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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… Read More

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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… Read More

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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… Read More

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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… Read More

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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,… Read More

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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… Read More

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Those Were The Days

Dollhouses, skully and puddles: Lower East Side children, actually having fun

Girls with a pretty amazing dollhouse at Seward Park playground.  Photo labeled August 1913 I’ll be traveling for the next few days so I’ll be posting here a bit less than normal. Next week I’ll re-post some interesting stories from the back catalog. Enjoy your weekend! I recently discovered this first image in a collection… Read More

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Those Were The Days Wartime New York

The adventures of Tony Pizzo, the sailor handcuffed to a bike

It’s Fleet Week!  The streets of New York are filled with hundreds of Marines and sailors who arrived yesterday in New York Harbor.  I’m pretty sure, however, that none of them hit the streets handcuffed to a bicycle. That distinction goes to the enigmatic Tony Pizzo who, in 1919, rode his bicycle from Los Angeles… Read More

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Brooklyn History Those Were The Days

The hottest place to listen to records in Brooklyn

One hundred years ago today, the Abraham & Straus department store on Fulton Street (today’s Brooklyn Macy’s location) kicks off the borough’s deep affection for record albums with newly designed listening stations, touted in this Brooklyn Daily Eagle advertisement as the best in the city (and it probably was). As the advertisement proclaims: “With the… Read More

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Those Were The Days

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid — in New York City?

Butch Cassidy and Harry Longabaugh (aka the ‘Sundance Kid‘) were notorious Western outlaws of the 1890s-1900s who were rendered into romantic icons courtesy Robert Redford and Paul Newman.  I did not realize these two scalawags had any connection to New York City until I watched this clip from tonight’s PBS American Experience documentary on the… Read More

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Those Were The Days

The first-ever film of a New York City blizzard

What storm is this? The horrific blizzard that hit New York on February 17, 1902.  It would be considered the worst snowstorm to hit the metropolitan area since the Great Blizzard of 1888. (Read all about it here.)  I assume we’re actually in the aftermath of the blizzard here, as the snow shovels are out, and… Read More

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Those Were The Days

Cat-astrophe! Hungry felines attack a Lower East Side butcher

Presented without commentary, from the front page of  the New York Sun, January 24, 1914: “Policeman James Kenny, trudging along James Street at 10 o’clock last night, heard horrendous sounds coming from the market of Brighton Beef Company at No. 72.  A hundred drunken burglars couldn’t have made more noise. Kenny, remembering that a bomb… Read More

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Those Were The Days

History in the Making: New York’s Best Bull Dog Edition

“Photo shows Marion Simpson with her French bull dog, possibly at the French Bull Dog Club of America Show at the Hotel Astor, New York City, April 1914.” (Source: Flickr Commons project, 2010 and New York Times, April 19, 1914) Click photo for a better, cuter look. — Do you like Downton Abbey?  I’ve started… Read More

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Those Were The Days

Venuses in Fur — New York society ladies in fancy animal skin

The Metropolitan Opera’s soprano sensation Geraldine Ferrar, photo taken April 1913. I guess fur was never out of season a century ago! “When You Done Your Christmas Furs — It will be an added pleasure to know they came from Gimbels — the house with the time-honored experience in Furs — for surely it requires… Read More

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Those Were The Days

Where did New Yorkers first buy recorded music?

“Photograph shows a boy and a girl dancing while an Edison Home Phonograph plays in a house in Broad Channel, Queens, New York City.” — taken between 1910-1915 Here’s something many people thought they’d never see again in New York City — the opening of a new record store.  Rough Trade, known for their famous… Read More