First day of school in 1902: crowding and chaos

Think school crowding is bad now? “Almost half a million children registered on Manhattan Island,” reported the September 9, 1902 edition of The New York Times. “Many applicants turned away.”

But the schools superintendent promised that all kids six and over would be enrolled.

“If this is done, it will be the first time in the modern history of New York’s schools that there will have been no ‘waiting list,'” stated the Times.

[Children on the roof of a public school on Clinton Street, 1906, from the Museum of the City of New York]

“This will probably necessitate the arranging of sufficient part-time classes to accommodate about 60,000 children.”

[A crossing guard does his job with a group of school kids on Seventh Avenue and 116th Street, 1899, from the New York Public Library digital collection] 

Another big issue of the day: parents trying to pass off younger kids as school-age. Complained the Times:

“A considerable number of mothers declared unhesitatingly that children not a day over four years old were more than six. Many mothers of foreign birth and with little realization of the purpose of public schools attempt every year to compel the schools to act as a sort of day nursery for them.”

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3 Responses to “First day of school in 1902: crowding and chaos”

  1. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    How incredibly beautiful appears 7th Avenue, hardly anyone on the streets, except for the brats crossing the streets, haha!

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    What I love is that everyone is wearing some kind of cap or bonnet or holding an umbrella. Tan skin was not in.

  3. Karen Kelly Says:

    Do you have any suggestions of how to find out the years my aunt, Margaret Kelly, was named Teach of the Year in New York City, once in the 1950s and once I believe in the 1960s. The Dept of Education has no archives, and I know it was a big deal. Thank you.

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