The cat that stopped traffic in 1920s New York

Looks like a Manhattan mama cat has solicited a policeman’s help in getting her kittens across a busy intersection.

Hmm, if lolcats were around back then, what kind of snarky caption would be added to this photo?


I don’t know where this photo was taken This photo chronicles an incident on Lafayette Street; an Ephemeral reader found the original photo in a 1928 New York Times article.

“Even a cat may hold up traffic,” the caption reads. The story goes on to mention, “the cat who held up traffic on Lafayette Street, while, with a kitten in her mouth, she strolled nonchalantly from one side to the other. . . .”

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13 Responses to “The cat that stopped traffic in 1920s New York”

  1. P. Gavan Says:

    The photo was taken on Lafayette Street, but I’m not sure what year it was — had to be before 1928, because the New York Times did a story titled “Animal Stories Are Also News” on November 4, 1928, in which they featured this photo. A lot of men loved cats in the 19th and early 20th century — they were mascots for police departments, fire departments, and of course every ship wanted a cat because sailors believed they brought good luck.

    So I’m not surprised the cop stopped traffic for this mama cat! And I’d also love to know what year this was–I’m going to dig in and do some research and see what I can find.

  2. Today’s Headlines | Streetsblog New York City Says:

    […] The Day NYPD Stopped Manhattan Traffic for a Cat to Cross the Street (Ephemeral NY) […]

  3. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Thanks for your info! I love the story of Ginger; she would make a great future Ephemeral post. These days, city cats mostly earn their keep in delis, keeping the mice away.

  4. Edward Says:

    Definitely late ’20s. Check out the car in center of photo–it even has right-hand drive. Kudos to the photog who captured this charming slice of early 20th Century NYC.

  5. Photo: In 1920s NYC, Police Stopped Traffic For Crossing Cats | New York Says:

    […] the NY Times was ON IT, and “it” was how the public loves their animal stories. Today Ephemeral NY posted a photo of cat holding kittens in its mouth, stopping traffic in the middle of Manhattan. […]

  6. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    New York magazine has delved deeper into the story of the mama cat who stopped traffic. Apparently it was Centre Street, and the photographer was from the Daily News. Read the story behind it:

  7. Wonderful Photo Shows Police Stopped NYC Traffic For A Cat And Her Kitten In 1925 | The Spirit Sparked Magazine, Boise, Idaho Says:

    […] Ephemeral New York, dug up this photo of a policeman in 1925 stopping traffic for a mother cat carrying her kitten in her mouth: […]

  8. Tom Says:

    It ran in the Daily News. I believe it was 1919. Check their online archive, the HAVE notable photos arranged by the decade.

  9. Walt Gosden Says:

    If anyone is interested at all, from the center car – this is a Pierce-Arrow built in Buffalo, NY, then a Willys-Knight taxi cab, finally a Ford model T.

  10. Kazza Says:

    Thank you, Walt! I love those old cars.

  11. eyenoodledoodle Says:

    I love this photo!
    but is it just my imagination or does anyone else see that the cats shadow doesn’t correspond with the other shadows in the photo?
    not that it would in any way invalidate the awesomeness of the story…
    it is fascinating how we take for granted the frequency with which photos were staged in the past even for the newspapers. probably more often then they are today…

  12. Una mamá gata paro el tráfico en los años 20 | Says:

    […] Si quieres ver más pincha AQUI […]

  13. Isabelle Nivens Says:

    Anyone happen to know the policemans name?

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