Vintage photos of:
March 1912. "Row of tenements, 260 to 268 Elizabeth St., New York, in which a great deal of finishing of clothes is carried on." View full size. 268 Elizabeth Street, in Little Italy, is now a "luxe sweater bar" called Sample; 258 (Kips Bay) is a handbag boutique called Token. Photo by Lewis Wickes Hine.
"A greaser in a Coal Mine. Location: Bessie Mine, Alabama." November 1910. View full size image or view Shorpy even bigger (cropped). This is, as far as we can tell, the first of only four photographs Lewis Wickes Hine took of Shorpy on his visit to the Bessie Mine late in 1910. (The others are here and here and here.) Almost 100 years after being taken, they retain a strange and startling immediacy even though their subject is almost certainly dead. Who were you, Shorpy Higginbotham, and whatever became of you?
Noon hour in the Ewen Breaker, Pennsylvania Coal Co., South Pittston. January 1911. Spooky full image. Photograph by Lewis Wickes Hine.
"Breaker boys," or slate pickers, sat astride the breaker chutes, through which the coal roared, and picked out slate and other debris by hand. Boys as young as 8, working ten-hour days, began their coal careers in the breakers. They were paid less than the adults who performed the same work and faced the hazard of hand injuries or even falling into the chutes. Some breaker boys were the sons of miners who had been killed or disabled, often the only remaining source of income for their families. In 1900, boys accounted for one-sixth of the anthracite coal work force. Read a firsthand account of the breaker boys' work.