Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving in New York City’

A thanksgiving message on a Harlem church door

November 22, 2012

A church in Hamilton Heights greets visitors at its doors with this message, from Psalm 100:4, a reference to a different kind of thanksgiving than our contemporary turkey/football/parade holiday.

A Thanksgiving dinner menu from 1899

November 17, 2010

Welcome to Thanksgiving Dinner at Sturtevant House, a popular hotel on Broadway and 29th Street that opened in 1871.

Most of the usual holiday staples are there: roast turkey, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie. All that’s missing is the cranberry sauce.

And amazingly, this entire feast only runs 75 cents. Seems like a good deal even in the final year of the 19th century.

This menu marks one of the final Thanksgivings at Sturtevant House; the hotel closed around 1903.

Check out what was going on uptown at the Plaza for Thanksgiving—their 1899 holiday menu is even more exotic and festive.

Both menus belong to the New York Public Library’s incredible menu collection.

Turkey Day with the inmates at the Tombs

November 25, 2009

On December 1, 1903, The New York Times ran a long article covering how city orphanages, missions, hospitals, “Magdalen” asylums, and other charitable institutions celebrated the holiday. That almost always meant a big turkey dinner and religious speakers.

The Times also reported how Thanksgiving was celebrated in city jails—like the Tombs, the nickname given to a succession of jail complexes located downtown. The moniker stemmed from the original Tombs, built in 1838 on Centre Street, which looked like an Egyptian mausoleum.

Here’s a couple of inmates—or guards?—hanging out in the interior of the Tombs in the late 19th century.

What the Times had to say about how the men there spent turkey day:

“There were 424 prisoners in the Tombs. They had 150 turkeys, chicken ad lib, 200 pounds of potatoes, 100 mince pies, and cranberries, nuts, and other goodies. Then they listened to addresses by the Rev. J.J. Munro and the Rev. W.W. Gilliss, respectively Presbyterian and Episcopal clergymen. Mr. Gilliss passed a cigar to each of the men prisoners.

“Such an array of prisoners were in the various Police Court prisons as to lead to the suspicion that many had gotten themselves locked up in order to be sure of a Thanksgiving dinner. None was disappointed.”


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