Tag Archives: 1900s

Old New York In Photos #102 – Mott Street

A Scene On Mott Street c. 1905

The Detroit Publishing Co. photographer was probably intrigued by the spectators lining the sidewalk. This undated scene is from around 1905 based on the clothing and vehicles seen. We are looking north on Mott Street from Worth Street and something worth watching is going on.

A horse drawn coach is carrying a large model of a building upon it. It may have something to do with the building with the steeple in the background, which is the Church of the Transfiguration.

The model building has crosses on it and appears to be ecclesial. The fact that the horses are draped in white fabric signals this is a religious ceremony, rather than a funeral. The other horse drawn vehicles following the procession which are dark, does make the scene look funereal however.

In the foreground, a peanut cart is selling three measures of fresh roasted nuts for a dime. Continue reading

What Was It Used For? 5 Strange Inventions From The Turn-of-the-Century

Can You Guess What These Turn-Of-The-Century Inventions Are For?

Below are five inventions that were filed with the U.S. Patent Office between 1899 – 1904.

As we noted in our other story regarding bra patents, Americans are innovative and resourceful. When opportunity knocks they will be there to answer. All of these people thought their inventions would take off. None of them did.

Originally the patent office required you to build a model of your invention. Eventually they dropped that requirement. When you see the words no model, it means a prototype was not presented. After you discover what the invention is you will understand why some of these never had a model built.

So what are they?

Invention #1 Patented by Frank May 1904

patent by Frank May

#1 patented by Frank May 1904 US793004

Invention #2 patented by Monroe Griffith 1900

patent Monroe Griffith 1900 US666605

#2 patented by Monroe Griffith 1900

Invention #3 patented by Samuel McHatton 1899

patent Samuel McHatton 1899 US628111

#3 patented by Samuel McHatton 1899

Invention #4 patented by Henry Ullrich 1900

Patent Henry Ullrich 1900 US640837

#4 patented by Henry Ullrich 1900

Invention #5 patented by Joseph Karwowski 1903

patent Joseph Karwowski 1903 US748284

#5 patented by Joseph Karwowski 1903

Here are the answers with the patent inventor’s edited description:

This innocuous looking machine was electrified and quite honestly sounds extremely dangerous if used as intended.

patent by Frank May

#1 patent Frank May 1904 US793004

#1 EYE-MASSAGE MACHINE

Be it known that I, Frank Howard May a citizen of the United States, residing at Birmingham, in the county of Jefferson and State of Alabama, have invented a new and useful Improvement in eye massage machines, of which the following a specification.

My invention is in the nature. of an eye massage machine in which mechanical vibrations are imparted to the eye through an electrically-operated vibrator and which is so constructed also as to permit the direct application of either primary or Faradaic currents to the eye. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #101 – Lunch Carts In The Financial District

Lunch Carts Serve Customers At The Corner Of Broad & Beaver Street 1906

Lunch carts 1906 Broad StreetA Detroit Publishing Co. photographer preserved this scene in 1906 at the corner of Broad and Beaver Street.

Then as now, food carts set up and do a brisk lunch business. This slice of life in old New York has many elements that can be seen by looking closer, so let’s examine them.

Frankfurters are advertised at 3¢ each or two for a nickel! The same sign informs (warns?) purchasers of an interesting caveat: “No frankfurters sold during the summer.” Hmmm. Possibility of food poisoning? I could not find any explanation in contemporary literature to why a sign would say this.

How profitable was it to be a hot dog vendor? Continue reading

Semi-Nude Women In Late 19th & Early 20th Century Advertising

Using Semi-Clad Women To Sell Products At The Turn-Of-The-Century

Ads That Wouldn’t Cut It Today

Clysmic table water- will….bring you to climax?

Pretty women sell products or so it seems. Since the dawn of advertising alluring images of women have been used to attract potential customers. Many times the image has absolutely nothing to do with the product being offered. That hasn’t changed in the 21st century, just look at any perfume ad.

Though they were not considered unusual at the time they originally appeared, here are some semi-nude advertisements featuring women that would probably cause outrage among the sensitive and hyper-politically correct today.

SuNude women Willow Creek Distillery adWhat this advertisement really says about Sunny Brook and Willow Creek Distillery is open to debate. But I guess we all know that any group of women after drinking rye whiskies will strip and go skinny dipping in a lake.

Brotherhood overalls adBrotherhood Overalls of course?  Did Levi Strauss take this company as a serious competitor? This look apparently never caught on in the 1910s. Continue reading

In The Early 1900s Americans Celebrated the 4th Of July Exuberantly, Though It Killed & Maimed Lots Of ‘Em

At The Turn-Of The Century, 4th of July Celebrations Injured Thousands and Killed Hundreds of Revelers

4th of July Accidents - 1915 World AlmanacThis small informative chart was reprinted in the 1915 World Almanac. The Journal of the American Medical Association provided the statistics of accidents occurring during Fourth of July celebrations from 1904 – 1914.

According to the AMA the most accident prone cities were:

Pittsburgh, PA
Cincinnati, OH
Providence, RI
Worcester, MA
Syracuse, NY
Omaha, NE
Grand Rapids, MI
Hartford, CT
Reading, PA
Wilmington, DE
Des Moines, IA

In a large city, like Philadelphia, PA, 22 were killed and 422 injured on July 4, 1907. Usually the cause was fireworks related.

