Archive for the ‘Recreation’ Category

America’s Switzerland; Three Days From New York

From September 17, 1911

AMERICA'S SWITZERLAND; THREE DAYS FROM NEW YORK

AMERICA’S SWITZERLAND; THREE DAYS FROM NEW YORK: A Traveler’s Tale of the Beauties of the Canadian Rockies Where Comparatively Few Americans Go (PDF)

The Canadian Rockies remain a great place to go on vacation. I went last year, spending a week or so in and around Banff, Alberta. A Google Image Search for Banff will show you some of its beauty. There’s a lot of great hiking, it’s easy to reach, not very expensive, and not too crowded.

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Written by David

September 14th, 2011 at 10:00 am

The Auto-Hater Gives His Opinion — And Acts

From September 10, 1911

THE AUTO-HATER GIVES HIS OPINION -- AND ACTS

THE AUTO-HATER GIVES HIS OPINION — AND ACTS (PDF)

For maximum effect, imagine this in the voice of Andy Rooney.

“There goes another of the infernal things!” snarled the man waiting for a car as he stamped his heels against the curb.

“Notice that!” he growled, addressing nobody in particular. “See how those fenders are put on an automobile? They’re on an angle, so that all the mud they throw will just reach the sidewalk. Somebody’s figured it all out, so that a fender is on just the right angle to get as much mud as possible on a man’s trouser legs when he’s waiting on the curb for a car. When people used to drive buggies and carriages they didn’t have the fenders on at an angle. It wouldn’t have done much good anyhow, because people didn’t drive horses more than fifteen or twenty miles an hour through town, and the drivers couldn’t succeed in splashing much mud on people.

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Written by David

September 8th, 2011 at 10:00 am

The Neglected Possibilities Of City Roofs

From August 27, 1911

THE NEGLECTED POSSIBILITIES OF CITY ROOFS

THE NEGLECTED POSSIBILITIES OF CITY ROOFS: Making the Best of Out-of-Door Life Is Slowly Being Learned — Comparatively Easy to Turn Roofs Into GArdens, Playgrounds and Concert Rooms. (PDF)

There have been a lot of articles about roof gardens in the New York Times over the last few years as the trend has finally caught on. But my favorite by far has to be a 2006 article about a Greenwich Village resident who built a whole front porch on his roof. Go check out the photos. Pretty nice.

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Written by David

August 26th, 2011 at 9:30 am

How We Look To The Young Woman Back Of The Desk In The Library

From August 20, 1911

HOW WE LOOK TO THE YOUNG WOMAN BACK OF THE DESK IN THE LIBRARY

HOW WE LOOK TO THE YOUNG WOMAN BACK OF THE DESK IN THE LIBRARY: She Tells of the Queer Things We Do and the Queer Things We Say When We Go There to Get a Book. (PDF)

Ah, the librarian. In 2007 the Times noted that librarians are much hipper today than they used to be. Here’s a look at what the job was like for librarians in 1911.

She must have a sense of humor — it is absolutely necessary. She must not only see herself as others see her, she must see themselves as others see themselves.

She must be gently needleworkish with the old lady who wants a new pattern in drawn-work. She must be militantly suffragettish with the sister who wants to go to prison for the cause. She must be humble with the man who considers her a menial. She must try to act the part, since she cannot look it, when appealed to as a twenty-volume encyclopedia. She must feel a warm sympathy for all isms, she must of a working knowledge of all ologies.

She must never resent rudeness. Her prejudices, her personal tastes, her feelings must be hidden away. She must remember, always smilingly, that she is a servant of the public.

[…]

One of the most difficult demands to satisfy is the frequent request fo “a funny book.”

Now, if you have ever thought about it you know that there is no standard of funniness. Vague though it may be, we have a line above or below which a thing is god or bad as to plot, construction, style; but when it comes to the quality called humor, every man is a law unto himself. The book that one person says is “roaringly funny” another calls “deadly dull.”

A very nice person returns a book saying, “This is so funny we read it aloud, and I left the family still laughing.” Another man slams the same book down on your desk an hour after he has taken it home and cries in fiery tones, “Do you call this funny?” or “Don’t you know the difference between vulgarity and wit?” and goes out murmuring bits of the letter he is going to write the newspapers about gross misuse of the city’s money.”

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Written by David

August 18th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Sure Sign Of Woman’s Emancipation In The Increased Size Of Her Shoes

From July 23, 1911

SURE SIGN OF WOMAN'S EMANCIPATION IN THE INCREASED SIZE OF HER SHOES

SURE SIGN OF WOMAN’S EMANCIPATION IN THE INCREASED SIZE OF HER SHOES: Because She Swims, Walks, Plays Golf and Tennis and Works for a Living, She Can No Longer Pose as Wasp-Waisted and Tiny-Footed. (PDF)

Shoe manufacturers don’t make small-sized shoes for women any more. They say women’s feet have grown bigger in the last fifteen or twenty years. Small feet, of course, are only comparative. A small foot for a woman twenty years ago was 2 or 2½. Now it is said that there are few if any 2 or 2½ feet of narrow width, say, AA or A.

