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Easy Street: 1917

Easy Street: 1917

February 5, 1917. "Naval militia guard a New York bridge." View full size. 6x4 dry plate glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection. Zoom the posters.


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Freeze Dried

I'm going to bet that wash hanging out there is "freeze dried."

Which bridge...

Judging by the multiple posters for the Leow's Theater at Delancey and Suffolk, this is most likely the Williamsburg bridge (originally known as the East River bridge).

Thank you!

Thank you, Dave, for the links. Very interesting and I learned something new. It would seem that this could be considered a rare glimpse at the Department of Homeland Security, version 1.0.

Thanks to Brent, too; I never knew that about the Statue of Liberty.


Establishing the patrols was not entirely lacking in sense. There had been incidents of sabotage on American soil before the US got into the war. The most notable of these was the Black Tom Explosion in which fires were set at the munitions depot on Black Tom Island. The resulting explosions threw shrapnel up to a mile away and had the equivalent of a 5.0 on the Richter Scale. The explosion damaged the Statue of Liberty (which, according to the Parks Service, is why visitors are no longer allowed to go up the statue's arm to the torch).


Perhaps my ignorance is showing here, but why are they guarding a bridge in NY? Is it just a training exercise? Or due to the fact that World War I is happening (though the US had not yet entered the war at this point, correct?) Or did militias just commonly guard important infrastructure back then?

[New York Governor Charles Whitman ordered the military patrols to "guard against hostile acts by German agents or sympathizers." There were similar patrols in other East Coast states. Articles here and here. - Dave]

White Slave Agents

Thank you, team Shorpy.

"WARNING - Girls Girls - The white slave agents are looking for you. - (f)or protection - (M)ax Gab?? - ?heatre 235 Bo(wery?) - every - ?RL - Sat & ??? - ??? - ??T full infe???"

White slave agent, in this context, seems to mean somebody who procures young women for brothels. My suspicious mind leaves me wondering just what Mr. Max Gab?? had in mind for these vulnerable young women.

[That would be the Yiddish stage impresario Max Gabel, whose theater was at 235-37 Bowery. - Dave]

Lower East Side

Note that about two-thirds of the posters in the background have Yiddish text; this photo was taken in a Jewish neighborhood. The reference to Delancey street suggests the Lower East Side. I would love to know the complete text of the poster that reads "WARNING" at the top, then "GIRLS GIRLS". I can't read what comes under that.

[Click to enlarge. The Loew's theater was at Suffolk and Delancey. - Dave]

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