Little Italy – Mulberry Street circa 1905
It is a busy day in Little Italy and many people go about their marketing. Wagons and merchants pack the street. Continue reading
It is a busy day in Little Italy and many people go about their marketing. Wagons and merchants pack the street. Continue reading
There is nothing extraordinary about this photo of old New York. But because it is previously unpublished and taken by an amateur photographer at an interesting time, we’re sharing it here.
This sepia photograph is from an old personal photo album and was taken sometime in the summer of 1902. It shows the Flatiron Building as it neared completion. The scaffolding had been removed at the end of June 1902. If you look carefully you can see a sign in front of the building announcing space for rent.
The Flatiron Building is located at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Broadway at 23rd Street. When it was completed it was not the tallest building in New York at 307 feet, but the slenderest and most aquiline. It was, and still is considered by many to be the most remarkable building in New York. In 1902, hundreds of people would stop and just stare at the building for five or ten minutes. Then many of them would move to a slightly different vantage point and continue looking at the building with amazement. Continue reading
One of the most read stories we have done was about Maude Fealy the stage star and film actress who had a career that spanned the first half of the 20th century.
Given the lack of fact based information available on the internet about Fealy we’ve provided another short page devoted to this forgotten star.
This unusual photograph entitled The Coiffure no. 3 captures Maude Fealy in a very flattering pose.
In 1903 the Figaro Illustre of Paris held a contest and offered a prize for the woman who represented the “perfect type of beautiful womanhood.” Photographer Burr McIntosh submitted a photograph he had taken of Maude Fealy. A committee of experts pored over 30,000 entries and decided Maude Fealy was the most beautiful woman in the world. Burr McIntosh won the prize for submitting the photo. Fealy wound up with the accolades.
Besides being a famous photographer, Burr McIntosh was the publisher of a popular magazine in the early part of the 20th century, mostly featuring theatrical stars. In February 1904 Maude Fealy graced the Valentine Number of The Burr McIntosh Monthly. The illustration above was drawn by Clark Hobart in 1903.
When we first wrote about Maude Fealy there was uncertainty as to her exact date and year of birth. That has yet to be resolved, though we can now narrow Maude’s birth year to prior to 1884. Maude’s papers housed in the Denver Public Library give a likely birth date of March 3, 1881.
Through diligent research we have established two previous unknown facts regarding Maude’s domineering actress-mother Margaret: the date of her marriage and divorce to Maude’s father. Continue reading
These two photographs were taken by the Detroit Photographic Co. on the same day, likely minutes apart. They show Henry Siegel’s 14th Street Store (1904-1914) and the Sixth Avenue Elevated Railroad looking towards the southeast corner of Sixth Avenue and 14th Street.
There is much to see, especially when zooming in on the details by clicking to enlarge the photos.
Besides the orientation of landscape versus portrait there are slight but noticeable differences in the two photos.
On top of the southbound station, a man is painting the roof with two cans of paint, one in front of him, the other behind him. In the other photo the painter is not in frame, but both cans of paint are near one another.
On the fourth floor of the store, two women appear to be watching the photographer as he set up to take his picture. The window openings are in the exact same position as the other photo, but the women are gone. Continue reading
We don’t think too much about New York City’s bridges except when driving across them. Then you want to know if they are free from traffic, tolls and potholes.
Besides being civic utilitarian objects, on occasion they be considered architectural masterpieces like the Brooklyn Bridge and George Washington Bridge.
But many of the old bridges crossing New York waterways had great thought put into their design. Unfortunately unless you are stuck in traffic or you bicycle or walk over them, you probably would not take the time to notice the turrets, iron flourishes and fine details that decorate and beautify most of New York City’s early bridges.
Let’s take a look at some 100+ year old bridge postcards and sprinkle in some interesting facts and stories.
The Williamsburg Bridge’s tower can be glimpsed in the background, but what makes this view interesting is its vantage point on Delancey Street. While not dated, the postcard has the printing year of 1906 and the time as 6:00 pm. Hundreds of Brooklynites make their way to the bridge to walk or take a trolley or elevated train back home.
