Posts Tagged ‘New York in 1907’

Confusion and despair in the Tenderloin District

June 16, 2016

At night, the Tenderloin was the city’s red-light district during the turn of the century, a center of sex and sin that blazed with light and put high-rolling millionaires in proximity to lower-class drinkers, gamblers, showgirls, and prostitutes.


During the day, with its veil lifted, the Tenderloin revealed its gritty despair. In “Sixth Avenue and Thirtieth Street,” John Sloan depicts a confused, distressed woman as others stare or pass her by with indifference.

Sloan seemed to have a fascination with the Tenderloin; the same year, he painted the neighborhood’s “loud and lurid” club, the Haymarket.

Why 1,000 marriageable girls came to New York

October 11, 2013

Was there really a shortage of marriage-minded women in the United States in the early 1900s? Apparently rumors had been circulating in Europe that American men couldn’t find wives.

MarriageablewomenWith this in mind, just over 1,000 “maids” (one is photographed at left) booked passage on a New York–bound ship that arrived on September 27, 1907.

“When the White Star liner Baltic tied up at the foot of West Eleventh Street yesterday morning 1,002 young women tripped down the gangplank and looked about them for husbands,” wrote The New York Times.

“Purser H.B. Palmer of the Baltic when asked about his cargo said: ‘They’re here all right. We took on a bunch of them at Liverpool and gathered in over 700 more when we reached Queenstown.

RMSBaltic“You ought to have seen them come up the side of the ship. They did it just as if they expected to find husbands awaiting them on the steerage deck.'”

The Washington Post covered the story too, noting that “each one of the fair consignment was handsome, and study and buxum. . , , They were all sizes and ages and complexions, but each knew her mind.”

According to the Times, the girls were aiming higher than steerage. Some said they hoped to marry a railroad engineer, skyscraper builder, or “a Pittsburgh millionaire.”

The party at Herald Square, Election Day 1907

November 3, 2012

There were no big national or citywide contests on November 5, 1907. Teddy Roosevelt had been reelected president in 1904, and mayor George McClellan was safely ensconced in his second term.

So who were these New Yorkers, depicted by John Sloan in “Election Night 1907,” so boisterous and excited?

Sloan, who lived in Greenwich Village, later described the scene he encountered in Herald Square:

“Took a walk in the afternoon and saw boys in droves, foraging for fuel for their election fires this evening. . . . after dinner . . . out again and saw the noisy trumpet blowers, confetti throwers and the “ticklers” in use—a small feather duster on a stick which is pushed in the face of each girl by the men, and in the face of men by the girls. A good humorous crowd, so dense in places that it is impossible to control one’s movement.”