On September 8, public schools across the city will reopen their doors after summer break.
That’s about a week earlier than opening day in 1915, when kids headed back to “elementary, high, and training schools” on September 13.
A moved-up first day isn’t the only difference between opening day in 2016 and opening day today.
In 1915, about 800,000 kids attended public school in New York City. Department of Education stats from 2015 put that number at just over a million students.
Unlike their contemporary counterparts, teachers in 1915 were not unionized. Most were female, and once they became pregnant, they were fired.
This was actually an improvement over the previous longstanding, perfectly legal practice of booting teachers once they married. That rule was challenged in court in 1904.
One thing hasn’t changed: overcrowding. In 1915, school “congestion” was so bad, thousands of kids were forced to go part-time while some schools, like Morris High School in the Bronx, held two sessions a day to accommodate everyone, according to the New York Times.
Oh, and (most) kids look just as excited on opening day 1915 as they typically do at back to school time—with what look like new clothes, hair ribbons, school bags, and caps for the boys, as these Library of Congress/George Bain images reveal.