If the Williamsburg Bridge seems crowded that’s because it is. In 1906 an estimated 1,191,000 pedestrians; 3,548,900 passengers and drivers of vehicles; 51 million surface car (trolley) passengers; 56 million elevated car passengers; and exactly 1,149,543 vehicles and 33,375 horses led by hand, crossed the bridge.
The Williamsburg Bridge was opened on December 19, 1903. The cost of the construction of the bridge with the land was $23,277,560.
It is a snowy night and and the roads leading onto the Manhattan Bridge have a light coating of ice, snow and slush on them. The scene is brilliantly lit and there are vehicles or pedestrians in the scene. The Manhattan Bridge was opened for vehicular traffic December 31, 1909 and opened for pedestrian travel July 18, 1910. Including the land, the bridge cost $24,105,200.
Tolls were eliminated on the Williamsburg, Manhattan, Queensboro and Brooklyn Bridge on July 19, 1911 by order of Mayor Gaynor.
High Bridge is the oldest extant bridge in New York. Designed by John B. Jervis and completed in 1848 the bridge cost $963,428. The pedestrian bridge originally contained two three foot pipes which brought New York City fresh water from the Croton River, 41 miles away. The amount of water these pipes could carry was found to be inadequate within a dozen years. The side walls of the bridge were expanded and between 1860 -1864 a seven foot diameter water pipe was laid on top of the original two pipes.
The bridge was modeled after ancient Roman aqueducts, High Bridge’s 15 stone arches graced the river until the early 20th century. During World War I the bridge was declared a menace to navigation. Two proposals were put forward in 1918 to either remove two arches and replace that section with a steel span or entirely demolish the bridge at a cost of $150,000. Continue reading
We’ve covered unusual epitaphs before and the question that always comes to mind is: did the deceased intend to have these words placed upon their monument or is it more often the work of some comedic relative?
This collection in book form entitled Funny Epitaphs collected by Arthur Wentworth Eaton, (The Mutual Book Company), Boston, 1902, gathers up epitaphs from around Great Britain and the United States.
These inscriptions are claimed to be on tombstones. Eaton does not disclose how he compiled the epitaphs. Some quick research shows Eaton probably collected the majority of epitaphs from previously published sources. Unfortunately, in many of the examples, Eaton does not give names or more importantly the cemetery or location where the inscription can be found.
Like Ripley’s Believe It or Not, you’ll have to decide for yourself if these epitaphs can really be found in a cemetery.
Some are not so funny, but profound. Here is a selection of some of the better and more unusual epitaphs.
Here lies the body of Johnny Haskell,
A lying, thieving, cheating rascal ;
He always lied, and now he lies,
He has no soul and cannot rise.
Beneath this stone a lump of clay,
Lies Arabella Young ;
Who on the 24th of May,
Began to hold her tongue.
On a tombstone in New Jersey :
Reader, pass on I — don’t waste your time
On bad biography and bitter rhyme ;
For what I ant, this crumbling clay insures.
And what I was, is no affair of yours
At Wolstanton :
Mrs. Ann Jennings
Some have children, some have none ;
Here lies the mother of twenty-one.
There is an epitaph of an eccentric character that
may be seen on a tombstone at the burying-grounds
near Hoosick Falls, New York. It reads :
Ruth Sprague, Daughter of Gibson and Elizabeth Sprague.
Died June 11, 1846, aged 9 years, 4 months, and 3 days.
She was stolen from the grave by Roderick R. Clow, dissected at Dr. P. M. Armstrong’s office, in Hoosick, N. Y., from which place her mutilated remains were obtained and deposited here.
Her body dissected by fiendish man,
Her bones anatomized,
Her soul, we trust, has risen to God,
Where few physicians rise.
Here I lie, and no wonder I am dead,
For the wheel of a wagon went over my head.
Tread softly mortals o’er the bones
Of this world’s wonder, Captain Jones,
Who told his glorious deeds to many
Yet never was believed by any.
