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New York City in the 1910s: A Decade of Change and Growth through Stunning Historical Photos

During the 1910s, New York City continued to grow and evolved, with significant changes in population, infrastructure, culture, and society. This period laid much of the groundwork for the modern New York we know today.

Life in New York City during the 1910s was vibrant and bustling. The population continued to swell, reaching over five million by the end of the decade. This growth was fueled by a constant stream of immigrants from Europe, especially from Italy, Ireland, and Eastern Europe. These new arrivals settled in neighborhoods like Little Italy and the Lower East Side, bringing their customs, languages, and traditions, which added to the city’s rich cultural mosaic.

The city’s streets were always busy, filled with people going about their daily lives. Street vendors sold food and goods, while children played in the streets. Despite the overcrowding and tough living conditions in many areas, there was a sense of community and resilience among the residents.

Famous Places and Landmarks

The 1910s saw the rise of several iconic landmarks and buildings in New York City. The Woolworth Building, completed in 1913, was one of the tallest buildings in the world at the time. Known as the “Cathedral of Commerce,” this skyscraper symbolized the city’s economic power and architectural innovation…

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Another significant landmark was Grand Central Terminal, which opened in 1913. This magnificent Beaux-Arts building became a major transportation hub, connecting New Yorkers with destinations near and far. Its grandeur and architectural beauty made it a central piece of the city’s identity.

Times Square continued to grow as an entertainment center. The bright lights, theaters, and bustling activity made it a focal point for both locals and tourists. The New York Times’ move to the area and the subsequent New Year’s Eve ball drop tradition began to solidify Times Square’s place in popular culture.

Economy and Industry

New York City’s economy was booming during the 1910s. The city was the financial heart of the country, with Wall Street playing a crucial role in global finance. The New York Stock Exchange was busier than ever.

Manufacturing and industry were also thriving. Factories in New York produced a wide range of goods, from textiles to machinery. The garment industry was particularly significant, employing many immigrant workers. Despite the harsh working conditions, these jobs were essential for many families.

The outbreak of World War I in 1914 brought new economic challenges and opportunities. New York became a key player in supporting the war effort, with its ports and factories contributing to the production and supply of goods for the Allies. This period saw an increase in industrial activity and economic growth, despite the uncertainties of wartime.

Construction and Infrastructure

Construction and infrastructure projects continued to shape New York City in the 1910s. The expansion of the subway system was a major focus. New lines were added, making it easier for people to travel across the city. This underground network allowed for more efficient movement of the growing population, reducing congestion on the streets above.

The Queensboro Bridge, completed in 1909, connected Manhattan to Queens, facilitating the movement of people and goods. The Hell Gate Bridge, completed in 1916, provided a vital rail link between New York and New England, enhancing the city’s transportation network.

The city’s skyline began to change with the construction of new skyscrapers. These tall buildings were symbols of progress and modernity, reflecting the city’s ambition and growth. The use of steel-frame construction and elevators made it possible to build higher than ever before.

Restaurants and Food

The culinary scene in New York City in the 1910s was diverse and vibrant, reflecting its multicultural population. Immigrant communities introduced new foods and flavors, enriching the city’s dining options. Italian, Jewish, and Chinese cuisines were particularly influential.

Restaurants ranged from upscale dining establishments to casual eateries. Delmonico’s continued to be a symbol of fine dining, attracting wealthy patrons with its gourmet cuisine and elegant atmosphere. For those seeking more affordable options, there were plenty of diners, cafes, and delis offering hearty meals.

Street food was also popular. Vendors sold pretzels, hot dogs, and other snacks, providing quick and affordable food for busy New Yorkers.

Entertainment and Leisure

Entertainment was a major part of life in New York City during the 1910s. Broadway was the heart of the theater district, with numerous plays and musicals drawing large audiences. The Ziegfeld Follies, a series of elaborate theatrical revues, became particularly popular during this time.

Vaudeville theaters offered a variety of acts, including comedy, music, and magic shows. These performances were accessible to a wide audience, providing affordable entertainment for people from all walks of life.

