New York’s scary 1930s venereal disease posters

Think the Bloomberg administration is heavy-handed when it come to public health pronouncements? (Soda is bad, smoking is bad, fat is bad, etc.)

Then check out what New Yorkers were forced to stare at on subway cars and bus depots in the late 1930s when LaGuardia was mayor.

The steep decline in syphilis and gonorrhea cases after World War II in the U.S. is probably the result of antibiotics, not so much these finger-wagging warnings.

They were made by the Works Progress Commission’s Federal Art Project, and if you dig the cool design—or have an interest in the history of bacterial STDs—you can buy reproductions from www.vintagraph. com.

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4 Responses to “New York’s scary 1930s venereal disease posters”

  1. Tom B Says:

    I don’t understand the “heavy-handed” reference. Are you suggesting Bloomberg is like Hitler and other dictators? They, were heavy-handed. I thought liberals like the government taking care of society. Do you really want to go back to the days of Koch and Dinkins and Lindsey when “New Yorkers were forced to stare at” grafitti and litter everyday?

    • wildnewyork Says:

      Who is comparing Bloomberg to Hitler or pining for Koch and Dinkins? I think you’re reading way too much into this post.

  2. Scary posters aimed at 1930s tenement dwellers « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] The 1930s and 1940s seem to be the dawn of the public-health poster—those often corny and over-the-top reminders to wash your hands, eat healthier meals, stop spitting, learn to swim, even get tested for gonorrhea and syphilis. […]

  3. 1930s posters pleading for “planned housing” | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Artists designed and produced posters that advocated for better housing—as well as other health and social issues, from eating right to getting checked for syphilis. […]

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