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Old New York History

A Census of Skyscrapers (Literary Digest, 1929)

Egged on by the 1929 completion of the Chrysler building, the curious souls who ran the New York offices of THE LITERARY DIGEST were moved to learn more about skyscrapers, both in New York as well as other parts of the U.S. and We were surprised to learn that as of 1929

"50 percent of the buildings in New York from 10 to 20 stories and 60 percent of those over 20 stories are located between 14th and 59th streets."

This article also presents statistical data concerning the number of tall buildings that could be found throughout the 1920s United States.


New York City During World War One (Vanity Fair, 1918)

Delightfully illustrated with seven period photographs, this is a high-spirited read from VANITY FAIR titled "New York's Unceasing Pageantry":

"From the First Liberty Loan to the Draft, from the Draft to the period of heatless days and meatless days, New York has showed good temper which used to be considered as but an indication of incorrigible lightness of mind. And as the months have gone by New York's interest in herself as a military center has grown and deepened, with the growing consciousness of the high part she was to play in an adventure that has done more for her as a social organism than anything else in her history."

Click here to read about the welcome New York gave Sergeant York.


New York City: 1917 (Vanity Fair, 1917)

A VANITY FAIR article covering the social and patriotic transformation of New York City just eight months after The U.S. entered the First World War:

"Already the greatest manufacturing center in the world, our coming into the War made New York the money center, the distributing center, the very hub of the universe as far as resources were concerned. London and Paris sank to the level of mere distributing points...."

An additional event took place in 1917: Congress granted full U.S. citizenship rights to the citizens of Puerto Rico - but they didn't move to New York until the Fifties. Click here to read about their integration.


New York City Bars at Four in the Morning... (Stage Magazine, 1937)

Tickled by the New York laws that prohibited bars from serving spirits between the hours of 4:00 to 8:00 a.m., this correspondent for Stage Magazine, Stanley Walker, sallied forth into the pre-dawn darkness of a 1937 Manhattan wondering what kind of gin mills violate such dictates. He described well what those hours mean for most of humanity and then begins his catalog of establishments, both high and low, that cater to night crawlers.

"For something a shade rougher, more informal, smokier: Nick's Tavern, at 140 Seventh Avenue South [the building went the way of Penn Station long ago], dark and smoky, with good food and carrying on in the artistic traditions of the old speakeasies."

Click here to read about the arrest and conviction of New York's high society bootleggers.


High Society Ladies' Rooms (Stage Magazine, 1937)

The New York café society of the Thirties was well documented by such swells as Cole Porter and Peter Arno - not so well-known, however, were the goings-on in the ladies' bathrooms at such swank watering holes as El Morocco, Twenty-One, Kit Kat, Crystal Garden and the famed Stork Club. That is why these columns are so vital to the march of history - written by a noble scribe who braved the icy waters of Lake Taboo to report on the conversations and the general appearance of each of these "dressing rooms".

"The Rainbow Room, Waldorf, and Crystal Garden are modern and show a decorators hand, but the only really plush dressing room we know is at Twenty-One."

"Strangely enough, it doesn't matter whether it's the ladies' room of El Morocco, Roseland, or a tea room; the same things are said in all of them. First hair, then men, then clothes; those are the three favorite topics of conversation in the order of their importance."


Greewich Village (Vanity Fair, 1918)

A whimsical article about the topography of New York's Greenwich Village and the migratory habits of all it's assorted bohemians, vagrants, spinsters and vegetarians during the Prohibition era.

Click here to read some high praise for Greenwich Village from a French film star.


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