Tag Archives: Police

Old New York In Photos #78 – Fifth Avenue & 42nd Street 1903

Fifth Avenue & 42nd Street c. 1903 – Crowded Street On A Cold Sunny Day

This bustling scene was captured by a Detroit Publishing Company photographer around 1903. The view is from the southeast corner of 42nd Street looking north up Fifth Avenue.

It is obviously a cold and sunny day with most people wearing warm coats. Enlarging our photograph the first thing you may notice is that everyone is uniformly dressed. All the women have the same dress length, just past the ankle. Every man wears a suit or overcoat.  Take a look around. There is not a single person hatless.

Let’s zoom in on some of the details.

On the northeast corner of 42nd Street an elderly man stops to take a look at the work going on inside an open manhole.

As usual, at all very busy intersections, a policeman is on duty to help direct the flow of traffic both vehicular and pedestrian.

This gentleman on the left with the gold watch fob and chain looks to be a prosperous fellow, possibly on his way back to his office after lunch.

Of course other people look spiffy without being wealthy. This sharp looking mustachioed hansom cab driver holding a whip is dressed immaculately.

Crossing the street is an adventure. The teen on the left dashes past the horse drawn wagon that is making it’s way up Fifth Avenue. The man on the right waits cautiously looking for a break in the traffic before making his attempt .

How these three women are going to get across the street seems to be a daunting challenge to say the least.

When they finally do try and make it across the street they have to be looking up and down, because there is the ever-present horse manure everywhere.

Let’s take a look at the immediate surroundings. The main building on the northwest corner of 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue had previously been the Hotel Bristol. In business since the 1870s, the hotel was converted into offices and stores in 1903 and renamed the Bristol Building. The entire structure and many other adjacent buildings were taken down in 1927 to build the art deco skyscraper, 500 Fifth Avenue.

If you looked up at the second story window of the Bristol Building you’d see a clock. It’s 2:10 and the clock belongs to a branch office of Howard Lapsley Bankers and Brokers. Their main business location was on Exchange Place. Immediately below on the ground floor is a sign for the corner store, Acker Merrall and Condit Company. Amazingly their wine business, which now specializes in rare wine auctions is still active in 2017.

On the ground floor of the Bristol Building were some other businesses including Thomas Young Jr., florist. Besides the name on the awning and on the glass window of the store, Thomas Young Jr. put his name up in lights just above the store. It must have looked great lit up at night.

If you owned a business and had a vehicle, it would probably be a good idea to put the name of your business on a delivery truck. While we know this vehicle is related to the sale of desks, tables and chairs we don’t know which company it is. Maybe the name was on the other side of awning.

To conclude, take a look at this light fixture on the near southeast corner of 42nd Street. The time of making utilitarian objects beautiful seems to have disappeared as the 20th century progressed.

Even though it has a simple cast iron base atop a concrete pedestal did the light itself have to be so ornate? Probably not, but isn’t this fixture more pleasant to look at, even with a small amount of advertising for the American Biscuit Company on the glass?

Immigration Enforcement In 1921 & Immigration Battles Today

Immigrants Inspected – Keeping America “Safe” 1921

Immigrants Examined By New York City Health Officials For Typhus Symptoms

To ward off a possible spread of the dread typhus in New York, Dr. Royal S. Copeland, Health Commissioner, has assigned a squad of inspectors to examine all immigrants released from Ellis Island on their arrival in New York City. The immigrants must pass two inspections before being permitted to land. The Federal health authorities examine them at Ellis Isalnd and Dr. Copeland’s squad assisted by New York police round them up at the Battery and take them to a nearby ferry house where another examination is made. Several carriers of the typhus lice  according to reports have been discovered by the Copeland squad after the Ellis Island officials had permitted them to pass through.

The photo shows Dr. Copeland’s squad examining newly landed immigrants. photo: International News 2-14-21

Today there is much more than typhus to worry about when deciding who shall be admitted to the United States. “Extreme vetting” to thwart terrorists is one of the big debates. And of course there is that contentious issue of the estimated 11 million people that are in the United States illegally.