Coney Island remained a favorite destination for fun and leisure. Its amusement parks, with rides, games, and attractions, drew crowds looking for excitement and relaxation. Places like Luna Park and Dreamland were iconic parts of New York’s entertainment landscape.

Silent movies also began to rise in popularity. Nickelodeons, or small movie theaters, showed short films that captivated audiences. This new form of entertainment offered an affordable escape and became a significant part of the cultural life of the city.

Social Issues and Reforms

The rapid growth and industrialization of New York City brought significant social challenges. Overcrowding, poor living conditions, and poverty were widespread, especially in immigrant neighborhoods. Social reformers worked tirelessly to address these issues.

Figures like Lillian Wald and Jacob Riis continued their efforts to improve living conditions for the poor. Settlement houses like the Henry Street Settlement provided essential services, including healthcare, education, and job training. These institutions played a crucial role in supporting the city’s most vulnerable residents.

Labor movements gained momentum during this period. Workers organized strikes and protests to demand better wages, working conditions, and hours. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911, which resulted in the deaths of 146 workers, highlighted the need for labor reforms. This tragic event led to significant changes in workplace safety regulations and labor laws.

Health and Public Services

Public health saw improvements during the 1910s. Efforts to combat diseases like tuberculosis and influenza led to better sanitation and public health measures. The establishment of public hospitals and clinics provided more people with access to medical care, improving overall public health.

The city also invested in expanding its fire and police services. The fire department modernized its equipment and training, making it more effective in responding to fires. The police department continued to professionalize, with efforts to reduce corruption and improve public safety.

The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 posed a significant challenge for the city. Public health officials worked tirelessly to contain the spread of the virus and care for the sick. Despite the difficulties, these efforts helped mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the city’s population.

Education and Intellectual Life

Education was a priority in New York City during the 1910s. Public schools expanded, providing more children with access to education. Compulsory education laws ensured that children spent time in school rather than working in factories or on the streets.

Higher education institutions also grew during this period. Columbia University and New York University expanded their campuses and programs, attracting students from around the country and the world. These institutions played a crucial role in the intellectual and cultural life of the city.

Public libraries and literary societies flourished, promoting literacy and intellectual engagement. The New York Public Library, with its extensive collection of books and resources, became a vital center for knowledge and learning.

Political Climate

The political climate in New York City during the 1910s was dynamic and often contentious. Tammany Hall, the Democratic political machine, wielded significant influence. However, reform movements gained momentum, challenging the dominance of Tammany Hall and pushing for greater accountability and transparency in city government.

Women’s suffrage was a significant issue during this period. Activists worked tirelessly to secure the right to vote for women, organizing rallies, marches, and campaigns. These efforts culminated in the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, granting women the right to vote.

#1 Children watch a caged animal at the Bronx Zoo, Bronx Park, Bronx, 1915.

#2 Tremont Baptist Church at Tremont and Burnside Avenue, Bronx, 1915.

#3 Suffrage Auto Parade in New York City, visiting from the Bronx to Longacre Square, 1915.

#4 Teen girls having lunch during the Midsummer Day Festival, Pelham Bay Park, Bronx, 1911.

#5 Residence at 2654 Bainbridge Avenue, Bronx, circa 1917.

#6 E.W. Szydlowski, undertaker at 634 Morris Avenue, Bronx, 1914.

#7 Webb’s Academy main building, Bronx, circa 1915.

#8 Residences at 2872, 2882, & 2890 Bailey Avenue, Bronx, circa 1917.

#9 Willis Avenue near 148th Street, Bronx, circa 1919.

#10 A apartment building in Bronx with a trolley, circa 1916.

#12 P.S. 7 at 232nd Street and Kingsbridge Avenue, Bronx, 1916.

#18 Grossman & Rosenbaum Iron Works, Willow Avenue and E. 133rd Street, Bronx, 1918.

#19 Van Cortlandt Park visitors near the 242nd Street subway station, Bronx, 1914.

#24 Elevated subway line at White Plains Road and Baychester Avenue, Bronx, 1915.

#25 Third Avenue Bridge over Harlem River, Manhattan to Bronx, circa 1910.

