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Battleships vs. Broadway: 1910

Battleships vs. Broadway: 1910

New York, October 1910. "Hudson River & Riverside Park; battleships of the Atlantic Fleet." Competing for our attention with a convoy of theater posters. Panorama made from two 8x10 inch glass negatives. View full size.


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Mr Pumpkinhead

It's probably a fancy dressed lady in a big hat, but from this angle doesn't the person on the path, at the bottom of the picture, look like Mr. Pumpkinhead with a long coat?


As someone who gets off the subway a stop early just so I can walk up Riverside Park, I thank you for the picture. The buildings may change, but the joy of a stroll through the park remains the same.

To your left, Grant's Tomb

How about that double-deck bus down in the lower left? A dated version of the current crop of open air vehicles that are seen all over Manhattan, even on rainy days.

Grant's Tomb (+13)

Washington Post, Aug 11, 1885

The Riverside Park Tomb.

The Views of Landscape Engineer Olmstead — The Actual Site of the Monument Not Determined.

New York, Aug 10. — Last week Frederick Law Olmstead, the landscape engineer, who was detailed to select a site for Gen. Grant's monument, wrote a letter to Park President Crimmins, in which he expressed the opinion that the site chosen for the Grant tomb and proposed monument in Riverside Park was not a suitable one. It would be extremely unfortunate, he thought, if the remains of the dead hero were brought into close association with the gayety of the promenade, or if the city adopts plans for the terminal arrangements of the promenade which would destroy its main character, or which will prevent the promenade from having the great northern view as its terminus.

The letter has caused a great deal of discussion, and Mr. Calvert Vaux, the landscape gardener of the Central Park has replied to it at length. He says that there is nothring in the most of Mr. Olmstead's objections. He favors erecting the monument and final tomb on the southern portion of what is called "the loop," and then it would be practically out of the park with a public road all around it. Small pathways leading to it for foot passengers could also be made and the view from the drive and park would be in no way impaired.

Mayor Grace said today: The actual site for the monument, or what sort of a monument it will be, has not yet been decided upon. I do not think a better site could possibly have been chosen than the one near the temporary tomb, and there is plenty of room there for a very large monument without in the least obstructing the view or in any way destroying the beauty of the spot. I shall certainly take no action in the premises. The whole matter will be referred to Mr. Vaux and Superintendent Parsons, and they will report to the park commissioners as to the best site for the proposed monument.

It was said at the office of the park commissioners to-day that the plan of laying out the northern part of Riverside Park had been modified to correspond to a great extent with the views of Mr. Olmstead. At first it was intended to have the permanent monument at a point about two hundred feet north of the tomb, but it will not be placed directly back of and near the tomb.

The Claremont House will remain and the handsome bluff will be reserved for those who visit it for recreation. From One Hundred and Twenty-first street to One Hundred and Twenty-fifth street in the park will be set apart exclusively for the burial ground of Gen. Grant, and a roadway will be laid out north and south of the tomb on a line with One Hundred and Twenty-fifth street, so as to separate the burial ground from the other portions of the park.

The park commissioners have determined to secure the land lying east of Riverside Park, extending to Claremont avenue to one side and One Hundred and Twenty-second street to One Hundred and Twenty-fifth street on the other. As soon as the park commissioners have secured a title to these grounds in the vicinity of the tomb, and thus the necessary quiet will be secured to the spot in which the General's remains are deposited.

The key of the vault is kept in the large safe in the park commissioner's office.

Can you spot the Power Broker?

There's a non-zero chance that one of the automobiles seen on Riverside Drive contains a young Robert Moses. This is where he got his formative idea of the parkway, which was for the weekend pleasure of the leisure classes. He would be riding in the back seat, naturally. As the century moved on and the automobile's role evolved from plaything of the rich to everyman's necessity, Moses never changed his views, and by the 1930s, he had the power at his disposal to see that his plans were carried out. Never mind that the motorist of 1931 or 2011 would be too busy negotiating traffic to enjoy the view! Driving was for the help! Robert Moses spent his career building highways, but never held a driver's license, and he lived to be 92.

St. John the Unfinished

Yes, that is the Cathedral of "St. John the Unfinished." They found stone carvers in Italy a few years back who were able to carve stone in the same manner as the ones who most likely worked on the portion of the Cathedral seen here and finally completed the edifice a few years back, from what I understand.

