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The Barge Office: 1900

The Barge Office: 1900

Circa 1900. "Barge Office, New York." Meet you at the Lunch Wagon. 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Photographic Company. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

....I P News Office = SHIP NEWS OFFICE

I wonder what News Office is in there. Anyone knows?
"(Manhattan?) Immigration Processing News Office" maybe?
Although I seem to see the word "PRESS" on the sign left from the door, so that would make more something like "(Manhattan?) Island Press News Office."

I found a solution to my puzzle. On a picture of the U.S. Barge Office - foot of Whitehall Street, East River, by E. & H.T. Anthony, we can see a similar News Office (of the New York Herald), called "SHIP NEWS OFFICE."

A Page out of Equine Vogue

The well dressed horse this season will have a mid calf length hem and quilting on his blanket.

It must have been really cold that day.

Customs Service Flag

Of course that lower of the two flags is the Customs Service Flag consisting of 16 alternate red and white vertical stripes with a white canton bearing the US Eagle and an arc of 13 stars all in blue. Some conspiracy theorists maintain this is the "Civil Flag" of the US that was suppressed by Lincoln, but that is incorrect. They point to a passage in Hawthorne's "Scarlet Letter" in which the main character, who is a Customs Service Employee, notes and describes the Customs Flag and refers to it as a "civil" rather than a "military" flag, which of course is true. But that doesn't make it "the Civil Flag" of the US, a concept we never adopted. We have always had only one flag, the good old Stars and Stripes, pictured here in the top most position, as it should be.

For Official Use Only

The wagon with the tallest load appears to have the nicest blankets on its team. They are emblazoned with:


That's the company that brought us the Titanic. I wonder if they kept the contract after 1912.

Beasts of burden

One must pity the team of horses near the back, warming under White Star Line blankets, that will soon be called on to pull the mountain of trunks, baskets, and bundles teetering ominously atop one of the wagons. Lets hope for the horses sake that the passengers who were well-off enough to own such belongings do not have far to go.

In 1898, when the number of Italian immigrants to the U.S. was about half of the number in the year of this photo, the Times would say of the Barge Office site, "Outside in the park and in special rooms the Italians of New York are constantly awaiting their friends. Express wagons stand for the bundles, bags and immigrants themselves. At the meeting there is much joy. This is for the admitted. In the meantime, in the 'pens' the 'detained' wait, eat and sleep."

Your ancestors may have arrived here

Located in Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan, the Barge Office was built in 1883 as customs and immigration offices. It also held offices for the Marine Hospital Service, the predecessor of the U.S. Public Health Service. It would be forgotten today except that on two occasions it served as the main processing center for people immigrating to the United States. Its first tenure as such began in April 1890 following the closure of the nearby Castle Clinton processing center, and lasted until the end of 1891, when a huge modern facility opened on Ellis Island. Castle Clinton had to be closed while Ellis Island was still under construction because the federal government's lease from the State of New York had expired.

In June 1897, a disgruntled night watchman set fire to the Ellis Island facility, causing so much damage that the Barge Office had to be pressed into service yet again for processing immigrants. It served this function until Ellis Island reopened in December 1900. The Barge Office then slipped back into obscurity as a government office building, until it was demolished in 1911.

Food trucks

Guess the "craze" is nothing new!

Although one wonders where along the Roach Coach-to-Gourmet Foodie Truck continuum the Lunch Wagons lie.

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