All this was revealed at a fair that the shoe manufacturers of America held in Boston about a week ago. The leading manufacturers had exhibits there, and they had observed in turn that the demand for small-size shoes for women had been declining year by year until now it had practically passed out.

One had stopped making the small shoes for women altogether. Consulting his competitor at the fair, which is an annual event with the great manufacturers, he learned that his competitor was not making the old-time small sizes either. This led to a canvass and this astonishing fact was developed:

The average size of shoes that women wear to-day is 4 to 5, whereas the average size twenty years ago was 3 to 5. The No. 2 size in women’s shoes, not uncommon twenty years ago, and almost usual twenty years before that among fashionable ladies, had entirely disappeared.

According to a 2002 article in Slate, the average women’s shoe size had gone up to 5½ in the 1940s, a 6 in the ’60s, and a 7½ in the ’70s. In the ’80s it was 8 to 8½. The article says that “the best-selling sizes at Manolo Blahnik — the Holy Grail of the shoe-obsessed — are 7.5 to 8.”

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Written by David

July 22nd, 2011 at 10:30 am

Posted in Life,Recreation,Sports

Business Girls’ Noonday Diversion

From July 23, 1911

BUSINESS GIRLS' NOONDAY DIVERSION

BUSINESS GIRLS’ NOONDAY DIVERSION: A Novel Amusement That Is Gaining in Popularity Downtown. (PDF)

Have you heard about the latest craze that all the business girls are doing on their lunchbreak? That’s right, they’re Ballroom Dancing.

“Gracious, May, you don’t want any ice cream; we haven’t time.”

“Yes, we have. I’ll eat it fast. It’s only 12:30. We can get in two waltzes and a two-step easy.”

This is what you are beginning to hear in downtown New York every noontime nowadays, wherever young, bright-faced “business girls” gather. For a new delight has been prepared for that energetic, youthful person. In the very heart of things, where girls in the middle of the day crowd the sidewalks as thick as roses in a rose garden, just where the jewelry, financial, insurance, and legal districts join, where now, it seems to the bystander, there are at the luncheon hour more feminine personalities than masculine, a ballroom has been provided in her behalf. She may dance, to the music of a capital orchestra, any time from 12 to 1:30.

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Written by David

July 19th, 2011 at 10:00 am

For The Sightseer In New York: “There’s The Aquarium”

From July 16, 1911

FOR THE SIGHTSEER IN NEW YORK: THERE'S THE AQUARIUM

FOR THE SIGHTSEER IN NEW YORK: “THERE’S THE AQUARIUM”: Some Interesting Features, Human and Piscine, to Be Found at the Battery Park Establishment on a Sunday Afternoon. (PDF)

Amusing look at the personalities of people and animals that one can find at the city’s aquarium back when it was still in Battery Park.

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Written by David

July 13th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Life,Nature,Recreation

The Giant Olympic A Luxurious Floating Hotel

From June 25, 1911

THE GIANT OLYMPIC A LUXURIOUS FLOATING HOTEL

THE GIANT OLYMPIC A LUXURIOUS FLOATING HOTEL: Swimming Pool, Turkish Baths, and Tennis Courts Part of the Equipment of the Wolrd’s Largest Liner — Marking a New Epoch in Ocean Travel. (PDF)

Of course, the Olympic wouldn’t become nearly as well known as her twin sister Titanic. Wikipedia has great details about Olympic‘s fate. She lead an interesting life, survived a mutiny, served in WWI (repainted in dazzle camouflage , and eventually retired in 1934.

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Written by David

June 24th, 2011 at 10:30 am

How To Celebrate “A Safe And Sane Fourth” — A Series Of Contrasts

From June 25, 1911

HOW TO CELEBRATE A SANE AND SAFE FOURTH -- A SERIES OF CONTRASTS

HOW TO CELEBRATE “A SAFE AND SANE FOURTH” — A SERIES OF CONTRASTS: The Sage Foundation Puts a Thrilling Drama of the Old-time Celebration in Moving Pictures. (PDF)

The Sage Foundation put together a movie explaining how to have fun on the Fourth of July without fireworks. Instead of lecturing about the dangers of fireworks, the movie is a “stirring drama” that still gets its message across.

