Archive for November, 2020

Hagenbeck’s Closes Its Doors

During WWI, so many animals starved to death at Germany’s famous zoo Hagenbeck’s that the park was forced to close in 1920. Fortunately, it reopened two years later and remains an attraction to this day.

In 1907, Hagenbeck’s originated and pioneered the concept of the open-air zoo, with animals separated from human visitors by moats, rather than trapped in cages, so as to more realistically mimic their natural environment. By 1920, the spectre of potentially permanent closure was all too real:

After seeing scores of its most valuable animals perish of hunger because Germany’s drastic wartime food regulations precluded their getting enough to eat, after losing scores of others because lack of coal caused them to freeze to death, the Hagenbeck firm has given up, for the time being at least, the struggle to keep in business. And, in view of the fact that Germany’s loss of colonies and merchant marine makes it difficult for the firm to meet competition from other countries, there is a possibility that Stellingen may remain closed permanently and the name of Hagenbeck, for years renowned throughout the universe, become only a memory.

As Mark Twain once said, “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” Tierpark Hagenbeck closed for only two years, then reopened in 1922. While the original site was bombed in 1943 during World War II, it was rebuilt and operates to this day, still run by the Hagenbeck family. (Although, in a 1956 incident, 45 monkeys escaped.)

 

Hagenbeck’s Closes Its Doors (PDF)

Published: Sunday, November 28, 1920

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Written by Jesse

November 24th, 2020 at 3:20 pm

Posted in Animals,Business

The Pent-Up German Flood

Not long after Germany lost World War I, a 1920 article predicted a coming surge of German immigrants to the U.S. While German immigration did increase that decade, it still fell well short of the numbers from a few decades prior.

German immigration peaked at more than 1.4 million during the 1880s, plummeting to less than 200 thousand during the 1910s as the U.S. fought Germany during World War I. It increased again during the 1920s, approximately doubling to just under 400 thousand, though that was still a fraction of its prior peak.

Source: Immigration to United States, based on statistics from the Department of Homeland Security.

As the 1920 New York Times Sunday Magazine article predicted:

In all classes there is evident a mighty urge to flee from the burdens pressing upon the losers in the World War. Emigration is today the one beacon of hope for thousands of Germans, who are convinced that they can no longer find in Germany the possibility of a satisfactory livelihood.

All hindrances and hardships are disregarded. Anything to get away, to put the Fatherland behind them. The value of the mark, making what once would have been regarded as a fortune a beggarly sum in most of the markets of the world, does not hold them back. Neither do difficulties of travel, the multiplication of frontiers — with endless harassments at each — the lack of facilities, due to restricted means of transportation, the perils of ventures into the unknown — not even the uncertainties of their reception into the known state of hostility to Germans existing in a large part of the world.

German immigration to the U.S. has actually been at its lowest recorded numbers in the past few decades, likely owing to most Germans not wanting to escape, as their country has been at peace with the largest economy among European Union members.

 

The Pent-Up German Flood (PDF)

Published: Sunday, November 21, 1920

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Written by Jesse

November 18th, 2020 at 3:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

How to Live for More Than a Hundred Years

French doctor L.H. [Louis-Henri] Goizet published a book in 1920 claiming a surefire trick to live past age 100: massaging your head. Let’s just say that’s not the prevailing scientific consensus today.

Now for the treatment. He sits us on a stool, and, beginning at the top of the head, for, he says, the brain is the home of the Ego and the centre of gravity of our being, and all physiological evolution takes place around its extreme axis, he begins with slow, gentle, rotary, tractile motions, from west to east, since that is the course of all nature’s movements, both internal and external, as exemplified by the course of the planets around the sun, to rub the top of our head with the palm of the hand.

Goizet claimed all sorts of amazing transformations on patients as a result:

“It seems extraordinary, at first, that rubbings so light could produce effects of such importance that under their conscious and reasoned action one sees the enlarged mouth shrink, the commissures contract, the nostrils appear, the jaws relax, the teeth loosen, the wrinkles disappear, the contracted and elevated shoulders descend to their normal place, the neck gets clear, the head, stooping forward, becomes erect, the wrists become refined, the fingers taper and stretch out…”

I’ll stop it there, but that one sentence continues on for dozens of more words.

What’s the secret to old age, according to today’s most up-to-date scientific knowledge? In 2015, Scottish 109-year-old Jessie Gallan told the Daily Mail her key to remaining alive so long was “staying away from men.” Maybe she has a point: of the 28 people currently alive who have been validated as age 110 or older, all 28 are female. Seeing as I am a man, alas, it will be hard to stay away from myself.

 

How to Live for More Than a Hundred Years (PDF)

Published: Sunday, November 14, 1920

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Written by Jesse

November 12th, 2020 at 1:35 pm

Posted in Health

Sunless Temples of New York’s Movies

In 1920, electric lighting was starting to become more popular than natural sunlight for shooting movies.

See, sunlight had a few problems.

The trouble with the sun, as viewed by the efficiency experts of New York’s many picture studios, is not only that its illumination is of an inferior quality, but also that it is undependable. Some days it functions not at all, at other times raggedly, it stands not still upon Gibeon [the ancient Israelite city where the Bible says God made the sun stand still], as it should do during the “shooting” of a big scene, but moves relentlessly across the heavens. It indulges itself in pale reds and yellows (requiring orthocromatic emulations) in the early morning and in the late afternoon; and its elevation even at midday in latitude 40 degrees north has never given satisfaction to discriminating producers. And never in history has the sun been known to function properly when needed for a retake of a bad piece of film.

By contrast, electric light had several advantages.

Thus, in this business, in every respect except the matter of expense, electric light is coming to be regarded as superior to sunshine. Electricity works day or night, at the touch of a switch. An artificial sun can be lowered or elevated at will, and the equality of its rays is absolutely dependable. Your modern picture director, when he is working indoors, can assume a patronizing attitude toward Joshua. In fact, some of the cinema men so much prefer artificial sunlight to the natural product that they bar the sun from doing any more work around their studios.

Yet despite Hollywood’s creation in the first place primarily to utilize yearround filming conditions, the switch to artificial light never moved the global center of film production from the Los Angeles area for a century afterwards. Inertia probably helped. After all, most of the largest modern L.A.-area studio lots weren’t created until after 1920, such as the Paramount lot in 1926, the Warner Bros. lot also in 1926, and the Walt Disney Studios lot in 1940.

 

Sunless Temples of New York’s Movies (PDF)

Published: Sunday, November 7, 1920

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Written by Jesse

November 7th, 2020 at 12:11 pm

Posted in Movies