The “Empire State Express” (New York Central Railroad) passes through Washington Street, Syracuse, New York. The Empire State Express was the flagship train of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad. It also had world renown as the first passenger train with a speed scheduled above 50 mph, as well as undertaking the longest scheduled nonstop run, between New York City and Albany, for 143 miles. Trains have run on the roads of Syracuse, New York since 1859, earning the city the sobriquet “the city with the trains in the streets.” As well as the obvious safety concerns, the situation also brought noise, dirt and pollution to Syracuse citizens. At peak points, around sixty trains ran along Washington Street – though that era finally came to an end in 1936 with the arrival of an elevated railroad and a new station on Erie Boulevard East. The final train to run on Syracuse streets was the Empire State Express – eastbound.
Celebrations on Wall Street, New York following the surrender of Germany. This picture is almost what it seems – but not quite. We know the exact moment this picture was taken, 1:52 PM on Thursday November 7th, 1918 – four days before the end of World War One. The premature report of the end of the Great War originated in a casual lunchtime conversation between Admiral Henry Wilson, commander of the American Naval forces in French waters, and Roy Howard, President of United Press. Wilson passed on a report of a telephone call he had received from a friend employed in the American Embassy declaring an armistice had been signed. Howard, believing he had just been handed the greatest news story of the his career years, circumnavigated the various systems of checks and censorship in place, going so far as to forge the signature of his foreign editor. He transmitted the story to New York unscrutinized, giving the time of cessation of hostilities as 2pm – eight minutes after this picture was taken. Traders on Wall Street were the first to be aware of the news, and trading ended at 1pm. As the news spread, the entire city was caught up in the celebrations. The next day, the New York Times described the United Press transmission as “the most flagrant and culpable act of public deception.” The Armistice treaty signed at the end of World War One by the Allies and Germany at Compiègne, France, went into effect on the eleventh day of the eleventh month at the eleventh hour, 1918. Yet close to 3,000 men lost their lives on the final day of the War, as, despite the announcement of the Armistice, fighting did not actually cease until that specific moment.
A ride at Coney Island’s Luna Park. When Frederic Thompson and Elmer Dundy built their A Trip To The Moon ride for an exposition in Buffalo, New York State in 1901, they had a hit on their hands. The centerpiece of the ride was an airship powered by wings which flapped, named Luna. Moving the ride to Coney Island’s Steeplechase Park for 1902, Thomson and Dundy then leased more land and created Luna Park, using 1,000 spires, a quarter of a million lights, and $700,000. On its opening night, 60,000 people paid ten cents each to enter Luna Park – rides cost extra. But in 1908, Luna Park was eclipsed by Dreamland, with a million lights. Dundy died in 1907, and Thompson went bankrupt. Luna Park continued to exist, but successive owners struggled to realize any potential it possessed. In 1944, it was wiped out by fire.
Mulberry Street was at the very centre of Manhattan’s Little Italy, an ethnic neighborhood that followed from the mass immigration to New York of Italians after the 1880s. By the turn of the twentieth century, nine out of ten people in the Fourteenth Ward of Manhattan had an Italian background. Mulberry Street itself took its name from the Mulberry trees that grew around Mulberry Bend – the point in the street where it curved around what was then the Collect Pond. This scene, shot in 1900, shows something of the breadth of activity of Little Italy – vegetable stalls; barefooted children; shoe, boot and clothing merchants; a wagon of barrels and sacks; furniture removal men; and blankets, quilts and rugs left out to air – or to sell.
“11 a.m. Newsies at Skeeter’s Branch, Jefferson near Franklin. They were all smoking. St. Louis, Missouri.” As a photographer working for social reform, Lewis Hine found a number of advantages in photographing “newsies” – boys who sold newspapers on street. Unlike the work he did photographing child workers in mines, factories and mills, Hine could photograph the boys without either seeking permission from employers, or, more typically, circumnavigating them. The photographs could be achieved with more time, and with more focus and attention on the subjects he shot. To achieve this sense of direct connection, Hine would bring his camera down to the eye level of his subjects. Not only taking photographs of child workers, Hine also talked to them and sought to document and record their experience. n aggregate, he created a body of work that displayed an unacceptable standard of living for many thousands of children and which ultimately achieved a change in cultural understanding of what it means to be a child, and in the law.
Sitting Bull and Buffalo Bill. Taken at William Notman’s studios in Montreal, Quebec, during Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, in August of 1885, this photograph bore the title “Foes in ’76 – Friends in ’85.” Sitting Bull was 54 when he agreed to join William Cody’s Buffalo Bill’s Wild West in 1885. Paid a signing bonus of $125, and $50 a week, his role in what was essentially an American circus was to ride round the arena once per show, in the opening procession. Sitting Bull was the star attraction – but after four months, he had had enough, and returned to the Standing Rock Reservation. It was a far cry from 1876, when, as spiritual leader to the Lakota Sioux, Sitting Bull had inspired his tribe in the defeat of Custer’s 7th Cavalry at the Battle of Little Big Horn. Following the battle, Sitting Bull was driven into exile in Canada, until starvation forced him to surrender to the US Government. Transferred onto Standing Rock, Sitting Bull was was shot and killed by a Reservation police officer in 1890.
The “Street of Gamblers,” Chinatown, San Francisco. Two men and one woman on board the American brig Eagle were the very first Chinese immigrants to San Francisco. From 1849, Chinese people were drawn by the laboring opportunities for the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad, as well as the California Gold Rush – though racial discrimination was pronounced and enshrined in law, culminating in the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1892, which outlawed immigration from China for the next decade. San Franciscan studio photographer Arnold Genthe was drawn to San Francisco’s Chinatown, capturing many hundreds of photographs of its people – often without their knowledge. The pictures are true to the culture Genthe saw – although he also cropped out Western elements. Here, Genthe has captured the essence of a Chinese hutong market transposed into San Francisco, crowded with men wearing black chángshān shirts and sporting the Manchu queue hairstyles – mandatory for all Chinese men until the 1910s. Excepting Genthe’s images, very few photographs remain of San Francisco’s Chinatown prior to the earthquake and fires of 1906. Most photographic collections were lost, but Genthe’s survived, stored in a bank vault.
Portrait of Art Hodes, Kaiser Marshall, Henry (Clay) Goodwin, Sandy Williams, and Cecil (Xavier) Scott, Times Square, New York. Although born in the Ukraine, Jazz pianist Art Hodes was brought up in Chicago, and spent most of his career in “The Windy City”. Hodes became known for the Chicago Jazz style, but in order to find success, he had had to move to New York, in 1938. Here, Hodes and his River Boat Jazz Band – Joseph “Kaiser” Marshall on drums, Henry “Clay” Goodwin on trumpet, Sandy Williams on trombone and Cecil “Xavier” Scott played clarinet and tenor sax – are playing on a horse drawn cart to promote their concert that night – with special guest Louis Armstrong and Jack Teagarden. Writer and (self-taught) photographer William P. Gottlieb spent the ten years from 1938 to 1948 interviewing and photographing the leading, largely New York-based, jazz musicians of the time, including Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, and Billie Holiday. A columnist for the Washington Post, Gottlieb started to take his own pictures when the Post wouldn’t pay a photographer.