Lion of the Blogosphere

New York 1911

This was filmed in 1911, and just shows various live scenes around New York City.

This is what I learned:

1. Ferries are a popular mode of transportation.
2. Lots of men smoking pipes.
3. No one in 1911 would leave home without wearing a hat.
4. For men, a jacket, white shirt, and tie is a nearly universal outfit. Plus a hat.
5. Women don’t wear pants, only skirts or dresses. Plus a hat.
6. Vehicular traffic is a mix of horse-drawn carriages, motorcars, and trolleys. But no one riding any bicycles.
7. There are no traffic lights, no stop signs, no crosswalks, no lane markings. The streets look like scary chaos.
8. There are elevated trains where today none exist. (well, I already knew that, but it was still cool to see them.)

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

June 28, 2017 at 9:36 pm

Posted in New York City

58 Responses

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  1. People aren’t overweight. Can’t find a fatso on the street. Women don’t walk around semi-nude. Nice. People are white! You know, I’m ready to grab a gun and start shooting all these bastards that had destroyed this country with non-white immigration for the last 60 years. I’m so mad!


    June 28, 2017 at 10:14 pm

    • ” People are white! You know, I’m ready to grab a gun and start shooting all these bastards that had destroyed this country with non-white immigration…”

      The US is just returning to historical norms. It was 70% white of which a third were Hispanic/Tribal at the revolution, and another third Germanic. Both the far-Right and -Left are peddling the same lie of the end of White America for complementary agendas.


      June 29, 2017 at 11:42 am

      • I am confused by your comment about 10% of the total being Hispanic/Tribal at the revolution. Are you speaking only if the original colonies and where are the 1776 Hispanic records located? Sure, there were lots of natives living in the future states of TN and AL at the time, and some in GA, NC and SC, but what were total numbers? Most people don’t realize the population differential between VA and all the other states at the Revolution.


        June 29, 2017 at 2:25 pm

      • Rob,

        The actual numbers aren’t the point. The fact is that the original 13 colonies were creations of Anglo-Saxon men, for them, their wives & their kids. As successive waves of non-Anglo-Saxons came to these shores they were forcibly assimilated, and good for that. The major exception being Africans. Others, such as Jews & Italian Catholics, have only been semi-assimilated.

        The irony is that Jews were more assimilated in the South than the North.


        June 29, 2017 at 3:15 pm

      • Don’t make me laugh now. A the the time of the revolution America had a population of 3 million. After the independence, is when America became its true self demographically.


        June 29, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    • I know just how you feel. I keep a rope in the trunk in case I ever have to hang a lefty in self-defense.


      June 29, 2017 at 11:46 am

    • Larger video plus more old/new New York in the side bar. Also Colin Quinn’s great New York Story:


      June 29, 2017 at 6:14 pm

  2. Let’s also remember that folks wore that kind of clothing throughout the summer… with no AC of any kind.
    Akin to wearing a sauna suit all day everyday for months on end.


    June 28, 2017 at 11:39 pm

    • Not true. Temperatures were cooler at the turn of the century. Yet another side effect of global warming.

      Panther of the Blogocube

      June 29, 2017 at 8:23 pm

  3. Men wore hats daily until the 1960s, when the newly-elected young president scandalously didn’t wear a hat (let alone one suited to the august occasion–a top hat–as the outgoing president did).


    June 28, 2017 at 11:52 pm

  4. You forgot to mention trolleys (streetcars). They mostly exist in San Francisco as tourist attractions.

    I hear NYC wants to bring them back. Some of them will be running into NAM neighborhoods.

    This picture of SWPL Brooklyn is telling:

    If only greater America really looks like this, dream on!


    June 29, 2017 at 12:33 am

    • Yes, I did mention trolleys.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      June 29, 2017 at 7:13 am

    • Light rail and a lot of heavier passenger rail makes less than buses powered by modern diesel engines. Many expensive rail lines exist only because SWPLs think buses are too prole and refuse to ride.


      June 29, 2017 at 8:52 am

      • San Francisco embodies the perfect SWPLville. I can’t think of any other American city that comes as close.


