How 1910s New Yorkers got their Christmas trees

News photographer George Bain spent much of his career taking photos of New Yorkers going about everyday life—and that included prepping for and celebrating Christmas.

In the captions of these 1910s photos, he didn’t explain where these trees started out before they were apparently dumped at Chambers Street, most likely, where the Erie Railroad had a ferry terminal.

They appear to be destined for the parlors of city residents (brought by a team of horses), who wouldn’t consider it Christmas without a beautiful tree to decorate and gather around.

[Photo: LOC]

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8 Responses to “How 1910s New Yorkers got their Christmas trees”

  1. Mykola Mick Dementiuk Says:

    A few days after American Christmas Dec 25, my mother would pick a discarded tree on Lower East Side street, sometimes with silver tassels dangling from it, and bring it home to decorate for our Ukrainian Christmas Jan 7. I always felt proud that in our poverty we had two Christmas’s to celebrate while the snobby American rich only had one. I’ll never forget it.

  2. Antoinette Truglio Martin Says:

    Very cool!

  3. Michael Kingsbury Morris Says:

    Agree it isn’t Christmas without a tree. The bigger the tree is a direct result of a cocktail or two before shopping.

  4. ironrailsironweights Says:

    Almost certainly the suppliers wandered around various forests to obtain the trees. Dedicated Christmas tree farms are a much more recent development.


  5. Rob Says:

    It’s hard to tell but the trees look taller than today

  6. James Says:

    Cool to see the sequence in the serial numbers. The gent in the bowler hat and white gloves (prominent in the center of the middle photo and again in the group center of the top) seems to be calling some shot around there. The multiple frames of the same scene really prompts my imagination…

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