Tag Archives: Broadway

What Was In A New York Newspaper 100 Years Ago – June 16, 1918

A Look Back At What Was In The New York Tribune Newspaper 100 Years Ago, June 16, 1918

Immigrant Aliens, Child Labor and Of Course Entertainment

What was occurring 100 Years Ago? The Fairbanks Twins and Lillian Lorraine were about to appear in The Ziegfeld Follies of 1918 at The New Amsterdam Theatre.

It’s interesting to see what newspapers of the past contained. 100 years ago, June 16, 1918 the Great War (World War I) was still raging and battle news dominated the news. What else would you see in the newspaper as far as local matters?

Here are seven of the things I thought were worth highlighting from The New York Tribune. Click on any image to read the entire story.

The hostility towards immigrants who are not citizens has always existed. During World War I anti-German sentiment ran high. The government required that all alien (non-citizen) German women 14 and older register at their local police stations, take a loyalty oath and provide five photographs of themselves! Women who failed to register would be arrested and severely punished.

German women register with police

It seems like paranoia, but German espionage and sabotage were a real threat during the war. But usually the reason an entire group gets demonized is because they are an easy target when the populace gets inflamed. One man took matters into his own hands printing 3,000 signs to be distributed at shops along Fifth Avenue declaring, “Speaking of German Prohibited On These Premises.” The unnamed man ran out of signs within walking three blocks. Volunteers grabbed as many as they could to help pass them out. The thinking was this will “Americanize” those Germans.

There would be a big uproar if someone tried to do something similar today pointing the finger at any ethnic group, even when we are at war, which by the way, we still are. The never-ending “war on terrorism.” The language those barbarians who commit terrorist acts doesn’t matter, does it?

German language prohibited

You could say lawyer Albert W. Gray was henpecked, but the things Mrs. Gray did are a little more extreme than henpecking. Mrs. Gray made poor Albert account for every penny he spent and explain every moment and movement he made. Mr Gray had 11 years of being told when to wake, eat and sleep, before deserting his overbearing spouse. Mrs. Gray in her separation decree said if she only knew her husband was unhappy she would have changed her system of housekeeping!

Wife controlled every aspect of husband’s existence

The Tribune reprinted a whole page from the San Antonio, TX based Kelly Field military newspaper. Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #67 – Chico Marx, Businessman & Gambler

Chico Marx Entertaining The Troops During World War II

U.S. Naval Air Station, Wold-Chamberlain Airport, Minneapolis, MN: Chico Marx was flying high back stage in the Orpheum Theater when three Aviation Cadets and one WAVE from the U.S. Naval Air Station called on him to make arrangements for his appearance at the Station Recreation Hall. Chico is bringing his entire show to the Air Station Tuesday to entertain the Naval Personnel. The Cadets are Lowell H. Conrow, Richard W. Hildebrand and Donald D. Bosold. The WAVE is Ensign Mary J. Withrow, USNR. Photo: U.S. Navy

When author Charlotte Chandler wrote her entertaining book about Groucho Marx, Hello I Must Be Going (Doubleday, 1978), it was mentioned by Groucho’s friends that someone should write or compile a book about Groucho’s eldest brother, Chico Marx.

Eventually a book was written about Chico by his daughter Maxine Marx. As interesting as that book is, it was not the sort of book that captured Chico’s flamboyant and incredible life.

Maxine had left out a good deal of the salacious parts of her father’s life by purposeful omission. Many other anecdotes were left out of her book simply because Maxine was unaware of them. There were hundreds of great stories known and shared only by show business veterans and insiders who Chico associated with, that went untold. Now those stories are lost forever, as all of Chico’s friends, contemporaries and acquaintances are long dead.

What is widely known is that Chico was a notorious womanizer and gambler who went through money as quickly as he made it or borrowed it.

Groucho famously said, “You know, somebody asked Chico how much money he lost gambling, and he said, ‘Find out how much money Harpo has. That’s how much money I lost.'”

The brothers had to bail Chico out countless times. There were even a couple of instances where had they not paid Chico’s debts, the gamblers he owed money to would have killed him.

