Posts Tagged ‘Roman Catholic Orphan Society NYC’

Waiting for Thanksgiving dinner at a Bronx orphanage

November 21, 2022

Thanksgiving in early 20th century New York City wasn’t just celebrated in private homes and expensive hotel restaurants. Institutions of all kinds across Gotham also honored the holiday with their own commemorative dinners.

Hospitals, facilities for the poor, sick, and aged, and even city prisons served up a special Thanksgiving meal—usually along with speeches by important guests and often religious sermons.

Orphanages also celebrated Thanksgiving. This photo (above) shows more than 100 young residents sitting at long, linen-draped tables inside the girls’ dining room at the Roman Catholic Orphan Society in the Bronx. The orphanage was built in 1902, relocated from an older building on Fifth Avenue in Midtown.

A boys’ dining room operated in a building next door. Together, both the girls’ and boys’ buildings could house up to 1,600 residents at a time, according to nycago.org.

These uniform-clad, unsmiling girls look like they’re on their best behavior. I wish we knew exactly what their Thanksgiving menu offered…and what their adult lives were like.

You won’t find this handsome orphanage (above, in 1914) in the Bronx anymore. By the 1920s, thanks to a sizable reduction in the number or orphan residents, both buildings were abandoned and sold. The Bronx VA Hospital took its place.

[Photos: New-York Historical Society]