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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, […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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Those Were The Days

Let’s go see the horses at Madison Square Garden!

Click into the pictures for greater detail.  Pictures courtesy the Library of Congress These unbearably cute orphans were lined up to go to the National Horse Show at Madison Square Garden which began on November 15, 1913.  These are of course the days of the Garden down at the northeast corner of Madison Square, the […]

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Those Were The Days

Turkey raffles were 19th century versions of bar trivia nights

Hopefully this young lady acquired this turkey by legitimate means. In this week’s podcast, I feign shock at the wild party held at the old home of famed actress Charlotte Melmoth, a former school for etiquette-turned-booze hall.  To quote historian Henry Reed Stiles directly: “After [Charlotte’s] disease, the house was converted into a tavern, which […]

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Neighborhoods Those Were The Days

When the Bowery Ballroom was a shoe store and other scenes from Delancey Street in the 1930s

The Tree-Mark Shoe Store at 6-8 Delancey Street. You may know this building today as the Bowery Ballroom, a music venue since 1997. (Wurts Brothers, date unknown, both courtesy NYPL) The interior of the shoe store, 1930 (Pic courtesy MCNY) This building has had a rocky history, according to historian Matthew Postal.  Using remnants of an old theater […]

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Those Were The Days

How well can you do on this New York history trivia quiz — from 1914? Prepare to be a little frustrated.

No amount of studying will prepare you for some of these odd questions.  (A girl at Seward Library, photographed by Lewis Hine.)Trivia quizzes are very popular today in bars and pubs throughout the city, but in the past, they’ve had more elitist purposes.  In November 1914, a group of possibly insecure ex-New Yorkers in Chicago […]