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Those Were The Days

Pabst Blue Ribbon architecture from Old New York

Pabst Brewing Company, the Milwaukee beer dynasty founded in 1844 by Jacob Best (and his son-in-law Frederick Pabst), became one of America’s best known beer beverage distributors in the 20th century. Part of their strategy for popularizing their brand was by cracking into a market well saturated with beer at the start of the century […]

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Those Were The Days

New York City in the Jazz Age! Presenting Our Podcast Summer Series

The Bowery Boys are heading to the speakeasy and kicking back with some bathtub gin this August — with a brand new summer series focusing on New York City in the Jazz Age. The 1920s were a transformational decade for New York, evolving from a Gilded Age capital to the ideal of the modern international […]

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Those Were The Days

Millionaire aviator crashes into Central Park one hundred years ago!

An airplane crashing into Central Park? Believe it or not, in the early days of flight, these sorts of stories were somewhat frequent, although in this case, the pilot and passenger got out okay. Quote from newspaper coverage. From the New York Evening World, March 6, 1916: “Alexander H. Thaw, the millionaire aviator, and John […]

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Those Were The Days

Let’s look at some old-timey Valentine’s Day cards!

“In observing St. Valentine’s Day we conform to a heathen custom which obtained long before the martyr, St. Valentine, was born,” wrote the New  York Daily Tribune in February of 1908. Like Christmas, the celebration of Valentine’s Day became explicitly commercial in the late 19th century with the mass manufacture of cards and candy.  Massachusetts […]

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Those Were The Days

Columbus Discovers Columbus Circle

There are a great many statues in New York City of the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, a rather controversial figure today who many consider to be a sadist and a bumbling idiot who destroyed indigenous cultures in the name of European glory.  He was obviously more celebrated at the end of the 19th century when colonization and violent conquest were still […]

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Those Were The Days

THIS is New York Fashion Week — as it might have been in 1915

 New York Fashion Week, the city’s twice-yearly celebration of couture and runway, traces its roots to a 1943 press week event at the Plaza Hotel, organized by publicist Eleanor Lambert.  But there had been a variety of one-off ‘fashion weeks’ or American fashion events in the  years between the wars.  In 1934, the Mayfair Mannequin Academy, a local […]

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Those Were The Days

THIS is New York Fashion Week — as it might have been in 1915

 New York Fashion Week, the city’s twice-yearly celebration of couture and runway, traces its roots to a 1943 press week event at the Plaza Hotel, organized by publicist Eleanor Lambert.  But there had been a variety of one-off ‘fashion weeks’ or American fashion events in the  years between the wars.  In 1934, the Mayfair Mannequin Academy, a […]

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Those Were The Days

Lovely photos of the horrible New York garbage strike of 1911

New York street cleaners and garbage workers (sometimes referred to as ‘ashcart men’) went on strike on November 8, 1911, over 2,000 men walking off their jobs in protest over staffing and work conditions. More importantly, that April, the city relegated garbage pickup to nighttime shifts only, and cleaners often worked solo. This may have […]

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Those Were The Days

Twelve great reasons why women do not deserve the right to vote — according to a prominent 1914 anti-suffragist

Suffragists are just women who can’t get a man, according to this postcard. (Courtesy June Purvis/History Extra) Just as support for women’s suffrage was on the rise by the 1910s, there were equally as vehement opponents to those expanded rights.  The anti-suffragist movement based its objections on several points that adhered strongly to the stability of civilization […]

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Those Were The Days

History in the Making 10/29: Gilded Age Gothic Edition

— Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire, the morbidly elegant new show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, looks at 19th century customs of grief through public fashion.  These garments, from 1815-1915, exhibit an undeniable grace and serenity, but they also signal more concrete associations to the recently passed. Some gowns were specifically […]

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Those Were The Days

Housewives demand open markets! One century ago, New York radically changed how people bought groceries

Setting up a market under the Manhattan Bridge. (Courtesy MCNY. Note: This photo may be of an earlier market here, but this gives you an idea of where the 1914-15 markets would have been located.) Groceries are becoming more expensive as retailers mark up prices due to food shortages (or simple price gouging at perceived […]

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Those Were The Days

Ladies, eliminate your “New Yorkese”: Prim and proper advice from a 1940s elocution teacher

Seventy-five years ago today (September 23 1939), this advertisement ran in the New Yorker:   Well, that simply won’t do!  So I decided to look into Miss Margaret McCoy and found an illuminating article from a 1942 column in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle — “Beauty and You” by Patricia Lindsay.  In this piece, McCoy provides […]

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Those Were The Days

Joyful mourning: The Lower East Side honors a forgotten star

An extraordinary photograph of Yiddish theater stars!  Front row: Jacob Adler, Sigmund Feinman, Sigmund Mogulesko, Rudolph Marx;  Back row: Mr. Krastoshinsky and David Kessler For a passionate sub-set of New Yorkers, Mogulesko was everything. The Romanian-born theater star Sigmund (also written as Zigmund or Zelig) Mogulesko came to America in 1886 already a star of Europe’s […]

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The Knick Those Were The Days

The cocaine fiends of the Gilded Age: New York stages an intervention for its over-the-counter drug problem

We once lived in a world when cocaine was in nearly everything — pain relievers, muscle relaxers, wine, fountain drinks, cigarettes, hair tonics, feminine products.  It was therapeutic, a “nerve stimulant,” a natural remedy and an over-the-counter drug sold in a variety of forms and doses. The coca plant, to many, was “the most tonic […]

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Those Were The Days

Before the flapper, the naughty ‘vamp’ scandalized New York

Above: Clara Bow, in It (1927), one of the roles that made her an major film star.Two iconic actresses of the early silent film industry share a birthday today — Theda Bara (born July 29, 1885) and Clara Bow (born in Brooklyn, July 29, 1905).  Bow became the screen’s leading flapper archetype of the 1920s, […]