Ever wonder exactly where your money goes when you drop bills or coins into a Salvation Army kettle?
In the early 1900s, the cash in those kettles helped fund Christmas dinner for New York’s less fortunate—include a takeaway dinner basket with enough food to feed six people.
The line to receive one of these baskets stretched down the block on 43rd Street and Lexington Avenue on December 25, 1908.
“A crowd of 5,000 eager men, women, and children formed a long line early yesterday morning outside the Grand Central Palace, waiting for the annual Christmas basket distribution of the Salvation Army,” wrote The New York Times the next day.
“There was not only dinner waiting, but staff Capt. Welde, from a large basket, distributed nickels for carfare, while further along the needy were provided with clothing.
“The staff brass band provided music and Police Capt. Landtry of the East 51st Street Station kept order. There was also a stereopticon exhibition and later in the day children received presents from a mammoth Christmas tree.”
Photographer George Bain captured these images of the Christmas Day wait in line, and then the faces of recipients as they took their goods home.
He also had the foresight to take a photo of the contents of the basket, above.
Tags: Christmas Charity Salvation Army, Christmas Dinner in New York City, Christmas in New York City, George Bain photos NYC, Gilded Age Christmas NYC, Grand Central Palace, New York City in 1908, Salvation Army Christmas Baskets NYC