Tag Archives: 1930s

Old New York In Photos #96 – Rodeo At Bellevue Hospital

The Rodeo Comes To Bellevue Hospital – 1937

Bellevue Hospital rodeo 1937

The Rodeo Visits Kiddies at Bellevue Hospital

New York City – A fancy stepping cowboy band and cowboys and cowgirls in their bright-colored shirts parade before children patients of Bellevue Hospital as they visit the hospital to stage their rodeo which is now appearing in Madison Square Garden. 10/14/1937 credit Wide World Photos

Over 3,000 people, mostly children, watched this performance at Bellevue Hospital on October 14, 1937. If you are wondering exactly where this took place, it is the rear yard of Bellevue at 29th Street facing the river. The East River Drive (renamed FDR after 1945) portion of the highway behind Bellevue had not been constructed yet. The hospital grounds had quite a bit of room to hold a rodeo. Continue reading

What Were The Best New York City Restaurants In 1929?

Brooklyn Daily Eagle Columnist Rian James Shares His Picks For The Best Restaurants in New York City in 1929

Rian James (1899-1953) may not be a well known name today, but back in the 1920s and 30s, he was a widely read journalist and  “man about town.”

In 1933 James took a stab at writing for the movies. He wrote the screenplay for 42nd Street, one of the most successful and popular films of the 1930s. James would go on to write over three dozen screenplays.

As a columnist for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle from 1928-1935, James rambled all around New York City. Along the way James hobnobbed with everyone: the well-to-do, the hoi-polloi, actors,  and bohemians, in the process, hitting all the night spots. The stories James gathered made for a widely read column about the city he loved.

Four times a year the Eagle published a small guide Going Places With Rian James casting his top picks in New York City food and entertainment.

For the Summer 1929 Going Places, a good portion of  James’ 32 page booklet is devoted to dining. Unlike the modern Zagat restaurant guides or Yelp, consensus was not considered. The only thing that mattered was James’ opinion. James knew all the “in” places, the haunts of celebs, the exclusive, the ribald and the popular.

Proving he’s no snob, the best New York restaurant according to James is not at a high class hotel or Madison Avenue establishment. It’s Feltman’s, originator of the hotdog, in Coney Island that wins the prize.  James writes, “The best all-round food in all New York, excluding no place.”

This is a New York booklet written for New Yorkers.

James offers a unique slice of the New York dining scene just prior to the October 1929 stock market crash and the onset of the Great Depression. The good times were to end soon after.

While there were a ton of contemporary guidebooks published about New York City, very few delved into the restaurant scene. James’ punchy one line descriptions tell you a lot more than many a detailed review.

The writing has some jazz age jargon such as “Beeway” for Broadway and “black and tan” for an establishment that has race mingling between Blacks and Caucasians. Sometimes there’s an “inside”, long forgotten, or even a risque reference such as this one:

BARNEY’S – 85 W. 3rd St.
The best bet for whoopee in the Village.

In other words, where you have the best chance of hooking up.

James later wrote several full length books about New York City: a full guidebook All About New York An Intimate Guide; John Day (1931) and another not surprisingly titled, Dining in New York; John Day (1934).

While you peruse this list, you may recognize some names long gone from New York’s glorious culinary past. Other eateries you never heard of just sound like they would have been a blast to visit.

What is stunning in the transient world of dining, is that there are a small number of restaurants that are still in business nearly 90 years later.

We have left Rian James’ spelling, grammar and punctuation as it is written in the booklet.

So with that, here is Rian James’ New York City’s restaurant recommendations for the summer of 1929, divided into his appropriate section headings in bold.

Restaurants of All Nations

Name      Address       Nation

L’AIGLON – 55th, E. of Fifth Ave. French
Complete French Cuisine.LUCHOWS – 110 E. 14th St. German
Complete German Cuisine. Try the German Rye Bread. Continue reading

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

Classic Hollywood #70 – Hollywood’s Oldest Living Movie Star – Mary Carlisle

Mary Carlisle, Movie Star Of The 1930s Is 104 Years Young

(Update August 2, 2018 – Sadly, Mary Carlisle died on August 1, 2018, three weeks after this story was written.)

Mary Carlisle MGM publicity photo by George Hurrell

While she is not a household name, Mary Carlisle appeared in many films in the 1930s, including co-starring with Bing Crosby in three of his films.

With 65 films to her credit from 1923 -1943, Mary Carlisle is among the last survivors of Hollywood’s golden age of film.

Born in Boston on February 3, 1914, Carlisle started appearing regularly in movies at age 16 in 1930, mostly as an uncredited extra. Of the thousands of actresses vying for stardom in the 1930s, Carlisle’s talent and looks helped her rise in the ranks quickly.

