SHORPY Historic Photo Archive & Fine-Art Prints
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About the Photos

Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

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Tenement Ec: 1908

Tenement Ec: 1908

New York circa 1908. "Class in Practical Housekeeping -- Congestion Exhibit." 8x10 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection. View full size.

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The Congestion Exhibition

This unusual and influential exhibition was organized by the American Museum of Natural History, and ran from March 9 through March 22, 1908. Many social welfare organizations, including city departments and private charities, participated in this attempt to document and expose the complex social and public health issues associated with the massive overcrowding of New York's poor into tenement neighborhoods. This photo documents the model two-room apartment exhibit built by the Association of Practical Housekeeping Centres, to demonstrate the classes they offered to working class women and girls on how to cope with their overcrowded living spaces. Other architectural installations included a facsimile East Side sweatshop, which displayed its "uncleanness and wretchedness." The exhibition was well publicized and very well attended by New Yorkers from both up and down the social ladder, from the Duchess of Marlborough (the former Consuelo Vanderbilt), to the East Side tenement dwellers themselves, including a girl who told a reporter that she was astonished to see a photograph of herself at work in a sweatshop. The New York Times archive retains many news articles about this exhibition, among them "Exhibit Will Tell All About New York," published March 1, 1908.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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