Old New York In Photos #102 – Mott Street

A Scene On Mott Street c. 1905

The Detroit Publishing Co. photographer was probably intrigued by the spectators lining the sidewalk. This undated scene is from around 1905 based on the clothing and vehicles seen. We are looking north on Mott Street from Worth Street and something worth watching is going on.

A horse drawn coach is carrying a large model of a building upon it. It may have something to do with the building with the steeple in the background, which is the Church of the Transfiguration.

The model building has crosses on it and appears to be ecclesial. The fact that the horses are draped in white fabric signals this is a religious ceremony, rather than a funeral. The other horse drawn vehicles following the procession which are dark, does make the scene look funereal however.

In the foreground, a peanut cart is selling three measures of fresh roasted nuts for a dime.

By the turn-of-the-century many Chinese people were living here, making Mott Street their own, opening shops and restaurants.

Two Chinese restaurants can be seen behind the coach procession. At 5 Mott Street is the Imperial Restaurant. Right next door at 7-9 Mott is Port Arthur Restaurant, which we covered in our history of Chinese Restaurants. Above Port Arthur is the headquarters of the Chinese Empire Reform Association.

Two teenage girls watch the procession and one is aware that a cameraman is photographing the scene. The girl’s jacket has an interesting chevron insignia on the sleeve. I love those hats. This is a prime example of how teenage girls used to dress. They dress so similar to today’s teenage girls. That was sarcasm in case you are confused.

girls shoes 1905

One thing that has come a long way is footwear for girls. Typically you had one pair of shoes that needed to last you until you outgrew them. Then they were passed down to a younger sibling.  A profession you don’t see much anymore, cobblers, were abundant, keeping shoes in wearable condition.

Finally, one profession that has remained in demand has a barely noticeable window advertisement on the second floor. On the left side of the photo, the dentists office on Mott Street alerts passerby that their entrance is located on Worth Street.

3 thoughts on “Old New York In Photos #102 – Mott Street

  1. Kara

    I saw a few entries in other blogs saying that small white hearses were typically used for unmarried women, but mostly for children. The arched window on the side allows you to see the coffin within.

    I love this blog, by the way!

  2. Anthony Clum

    Great photo. It is a funeral procession. White hearses drawn by white horses were not uncommon. Queen Victoria, who died in 1901, directed she be dressed in in white, with a white draped coffin, drawn in a hearse with white horses. Perhaps her funeral influenced this one?

    1. B.P. Post author

      You may be right. That was my first thought examining the photograph. This does look like a funeral, but the lead vehicle does not resemble any 19th or 20th century hearse I have ever seen. It does not appear that the structure that sits atop the carriage would contain a coffin. That does not mean it is not a hearse.

      The second and third carriages are not hearses either. Another thing, if this was a religious festival, wouldn’t the onlookers look a little happier? They seem very solemn. Thanks for the information on Queen Victoria.


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