Posts Tagged ‘Bain News Service’

Getting evicted in turn of the century New York

June 13, 2013

George Grantham Bain was an early news photographer who founded his own photojournalist service in 1898.

He left an incredible collection of more than 40,000 negatives, now housed in the Library of Congress and digitized.


His photos mostly span the late 19th century through the 00s and teens, and he had a special interest in New York City, chronicling news events as well as day-to-day life among the unheralded and unfamous.


These three photos appear to capture three different apartment evictions. The first is simply “Eviction.” The second is titled “East Side Eviciton.”


And the third has no title, but it’s categorized as an eviction by the Library of Congress. I wish we knew the circumstances and how these families fared.

The story behind New York’s library lions

May 16, 2011

Twin male lions have been guarding the entrance of the New York Public Library’s majestic main branch since the Beaux Arts building opened at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street in May 1911.

They were called Leo Astor and Leo Lenox, after two NYPL benefactors, John Jacob Astor and James Lenox.

With their fortunes, Astor and Lenox built public libraries, which by the 1890s were to become part of the city’s new free circulating library.

New Yorkers took to the two Leos instantly. But in the 1930s, the lions underwent a name change.

With the Depression taking its toll on the city, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia declared them to be “Patience” and “Fortitude.” He felt that these were the qualities city residents needed most to survive the horrible economic times.

[Above: Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street on Easter, 1913; G.G. Bain News Service]

Color and confetti at the Coney Island Mardi Gras

October 15, 2010

“Coney Island’s week of fun, the Coney Island Mardi Gras, which has become an established custom and brings to an end to each Coney season, began last night in a blaze of color and with much music and confetti,” wrote The New York Times on September 10, 1912.

It must have been crazy fun: thousands of spectators cheering dozens of parade floats along Surf Avenue on a late September night.

Revelers in costume marching along the floats, and a king and a queen were crowned every year.

The Mardi Gras started in 1903 as a fund-raising vehicle for the Coney Island Rescue Mission, which served “wayward” young women, according to John H. Kasson’s Amusing the Million.

[Photos: Bain News Service, 1910 or 1915 (top) and 1908]

It lasted until 1953—just about when Coney Island began losing its appeal as the city’s summer playground.

In its place we have the fabulous Mermaid Parade—itself inspired by the anything-goes craziness of the early 20th century Coney carnival.

When 11th Avenue was known as “death avenue”

August 16, 2010

Poor 11th Avenue. About a century ago, this unpretty stretch along Manhattan’s West Side, surrounded by factories and warehouses from Chelsea through midtown, also had train tracks on its surface to accommodate the New York Central freight line.

Problem was, cars, carriages, and pedestrians often found themselves in the way of the freight trains, earning 11th Avenue the colorful moniker “death avenue.”

To warn vehicles and people away from oncoming trains, a group of men on horseback called the West Side Cowboys rode ahead of the trains, waving a flag.

But not everyone paid attention—note the guy in white crossing in front of a train in this undated Bain News Service photo.

After years of community group and city pressure, the tracks were torn up in the 1930s. They were replaced by the High Line, which picked up its last shipment from one of the avenue’s factories in 1980.