Posterity let this suffice
He swore all’s true, yet here he lies.
This is all that remains of poor Ben Hough
He had forty-nine years and that was enough.
Of worldly goods he had his share,
And now he’s gone to the Devil’s snare.
Here lies the body of Henry Round
Who went to sea and never was found. Continue reading
A photographer from the Montauk Photo Concern decided to photograph the scene inside the Cafe Martin, at 26th Street and Fifth Avenue on New Year’s Eve December 31, 1906.
As midnight approached the revelers at Cafe Martin noisily whooped it up, raised their glasses and toasted the coming New Year of 1907. This photograph captures a singular moment: right before the stroke of midnight the lights were put out and at exactly twelve, were put on again. The guests then sang along as the band broke into the Star Spangled Banner. Afterwards guests blew horns and confetti was strewn everywhere. Young men filled with the idea of making a speech got up on chairs and spoke to the heart’s content without anyone to stop them.
The guests, all elegantly attired, look like they are having an extraordinary time.
Outside the restaurant it was supposed to be quieter. A city ordinance forbidding horn blowing in the streets had been on the books for years. Earlier in the day Police Commissioner Theodore Bingham informed the newspapers that the bells of Trinity and Grace Church would be heard when they tolled the midnight hour.
Bingham instructed the police to enforce the noise law. All horn blowing was prohibited on New Year’s Eve! Continue reading
This high definition photograph of Macy’s department store was taken by the Detroit Publishing Company in 1905. Macy’s led the march of modern department stores uptown, moving from their Sixth Avenue and 14th Street location where they had been since the 1858. The “Greatest Store in the World,” opened at the Herald Square location on Saturday, November 8, 1902.
We are looking west from the Sixth Avenue elevated station along Broadway with 34th Street on the left and 35th Street on the right.
Let’s take a close-up view of Macy’s and the surrounding area from our photograph. Click to enlarge any photo.
In the immediate foreground on the extreme right is a small portion of the New York Herald Building with a large owl, wings spread, perched at the corner.
James Gordon Bennett, and later James Jr., owners of the Herald, had a thing for owls. The Herald building was adorned with many of them. Mechanical owls attached to the clock had their eyes illuminated and would light up when the Herald clock struck the hour.
The Herald Building is long gone, but Herald Square retains its name and two of the original owls are still in Herald Square. They are part of a monument to James Gordon Bennett and the newspaper he founded. And yes the owls eyes still light up.
Looking past the Herald Building down 35th Street is the loading bay of Macy’s. Delivery trucks of all type congregate here, including an ice wagon. Continue reading
Our previous story on Why People Disbelieve the Newspapers led to browsing other issues of World’s Work magazine.
Inside the covers are a treasure trove of interesting articles and photographs that generally have remained hidden since their original publication.
From the October 1902 World’s Work was “A Day’s Work in A New York Public School” by William McAndrew . There are some great photographs by Florence Maynard taken to accompany the article.
So what was a day’s work in a New York City public school like?
3,000 children were crowded into one typical school. 40 or more students in a class. Supplies were in short order. Free space to play was non-existent. Children of different intellect, culture and background were taught civics, patriotism and the 3 R’s. There was one language you were expected to learn- English.
But if you think the article has a negative take-away, you would be mistaken. McAndrew extols the schools, students, teachers, administrators, and the education system despite the shortcomings.
Look into the faces of these New York City schoolchildren of a century ago. What do you see?
Here are the photos with short excerpts from the article.
Three thousand throats do service to the cause of patriotism. Shrill little trebles, very new and fresh, basses not yet sure of the dignity of a changed register, besides all the voices between, unite to shout out the national anthem, or some other song required by law. The school rises to its feet. Every hand comes to the position of salute and then extends upward and outward towards the banner while the voices declare in unison: ” I pledge allegiance to my Flag.”
A pretty morning ceremony is the procession of candidates to the office of the principal for daily commendation one or two children from each room, bearing their trophies of penmanship or ciphering with them. Each has his card of introduction, properly endorsed, accrediting him to the court of the Great Potentate. It reads:
To The Principal. Sept. 30, 1902.
