|The first part in a series on the things, major and minor, on New Yorkers' minds in 1914, with much help from the NY Times' TimesMachine. We've included links to the articles, but you can only read them with a digital (or home delivery) subscription. Last year's look at 1913 is here.
An early thread of Nannyhattan… The Times reports that Quieter Throngs See 1914 Come In, attributed to the police arresting peddlers selling horns, bells, rattles and other "New Year's Eve instruments of torture." Many were unhappy with this change, including "an old man in evening clothes [who] removed his high hat on the sidewalk in front of the sharp edge of the Times Building shortly after 11 o'clock and shouted: 'Less order, less order.'"
Another noise issue on that day… a judge placed a temporary injunction on NYU Phi Gamma Delta members, who were annoying the daughters of Mrs. Nellie L. Vought, whose daughters liked to sleep on their open air porch near the frat house. Unfortunately, "the girls had to abandon their outdoor life" because the boys "sang, tangoed, and held innumerable discussions in high-pitched voices at all hours of the night."
J. P. Morgan and four of his associates resign from thirty directorships in banks, railroads and industrial companies. J. P. Morgan and Co. denied that it had anything to do with "dissatisfaction with the Government's attitude towards bankers and Big Business…"
The country is obsessed with the tango (which played a part in the Phi Gamma Delta injunction)—it appears in the paper over 450 times during the year—and there are major forces weighing in (the Pope, for one) claiming it's the road to ruin. The Times mostly seems to look askance at the trend, but on this day, the paper reported that All New York Now Madly Whirling in the Tango and they sound pretty chuffed by it: "Life in New York these days is not all one sweet song. For a considerable portion of the population it is a continual dance." They did caution against one thing. "There's seems a disposition to call it the 'tawng-go'…Perhaps the same amount of reason impels as in the case of the persons who speak of the 'Plawza' when they mention a certain New York hotel." The next day, the Times reported Pastors Approve Ban on the Tango.
Proper Care for a Cat or A Kitten: If You Like Pets Enough to Keep One You Should Not Allow It to Get Uncouth and Hungry
City Pension Funds are Headed for Bankruptcy. From the Economist, January, 2014: "New York city's pension managers continue to struggle with a system established almost a century ago."
The fight for universal suffrage, and by extension the larger question of equality for women, is being debated fiercely at the time. On this day's front page, the Times reports that Robert H. Fordyce, mayor of Paterson, New Jersey, explained to that city's Suffrage League why he refused to appoint a women to the Board of Ed. Fordyce says, "I do not regard women as the intellectual equals of men."
A front-page headline:
Americans Tire of Canada
"Noted biologist" Prof. William T. Sedgwick takes up the anti-suffrage cause in a full page of choice comments such as: "Get the candid opinion of any normal woman and she will tell you that she enjoys being mastered. The lower type of woman enjoys physical mastery, the higher type, mental and spiritual mastery." His conclusion is that suffrage and feminism "…would mean a degeneration and a degradation of human fibre which would turn back the hands of time a thousand years."
Text messaging from a train to the Times
The Mona Lisa is valued at $500,000. Maybe more!
Even though Congress had passed the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, so many state and municipal laws had been added that it was a confusing mess. For instance, the preservative sodium benzoate, still much used today, was prohibited in Indiana and North Dakota but allowed in Pennsylvania and Utah. The Times headline: Pure Food in One State is Poison in Another.
A San Francisco Rabbi Praises Tango. In addressing his Congregation, he said, "What we need is more common sense and less theology."
At a mass meeting held at Cooper Union, Women to Ask City to Find Them Work. One detail stayed with us: "…girls who live in hired rooms are turned out of them at 8:30 o'clock in the morning and not allowed to come back until 6:30 at night." These women had to sit in parks and the like when they weren't actively looking for work.
New York Automobile Thefts Total $1,500,000 Yearly: "Audacious, Ingenious and Well Organized Thieves Are Extending Their Options"
($1.5 million is $35 million adjusted for inflation)
The Times finds that Guides Are Needed at Cubist Art Show, "the sane works are few and far apart" and "the visitor has to be very 'arty'" to appreciate the paintings. They do love Joseph Stella's Battle of Lights, Coney Island. The unnamed critic calls it 'startling' and writes, "It has to be seen to be appreciated, and once seen the desire to know what it is all about is irresistible."
On the medical front, a debate rages whether radium is a safe and effective way to treat cancer.
Laundry worker and activist Margaret Hinchey goes to Washington and tells President Wilson that working women need the right to vote. "Yes, I know," he says. More on the undersung Hinchey here.
Congress is Ready to Wipe Out Stock Market Evils
A review of Darkness and Dawn by George Allan England, described as a romance of depopulated New York, is one of the earliest examples of post-apocalyptic fiction.
A much funnier future is described in this article, sounding like something out of The Onion:
After the Futurist headdress comes the Futurist cuisine. A well-known chef this week announced various recipes including purée of carrots with cod liver oil, roast beef dressed in anisette, Vichy and olive oil, and also cress and snails. He gives the following recipe for a filet of sole:
'Take the head bones, keeping them, however. Soak the filets in rum, then set on fire as for an omelette. Then take the bones of the head, mash to a powder, and sprinkle it over the filets. Dress with cream Chantilly, to which add a little extract of tomato juice. Serve the filets burning, with cream iced. Over all pour a few drops of your favorite perfume.'
Equally hard to believe: School girls are dealing heroin, which they call 'happy dust,' a term usually associated with cocaine.
The Snow Removal Problem
(and January 22, 2014: Mayor Admits Snow Removal Efforts Fell Short)