#26 Pilgrim Congregational Church, Bronx, circa 1919.

#27 Isaac G. Johnson & Co. foundry, Spuyten Duyvil, Bronx, 1918.

#28 Webb’s Academy and Home for Shipbuilders, Bronx, 1914.

#29 FDNY firehouse, Engine 81, Ladder 46, Kingsbridge, Bronx, circa 1917.

#30 Special bus bringing potential buyers to view the Pearsall Estate, Bronx, 1914.

#31 Buildings at the corner of Courtlandt Avenue and E. 150th Street, Bronx, circa April 1918.

#32 High angle view of the Francis T. Lord estate, Bronx, circa June 1919.

#33 P.S. 28, Mount Hope Place and Anthony Avenue, on the Francis T. Lord estate, Bronx, circa June 1919.

#34 Automobiles driving past a sign for the Lorillard Spencer estate sale, Bronx, circa May-June 1917.

#35 Northeast corner of Jerome Avenue and Bedford Park Boulevard, Bronx, 1919.

#36 Northeast corner of Jerome Avenue and Bedford Park Boulevard, Bronx, 1919.

#37 Bronx headquarters of the Boy Scouts of America, circa April 1917.

#38 1044 to 1080 Findlay Avenue, Bronx, circa December 1915-January 1916.

#39 Opening day at the IRT 180th Street station, Bronx, circa December 1918.

#40 1437 Boston Road, Bronx, circa December 1915-January 1916.

#41 View down Jerome Avenue to the Macombs Dam Bridge, Bronx, circa December 1918.

#42 Standard Gas sign, 4589 Broadway, Bronx, May 1917.

#43 Front driveway and facade of the Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum, Kingsbridge, Bronx, 1910s

#44 Small girls pose in and in front of a horse-drawn wagon, Bronx, circa 1910.

#46 Atlantic Avenue subway entrance, Brooklyn, New York City, 1910

#47 Girls’ High School, Nostrand Avenue and Macon Street, Brooklyn, New York City, 1911

#48 Manhattan Bridge and East River from Brooklyn, New York City, 1910

#49 Washington Street from Fulton with Beecher statue, Brooklyn, New York City, 1910

#50 Brooklyn Bridge, East River and skyline, 1915. The Woolworth Building stars in this Lower Manhattan view, with the Singer, Bankers Trust, Hudson Terminal, Municipal and Park Row buildings as understudies.

#52 Manhattan Bridge and East River from Brooklyn, 1910

#53 Dry Dock, 1910. Brooklyn Navy Yard, dry dock No. 4. An unidentified battleship is probably not for long.

#54 Six of the eight contestants in the 100-mile Harkness Handicap on Sheepshead Bay Motor Speedway’s two-mile wooden oval in Brooklyn, 1918

#55 Children and adults take a “fresh air outing” on a trolley in June in Brooklyn, 1913

#56 Front Exterior View of Ebbets Field, Home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, 1913

#57 Crowd at Brooklyn’s Navy Yard Listening to President Wilson, 1914

#58 Josephine Bartlett Diving in Sheepshead Bay Swimming Contest, Brooklyn, 1914

#59 Launching of Battleship Arizona at Brooklyn Navy Yards, June 1915

#62 Women Sewing American Flags at Brooklyn Navy Yard, July 1917

#63 Brooklyn Rapid Transit Strike Paralyzes System, August 1919

#65 Eiseman Magneto Company Taken Over by Alien Property Custodian, Brooklyn, 1918

#66 E. Greenfield’s Sons Making Chocolates for Government, Brooklyn, 1917-1919

#67 Making Chocolates for the Government, Trucks of E. Greenfield’s Sons, Brooklyn, 1917

#68 Alien Property Custodian Seizes Eiseman Magneto Company, Brooklyn, 1918

#69 Aftermath of Fire at Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, 1912

#70 E. Greenfield’s Sons Plant Making Chocolates for Government, Brooklyn, 1910s

#71 Rear of E. Greenfield’s Sons Plant in Candy Manufacturing for Government, Brooklyn, 1917

#72 Brooklyn Daily Eagle Newspaper Offices, Brooklyn, 1916

#73 Atlantic Avenue Subway Station Entrance, Brooklyn, 1915

#76 Flatbush Avenue Long Island Railroad Station, Brooklyn, 1910

#77 Long Island Railroad station on Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, 1912.

