A large crowd turns out to watch the first game of the 1912 World Series, which saw the Boston Red Sox beat the New York Giants four games to three (with one tie). The picture was taken on Tuesday, October 8, 1912 at the Polo Grounds (IV) in upper Manhattan, New York. The clock on the upper right of the photo says that the time is 11:41
We can get a glimpse into the society at the time by observing the crowd and the advertising signs. There are billboards peddling Turkish Trophies (cigarettes?), hosiery, gloves, underwear and liquor and beer. More interesting are the people in the stands.
Can you see what is different about this picture and the people in it compared to today’s games? Below is a closeup of the spectators:
We can see a lot of men, and not a single woman. And the men are all white, are all wearing suits and hats. This is not an anomaly – the stands are filled with the same type of people everywhere in the stands. What are we to make of this? Visible minorities and women do not seem to have been welcome at the games. And the men who attended dressed up; some are even wearing top hats. Considering that baseball has always been considered America’s game, can we draw conclusions about American society at the time from this snap shot? Perhaps. But we can certainly say that the world depicted in that picture no longer exists, and that is I think a good thing.
How the world has changed!
New York in 1900 was a city of immigrants, the gateway for immigration from Europe. Newcomers tended to settle in neighborhoods where they could preserve some of the customs and traditions of their homelands. So there were neighborhoods that were primarily Polish and east European, others that were primarily Italian. The lower east side was home to a predominantly Jewish population. Each of these cultures and nationalities contributed to the vibrant mosaic of New York City, but they also formed little cities within the great City.
Journey back in time today on this market day and browse the stalls. Look at the clothes and groceries for sale in this open air market that goes all the way down the street. Hunt for bargains and try to get the best deal on the latest gadget for the home, or delicacy. Imagine the vibrant sounds, the laughter of happy people, and the haggling of merchants and customers.
Look closely at this color photograph from 1900 and see the life of a great city flowing by:
A closeup showing greater detail of the street scene. We can make out the kids scampering around the stalls, the women in pretty dresses shopping for deals, and the well dressed men, all captured in a moment in time this beautiful day in 1900 New York.
Now look at the buildings on each side of the street. Some are finely constructed, while others seem run down. The housing conditions for new immigrants, in crowded, expensive New York were not always ideal.
View of the apartment buildings along the street. Colorful awnings and drapes can be seen.
So now it is time to end our tour of 1900 New York and this lovely market. I hope that you found what you were looking for.