Between 1922 -1934 the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers (WAMPAS) had a publicity campaign, where they annually named the young movie actresses they believed were on the cusp of motion picture stardom. Carlisle received a big boost in her career by being chosen a WAMPAS baby star for 1932. Among the 14 other actresses chosen that year by WAMPAS were Ginger Rogers, Gloria Stuart and Eleanor Holm.

 

Carlisle got a big build up from MGM and made dozens of films throughout the 1930s, not surprisingly cast as a stereotypical “nice girl” pretty blond.  Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #69 – The Barrymore Family

The Barrymore Family Reunion – 1932

Here is the early 20th century’s royal family of acting, the Barrymore’s, Lionel, Ethel and John.

Each a star in their own right, first on the stage and later in films. Yet the trio only appeared in one movie together, Rasputin and the Empress (1932).

The Clan Barrymore

When John, Ethel and Lionel Barrymore came together to play in M-G-M’s “Rasputin”, it made possible the first reunion of the entire family. Above photo shows the Barrymore reunion in Hollywood. Left to right- front row: Mrs. Lionel Barrymore (Irene Fenwick), holding John Blythe, son of John Barrymore; Lionel Barrymore, Ethel Barrymore, Mrs. John Barrymore (Dolores Costello) with Ethel Dolores Barrymore, her daughter; and Ethel Barrymore Colt, daughter of Ethel Barrymore. In rear are left to right: John Barrymore Colt (left) and his brother, Samuel Colt, with John Barrymore standing between the two. credit: Acme  9/20/32

This photograph was taken at John Barrymore’s home in early September 1932.

Interestingly before this film, the three actors had never even appeared together in the same play.

Rasputin and the Empress as the film was re-titled, marked Ethel Barrymore’s (1879-1959) first talking film. Her stage popularity was such that she wouldn’t appear in another film until 1944 (None But The Lonely Heart). After 1944 Ethel would appear regularly in motion pictures, making 20 more movies until her retirement in 1957.

After MGM signed Ethel Barrymore to appear in Rasputin, brother Lionel Barrymore (1878-1954) was asked to comment and said, “Great! And tell me what poor benighted and unlucky individual is to direct this opus in which all three of us are to act together?” 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

The Empire State Building Opened On This Day – 1931

The Empire State Building Opens May 1, 1931

You probably won’t recognize this building unfortunately, though it is certainly New York’s most famous landmark. Every sightseer who has studied it up close will know it’s the Empire State Building. credit: Acme 9/7/51

There are not many 87-year-olds that look this good.

The remarkable Empire State Building may no longer be the tallest building in the world or New York City for that matter, but it still is one of the most iconic and beautiful.

The Empire State Building opened May 1, 1931. Dedicating the Empire State Building, President Herbert Hoover pressed a symbolic button in the White House that put on all the lights in the building.  (A worker in New York actually turned on the lights.)

Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #87 – East 69th Street 1931

69th Street Looking East From First Avenue – 1931

This is an ordinary view of an ordinary street, East 69th Street taken on April 4, 1931 from the northeast corner of First Avenue. But even though it is ordinary, there is a lot to notice.

Still under construction at the end of 69th Street and York Avenue are the art deco inspired buildings of New York Hospital-Cornell Medical College. The hospital began construction in 1929 and was opened in September 1932. What had previously been the site of the Central Brewing Company and some row houses, became the home of buildings that housed New York Hospital, Cornell University Medical College, New York Hospital School of Nursing, and the Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic.

On the right side of 69th street is the Roman Catholic Church of St. Catherine of Siena. The church had been located there since 1897 and was soon to be demolished. The congregation moved to a new building on East 68th Street in 1932.

Even with the paucity of pedestrians and traffic on 69th Street, there is activity near the church. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #86 – The End Of The Classic Lower Manhattan Skyline c. 1956

Lower Manhattan’s Classic Skyline Seen Aerially From Battery Park c. 1956

And What Became of It

Classic lower Manhattan skyline before the late 1950s transformation. Battery Park is in the foreground. (c.1956)

Every time I’m in Brooklyn and gaze across the East River at the lower Manhattan skyline I feel I’m looking at a city I don’t recognize.

It’s not because I’m old, but it might be because the buildings that have been going up since the late 1950s are cut from the same mold, glass sheathed pinnacles with no flourishes, adornments or personality.

For the first half of the twentieth century, when you came upon New York whether by ship, train or car and got your first glimpse of the skyline you knew you were coming into New York City.

For a native New Yorker coming upon New York today, you may as well be entering the architectural equivalent of the Mall of America, any-city USA. Examples sprout up everywhere of New York’s architectural monstrosities, ugly and tall for the sake of being tall.

Classic lower Manhattan skyline form Brooklyn waterfront in the 1930s. photo: Acme

Commercial Cable Building

The skyline of lower Manhattan had remained pretty much static from 1931 through 1957 Continue reading