Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A New York Minute

Here is a little scandal on 23rd Street in 1901 filmed by Thomas Edison. I wonder what became of that brazen hussy who walked over the air vent, exposing her limbs so shamelessly?



The good old days in New York! At the time this was filmed, drug addiction and child prostitution were at the highest levels ever in the city's history. On the bright side, by this time the State of New York no longer regularly put the city under martial law because of gang violence. Slumlords were now required to build new tenements with at least 2 windows in every apartment, and one air shaft in every building. There were still a lot of people living in dark windowless "old law" tenement houses though.
In 1901, the Lower East Side (starting at 14th street, downtown from this spot) was the most densely populated place on earth, and the only neighborhood in the USA where synagogues outnumbered churches.

4 comments:

Leonardo Ricardo said...

I loved them all...you're my touch with my country and culture...I forget (even though I was there a couple of weeks ago...Anaheim doesn't count).

Thank you

Grandmère Mimi said...

The brazen hussy seemed to have a sense of humor about the whole thing, didn't she? Good for her.

Have you ever visited the Tenement Museum on Orchid Street? It's a very interesting place run by the US Park Service. It's a good museum to visit after going to Ellis Island to see the living conditions of the poor who traveled here in harsh conditions in steerage.

Counterlight said...

No, I've never been to the Tenement Museum on Orchard street, and my studio is only a couple of blocks away. I've always wanted to see it though. I've heard nothing but raves about it.
I spent 13 years living in a tiny railroad flat with the shower in the kitchen in a century old tenement building on East 10th street. I'm amazed that people are now paying royal ransoms every month to live in the very apartments their grandparents and great grandparents worked so hard to escape.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

This makes me think of early social realisitc photography. There is quite a lot I beleive, showing the slums and the people who lived there.

For some the dream of America came true, for others, not so much.

Sweden is a country where 1/4 of the population emigrated (mostly to the USA). Most all families have cousins and second cousins over the water. Old people still write letters regularly lexicon in hand...

As a country parson I have met many coming (in the summer mostly, going from one scientific congress to another) to see Grandpa's and Grandma's cabin, their graves, the church where they married (at age 18) and to meet unknown relatives.

Oftentimes the cabins are no more (built in poor wood or even planks as they were) but the ladies at the pastor's expedition, having knowledge of the locality, often can help locating ;=)

Always very moving...