Harpo wrote in Harpo Speaks! (Bernard Geis Associates, 1961) of his older brother when they were both teenagers, “Chico was a devout believer in the maxim, ‘Share and share alike.’ The way he shared my possessions was to hock them as fast as he got his hands on them, and then give the pawn tickets to me as my share.” 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

Old New York In Photos #83 – Macy’s & Surroundings 1905

Around Macy’s Herald Square – The Greatest Store In The World 1905

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.

Above is the color postcard that was created from this photograph.

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

The Myth of Congestion Pricing – A Plan To Tax and Punish Car Drivers

New York City and State Are Getting Ready To Implement Congestion Pricing – Which Doesn’t Solve The Underlying Issues And Imposes A Regressive Tax That Punishes All But The Very Wealthy

Second Avenue 3 pm – What’s causing the traffic? It’s not the cars.

What I’m about to say will not be popular because most readers do not own a car and live in Manhattan. But if you disagree, don’t bother to write back because you can’t convince me and I probably can’t convince you.

There is a war on cars and their drivers in New York City. And the city’s solution in this war is congestion pricing, which is not the answer.

A preface- I bicycle a minimum of 50 miles a week on city streets. I walk at least another five miles and take public transportation whenever possible. But I also own a car. Why car owners are despised and have scorn heaped upon them I’ve yet to understand. Maybe because so many drivers are dangerous and don’t actually know the proper way to drive. Seeing someone speeding up to a red light is just one of my pet peeves.

It doesn’t take a car driver to notice that in New York City, especially in Manhattan, traffic is moving slower than ever.

Over the last eight years traffic’s gotten progressively worse. At first glance you might say; well there are just too many cars and why should people be driving into Manhattan? Let those who drive in Manhattan pay for the privilege.

There are several things wrong with that logic. Let’s start with the most basic problem.

The city, not the vehicles have purposely made traffic worse.

If you think that this was an unintended consequence think again.

What is causing the actual horrific bumper to bumper traffic? Guess what, it is definitely not passenger automobiles. I long suspected this and now I had to go out and prove it. Continue reading

When Hazel Was Young

Is That Really Hazel???

Once upon a time there were seven television channels to choose from in New York City. Before 1977 and the wide introduction of cable television every kid experienced the same TV shows and could talk about them with their peers.

Gilligan’s Island; I Dream of Jeannie; Mr. Ed; F-Troop; Green Acres; Bonanza, Star Trek, Family Affair; I Love Lucy; Batman; The Brady Bunch and so on. If it was being rebroadcast after school in syndication we saw it. That means kids also had little to choose from. Which means kids watched many bad TV shows. And that’s why I saw Hazel.

Hazel was one of the most annoying television series from the 1960s.

The star playing Hazel was Shirley Booth (1898-1992), Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #80 – The Main New York Post Office Broadway c. 1887

Main Branch Of New York Post Office Broadway, between Beekman and Ann Streets c. 1887

We return to one of the most striking and photographed structures of 19th century New York. The main branch of the New York Post Office which loomed over the southern end of City Hall Park for nearly 65 years.

We are looking north from Ann Street up towards Broadway (left) and Park Row (right).

The scene is typical of an average day in 1880s New York. We can see several trolleys at rest either having completed their runs or about to start them. Several delivery carts are scattered about nearby. A police officer stands in the middle of Broadway keeping an eye on things. A horse drawn hansom coach and driver are prominent in the foreground. Businessmen make their way about the city, many walking on the Belgian block street rather than the sidewalks. Telegraph poles and wires criss-cross Park Row and Broadway.

The hub of all this activity is the main branch of the New York Post Office, designed by Alfred B. Mullett and opened to the public on Sunday, August 29, 1875. Between 8 a.m and 8 p.m. it was estimated that between 20 – 30,000 people wandered into the new building. They passed slowly through its corridors gawking at the shiny new post office lock boxes, looking into delivery windows and buttonholing anybody who looked like an employee to ask questions.

