Posts Tagged ‘Joseph Pulitzer’

Why is Lady Liberty’s torch in Madison Square?

May 10, 2012

It’s very strange to see the Statue of Liberty’s enormous hand and torch parked in front of the western side of Madison Square—a genteel, elite neighborhood at the end of the 19th century.

But it all came down to fund-raising, and Madison Square was where the money was.

The hand and torch were placed in the park from 1876 to 1882 to get enough donations from Americans to complete the pedestal (the statue itself was the financial responsibility of the French).

Cash was coming in slowly, so Joseph Pulitzer, editor of The World, stepped in.”Pulitzer used his newspaper to criticize both the rich who had failed to finance the pedestal construction and the middle class who were content to rely upon the wealthy to provide the funds,” reports this Statue of Liberty website.

“Pulitzer’s campaign of harsh criticism was successful in motivating the people of America to donate.”

“New York City as It Will Be in 1999”

December 29, 2011

Well, not exactly. But aside from the spaceship-like flying machines, the skyscraper-packed island isn’t so far off the mark.

It was published in the New York World on December 30, 1900. The Skyscraper Museum has a fascinating writeup about it, which was part of an exhibit on future New York:

“Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World was one of the most widely read newspapers of its day. The Sunday edition, which could sell as many as half a million or more copies around the United States, was filled with colorful artwork, cartoons, and cultural commentary.

“At the turn of the twentieth century, one of the World‘s most popular illustrators, Louis Biedermann, speculated on the future New York in 1999 in a lavish two-page spread that pictured Manhattan solidly packed with skyscrapers, including behemoth towers at least a hundred-stories tall, sporting landing platforms of airships.

“At a time when there were no controls on high-rise development, Biedermann’s illustration exaggerated present trends and technologies and reflected both the fascination and fears of unconstrained growth.”

The successful newsboy strike of 1899

October 26, 2009

Hawking newspapers in the 19th century was hard work. Rather than working for the newspaper itself, a newsboy—usually a kid or young teen from a poor family, often homeless himself—had to buy copies of the paper from the publisher, then sell them independently.

An estimated 10,000 newsboys worked the streets of New York City. Publishers wouldn’t buy back unsold copies of their papers, which made it tough for a kid to eke out a profit.

Newsboystrike1899

Newsboys plying their trade on the Brooklyn Bridge. Those bundles look heavy.

In 1899, the Evening World and Evening Journal started charging newsboys 60 cents for a hundred copies of their papers, a hike from 50 cents. Pissed off, thousands of newsboys went on strike. They held protests all over Manhattan and got into fights with men and boys hired by the papers as replacement workers.

But the strike worked—somewhat. After a few weeks of gloating media coverage in other New York City papers, the publishers agreed to buy back unsold newspapers, though they did not scale back the original price.

New York City’s long list of defunct newspapers

July 28, 2009

It’s hard to believe that in the 1890s, New York’s population of just a million and a half residents supported 19 daily English-language newspapers—along with scores of weeklies and foreign dailies.

Thesundayworld

These papers were an illustrious bunch. There was the anti-immigrant New York Herald; publisher James Gordon Bennett Jr., reportedly said that a newspaper’s role is “not to instruct but to startle.”

The New York World, published by Joseph Pulitzer, was hugely popular with working class residents. It was known for stunt journalism—as well as printing its Sunday supplement in color.

The dead newspaper list also includes the New York Sun, the New York Journal American, the New York Mirror, and the often-lamented Brooklyn Eagle.

Many were headquartered around City Hall, then nicknamed Newspaper Row. This thermometer/clock affixed to the old New York Sun building down on Chambers Street doesn’t work, but it’s a nice remnant of the neighborhood’s past.