        June 29, 2017 at 6:22 pm

  5. All I see is a sordid cesspool where Americans were deprived of the benefits of vibrancy and transgenderism.


    June 29, 2017 at 1:25 am

    • I watched the entire film twice and I didn’t see a single prayer rug. Sad.

      Lewis Medlock

      June 30, 2017 at 12:50 pm

  6. What strikes me is how clean the city looks. There is almost no garbage. Horse dung, yes, but otherwise the sidewalks look immaculate compared to modern New York. That was one advantage of a city with less disposable income, no fast food joints and no convenience stores.

    Peter Akuleyev

    June 29, 2017 at 5:30 am

    • 1911 is only a year before the first automat opens in NYC, which I consider the forerunner of modern fast food.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      June 29, 2017 at 7:16 am

      • Also no plastic.


        June 29, 2017 at 10:22 am

      • Lion, good point.


        June 29, 2017 at 11:43 am

  7. World’s largest cities in 1910, not counting those in China:

    London – 7.5 mil
    NYC – 4.8 mil
    Paris – 3.0
    Berlin – 2.0
    Tokyo – 2.0
    Chicago – 2.0


    Mark Caplan

    June 29, 2017 at 8:08 am

  8. Most of Manhattan was safe and clean into the early 60’s. Then we all know what happened… all hell broke loose. I’ve lived in NYC since 1988, and have friends in their mid 50’s who remember the change. Until the very late 60’s many subway stations had full service public restrooms. Then the city quickly spiraled out of control in the early 70’s and shut literally all the restrooms, and they all remain shut to this day. Sad.


    June 29, 2017 at 8:50 am

    • I hear you, Dave. Oh, to have Giuliani and especially Bloomberg back again. Fortunately, as stay at home mom here in Manhattan, I can chose to insulate myself from the riff raff. I have no need to use the subway or interact with anyone in the general public who I have no need to associate with. I can stick to my neighborhood, which has fortunately remained pleasant in spite of the DeBlasio mess. (Sutton Place / Turtle Bay)
      It should come as no surprise as a fan of this blog that I am all for gentrification throughout NYC. It can’t happen soon enough, if you ask me. I am hopeful for the coming decades.


      June 30, 2017 at 8:07 pm

  9. Lion,

    I met a girl who’s part of a not quite TOOS family, but I’d say regional level, wealth in the tens of millions probably. Her father was one of the founders of a bank and her mother is a medical doctor. Didn’t get around to what she does for work herself.

    She is in her 30s and lives with her parents. But she has her own apartment on the top floor of their 3 story house, separate entrance, etc.

    I think it’s less that non wealthy people want to “prove they’ve made it” and more that as a practical matter unless the house is set up for it, sharing living space with ones parents kind of sucks. Think about sharing a typical 1800sqft 3/1.5 home with parents. For wealthy people who have larger homes and more separated spaces, it’s not bad at all, so why not do it?

    27 year old from sailers

    June 29, 2017 at 9:31 am

    • Correct.

      A lot of wealthy people got that way because they don’t like to waste money. If you have a large spread with a mother-in-law apt. along with staff to replicate it, why duplicate things? Kings used to always have family living with them.


      June 29, 2017 at 2:10 pm

  10. New York was way way richer comperatively. I saw lots of automobiles. I don’t think that was common outside the US.


    June 29, 2017 at 10:22 am

    • They had many buses in Berlin, and also trolleys.


      June 29, 2017 at 7:13 pm

  11. High quality film for its vintage. Kudos to its restorer! And, indeed, both the men and the women look leaner and fitter and – of course – whiter. My maternal grandparents met and became engaged in 1911 New York, when they were both living and working in Brooklyn – he as a phys. ed. instructor for the YMCA and she as a primary school teacher. I have a soft spot for that time and place, and the quality of the film was good enough for me to imagine myself on those streets. I worked in Manhattan as a young guy in the eighties and early nineties, and miss it still. Thanks for posting!

    Jimmy Kangaroo

    June 29, 2017 at 10:36 am

  12. Is that the Panama hat that most men seem to be wearing? Apparently they were huge in the early 20th century.


    June 29, 2017 at 10:42 am

    • that struck me too. Not just everyone was wearing hats- they were all wearing straw hats.