Milwaukee Famous

Half hidden among the theater signs is a billboard for Schlitz, "the beer that made Milwaukee famous". I remember that slogan and the logo were current 60 years after this photo. Apparently they weren't much for new campaigns.

Riverside Church

Construction on Riverside Church didn't begin until the 1920s. If it were on the photo it would be just to the right of Grant's Tomb.

The tall building in the foreground is at 85th and Riverside Drive. Pretty much all the mansions along Riverside Drive were soon replaced with much larger apartment buildings.

Behind and to the left of St. John the Divine is St. Luke's hospital. The dome way in the background is a mystery to me. It must be where Columbia's east campus is located.

"An infant is necessary"

The partly-obscured poster with the scary infant advertises "Baby Mine," a farce by Margaret Mayo that opened in August 1910. I found this description:
"To retain her husband's affection, Zoie determines that an infant is necessary. She hates babies, but she does love her husband -- so, while he is away, she rents a couple of twins from an adjacent laundress, and the fun sets in!"

The Deserters

After doing some searches on Helen Ware and "The Deserters" I can't find any reference to the film anywhere. While Mrs. Ware's career is well documented, the film appears to have been lost to the ages.

[As noted in the title (and caption!) of this post, the signs are advertising plays, not movies. The Deserters gave 63 performances at the Hudson Theatre. - Dave]

So they loaded up the truck ...

I'm pretty sure that's Jed Clampett's rig in the corner.

Grapes of Wrath

Is that Ma and Pa Joad's vehicle bottom left? They're lost!

Will they ever finish it?

I took this photo a few years back. As you can see, they added much to the front of the Cathedral of St. John, and--a hundred years later--they are still working on it!

In the meantime, Columbia University has erected very uninspired buildings that all but obstruct the street view of the cathedral.

The steeple in the background is Riverside Church.

To us who live here and see this every day, the absence of the George Washington Bridge in the 1910 picture is most glaring.

Fleet's In

President Taft reviewed the Atlantic Fleet in Boston in November 2010, before they left for Europe, so it makes sense they were assembled in the Northeast. Quite a few references can be found to an annual event called the Hudson-Fulton Celebration, which may be what is going on here. Ships present likely include the USS Delaware, USS Rhode Island, USS Virginia, USS Nebraska, USS Missouri, and USS Mississippi. One can see them on the Hudson in 1915 in this image (from here):

[I'm pretty sure Taft was not around in 2010. The Hudson-Fulton celebration was in 1909. In our 1910 photo, the fleet was in New York for a port call after target practice, and then overhaul in the various navy yards before returning to Hampton Roads in November. - Dave]

Sorry to be fat fingered. The ships left for Europe following the Hampton Roads assembly, and after leaving England they engaged in gunnery exercises off of Cuba before returning to Virginia in January. I see what you mean about the H-F being in 1909, yet several Navy sites suggest that there was an annual event along similar lines for several years before and after the 300th anniversary. Thank you for all the images - this is a great site.

[The Hudson-Fulton Celebration, held from Sept. 25 to Oct. 9, 1909, commemorated the 300th anniversary of Henry Hudson's discovery of the Hudson River and the 100th anniversary of Robert Fulton's steam engine. For more on the ships present, click here and here. - Dave]

Pleasant Day

A lot going on here! We've got Riverside Park complete with some kids, Grant's Tomb, what seems to be an early version of New York's ubiquitous sidewalk construction awnings, and I believe that nice dome on the right is the beginning of the still unfinished St. John the Divine Cathedral.

Yet I'm more interested in the advertisements for the theatre; I wonder if Helen Ware was America's greatest emotional actress and if "The Deserters" ended up being the best musical drama since "Arizona."

"Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm"

I have heard that expressed in my family all my life. My parents weren't even born before 1918, so not sure why this little phrase or title was used. I suspect this play was popular at different times and not just in the early part of the 20th century.

I should have known it was a book. Looked it up on Ebay and there are several for sale. They have them from 1910 to 2003 printing dates.

[It's a famous children's book from 1903. The play came along later. - Dave]


"There is a photographer up there!"


Someone give that baby a bottle!

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