This will introduce to you Johnny Johnson From Room 32 whom I recommend for compliment for great improvement in behaving himself.
There is no limit to the benefits the public schools derives from private benefactions. Taxation can never supply enough income to permit the school authorities to equip the buildings as any generous lover of children would wish. To erect a safe, well-lighted structure, architecturally artistic, is the limit of the city’s ability. The inner walls must be bare. Casts and pictures, if they come at all, must be the gift of some intelligent citizens who recognize the subtle and silent teaching done by good art in the places where our children spend a good part of the most susceptible period of their lives. Continue reading
The internet has given the perceived notion that fake news is a relatively new phenomenon. Let’s say the term fake news is a misnomer, fake news should more properly be called outright lies or nonsense.
Edward Bok had a good deal to say about “fake news” when he wrote an article that appeared in the magazine World’s Work in March 1904.
Bok’s article “Why People Disbelieve The Newspapers An Explanation Of The System; That Makes Accuracy And Truthfulness Difficult To Attain” still holds a great deal of relevance today.
Edward Bok was born in the Netherlands in 1863. He immigrated to the United States with his parents in 1870 when he was six years old. Bok had to quit school when he was in his early teens to help support his family.
In 1889 at age 26, Bok became the editor of the Ladies Home Journal. Not only a talented editor but prolific writer, Bok stayed at the helm of the Journal for 30 years retiring in 1919. He wrote, “The Americanization of Edward Bok: The Autobiography of a Dutch Boy Fifty Years After.” Published by Charles Scribner’s and Sons, the book won the 1921 Pulitzer Prize in Biography or Autobiography. Bok died in 1930.
In 2017 the dissemination of information, good and bad can be spread in a few clicks of a mouse. Many newspapers despite dwindling readership and circulation still have vast influence on what we all read. Then there are the web sites that masquerade as news outlets pumping out story after story.
One of the main problems of evaluating news is considering the source. The internet has made that problem worse, especially for young people. Stanford Graduate School of Education concluded that, “young people’s ability to reason about the information on the Internet can be summed up in one word: bleak.”
A 2016 study conducted by researchers at Stanford found “a dismaying inability by students to reason about information they see on the Internet, the authors said. Students, for example, had a hard time distinguishing advertisements from news articles or identifying where information came from.”
Countless articles have been written about the lack of fact checking in media.
There is also the real concern of media bias both liberal and conservative.
Finally it’s not just the young, there is the inability of adults to distinguish obvious comedy or satire from news. Even some of our obviously outlandish satirical stories have inexplicably been taken as fact (or even worse, fake news) by a handful of readers, even though the stories are outright ridiculous. We list those stories under the category of comedy. See links at bottom of this story to see examples.
In 1904 Bok theorized that in the race for speed, that is to get the news out quickly, newspapers purposely neglected fact-checking and would embellish or simply make up stories. Bok also discovered that this directive often came from the top down and saturated news organizations. In the rush to get a scoop on competitors and gain circulation, truth would be sacrificed.
The bigger the headline, the more outrageous the story, the more likely it would be that potential readers would not pass up purchasing a newspaper. Journalistic morals ignored lead to fake news.
Does this sound familiar? Why do people click on internet stories now? Do you fact check what you have read? How have things changed in 113 years?
Today the goal remains- how many eyeballs will come to a web site. Sometimes there is another agenda, but almost always it is to gain ad revenue. People still doubt the reality of what they read.
Here reprinted in full is Edward Bok’s article showing important lessons can always be learned from the past.
TIME was, and it is not so long ago, when folks believed what they read in the newspapers. But now, if people do not absolutely disbelieve all that is published in all the papers, surely much of the modern newspaper writing is regarded with incredulity. “Wait until tomorrow and it will be denied” is a frequent comment; and one need not always wait until the following day; it is too often the case that the evening papers deny what the morning papers print. Continue reading