Category Archives: History

Old New York In Photos #93 – Police Parade With The Old “Broadway Squad” 1930

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.” Continue reading

The Startling Changes in New York From 1873 – 1923

Robert Underwood Johnson Tells Of New York In 1873 and How It Changed Over 50 Years

Everything today seems to be moving at the speed of light. Changes of all sorts have greatly altered our everyday living in ways that might have been unimaginable 20 or even 10 years ago.

Some might argue there was more change at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century than there is today. All the people who lived through and witnessed that change are long dead. Maybe if you heard it from someone first hand, it might make a greater impression upon you.

Fortunately we have people like Robert Underwood Johnson (1853-1937) who put down his memories in his book, Remembered Yesterdays (Little, Brown & Co., 1923) which serves as a living time capsule of that period.

Johnson was a long time editor at The Century Magazine, a leading monthly periodical which covered news art and literature. Johnson also wrote regularly for Scribner’s Magazine.  Along with John Muir, Johnson was one of the main forces behind the creation of Yosemite National Park.  Johnson personally knew every major personage imaginable during his lifetime and his memoir reflects that.

What I found particularly interesting was a brief chapter entitled “New York in the 70’s” (meaning the 1870s). In that chapter, Johnson compares the New York City he arrived in, in 1873 with the present (1923).

This is what had occurred over 50 years. Below is an excerpt from the book:

A STUDY IN CONTRASTS

LOOKING back it is difficult to identify the New York of that time, just beginning to feel its strength, with the brilliant metropolis of to-day. Think of the points of contrast! In 1873 there were no electric lights, no skyscrapers, no trolleys, no blazing, twirling or winking signs and thus, of course, no Great White Way, Broadway being preéminently the street of business and there being little or no shopping on the cross streets above Fourteenth. Continue reading

How Historic Events Would Be Covered By The Media If They Were Written About With 2018 Attitudes

If The Media Covered These Historic Events Now, It Might Read Something Like This

We view historic events with 21st century attitudes and ideas. It’s called presentism.

Reader warning: satire ahead.

 A Rampage of Sexual Harassment in Times Square (V.J. Day 1945)

As pedestrians watch, an American sailor celebrates by passionately kissing and sexually assaulting a white-uniformed nurse in Times Square to celebrate the long awaited-victory over Japan  photo: Alfred Eisenstaedt / Life Magzine

Crowd in Times Square celebrates V.J. Day photo: Ezra Stoller

As word spread that the Empire of Japan had unconditionally surrendered and that the war was finally over, pandemonium broke loose in New York City’s Times Square yesterday. Continue reading

It’s Been 56 Years Since The Death Of Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe Was Pronounced Dead August 5, 1962

(Though She Actually Died A Day Earlier)

Hollywood August 5 – Marilyn Monroe’s Body Removed: Coroner’s attendants remove the body of film star Marilyn Monroe from a Los Angeles mortuary today, en route to the Los Angeles County Morgue. The glamorous star, 36, was found dead in her bed today probably a suicide. – AP Wirephoto, 1962

Today is the recognized anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death.

Arguably, no movie star has had such an enduring grip upon the public’s imagination so long after their death as Marilyn Monroe. Continue reading

Hilarious Headlines From The Covers Of “Man’s Life” Magazine In The 1950s & 60s

“Sex Tricks That Make Women Beg You For Love!” & Other Catchy Headlines From Man’s Life Magazine Of The 1950s and 60s

Man’s Life September 1967

Man’s Life September 1956 – Weasels Ripped My Flesh

With eye-catching painted covers and over the top headlines, Man’s Life magazine provided titillating reading for men from the 1950s through the 1970s.

Man’s Life was the magazine that came up with the now infamous headline “Weasels Ripped My Flesh,” which musician Frank Zappa later appropriated with new artwork for his band’s 1970 album cover.

