Tag Archives: 1910s

Old New York In Photos #141 – Children’s Recreation On Rooftops

Children On New York’s Rooftops 1909-1910

Children playing on a roof in New York City April 28, 1910 from the series Living On (A) Skyscraper photo George G. Bain Collection Library of Congress (LOC)

In the early twentieth century the roofs of New York would offer a respite from hot days in New York. While roofs could be dangerous, the streets were full of peril with horses, trolleys and filth.

The news organization headed by George G. Bain sent its photographers up to the roofs to see life from this perspective. Continue reading

Old New York In Postcards #26 – Broadway 1895-1915

Views Along Broadway From Bowling Green To Washington Heights

Broadway and 62nd Street – The Colonial Vaudeville Theater is on the left, 1913

Broadway means New York City. Sure there are other Broadway’s in the United States, but none have the same clout that New York’s Broadway does. It is the longest street in Manhattan and one of the oldest. What the Dutch called De Heere Straat and later De Heere Wegh, became Great George Street under English rule. The street was paved in 1707, but only from Bowling Green to Trinity Church at Wall Street. After the Revolution, New York’s citizens began renaming streets and Great George Street became Broadway.

Here are some postcard views of Broadway dating from 1895 – 1915 Continue reading

The Circus Fat Family Leaves Brooklyn For The Country

The “Fat Family” Moves To The Country – 1914

The following article is from Chicago’s The Saturday Blade newspaper July 18, 1914:

New York, July 16 – Mr. and Mrs. Marshall Tanner and their four giant children, known to circus folk as the “Fat Family” have been sent to the country by kindly disposed women who became interested in their case. Tanner is going to rest for a week or so and then he will try to get a job.

“I guess by the time we’re all rested up some show will come along that’s a real one,” said Mrs. Tanner the thin mother of the fat children.

The last show the Tanners were in was not a real one. It went broke and Mr. and Mrs. Tanner were compelled to appeal to give their babies shelter and food lest they starve to death.

“Buster” Tanner, 5 years old is the heaviest, his weight being 187 pounds. Little Doris, alias “Snookums,” is six months old and weighs 63 pounds. The others, Barnard and Alvin, 2 and 3 years old, would take prizes for weight at any baby show, though they look thin beside the youngest and oldest of the four. The home of the Tanners is Nicholson, GA.

Today the media and public would either exploit this family or call to prosecute them for child abuse. Remember the Honey Boo Boo craze? In 1914 there was nothing wrong with the word fat or being fat. Today calling someone fat is considered “body shaming” by this generation’s snowflake word censors.

We Need Food

Figuring Coney Island would be a good place to get employment the Fat Family came looking for a sideshow.

The Fat Family’s father Marshall explained to a Brooklyn police lieutenant that they had come from Chicopee, MA where the circus had gone bust owing them $100. “We had just enough money to get to New York and we came. Here we are now. We have no engagement, no money, no food and no place to sleep. Not having food is a serious matter.” And in what may be the biggest understatement, Mr. Tanner added, ” The children are fond of eating.”

The news story had no substantial follow up, and the Fat Family Continue reading

Only 357,598 Americans Paid Income Tax In 1914

Income Taxes And Who Pays Them Past and Present

A relatively minuscule number of Americans paid taxes after the federal income tax on individuals began in 1913. The entire income tax burden in 1914 was paid by 0.27% of the population. Basically the very wealthy and upper middle class carried the income tax load for America.

With a population of 98.7 million people in 1914, only 357,598 citizens paid an income tax. If you earned less than $2,500 per year, you paid no income tax. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #138 – Times Square From The Roof Of The Times Tower Building

Birdseye View Of Times Square From The Times Tower Building c. 1910

Times Tower Building Roof view of Times Square c 1910 photo - Keystone-Mast Collection, UCR/California Museum of Photography, University of California at Riverside

Our view comes from the Keystone Mast Collection and shows the rapidly developing Times Square.