Architecturally inspired by the French Renaissance style, the building proved to be wildly unpopular from the get go. Among the chief complaints about the Post Office was that it was ugly.

More importantly it was located in the wrong place. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #79 – Broadway & 79th Street c. 1890

This Pastoral Scene Is Broadway and 79th Street

While the quality of this photograph is far from perfect, we thought it was unusual enough to share.

With laundry hanging off a clothesline, a horse grazing near the front door of a tree filled yard, this bucolic area is Bloomingdale, near the corner of the Boulevard and 79th Street. At least that is what is written on the back of the circa 1890 photo.

As you may know, The Boulevard was the continuation of Broadway above 59th Street.

Robinson’s Atlas of New York City 1885

Checking Robinson’s Atlas of New York City from 1885, I’ve tried to figure out where this house stood and what direction the photograph was taken from.

The atlas key is as follows: structures shaded in yellow are made of wood, pink are brick and brown are stone. We can see our three story house is made of wood. In the background on the right there is another building. But which of these buildings fits the description?

The authoritative book on the Bloomingdale area (the Dutch name for Valley of the Flowers) is The New York of Yesterday (1908) by Hopper Striker Mott. According to Mott, the house that was nearest that site was the van den Heuvel homestead a two story stone and wood home built approximately in 1759.

The end is near for the former van den Heuvel / Burnham mansion c. 1905 photo: Robert Bracklow NYHS

Sometime in the early 19th century the van den Heuvel home had an additional story added after a fire destroyed the original slanted roof. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #76

Around The Flatiron Building 1906 – Looking At The Details

We’ve profiled the fabulous photographs of the Detroit Publishing Company held by the Library of Congress before, but with over 40,000 photographs in the collection there are always interesting views to examine.

This scene  looking south from 27th Street and Fifth Avenue shows moderate traffic at a typically busy time. (Click any photo to enlarge)

If we look at the clock on the extreme right, near the Fifth Avenue Hotel (not visible), we can see the time is 8:53 in the morning on a sunny day.

Two smartly dressed women with great hats are walking west along the edge of Madison Square Park. A policeman walks with his white-gloved hands clasped behind his back and his distinctive helmet perched upon his head. The NYPD liked their officers to be tall and actively recruited men who were six feet or taller.

The man in the white helmet is a sanitation worker, dressed in a suit! As you can see, even in 1906 people knew bicycles were an effective way to navigate Manhattan. With the city powered by over 100,000 horses, you didn’t have to concern yourself too much with a car hitting your bicycle, as horses outnumbered cars about 10 to 1.

In 1906 there were only 130,000 motorized vehicles in the entire United States, and about 10,000 in New York City.

It only took another twelve years before cars outnumbered horses in New York City. Continue reading

The Girls Of The Chorus – 1920

The Girls From The Chorus of Always You, A 1920 Musical Comedy

chorus-girls-1920-broadway-show-always-youThere’s really no reason to show this photograph other than it portrays an eternal theme – trying to get your big break on Broadway. Most chorus girls toil in anonymity for years without finding fame and fortune.

Unfortunately there is no identification on the back of the photo, other than the play name.

Always You, a musical comedy in two acts ran from January 5 until February 28, 1920, for a total of 66 performances.

Checking the cast through the IBDB the ensemble (chorus girls) include: Rose Cardiff, Virginia Clark, Elinore Cullen, Lillian Held, Irma Marwick, Helen Neff, Marietta O’Brien, Mildred Rowland, Emily Russ, Memphis Russell, Marvee Snow and Beatrice Summers.

Which six are pictured?

I’m not sure who is who, but I believe Memphis Russell is third from right and another one of the women is Marietta O’Brien (second from left) who has an interesting story.

After Always You, Marietta O’Brien appeared in a number of musical plays and revues. She also posed nude for famous Ziegfeld Girl photographer Alfred Cheney Johnston. In 1928 O’Brien married Ned Jakobs, the producer of the play she was starring in, The Houseboat On The Styx.

The only problem with that was Ned was already married Continue reading