How could any red blooded male resist stories such as “Sex tricks that make women beg you for love”? Or in the same September 1967 issue: “American towns where vice is legal!” Continue reading

Coney Island Beach Crowds From July 4’s Of The Past

July 4 Holiday Views Of Coney Island Crowded Beaches 1938, 1942 & 1955

The crowded beach at Coney Island in the late 1950s

Beaches in New York City are popular during the summer. Especially around July 4. For over 150 years Coney Island has been a magnet for those seeking relief from hot weather. Combine those three factors and you can get huge crowds at Coney Island’s beaches during the July 4 holiday break.

Some people will not actually go on the beach. Instead they’ll walk along the boardwalk, visit the new Luna Park, watch the Nathan’s hot dog gorging contest or enjoy the fireworks show at night.

If you think the beaches get crowded these days, then have a look at old news photographs of Coney Island from July 4 holidays of years past. Continue reading

There’s Something The Cleveland Indians Haven’t Done in 51 Years

A Cleveland Indians Pitcher Has Not Stolen A Base Since 1967

In 1967 Cleveland Indians pitcher John O’Donoghue accomplished something that was not that uncommon at the time. On July 5, in the bottom of the fifth against the Detroit Tigers, O’Donoghue reached base on a force out. He then stole second base.

His steal was so uneventful it was not mentioned in most newspaper accounts of the game.

That unremarkable steal wound up being quite an achievement. It is the last time a Cleveland Indians pitcher stole a base. That’s right, 51 years ago, 1967. That it is the longest stretch any team in major league baseball has gone without one of their pitchers stealing a base.

There are three teams that came into the league through expansion where no pitcher has ever stolen a base. Two AL teams, the Seattle Mariners (1977) and the Tampa Bay Rays (1998) and one NL team the Miami Marlins (1993). Every other team has had a pitcher steal a base in the subsequent years.

Of course stolen bases have been steadily declining over the years for all of baseball.

But the idea has been propagated that pitchers are one-dimensional entities today. They’re specialists. They’re starters. They’re relievers. They may only be brought in to pitch to one batter. They’re not hitters. And they’re definitely not base runners. Continue reading

What Was In A New York Newspaper 100 Years Ago – June 16, 1918

A Look Back At What Was In The New York Tribune Newspaper 100 Years Ago, June 16, 1918

Immigrant Aliens, Child Labor and Of Course Entertainment

What was occurring 100 Years Ago? The Fairbanks Twins and Lillian Lorraine were about to appear in The Ziegfeld Follies of 1918 at The New Amsterdam Theatre.

It’s interesting to see what newspapers of the past contained. 100 years ago, June 16, 1918 the Great War (World War I) was still raging and battle news dominated the news. What else would you see in the newspaper as far as local matters?

Here are seven of the things I thought were worth highlighting from The New York Tribune. Click on any image to read the entire story.

The hostility towards immigrants who are not citizens has always existed. During World War I anti-German sentiment ran high. The government required that all alien (non-citizen) German women 14 and older register at their local police stations, take a loyalty oath and provide five photographs of themselves! Women who failed to register would be arrested and severely punished.

German women register with police

It seems like paranoia, but German espionage and sabotage were a real threat during the war. But usually the reason an entire group gets demonized is because they are an easy target when the populace gets inflamed. One man took matters into his own hands printing 3,000 signs to be distributed at shops along Fifth Avenue declaring, “Speaking of German Prohibited On These Premises.” The unnamed man ran out of signs within walking three blocks. Volunteers grabbed as many as they could to help pass them out. The thinking was this will “Americanize” those Germans.

There would be a big uproar if someone tried to do something similar today pointing the finger at any ethnic group, even when we are at war, which by the way, we still are. The never-ending “war on terrorism.” The language those barbarians who commit terrorist acts doesn’t matter, does it?

German language prohibited

You could say lawyer Albert W. Gray was henpecked, but the things Mrs. Gray did are a little more extreme than henpecking. Mrs. Gray made poor Albert account for every penny he spent and explain every moment and movement he made. Mr Gray had 11 years of being told when to wake, eat and sleep, before deserting his overbearing spouse. Mrs. Gray in her separation decree said if she only knew her husband was unhappy she would have changed her system of housekeeping!