#78 Bird’s-eye view of trolley buses crossing Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn, 1910s

#80 Gage & Tollner’s Oyster and Chop House on Fulton Street, Brooklyn, 1910s.

#82 People in front of Sanger Clinic on Amber Street, Brooklyn, 1916.

#83 Boardwalk at Dreamland in Coney Island, Brooklyn, 1910.

#84 Bridge of Laughs at Luna Park in Coney Island, Brooklyn, 1912.

#85 The Teaser attraction at Luna Park in Coney Island, Brooklyn, 1910s.

#86 Manhattan looking south along Broadway from Woolworth Bldg, 1913. Skyscraper landmarks in this bird’s eye view include the Singer (tallest) and Park Row (lower left) buildings.

#88 Big buildings of Lower Manhattan, 1912. Notable skyscrapers (in a scene last glimpsed here) include the Woolworth tower (under construction), the Singer Building and the Bankers Trust pyramid.

#89 Manhattan Bridge and East River from Brooklyn, 1910

#90 Singer Building down Broadway from the post office, Manhattan, 1910

#91 Manhattan Bridge and East River from Brooklyn, 1910

#92 Woolworth building underconstruction, 1912. Other Manhattan landmarks include City Hall Park and its post office, the Singer Building and the twin cupolas of the Park Row Building.

#93 Lower Manhattan, Hudson Terminal buildings in 1910.

#94 Human tetherballs frolicking in East Side Manhattan, 1910

#95 Fire on Murray Street in Manhattan, February 19, 1915.

#96 A detailed view of rail cars at West 26th Street and Eleventh Avenue, known as “Death Avenue,” in Manhattan, 1910

#97 Broadway & Herald Square: View Along Broadway Passing Herald Square, Elevated Train Track Above Avenue of the Americas with Visible Structures Including Gimbels and Macy’s Department Stores, Notel Normandie, Hippodrome, Times Tower, 1912

#98 A Group of Men and Women Watch People Dance on the Dance Floor at a Dance Hall, Harlem, 1912

#99 Consecration of the Choir and Chapels of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, People in Church, circa 1911

#100 Turn of 20th Century Street Scene with Pedestrians, Horses, Wagons, Traffic, Policeman, Manhattan, 1910

#101 Fifth Avenue & 46th Street, Traffic, Shops, Pedestrians, Shoppers, Cars, Horse & Wagons, Busy Intersection, 1910s

#102 Haymarket Theater Becomes Movie House, 6th Avenue and 30th Street, 1916

#103 Construction Crane & Crew Making Improvements to the Third Avenue Elevated Train, Lower Manhattan, 1918

#104 Block of First Ave and 3rd Street, Population of 5021 in 1910 Census, Lower East Side of Manhattan, 1915

#105 Curb Brokers or Curbstone Brokers Trading on the Street Near Broad Street and Wall Street, 1915

#107 Trinity Church, Anonymous Businessmen, Pedestrians, Horse and Carriage, Wall Street, 1915

#108 High Angle View of Washington Square Monument and Park, Greenwich Village, 1910’s

#109 Fifth Avenue at Fifty-Seventh Street, North to Central Park, circa 1915

#110 Broadway and Fifth Avenue Looking North at Madison Square, Early 1910s

#111 American Regiments Parading on Fifth Avenue Before Departing for France, New York, 1917

#112 Family Being Evicted from Apartment, Lower East Side, 1910

#114 Racecar Driving Along Fifth Avenue in Manhattan,v 1916

#115 Forty-Second Street Looking Past Grand Central Terminal, Circa 1919

#116 Suffragettes Waiting to Board the Mandalay, Circa 1915

#119 Looking Down Broadway Towards Herald Square, 1911

#120 Man Smoking a Pipe Atop a Building on Broadway, Early 1910s

#121 Longacre Square, Now Named Times Square, Theaters, Shops, Hotels, 1910s

#122 Semaphore at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, 1910s

#123 Hippodrome Theater, 6th Avenue and 43rd Street, Manhattan, 1910s

#125 The Broadway Tabernacle, northeast corner of Broadway and 56th Street, 1910s

#126 A family seated in a living room in a house in Broad Channel, Queens, 1910s

#127 Workers assembling airplane wings during World War I at Lowe, Willard & Fowler Engineering Company, College Point, Queens, 1917.