But as you can see, north of 42nd Street there are no skyscraper buildings. While many eight to ten story buildings dot the landscape, the tallest structure in this vicinity is the building where the photo was taken from. Continue reading

The Youngest Child At The Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum – c. 1911

A Beautiful Orphan With Her Doll c. 1911

Photographed by William Davis Hassler is the “youngest child at the Kingsbridge Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum,” in the Bronx.

Hassler took a series of photographs of the residents of the asylum sometime between 1911 and 1912. Hassler’s other photographs, many of the Bronx and its people, are housed at The New York Historical Society.

Unfortunately Hassler did not identify who this little girl is or her age. She looks to be about three-years-old. If you click on the photo to enlarge, you will see Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #136 – 125th Street & 7th Avenue Harlem 1917

Harlem, Corner of 125th Street & 7th Avenue – January 31, 1917

125th St & 7th Ave 1917 photo New York Historical Society

125th St & 7th Ave 1917 photo New York Historical Society

We’re looking south along Seventh Avenue towards 125th Street. The tall building directly behind the passing trolley identified by its sign is Harlem’s famous Hotel Theresa. The hotel opened in 1913 and closed in 1967. It is now a mixed use office building named Theresa Towers. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #133 – Nassau Street c. 1915

Nassau Street and Maiden Lane 1915 – The Center of Stamp Collecting

In this snapshot bereft of vehicles and full of people, Nassau Street is seen from Maiden Lane at ground level.

A boy runs towards the cameraman and pedestrians go about their business on a typical day in lower Manhattan.

In 1915 Nassau Street was lined with restaurants, drug stores, bars and merchants like an umbrella repair shop with its sign seen directly behind the man standing on the corner with the straw hat. Also behind the umbrella sign is 61 Nassau Street.

Wall Street Workers Have Money To Spend

This area is in the environs of the financial district. Quite a few of the downtown workers could afford to spend their money on luxuries and hobbies. Maiden Lane was once known for its cluster of jewelry manufacturers and shops. Continue reading

New York City’s Famous Drake’s Restaurant 1900-1937

Drake’s Restaurant Was Open 24 Hours A Day For 37 Years Until Labor Troubles Set In

In our previous story we briefly told the story of Jack’s a famous New York restaurant that never closed. There was another “never closed” restaurant which was a New York institution for 37 years.

Drake’s was located at 111 West 42nd Street near Broadway. The restaurant was founded in 1900 as Rigg’s as part of the Rigg’s chain. Continue reading

Old New York In Postcards #24 – Pre-Prohibition Manhattan Restaurants 1900 -1920

Manhattan Meals – Some Pre-Prohibition Turn-Of-The-Century Restaurants

Maxim’s Restaurant 108-110 West 38th Street. Maxim’s was the first restaurant raided a few hours before prohibition went into effect January 15, 1920

With few exceptions owning a restaurant is among the most precarious businesses to enter. Long hours, high upfront costs for rent, food and labor and changing public tastes almost insure that few restaurants can make a long and successful run.

100 years ago many of New York’s older restaurants shut down because of an unexpected decline in business- the victims of prohibition.

Once cafes and restaurants lost the right to sell beer, wine and liquor many closed soon after the Volstead Act went into effect in 1920. Some restaurants known for fine cuisine were able to ride out 13 years with no alcohol sales. Other restaurants would turn to selling spirits illegally. Others like cafeteria and luncheon type restaurants survived, having always been patronized for their food.

All of the following restaurants shown below closed long ago.

Restaurant and Cafe Leo

Cafe Leo 14th Street New York CIty Restaurant and Cafe Leo stood on the southwest corner of 14th Street and Fourth Avenue. Note the Star of David over the entrances, not always the sign of a Jewish establishment, but a decorative element. In this case however, proprietor Leo Greenbaum was letting potential diners know this was a Jewish owned business. By 1923 Cafe Leo vanished from the city directory. Continue reading