Do's and Don't of Fireworks New York Tribune 1908

A fireworks warning to children (who were smart enough to read a newspaper?) from The New York Tribune, 1908

Foolish acts by children causing injuries included pinning a string of firecrackers on to the back of another unsuspecting child. Another dim-witted act was throwing a lighted firecracker or shooting a roman candle at somebody. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #99 – The New York City Newsstand

The New York City Newsstand – 1903

New York City Newsstand 1903

Underneath the elevated train station stairs we see the prolific New York City newsstand.This photograph comes from one of our standby sources, the Detroit Publishing Co. archives held by the Library of Congress.

Besides the caption “A Characteristic Sidewalk Newstand, New York City,” there is scant information about the scene. At least the photograph is dated 1903. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #98 – Outside The Casino Theatre Broadway & 39th Street 1907

A  Busy New York City Street Scene At The Casino Theatre – 1907

Outside the Casino Theatre on a Saturday Matinee 1907 LOC Detroit Publishing Co.

We’re looking at the Casino Theatre on 39th Street and Broadway in a Detroit Publishing Co. photograph that the Library of Congress has labeled “Saturday Matinee circa 1900 – 1910.”

By looking at the few details available we can narrow down approximately when this photograph was taken. The weather appears to be on the cool side, as some of the men and women wear coats over their dress attire.

There are a couple of partially visible signs for the show playing at the Casino. Directly behind the man walking in a bowler hat and light colored suit, an advertising sign says that the star of the production is Jefferson De Angelis.

De Angelis appeared in two shows at The Casino between 1900-1910; The Gay White Way  which ran from October 7, 1907 – January 4, 1908 and The Mikado which ran from May 30 – July 1910.

An important piece to the puzzle is just below De Angelis’s name, Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #97 – Long Acre Square 1908 & How Times Square Got Its Name

Long Acre Square 1908 aka Times Square And The Man Who Named It

Times Square Long Acre Square 1908 photo Library of Congress

Fashionable ladies, trolleys, horse drawn vehicles and turn-of-the-century buildings abound in this picture of Long Acre Square otherwise known as Times Square.

This photograph looking south down Broadway from 45th Street is identified by the Library of Congress as Long Acre Square circa 1911. The date is close, only off by three years. At the end of the story we have a cropped high resolution version of the same scene and every detail is crystal clear.

Taking a closer look at the left side of the photograph we can see an ad for Richard Carle (1871-1941) in the musical comedy Mary’s Lamb in front of The New York Theatre. The show played from May 25 – September 5, 1908. Richard Carle not only starred, produced and staged Mary’s Lamb but wrote the book, music and lyrics!  The amazing Carle would later appear in motion pictures acting in 45 films including Ninotchka, The Great McGinty and The Devil and Miss Jones

Next to the Mary’s Lamb advertising sign, is an advertisement for The Ziegfeld Follies, obviously of 1908, at the Jardin de Paris which ran from June 15 until September 4, 1908.

The Jardin De Paris, was part of the Olympia Theatre entertainment complex located at 1514-16 Broadway at 44th Street (opened November 25, 1895, demolished 1935).  The Jardin de Paris was located on the roof of The New York Theatre.

Roof garden’s were popular around New York City at the turn of the century. There was no air conditioning in theaters so roof gardens gave audiences a chance to enjoy a show during the hot summer months out in the open air. The roof garden of The New York Theatre underwent many name changes depending on who was the manager of the theater. It was showman Florenz Ziegfeld who in 1907 renamed the space Jardin de Paris when he gave the evening’s entertainment a French atmosphere.

There is a small poster only visible in the high resolution photo, advertising Hattie Williams at The Criterion Theatre, also part of the Olympia complex. The Williams musical, Fluffy Ruffles, ran from September 7 – October 17, 1908.

Therefore this photo was taken in the summer of 1908.

On the corner of Broadway and 43rd Street we can see the signage and two buildings of the world famous Rector’s restaurant. Adjacent to Rector’s is the Hotel Cadillac. Behind the Hotel Cadillac, the tallest building visible is the Knickerbocker Hotel on 42nd Street. Much further in the distance almost looking like it is blocking Broadway’s continuation is Macy’s.

At the extreme right of the photo we can see a sliver of the New York Times Tower Building which gave Times Square the name it’s known by today.

Long Acre Square?

Previous to being called Times Square this area was known as Long Acre or Longacre Square. In London, Long Acre was the name of the area where the horse and carriage businesses were located. In the 1870s New York’s carriage trade had settled in the 42nd – 47th street area and  New Yorkers began calling the area Long Acre Square after the London counterpart. The first mention of Long Acre Square found in print is an 1883 New York Sun advertisement for Barrett House a hotel, at 42nd Street and Broadway.

Besides the obvious: the New York Times moving to the area and building their headquarters there, how did Long Acre Square become Times Square?  Continue reading

1906 -The Next Big Sport – Basketball On Roller Skates

The World Is Still Waiting For Basketball On Roller Skates To Become Popular

basketball roller skates

When James Naismith invented basketball in 1891 the players had to pass the ball to one another. Dribbling the ball was a foul! It was a very different game than today. As people sought to improve basketball a novel idea was proposed: play basketball on roller skates.

In 1906 it was predicted that innovation was going to be the next big sport. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #94 – The Williamsburg Bridge Under Construction

Williamsburg Bridge Under Construction As Viewed From The East River 1901

From a personal photo album comes this previously unpublished 1901 view looking north from the East River.

Besides all the vessels navigating the heavily trafficked waterway, we can see the completed towers of the Williamsburg Bridge. The cables of the bridge have been completed but the roadway beneath the span is absent.

The first bridge crossing Kings County to Manhattan was the Brooklyn Bridge, opening in 1883. It would take another 20 years before the next great span, the Williamsburg Bridge was completed. Continue reading