From Museum of the City of New York blog: Summer in the City

Now that summer is in full swing, we look back at the ways New Yorkers have either escaped or embraced the heat.

The Drive in Central Park was a place to see and be seen, particularly for the wealthiest New Yorkers, who dressed in their finest attire and rode carriages through the park.

Byron Company. Central Park: The Drive, Summer. 1894. Museum of the City of New York.

At the turn of the century, long black stockings typically accompanied women’s bathing suits (or bathing gowns, as they were called). Bathing suits became less restrictive a few years later, when women began participating in competitive swimming.

Byron Company. Sports, Bathing, Midland Beach. 1898. Museum of the City of New York.

Before air conditioning, it was not uncommon for tenement dwellers to put their mattresses on the roof and sleep through the season’s hottest nights.

John Sloan. Roofs, Summer Night. 1906. Museum of the City of New York. 82.200.1

The Jackie Robinson Pool originally opened as the Colonial Park Pool in Harlem on August 8, 1936. It was one of 11 swimming pools opened throughout the city that year and funded by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a New Deal agency created to combat the Great Depression.

Sid Grossman. Federal Art Project. Colonial Park Swimming Pool, Harlem. 1939. Museum of the City of New York.

Some New Yorkers preferred water hoses to swimming pools.

United States. Office of War Information. Children spraying a hose from a porch. 1944. Museum of the City of New York. 90.28.88

Every summer, Coney Island’s boardwalk bustles with city dwellers seeking a respite from the heat.

Andrew Herman. Federal Art Project. Feeding Ice-Cream to the Dog. 1939. Museum of the City of New York.

Nathan’s Famous opened in Coney Island at Surf and Stillwell Avenues in 1916, where it still stands today and attracts scores of New Yorkers and tourists alike.

Andrew Herman. Federal Art Project. Nathan’s Hot Dog Stand, Coney Island. 1939. Museum of the City of New York.

Coney Island’s Steeplechase Park began hosting an annual poolside beauty contest called Modern Venus in 1913. Beauty contests flourished as bathing suits became skimpier.

Reginald Marsh. Modern Venus Contest at Steeplechase Park. 1939. Museum of the City of New York.

After World War II, folk singers began congregating in Washington Square. The singers and their audience clashed with some residents of the neighborhood, who thought they were a nuisance. In 1947, the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation started issuing permits for public performances in city parks. In 1961, Parks Commissioner Newbold Morris rejected folk singers’ applications to play in Washington Square. Protests ensued, culminating in a fight between the musicians and their supporters and the police seeking to clear the crowds. In the end, a compromise was reached, with folk singers being allowed in the park on Sunday afternoons.

Frederick Kelly. Musicians – Washington Square. 1962.

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from The New York Times: Young Treasure Hunters Dig Up History Lessons In A Classroom’s Closet

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Using a feature of the online version of the NYTimes called the Times Machine, (an aggregator of archived articles made digital and available online), Manhattan Users Guide has produced a roundup of New York area news and feature stories which provide a snapshot of the major events and mores of the people of NY in 1913.

From Manhattan Users Guide: http://manhattanusersguide.com/article/1913

info 04.17.13


Grand Central opened on February 2, 1913 and the Woolworth Building opened that year on April 24. These two icons still help define New York City a hundred years later and that got us wondering what else was going on in New York City that year? Here are some of the things major and minor on New Yorkers’ minds in 1913, with much help from the NY Times’ Times Machine. (We’ve included links to the articles, but you can only read them with an All Access Times subscription.)January 6
A letter to the editor of the Times about Vanished Bookshops laments the “decline of New York literary taste” and the closing of bookshops on 23rd Street between Fourth and Lexington.January 12
Wall Street’s Troubles and How to Remedy Them. The more things change, and all that.

Also on that date, the Times runs a review of Chekhov’s The Kiss and Other Stories under the headline A Russian Writer Greatly Overrated by Americans. Woops!

February 17
The 1913 Armory Show opens at the Armory on Lexington [25th/26th], now regarded as a seminal event in American art, bringing Modernism to the country. Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase and Blue Nude by Matisse were two of the notable works.

March 30
Manhattan Borough President McAneny predicts, at a City Club luncheon, that the Day of the Skyscraper is Passing.

April 4
Nannyhattan! No Turkey Trotting with Tea: Mayor Gaynor wants to restrict afternoon dances. The Mayor, who had survived an assassination attempt on an ocean liner in 1910, would die later in 1913 on a deck chair of another ocean liner.

April 8
Girl’s Shoe Stolen Right Off Her Foot—Pump with Silver Buckle Is Grabbed as Miss Littlefield Climbs Subway Stairs

April 9
Brooklyn Dodger’s Ebbets Field opens.

April 13
A plan to make over New York’s GOP. “Reconstructed, the party, in this State at least, will no longer be dominated by stand-patters, but will be made ‘responsive to the will of the voters,’ as a letter sent out yesterday to young Republicans all over the State suggests.”

April 20
Wide Range of Hat Shapes at 1,000 Women’s Luncheon was the headline coverage by the Times for an event at the Hotel Astor for the Women’s League for Political Education.

May 18
About a month later, back in Onion territory, they ran a Sunday piece titled Exercise Cure For Feminine Unrest, with the subhead reading Noted Harvard Authority on Physical Training Says That Girl Who Jumps Fences and Acts Part of Hoyden and One Who Shouts ‘Votes for Women’ Both Seek Outlet for Normal Amount of Emotion.

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