#140 Astoria Boulevard and Main Avenue, Queens, 1910s.

#141 Astoria Boulevard and 112th Place, Queens, 1910s.

#144 Brookhaven Avenue and Beach 19th Street, Queens, 1910s.

#145 Cross Island Boulevard and 6th Avenue, Queens, 1910s.

#146 Cypress Avenue and Cornelia Street, Queens, 1910s.

#151 27th Street and Ditmars Boulevard, Queens, 1910s.

#158 Farmers Boulevard and Dennis Street, Queens, 1910s.

#159 Flushing Avenue and Woodward Avenue, Queens, 1910s.

#163 Hillside Avenue and 162nd Street, Queens, 1910s.

#164 Jamaica Avenue and Hollis Court Boulevard, Queens, 1910s.

#166 Masonic Lodge Number 912’s history on Amboy Road, established 1913, moved 1993.

#167 Infantry Inspection at Fort Wadsworth, a former United States military installation on Staten Island, 1910s

#168 Hyatt Street viewed from the top of Borough Hall in St. George, circa 1910.

#172 Albert P. Semler Built a Hotel near His Park and Picnic Grounds in Grant City, 1910.

#179 Pedestrians and Streetcar Near St. George Ferry Terminal, 1917.

#181 Amboy Road in Pleasant Plains – Shows Horse-Drawn Carriages and Carts, 1910.

#182 Richmond County Advance Original Delivery Truck, 1913.

#183 Tompkins Department Store on the corner of Bay and Sand streets, circa 1912

#184 Victory Boulevard, renamed after the First World War, circa 1910

#185 The Liberty Theatre, Stapleton’s Modern Theatre for Drama and Vaudeville Acts, 1918

#186 Richmond Avenue Looking North at Intersection with Amboy Road, 1910s

#187 Aerial View of Graham Beach from Ferris Wheel at Midland Beach, 1910s

#188 Staff of Leonhard Weinmann’s Bakery in Baker’s Whites at 388 Van Duzer Street, Shop Opened 1918, Closed 1968; Later Home to Various Establishments Including Muddy Cup Coffee House, 1918

#189 Tottenville Celebration Parade on Main Street, Circa 1911

#190 Tottenville’s beautiful beaches and country setting drew Manhattan and Brooklynites for vacations; area’s transition depicted, 1910s

#191 Great Kills Hotel, also known as Hillies Hotel and Fitzgerald’s, featured free shrimp with beer, circa 1910.

#192 The Casino Dancing Pavilion, Tottenville Beach, Reid’s Ice Cream Parlor, 1910s

#194 The Clifton Boat House, Rosebank, stood on what is now Buono Beach, circa 1910.

#195 Garber Bros. Store in New Dorp, Founded in 1919, Moved to Hylan Shopping Plaza and Closed in 1994

#196 G. Siegle Company, located on Chestnut Avenue in Rosebank, Staten Island, 1910

#197 Amboy Road featuring early 20th-century cars and shops with a sign for ‘Light, Power Gas Electric’ in Great Kills, Staten Island, 1910.

#198 J.J. McDermott competing in the Metropolitan Open Championship Tournament at Fox Hills Golf Club, Staten Island, 1915.

#199 Street intersection captured in Staten Island, circa 1915.

#200 The Actors Home in West Brighton, Staten Island, 1910.

Written by Adriana Palmer

Blogger, Editor and Environmentalist. A writer by day and an enthusiastic reader by night. Following the Jim Roh's prophecy “Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary.”

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