Not always, when gay and frivolous youth flocks to the moving-picture show, can you say that it is going merely to pass an idle hour and watch some too-too thrilling drama of wild adventure. Sometimes the young people have their minds improved even as their pulses are stirred. And at any time now, if you happen to have inexpensive theatrical tastes and patronize the five and ten cent palaces, you are likely to see a fine new addition to the sort of thing the big firms advertise as educational drama, nothing less than a plea for a “safe and sane Fourth” staged in such fashion as to attract good folk who positively refuse to read circulars, pamphlets, or any pages of the magazines that aren’t fiction.

It is a good idea and well carried out. There is no prosy argument in favor of the abolition of the insidious cannon cracker and the fatal pin-wheel. There is a stirring drama of love and danger, with a moral attached so cleverly that the audience has swallowed it before the fact that they are being educated up to a new idea has come to cloud their enjoyment. It is an idea of the Sage foundation, and when last accounted for it was doing well over the whole moving-picture circuit.

The article goes on to describe the film. If you’re even thinking about playing with dangerous fireworks this year, you should really give the article a read.

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Written by David

June 24th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Life,Recreation

What Is The Most Beautiful Spot In New York?

From June 18, 1911

WHAT IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SPOT IN NEW YORK?

WHAT IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SPOT IN NEW YORK? Well Known Artists Express Their Preferences and Show an Astonishing Lack of Unanimity, No Two Selecting the Same Place — But They Upset the Popular Opinion That Skyscrapers Are Ugly. (PDF)

What’s the most beautiful spot in New York City? Answers in this article from a variety of artists include The Ramble in Central Park, Madison Square Park, Broad Street in the financial district, and the Brooklyn Bridge.

What do you think is the city’s most beautiful spot?

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Written by David

June 15th, 2011 at 10:15 am

Two New Medicines Discovered In The Tropic Toad

From June 4, 1911

TWO NEW MEDICINES DISCOVERED IN THE TROPIC TOAD

TWO NEW MEDICINES DISCOVERED IN THE TROPIC TOAD: Science Upholds the Ancients in Therapeutic Use o the Toadskin and Powdered Toad, Thus Turning the Laugh on Modern Doctors (PDF)

For more recent information on toads, and the hallucinogenic properties of smoked toads, see the wikipedia entry on psychoactive toads,

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Written by David

June 3rd, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Recreation,Science

Scientific Baseball Has Changed The Old Game

From April 30, 1911

SCIENTIFIC BASEBALL HAS CHANGED THE OLD GAME

SCIENTIFIC BASEBALL HAS CHANGED THE OLD GAME: Quick Thinking, Clever Guessing, Faultless Team Work and Intelligent Signaling Necessary for a Pennant Winner To-day — Teams Made Up of Specialists. (PDF)

Fans of baseball with enjoy this look at how the game was changing 100 years ago.

Scientific baseball of to-day — “inside ball” they call it — consists in making the opposing team think you are going to make a play one way, then shift suddenly and do it another.

The modern game has developed quick thinkers and resourceful players such as the pioneers of the game never dreamed of. There are few of what were known as “good all-around” players nowadays. The inside game has developed teams made up of baseball specialists. They excel in one position, are trained with that object in view, and are never called on to play in any other position.

The article goes on to discuss signaling, curve balls, and other strategies we take for granted today.

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Written by David

April 28th, 2011 at 11:00 am

Posted in Recreation,Sports

“We Are A Nation Of Suicides,” Says Dr. H. W. Wiley

From March 19, 1911

WE ARE A NATION OF SUICIDES, SAYS DR. H. W. WILEY

“WE ARE A NATION OF SUICIDES,” SAYS DR. H. W. WILEY: He Believes Americans Over-Eat, Over-Drink and Over-Everything and Thereby Slowly Kill Themselves. (PDF)

Harvey Washington Wiley was the first commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration. He later took over the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, testing products for consumers. In this article, he describes several ways that people are killing themselves through excessive drinking, smoking, eating, etc. It’s all pretty sensible, and can be summed up with one word: moderation.

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Written by David

March 15th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Life,Recreation

Is The Demand For Dickens As Great As It Used To Be?

From December 25, 1910

IS THE DEMAND FOR DICKENS AS GREAT AS IT USED TO BE

IS THE DEMAND FOR DICKENS AS GREAT AS IT USED TO BE? Book Dealers Tell of a Great Falling Off in the Popular Favor Accorded the Famous Novelist. (PDF)

Choice quote:

The further downtown you go, the less of Dickens the second-hand book-dealers sell. Far down, Gorky, Tolstoy, Karl Marx — serious, revolutionary writers — are the ones who make the hit. Dickens with his come-gather-round-the-fire-and-we’ll-all-have-a-fine-time-spirit seems completely out of touch with the people down there.

On the whole, judging from first and second hand book dealers both, it seems as if Dickens, like Kipling and Mark Twain in one hundred years, no doubt, can not be said to be widely cared for, any longer.