Wife controlled every aspect of husband’s existence

The Tribune reprinted a whole page from the San Antonio, TX based Kelly Field military newspaper. Continue reading

The New York Rules Of Etiquette 120 Years Ago

The Extremely Formal & Somewhat Strange Greetings and Salutation Rules Of New York City Etiquette In 1899

A gentleman opens a door for a strange lady, holds it open with one hand and lifts his hat
with the other, while she passes through in advance of him. He always offers her the precedence; but he does it silently, and without resting his gaze upon her, as if he would say,
” You are a lady and I am a gentleman. I am polite for both our sakes. You may be young
and charming, or you may be old and ugly; it is all the same to me. I have not looked at you
to discern, but I am certain that you are a lady.” –  Social Etiquette of New York – Abby Buchanan Longstreet (D. Appleton & Co. – 1899)

“Ladies and gentlemen.” We’ve heard those words countless times, but what is it to be a lady or a gentleman? A century ago it applied to people who followed proper etiquette.

A society dinner c.1899

In the 19th and early 20th century etiquette was taken pretty seriously by some Americans. It was a time when etiquette meant proper behavior, civility and deportment. Manners and politeness were taken to heart.  The rigid rules and lessons were adhered to not just by wealthy society, but those who aspired to be true “ladies” and “gentlemen.”

If you were unsure of certain situational  behavior, scores of books were written on etiquette. Some books specifically concentrated on New York City etiquette.

“Everything which refines the habits of a people ennobles it, and hence the importance of
furnishing to the public all possible aids to superior manners.”

The sentiments are those of the doyenne of proper behavior,  Abigail Buchanan Longstreet (1833-1899) who wrote a number of books on good manners during the 19th century.

Longstreet’s book, written anonymously, Social Etiquette of New York, went through many editions and revisions between 1879 -1899, the year of  Longstreet’s death.

Depending on how you look at it,  you will see these rules as antiquated nonsense or quaint and dignified guidelines that are delightful to contemplate.

Today almost all of these forms of etiquette have been completely discarded or heavily modified.

Here are just a few of the rules for greetings and salutations. From the rules of Social Etiquette in  New York:

A gentleman always lifts his hat when offering a service to a lady, whether he is acquainted with her or not. It may be the restoration of her dropped kerchief, or fan, the receiving of her money to pass it to the cash-box of a car, the opening of her umbrella as she descends from a carriage — all the same ; he lifts it before he offers his service, or during the courtesy, if possible. She bows, and, if she choose, she also smiles her acknowledgment ; but she does the latter faintly, and she does not speak. To say ” Thank you ! ” is not an excess of acknowledgment, but it has ceased to be etiquette. A bow may convey more gratitude than speech.

Two ladies may extend hands to each other, and so also may two gentlemen, although hand-shaking is not so common as formerly. Continue reading

Incredible Film Footage Of Yankee Stadium On Opening Day 1931 With Sound!

The Sights & Sounds Of Yankee Stadium 1931 – Yankees vs. Red Sox

What follows is a rare and amazing 14 minutes of film.

Yankee Stadium on opening day April 14, 1931. Yankees versus the Red Sox. Happenings before and during the game.

What makes it so unusual is that the film crew was experimenting with syncing the sound to the action. So there are microphones recording what was being said or the resonant sounds of baseball. The players don’t quite know what to say when asked to speak. The natural sounds of the ballpark are just so different from today.

Batting practice with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Mayor Jimmy Walker throws out the first ball. An IRT train passes and stops beyond the left field bleachers. Everyone in the stands is well dressed as you’d expect. Large signs remind everyone that “Betting is prohibited.”

The lack of technology is pure pleasure. The advertising is on billboards same as now, but no ads or deafening music being blasted from speakers.  Your visual senses are not assaulted by a jumbotron. Fans look at the field, no distractions.

No P.A. system. A guy with a megaphone comes out and announces each team’s battery – a term rarely used today – for pitcher and catcher.

Then there is not only a patriotic marching band entertaining fans, but all the players from both teams march along with the band.

The game itself is great to see, but the things you notice while the game is going on seem so foreign to a modern viewing audience. Continue reading