In all the arguments that have been brought up about amnesty for illegals, I have not seen anyone saying they are against legal immigrants and immigration. Continue reading

Look What The Cops Caught In Times Square – 1935

75 Cattle Get Off A Boat In Manhattan, 3 Decide To Take A Tour Of The City Instead of Going To The Slaughterhouse

After A Chase Through Midtown Manhattan – Cops Catch An Elusive Steer In Times Square

It’s not a rodeo, but a policeman uses a lasso to catch a runaway steer in Times Square. photo: Acme 9/3/1935

It was little before 6 a.m. on Tuesday, September 3, 1935. Labor Day weekend had just ended. The city was stirring back to life to begin a normal work week. At an East River dock on 45th Street, a boat was unloading its cargo, 75 head of cattle, all headed to the nearby slaughterhouse.

72 cattle headed a half-block away to Wilson & Company. Three adventurous cattle decided to take a tour of the city rather than be turned into steaks and cutlets. Continue reading

The New York Housewife Who Was Too Pretty To Walk In The Streets In 1902 – She Had To Use A Gun and A Knife To Protect Herself

Ellen Emerson, So Beautiful, Lecherous Men Kept Accosting Her On The Streets Of New York In 1902

To Fight Them Off She Once Used A Gun, Another Time A Knife

But There’s A Twist At The End Of The Story

She could stop traffic, that is all male pedestrian traffic. Imagine being so attractive that every time you left your home you were the recipient of unwanted stares, comments and in the  worst case, groping.

In 1902 at 60 West 98th Street lived Ellen Emerson, who when she went out in public, men would constantly ogle her.

The undesired attention from men was so bad that she brandished a gun at one of her pursuers and a knife another time to protect herself from being accosted.

Within a space of four weeks Joseph Pulitzer’s Evening World did two stories about Mrs. Ellen Emerson. The first story which ran on November 8, 1902 told about Mrs. Emerson’s dilemma; “attractive and blonde and long the victim of ‘mashers.'”

Ellen told an unnamed reporter, “My life has been made a perfect burden for me  by these obnoxious men. I don’t know what there is about me. I am not a loud dresser, but I scarcely ever go on the street without being pursued.” 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

Women Joining The NYPD 100 Years Ago? Not Likely.

No Women Became NYPD Officers Until 1918

Woman Police Making Arrest Bain locThis 1908 news photo by Bain News Service shows a Cincinnati suffragette dressed as a policeman. The accompanying captions is “How woman policeman would look making an arrest.”  Another photo of the same woman is captioned “the woman cop ‘A Dream.'”

Women becoming police officers in the early 20th century was considered a joke. Well maybe that was the case 100 years ago, but not today. There are now over 6,000 uniformed women police officers in the NYPD and they comprise almost 20% of the police force.

In the early history of the NYPD, women had worked as jail matrons and secretary’s. It was in 1918 that Ellen O’Grady was named a Deputy Police Commissioner and Mary E. Hamilton was appointed a policewoman along with 5 other women.

Some of the original policewomen were assigned to battle the white slave trade (forced prostitution) while other recruits were to work on juvenile delinquency cases.

The policewomen were issued badges, summons books, revolvers and handcuffs. They had the same authority as their male counterparts and surprisingly, received the same $1,200 salary as policemen.

As more women joined the force in the following two years, most of the policewomen were assigned to the city beaches to protect women. Others were given assignments in the Vice Squad, the Missing Persons Bureau and some were to investigate fortune-tellers and midwives. Continue reading

You’re Under Arrest! Why The NYPD Would Arrest You In 1905

The Crimes That Got You Arrested in New York City In 1905

New York City police bringing suspects into the station. (circa 1900)

New York City police bringing suspects into the station. (circa 1900)

The police make more arrests now In New York City than they did In 1905. Of course the population has doubled from what it was in 1905. But it’s the type of arrests that were made 111 years ago that are quite different from today.

