Tag Archives: 1920s

Old New York In Photos #66 – Brooklyn Bridge & The Manhattan Skyline At Night 1928

Under The Brooklyn Bridge & The Classic Manhattan Skyline At Night -1928

brooklyn-bridge-manhattan-skyline-at-night-1928The Brooklyn Bridge frames this unique view of lower Manhattan at night in 1928. The Woolworth Building (partially seen behind the tower of the bridge) was still the tallest building in the world.

In the center of the photo is the third tallest building in the world, the Singer Building at Liberty Street and Broadway. The second tallest building at the time was the Metropolitan Life Insurance Building on 23rd Street and Madison Avenue.

The next skyscraper to the left of the Singer Building is the Equitable Building. Just south of the Equitable with the pyramid shaped roof is the Bankers Trust Building.

Over the next four years Continue reading

Who Controls The News In Newspapers?

In 1960 Reporter / Author Gene Fowler Saw The Impending Danger of Who Decided What’s News In Newspapers

Gene Fowler wrote the following in 1960:

…the besetting evils of a haywire economy, as well as the reprisals exacted by ferocious minorities against anyone who prints unpleasant truths, has taken much of the do-and-dare spirit out of the makers of newspaper policies. When appeasement supplants editorial enterprise, and silences the outspoken criticism of evil men, the newspaper forfeits its character, loses its influence—and eventually its life. Public servants become public masters. All freedoms are endangered when that of the press is assailed.

Gene FowlerWe continue looking inside Gene Fowler’s book Skyline a reporter’s reminiscences of the 20’s (Viking) published in 1961 a year after Fowler’s death. Fowler makes several prescient observations about the newspaper business. His commentary is astute and he recognized the shifting danger of publishers, rather than editors controlling what gets reported. Fowler witnessed the trend of electronic media (radio & TV at the time) making newspapers irrelevant as the news cycle became hourly. (Now it is instantaneous.)

As more newspapers are controlled by publishers who have an agenda, publishing what is really news has become a very blurred subject.

You’ll hear the term “the liberal media,” “conservative media” or “the mainstream media” thrown about in policy and political discussions. We all know one thing for sure, there are many forms of media bias. But who really sets editorial policy for newspapers? Continue reading

Did Newspaper Writers Really Used To Say “Stop The Press?”

Stop The Press and Other Movie Cliches

Skyline by Gene FowlerReading Gene Fowler’s highly entertaining memoir Skyline a reporter’s reminiscences of the 20’s  (Viking) 1961, I came across Fowler’s description on how newspaper writers talked shop or in this case didn’t.

Apparently those old films which featured newspapers as their settings did not capture the true vernacular of the field or their subjects according to Fowler.

In one passage, Fowler relates the following story when he was assigned to Oyster Bay, New York to cover President Theodore Roosevelt’s death in 1919. Fowler had just finished relaying his story via telegraph.

“Sign me off,” I said to the telegraph operator. So far as I know, none of us (reporters) ever used the supposedly classic term “thirty” at the end of our stories. That, and several other words and phrases which occur in motion picture scripts, was not part of our supposed lingo. For example, I never heard one Park Row man describe another as a “star reporter.” And if one of us even telephoned in with the legendary cry of “Stop the press!” he would have been turned over at once to Dr. Menas Gregory of Bellevue, or else fired.

Fowler’s memoir is a paean to 1920s New York with the central narrative focusing on the great newspaper writers and editors, now mostly forgotten. Continue reading

He Never Hires Blondes or Women Under Thirty

A Businessman Gives His 6 Rules For Hiring Women In This 1920 Article.

women office workersThis sidebar article from the August 1920 American Magazine describes some rather unscientific and capricious decision making when it comes to hiring decisions.

The businessman who penned the article never factors into his six rules for hiring women any relevant facts such as previous work experience or skills.

According to the anonymous author, older, plainly dressed, short brunettes with non-drooping mouths, make better employees. It is amazing the author did not need to consult an astrological chart or crystal ball to finalize his decisions.

There are probably still some hiring managers who today use at least one of these criteria for their hiring decisions without admitting it to anyone.

Why I Never Hire Women Under Thirty

The Experiences of a Business Executive

My Six Rules For Hiring Women

1 I never hire any woman under thirty years of age. Business for men is not “a part of life,” it is life. In our company we want women who will regard it the same way.

