New York City’s Finest On Parade With The Broadway Squad Of The Police Department Dressed In Their Old Uniforms
Though these officers bear a resemblance to Mack Sennett’s Keystone Cops, they are actually old-timers of the New York City Police Department’s Broadway Squad dressed in their uniforms of days past.
The slug for this photograph reads:
Little Bit of Old New York
New York City – One of the features of the annual New York Police Department Parade, which was held in New York today, was the appearance in the ranks of the surviving members of the old Broadway Squad, who twenty years or more ago, directed the traffic and the peace of New York’s “Great White Way.” – 4/26/1930 credit: Wide World Photos
Stationed all along Broadway from the Battery to 42nd Street were the Broadway Squad. They were specially selected officers who were all over six feet tall. While that might seem like nothing special, at the turn-of-the-century anyone over six feet in height was considered quite large.
In 1898 the Broadway Squad was described as “ninety of the tallest, best proportioned and finest looking men on the police force.”
The term “Broadway Squad” had been used since the formation of the police department. The Broadway Squad was abolished and revived many times throughout the 19th century.
The best known version of the Broadway Squad was the one formed to help direct traffic and protect the public along Broadway at the turn-of the-century. After a brief revival in 1895 and quick disbandment by acting Chief of Police Peter Conlin, the elite squad was successfully re-established by Chief of Police John McCullagh in 1898.
The big policemen were well-known fixtures at their assigned posts along Broadway by residents, merchants and workers.
In 1901 with a three platoon system and two divisions of men, the Broadway Squad patrolmen began their day at 8:30. The officers received an hour for lunch and remained on duty until 5:30 or 6:30 as needed.
The Broadway Squad remained in place until around 1922. The squad’s demise coincided with the introduction of traffic lights.
In our photo, we see 13 of the original Broadway Squad officers who marched in the parade from the Battery to 62nd Street. Over one million New Yorkers lined the route along Broadway and Fifth Avenue cheering the 6,000 marching policemen.
Officer Jacob T. Meyer, believed to be the last of the “original Broadway Squad,” died on August 11, 1947 at the age of 87.