Among the 4,014,304 people living in New York City in 1905 with almost 2 million foreign born and many of them poor, you would think there would be a lot of crime. And there was, but most of it was not violent. In 1905, there were 198,356 arrests for the year, with about 90 percent of them being misdemeanors.

So what crimes were New Yorkers charged with? The following information was taken from the Report of the Police Department of the City of New York for the Year Ending December 31, 1905. Below are 1905’s top 13 offenses with the number of people arrested by the NYPD and the offense they committed:

52,316 Intoxication / Intoxication and Disorderly conduct
39,972 Disorderly conduct
17,584 Violation of Corporation Ordinances
11,731 Assault and Battery
8,592 Disorderly Person
8,333 Vagrancy
7,991 Suspicious Person
6,880 Petit Larceny
5,031 Grand Larceny
3,939 Violation of Liquor Tax Law
3,795 Violation of Health Law
2,810 Felonious Assault
2,279 Burglary

In the breakdown of the hundreds of offenses that people were arrested for, here are some facts that might surprise you.

New York City police turned a blind eye to the oldest profession as only 13 people were arrested for prostitution. 10 for possessing or selling obscene pictures. 49 for arson. 16 for murder and 711 for homicide- (I never realized  there was a technical difference between murder and homicide)!

Six were arrested for cruelty to children, yet 535 were arrested for cruelty to animals. Continue reading

Mayor La Guardia’s Homeless Solution – Arrest Them!

New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia’s 1942 solution for homelessness: Get to work or we’ll arrest you!

Bowery bums told to leave by LaGuardia 1942Rounding ’em up

New York City – “The Bowery Bum must go!” decreed New York’s Mayor La Guardia in his latest drive for municipal purity, and police squads promptly invaded the habitats of New York’s human derelicts and piled their collection into patrol wagons. Photo shows a group of the hapless men climbing into the “pie wagon”.  The mayor predicted that 30 days in the workhouse would cure them of their gutter-sleeping habits. (photo credit Acme) 11/18/1942

In 1942 some of New York City’s homeless population were comprised of families, but it also had a great deal of what were termed derelicts, vagrants and bums. These were the denizens of New York’s infamous street of despair, the Bowery.

That November, under the orders of Chief Magistrate Henry H. Curran and with the blessing of Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, the order to clear the Bowery bums off the streets or be arrested was given. It may sound harsh, but then it was how the city felt they could best deal with the undesired population inhabiting the streets of the Bowery. Mayor La Guardia claimed he had received complaints from several mission societies and churches along the Bowery about the actions of the homeless on the street. 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

Classic Hollywood #35

A New York City Cop Takes Exception To Claudia Cardinale’s Dress – 1971

Claudia Cardinale 1971 Streets of NYC 2Disturbing the Peace

New York, NY – A New York policeman is not deterred in his duty as Italian actress Claudia Cardinale turns on her charm in front of Grand Central Station. After telling Cardinale to “move along,” the policeman rubs shoulders with her as he goes his way and she goes hers. Front view of the departing actress shows why he asked her to move. The dress she wore to plug a new movie caused a mid-town traffic jam. (UPI) 8-3-71

Here is how Claudia was causing the traffic jam —

Claudia Cardinale 1971 Streets of NYCI love the men’s faces in the background, while the cop scowls and bumps into Cardinale. For 1971 this mode of dress on the city streets was considered very risque. Today it would barely attract attention, let alone have the police intervening.

A member of the Turner Classic Movie Fan Forum, FrankT65, posted a behind the scenes account of what occurred here.

Frank was responsible for running a publicity junket for Paramount’s The Red Tent starring Claudia Cardinale, Sean Connery and Peter Finch. Here is how Frank describes the event:

We had lots out of town press coming in for a junket and if anything we would have plenty of publicity coverage for the film.

Our VP in charge of marketing was Charles Glenn….a man who believed in the publicity stunt, which had been considered by many to be outdated. I myself loved publicity stunts…it got you out of the office and in with the public where a public relations person belonged. Problem was there were too few stunts you could connect with THE RED TENT. Finally someone came up Continue reading