2 I choose short compact women rather than tall ones. Generally speaking, short or middle-sized people, men and women both, have more vitality than big people. Many say I am wrong about this. Continue reading

The Most Unbelievable Ad You Ever Saw

This Unbelievable Ad Appeared in 1920

Get Rich Quick fake Ad American magazine 1920GLORIOUS OPPORTUNITY TO GET RICH QUICK
Invest in
THE CALIFORNIA RANCHING COMPANY
Now being organized to start a cat ranch in California.

We are starting a cat ranch in California with 100,000 cats. Each cat will average twelve kittens a year. The cat skins will sell for 30 cents each. One hundred men can skin 5,000 cats a day. We figure a daily net profit of over $10,000.

NOW WHAT SHALL WE FEED THE CATS?
We will start a rat ranch next door with 1,000,000 rats.  The rats will breed twelve times faster than the cats. So, we’ll have four rats to feed each day to each cat. Now what shall we feed the rats? We will feed the rats the carcasses of the cats after they have been skinned.

NOW GET THIS
We feed the rats to the cats, and the cats to the rats, and get the cat
skins for nothing. Shares are selling at 5 cents each, but the price will go up soon.

INVEST WHILE OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS AT YOUR DOOR
CALIFORNIA RANCHING COMPANY

So what’s the story here? This can’t be a real enterprise can it? The following story appeared in The American Magazine in 1920 explaining the ad.

The Savings & Trust Co. of Cleveland wanted to warn people about bad investments. Continue reading

Rare Photograph Of Game 7 Of The 1926 World Series At Yankee Stadium

Yankee Stadium On Edge As Waite Hoyt Pitches To Cardinals Slugger Rogers Hornsby

And The Story of The Strangest End To A World Series

1926 World Series Waite Hoyt pitching to Rogers Hornsby gm 7It is October 10, 1926 and it seems everyone is wearing a hat at game seven of the 1926 World Series at Yankee Stadium. Although the stadium looks packed, rainy, gray and chilly weather kept the attendance for the deciding game down to 38,093.

In this rare photo, Yankee star pitcher Waite Hoyt is unleashing a pitch to the Cardinals Rogers Hornsby. The Yankees would lose this game 3-2 and the game would include one of the most dramatic moments in World Series history and one of, if not the strangest play to end a World Series.

The drama occurred when Cardinals starter Jess Haines had loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh with two outs and was lifted for the veteran pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander.  Old Alex had pitched a complete game victory the day before and was tired, but relaxed as he came into the game to face Yankees slugger Tony Lazzeri. The crowd fell silent as Alexander demonstrated his mastery and struck out Tony Lazzeri ending the threat. Continue reading

Censored! What The Movies Couldn’t Show In 1921

An Incredible List of Things That Movies Were Not Allowed To Portray In 1921

Annette Kellerman the first "star" to do a nude scene 1916 "A Daughter of the Gods"

Famous swimmer, Annette Kellerman was the first “star” to do a nude scene 1916 “A Daughter of the Gods”

Looking at what was prohibited in the state of Maryland from being shown on movie screens in 1921 is overwhelming in its restrictiveness. It includes, but is not limited to: indecorous dancing; over passionate love scenes; exhibition of feminine underwear; gruesome murders; birth control; disrespect for the law; use of opium or other habit forming drugs; executions; profanity; excessive drunkeness especially in women; and maternity scenes.

The complete Maryland censorship rules is a laundry list of vice and of how people really behaved. Basically real life was prohibited in the movies.

Because there was no film industry set of standards, individual states set up their own board of censors to either insist on cuts to movies or block films from being exhibited entirely within that state.

In 1921 there were only six state censorship boards, and that number would greatly expand throughout the 1920’s. What was okay in one state, may not be playable in another. This set off a quagmire of problems for producers of films who needed to be able to show their films to the widest possible audience without having to make special edits to satisfy each state’s censorship board.

Rather than risk the creation of a national censorship board, the film industry eventually self monitored and created its own censorship code and a board to enforce the rules.

One of the last pre-code films. 1933 Roman Scandals with a young Lucille Ball in the chorus as a slave girl

One of the last pre-code films. 1933’s Roman Scandals with a young Lucille Ball in the chorus as a slave girl

The Hays Code (1930) and Joseph Breen, head of the Production Code Administration  standardized censorship rules and staved off an official national censorship board.

