Apparently an auto-carousel ride called the Children’s Delight was a big hit in NYC in the early decades of the 20th century. This picture was taken in Brooklyn in 1910. ➡️➡️Swipe to see the updated version parked on the Lower East Side in 1934 🎠
In July 1942, a year and half after the US joined World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES), a temporary women’s branch of the U.S. Naval Reserve. The women worked full-time and were on active-duty, but were nevertheless considered “Reserve” because until 1948 women were prohibited from serving in the US armed forces. The WAVES took over many of the naval operations on the home front, which allowed the Navy to send more men overseas. But what does all of this have to do with NYC? Well, the Bronx Campus of Hunter College served as the main training center for enlisted WAVES. While it may be difficult to picture the campus as a bootcamp today, these pictures provide a lens into what daily life was like for WAVES trainees.
Two students recently launched @mtamuseum an unofficial art exhibit that documents the idiosyncrasies of the NYC subway system. The anonymous duo placed small museum placards on subway platforms across Brooklyn and Manhattan, each of which has a title, date and a QR code that leads to an audio guide. These placard’s cheekily reframe the subway’s finer details (i.e. peeling paint, rats, urine stains) as works of art. Above is the “live installation” called Of Mice and Men that “captures the essence of the daily NY hustle in a literal rat race. Live cockroaches were used to add further political commentary to the piece.” ➡️➡️ Swipe to see some of my other favorites! Fortunately for all of us, this project is ongoing so make sure to keep your eyes open for any of their new acquisitions.
This picture was taken in 1914 and depicts a group of Italian men building a stone retaining wall at Broadway and 263rd Street. At the time, this area was the northern border of New York City, as evidenced by the "Good-Bye New York" sign.
New York State issued the first driver's licenses to chauffeurs in 1910. Eight years later, in 1918, the state began offering licenses to all drivers, not just chauffeurs, but interestingly they weren't required to operate a motor vehicle until 1924. In 1925, NY created its first learning permit or "junior operator’s license," which allowed people to drive only “to and from school” and during "the usual and ordinary pursuit of the business of the parent." These pictures give a sense of how the style of the New York driver's license changed throughout the first half of the 1900s. This picture is the back of one of the first chauffeur's license from 1910. ➡️➡️ Swipe to see the front of the 1910 license, the front and back of the first regular drivers license from 1918, and the front and back of a junior's operating license from 1931.
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade began in 1924, the same year that Macy’s expanded its Herald Square location to the entire block stretching between Broadway and Seventh Ave along 34th St. To celebrate the opening, the store held the “Macy’s Christmas Parade” on Thanksgiving morning. Yep, you read that right - despite being held on Thanksgiving, the event was originally a Christmas parade. The first parade featured decorative floats, costumed employees, and animals on loan from the Central Park Zoo. The now-famous balloons were not introduced until 1927, the same year the event was renamed the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The 6-mile loop began in Harlem and concluded in front of the Macy’s Herald Square store (the route has since been scaled back to 2.5 miles). At the end of the 1924 parade, over 10,000 New Yorkers crowded into Herald Sq to watch Santa Claus - who rode on a float designed to resemble a sled - be crowned ‘King of the Kiddies’ on a gold throne mounted on top of the marquee above the entrance. ➡️➡️ Swipe to see a picture of some of the employees in the parade and part of the 1924 advertisement.
For over a century, railroad post offices operated on the vast majority of passenger trains in the United States. Essentially, one of the cars was converted into a mobile post office, allowing mail to be sorted en route and delivered to the post offices in the towns along the way. Railway mail clerks underwent significant training and ongoing testing in order to maintain a high level of accuracy and speed in sorting mail. After 113 years of operation, the last railways post office, which ran on the route between New York and Washington D.C., was discontinued on June 30, 1977. This is a picture of a 1900 mail train in New York City.
In 1862, a German immigrant named Frederick August Otto Schwarz founded a toy store in Baltimore called Toy Bazaar. In 1870, a Toy Bazaar opened in New York City at 765 Broadway. In 1897, Schwarz’s store, which was described by the New York Times as “the largest dealer in toys in this city,” moved to 39-41 West 23rd Street (the building on the right). Around the same time, Schwarz’s decided to rename the store after himself changing the name to F.A.O Schwarz Toys (which you can see if you zoom into the smaller sign on the building). This picture was taken in 1899. ➡️➡️ Swipe to see what is there now...nothing!
The last outbreak of smallpox in the US occurred in April 1947 in New York City. Fearing an epidemic, federal and city health officials conducted the largest mass vaccination in US history, inoculating over 6,350,000 people in less than a month. As a result of NYC’s rapid response, the outbreak was limited to 12 people and resulted in only 2 deaths. This is a picture of a woman named Virginia Paolitmi getting vaccinated at Bellevue on April 13, 1947. Apparently she requested that they vaccinate her thigh so the mark wouldn’t be visible in evening gowns! ➡️➡️ Swipe to see a picture of New Yorkers waiting in line outside of one of the hundreds of makeshift clinics set up across the city and the New York Times headline announcing the outbreak.
Rent strikes, in which tenants refuse to pay their rent until their landlord meets certain demands, were commonplace in the early 1900s. In 1907, one of the largest rent strikes in US history was organized in NYC by a 16-year-old named Pauline Newman, who the New York Times dubbed the “East Side Joan of Arc. ” Of the 10,000 families who participated in the strike, 2,000 successfully got their rents lowered. The 1907 rent strike was the inspiration for many other movements, including the 1919 Harlem Rent Strike picture above. All together, these efforts culminated in modern-day rent control policies, though even over a hundred years later the debate over affordable housing is far from settled. ➡️➡️ Swipe to see a blurry photo of a group of children burning an effigy of a landlord during the 1907 rent strike.
100 years ago today women voted for the first time in the state of New York, two full years before the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, which allowed women to vote across the country. Here's to the badass women who tirelessly fought for my ability to vote today!