and 86th Streets became the Great Lawn, opening in 1937. The second reservoir above 86th Street remains in place today and joggers frequently circumnavigate its perimeter.

The photograph on the right is another one of the transverses but it is not identified on the stereoview itself. It looks to be the 65th Street transverse but I am unsure of the orientation and surroundings. Which one do you think it is?

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