But even after the Production Code went into full effect (1934), local authorities or the Legion of Decency could still condemn a film and keep it from being exhibited. The city of Boston was a prime example of banning films with objectionable content.

Below is the complete list of Maryland’s censorship restrictions. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #49

Broadway & 80th Street 1898 and 1928

What A Difference 30 Years Makes

Broadway 80th 81st Street 1898 photo H. N. Tiemann

Broadway looking north and west between 80th & 81st Streets. 1898 photo: H.N. Tiemann

Up until the late 1800’s Broadway above 59th Street still retained much of its sleepy Dutch ways and was still called the Boulevard which followed the course of the Old Bloomingdale Road. The upper west side neighborhoods had their own unique character which were based upon the villages of Harsenville, Striker’s Bay, Bloomingdale and Manhattanville.

In the photo above from 1898 we see the Boulevard looking north and west from 80th Street with horses lined up along the curb. Building is sparse with low profile two and three story buildings. Commercial structures might contain blacksmith’s, grocery shops and tailors. Open land and farms were still nearby. In thirty years the change would be striking.

Land speculation and the coming of the subway would end the ruralness of the area.

Broadway 80th 81st Street 1928 photo H. N. Tiemann

Broadway looking north and west between 80th & 81st Streets. 1928 photo: H.N. Tiemann

This photograph taken in 1928 from the median of Broadway and 80th Street and looking in the same direction as the previous photo shows that almost everything from 1898 has vanished.

We see automobiles, but no horses. The trees that lined the street are gone and there is quite a bit of pedestrian activity along the street. Commercial stores line Broadway and 80th Street to the west and the north. The white building in the foreground is still standing today and now contains Zabar’s.

Continue reading

1925 Police Chief Suggestion: Pay Bounties To NYPD For Killing Criminals

In 1925 A New York Police Chief Proposed Paying Cops Extra To Kill Criminals

Across the country complaints are rising against police officers using excessive force against alleged criminals. So it probably would not be politically correct today to make a suggestion that cops get paid extra to kill criminals. But that didn’t stop one top cop 90 years ago from making that proposal.

Second Deputy Police Commissioner George S. Dougherty c .1912

Second Deputy Police Commissioner George S. Dougherty c .1912

In January 1925 George S. Dougherty former NYPD Second Deputy Commissioner and Chief of Detectives wrote to the New York Times recommending that large bounties be paid to police officers who kill hold-up men.

Dougherty suggested that a police officer killing one hold-up man be paid $1,000, $2,500 for killing two and the astounding sum of $5,000 for killing three. This bounty would mean a regular patrolman could earn substantially more than the $2,500 annual base salary for killing a robber.

Though many citizens may have agreed and responded positively to the Chief’s populist proposal, it never gained any momentum. The New York Times commented that “of course no one goes into mourning when one of these land pirates meet the fate they deserve as enemies of the human race, and if a policeman in the exercise of his duty kills one of them it properly is regarded as a good job, well done. But Mr. Dougherty’s proposal is a very bad one.”

Several officials at the police department concurred with the Times opinion saying that if Dougherty’s suggestions were put into force, “they might incite indiscriminate shooting.”

Other positions advocated by Dougherty included: Continue reading

Babe Ruth And Lou Gehrig Comedy Record -1927

A Commercial Recording Release By The Bambino and The Iron Horse

Gehrig and Ruth at League Park Cleveland 1927 photo L Van OeyenRecently I was reading an old New York Times column from October 7, 1956 by Gay Talese in which he wrote about the history of baseball records. Not home run or pitching records, but baseball related music and spoken word records.

In the article Talese mentions that one of the first record companies to release a baseball record was Pathe records in 1928 when they got Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig to make a recording explaining how they hit home runs. It did not sell very well. Almost all baseball related recordings have traditionally done poorly with sales, with the exception of Take Me Out To The Ballgame written in 1908 by Albert Von Tilzer and Jack Norworth. Incredibly neither Von Tilzer or Norworth had ever attended a baseball game prior to writing their hit song.

So I searched for the Ruth – Gehrig recording on youtube and couldn’t find the exact recording mentioned in the article, but came up with this version instead. (Click on the youtube video below). Apparently it is the exact same record as in the Talese article, but Talese is mistaken about  the content and the date.

It’s a comedy skit (which is not very funny) advertised Continue reading