      Lion o' the Turambar

      June 29, 2017 at 3:43 pm

  13. Cue Ken Burns’s period music and voice over: “In 1911 the transgender civil rights movement was over 100 years away. Women sauntered down scalding streets, sweating under the burden of feminine dresses. White males, all sporting felt hats, clogged the subway cars on the way to work in offices devoid of transgender bathrooms. Meanwhile, in Chinatown, the ladyboy movement was in full (ahem) swing.”


    Rick Steves interrupts documentary to beg for pledge drive dough.


    June 29, 2017 at 11:49 am

  14. Some of the women in the film also wore gloves. Now the only time you see women wearing gloves is in the winter to keep their hands warm.

    If a hat is worn today it’s likely to be a knit or baseball cap. About the only classic hats still worn are the fedora and trilby. And so few people dress well enough to wear one without looking like a dork that now everyone associates them with dorks.

    Gloves and real hats went out of fashion when the rest of the wardrobe went downhill in the 60s. If more people were still wearing suits and dresses then people would probably start wearing hats and gloves again. But no one is going to wear hats and gloves with casual.

    Fussel might have called it “prole drift”. But even the working class dressed better than the middle class does now. It’s only prole drift in the sense that it infected proles first. They were just the canary in the coal mine.


    June 29, 2017 at 11:49 am

    • A lot of the wardrobe changes are really on account of modern climate control, in my opinion. Without HVAC systems and climate controlled automobiles you’re going to be spending a lot more time outside all year, if only to escape stuffy air. You’re going to want some sun and rain protection. Turn off the HVAC systems and get rid of the cars and people would be wearing hats again in very short order.

      I really wish the detachable collar and detachable cuffs never went out of style. Those are usually the only parts of the shirt that need to be washed or are ruined from age. It’d be super convenient to have four or five dress shirts that’ll last years and big box of cuffs and collars that are easy to wash and iron.


      June 29, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    • On Jewish Holidays and Shabbat I wear a suit a tie and a hat to match. I like a feather in my hat but no cufflinks, I hate those.


      June 29, 2017 at 4:52 pm

      • I don’t like cuff links, either. Or tie tacs.


        June 30, 2017 at 3:53 pm

  15. George Carlin said he liked looking at pictures from old baseball games because the only ones wearing caps were the players.


    June 29, 2017 at 12:06 pm

  16. Downside: loads and loads of smoke in the air. This was in the glory days of apartment incinerators. I actually remember those from the 1960s. It was awesome. You’d go out in the hall, pull the little door open, and smoke, heat and ashes would puff out. You’d take your trash and just shove it in and let it fall down into the fire. Convenient, but of course horrible for the air with thousands of incinerators going day and night. Getting rid of them was a good thing. I always wanted to see what it looked like down at the bottom.

    If incinerators were still around, maybe Yakov would be an incinerator man instead of an HVAC man!


    June 29, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    • Have you lived in apts your entire life? It seems a strange concept for me given the struggle I have keeping clutter to a minimum in a single family detached home.


      June 29, 2017 at 4:52 pm

      • Throw out some of your crap. Buy more furniture that has drawers and other storage spaces.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        June 29, 2017 at 5:58 pm

      • I think living in a home encourages clutter. An apartment necessitates prioritizing possessions. Also, built-ins are key. I have a family of four in just 850sf and built ins and clever furniture makes it work.


        June 30, 2017 at 8:19 pm

    • I grew up in a six-floor apartment building in Queens with two wings during the 1960s. I remember those incinerator rooms quite fondly because I used to check them out a couple of times a week to find myself some reading material. I remember finding discarded copies of Sports Illustrated, Sport Magazine, MAD Magazine, Life, Look and various comic books. Only downside beside the occasional soot were roaches and waterbugs.

      Lewis Medlock

      June 29, 2017 at 5:41 pm

  17. “7. There are no traffic lights, no stop signs, no crosswalks, no lane markings. The streets look like scary chaos.”

    What struck me several times is that you assume that people are going to smash into each other because no one is looking around. I was sure the kid in street was going to back into the one leg vet, but no.

    Then watch at 5:25- the guy crosses a street without looking at all to any side and a car come by 1 second later.

    We are so conditioned to “look when entering” that it doesnt occur to us that that policy must have only started with mechanized travel. Maybe not long after this film.

    Lion o' the Turambar

    June 29, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    • What struck me several times is that you assume that people are going to smash into each other because no one is looking around.

      Yes, they all walked in straight lines, no weaving around, no walking up to people and expecting them to move.

      Everybody had a sixth sense for distance, pace and spatial relations.

      Almost like it was all choreographed and rehearsed and then filmed.


      June 30, 2017 at 7:39 pm

    • top speed was pretty low on cars back then

      no too late

      June 30, 2017 at 9:22 pm

  18. If you want to see cities with a large percentage of people classically well dressed you really have to look to the far-east, ie. Tokyo, Hong Kong and Seoul. Large swathes of men in tailored suits and women in well designed dresses that hi-lite their femininity. And most importantly even when East-Asians indulge in cutting-edge contemporary fashion, very few of them ever cross the line into outright douchebaggery.


    June 29, 2017 at 4:26 pm

  19. I’ve read many conservative commentators over the years make the semi-joking point that it was when we stopped wearing hats that our civilisation declined. I say only semi-joking because even though the hats didn’t cause it there is obviously some connection. I couldn’t say what the exact connection is, but I think it must have something to do with there being a distinction at that time between the domestic and the public, and between the informal and the formal. People didn’t wear hats at home, only in public. The way you dress certainly influences the way you act, and wearing a hat in public obviously went along with certain expected codes of public behaviour.

    The destruction of the private and public sphere is probably a little understood part in our civilisational decline. You only have to think of the way that social media and instagram have opened up the most intimate aspects of our personal life for public consumption. When people share too much of themselves in this way I think there is a nagging sense that there is something wrong, but our moral instincts concerning such things is too dulled to really appreciate what it is that we are losing.

    The beauty of hats and other such symbols is that they enable people to express something and act in a certain way even if what it is they are preserving or expressing couldn’t be put easily into words.

    prolier than thou

    June 29, 2017 at 6:16 pm

  20. Fun to try to find some of these places now. At 4:48, I’m pretty sure it’s 34 Pell Avenue in Chinatown. Here’s the current view.

    Honestly, it looked a lot better back then. The storefronts now are hideous.

    June 29, 2017 at 7:01 pm

  21. Most of the men’s suit jackets in the video are absurdly baggy. Ron Paul would fit right in. His height would match the 1911 people better too, and he’d appreciate the fact they used gold and silver coins.

    The proles would be silver only, as the smallest common gold coin was $2.50 quarter eagle, which was about a day’s pay for unskilled labor. The smallest silver coin at the time was the dime. (There earlier were half dimes made of silver, but these were by 1911 replaced with non-silver nickels).

    You can also see that most men have detachable shirt collars. They would wash these much more often than the shirt itself, maybe once a week v once a month. There were also some made out of cardboard and disposable, not sure if those were in common use at that point.


    June 30, 2017 at 5:19 pm

  22. 3. No one in 1911 would leave home without wearing a hat.
    4. For men, a jacket, white shirt, and tie is a nearly universal outfit. Plus a hat.
    5. Women don’t wear pants, only skirts or dresses. Plus a hat.

    And notice – No Shorts.

    Nowadays no self respecting White guy goes outside without his shorts. And maybe his short sleeve t-shirt and flip flops or mandels.


    June 30, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    • If you wear pants in the summer when everyone else is wearing short, you’d look like a dork! Like a beta-male.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      June 30, 2017 at 8:53 pm

      • If you wear pants in the summer when everyone else is wearing short, you’d look like a dork! Like a beta-male.

        No. Depends on the style of long pants. And we aren’t talking about beach or poolside clothes.

        Shorts are the classic beta- dork style clothing.

        Pretty much all adult men in shorts look like dorks unless they are involved in sporting activity.


        June 30, 2017 at 9:58 pm

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