No Doubt.

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Written by David

December 24th, 2010 at 10:45 am

Kinship Of All Nations Is Shown In Their Toys

From December 18, 1910

KINSHIP OF ALL NATIONS IS SHOWN IN THEIR TOYS

KINSHIP OF ALL NATIONS IS SHOWN IN THEIR TOYS: Games and Playthings Pretty Much the Same the World Over — Dolls of the Ancients — A Santa Claus in Japan. (PDF)

This article talks about the variations on Santa Claus that can be found in different cultures worldwide, but I was more interested in the discussion of how our toys are similar. The Brooklyn Museum’s toy expert Stewart Culin notes that throughout the world children play with pretty much the same toys.

The casual observer, when he sees a child playing shuttlecock or dominoes or similar childish games, takes it to be merely the natural expression of the inevitable childish tendency to frolic. The student of men and customs looks deeper. He sees int he games and toys of childhood the evidence of a kinship of the human race.

All over the world and from the earliest ages children have amused themselves in very much the same manner. The toys and games American children have this Christmas time are very much the same as those that amuse the children of China, Japan, and Africa. What is more, they are approximately of the same sort as those played with four thousand years ago by the brown-skinned babies over whom the Pharaohs ruled.

We acquire, as time goes on, a greater mechanical dexterity, but we never improve on the nature of the toys. They are just the same kind now as Pharaoh’s daughter gave to Moses to keep him from crying when she rescued him out of the bulrushes.

I wonder what Stewart Culin would say about video games. They are certainly a far cry from the games of thousands of years ago, but maybe he would see similarities. The Sims are just like complex dolls in virtual dollhouses. And many popular games are merely high-tech boardgames. But what about first person shooters? Or arcade games? Platform jumpers? What would he have made of them? Unfortunately, Culin died in 1929, long before the first video games, so we’ll never know.

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Written by David

December 17th, 2010 at 9:30 am

New York’s Fine New Library Nearly Completed

From December 11, 1910

NEW YORKS FINE NEW LIBRARY NEARLY COMPLETED

NEW YORK’S FINE NEW LIBRARY NEARLY COMPLETED: Will Be Ready Before the Contract Time, and Needs Only the Interior Furnishings (PDF)

Because I’ve done so much research for this website in the microforms room of this building at 5th Avenue and 42nd Street, I was especially delighted to come across this article. It’s interesting to see the famous reading room totally empty of furniture.

After ten years of actual construction and an expenditure of upward of $9,000,000, New York’s new public library has been completed.

It is not to be opened for use until May of next year because the furniture has to be installed, and that cannot be done before the middle of April. But the last stroke of the builder’s hammer has already fallen. Bag and baggage, the building himself has been turned out, and at present the mechanical equipment of the structure, such as printing presses, type-setting machines, and book stacks are being installed.

But for the lack of furniture the building could be thrown open in a month.

Before the main branch of the New York Public Library was built, the entire block was occupied by the Croton Reservoir, a tall above-ground reservoir in the middle of the city. People could go for a stroll on top of the surrounding wall. The reservoir was torn down around 1900, and the library was built in its place.

In the article, a representative from the architectural firm which designed the building looks forward to today:

A century hence… the classic perfection herein attained by the artisans of the Hayden ateliers will have rendered this work, then softened with the passing of time, an antique that will be much appreciated.

He was specifically referring to a wood carving inside the building, but the same could have been said of the building itself. Unfortunately, the building has softened a bit too much with the passing of time, and has needed renovation. The interior restoration has already been finished, and the exterior renovation is currently underway. I assume it will be finished in time for the building’s centennial next year.

The main branch of the NYPL (now officially named the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building) was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965.

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Written by David

December 10th, 2010 at 9:00 am

Modern Woman Getting Nearer The Perfect Figure

From December 4, 1910

MODERN WOMAN GETTING NEARER THE PERFECT FIGURE

MODERN WOMAN GETTING NEARER THE PERFECT FIGURE: Dr. Dudley A. Sargent of Harvard Denies that She Is Getting Masculine, But She Is Getting More Sensible. (PDF)

The woman pictured on the top left is Annette Kellermann, an Austrian professional swimmer. She was so renowned for being a “perfectly proportioned woman” that she eventually wrote a book and health plan so that, as her ad says, “you CAN have a figure as perfect as mine!”

Dr. Dudley Allen Sargent, the focus of this article, agrees that she has just about the most ideal figure he has ever studied.

In all seriousness, the doctor isn’t as nutty in his assessment of the ideal figure as I imagined he would be (although his method of examining thousands of bodies in search of the ideal figure must have raised some eyebrows or snickers). His focus is on health, and his advice makes sense. He explains that corsets, which were all the rage, are unhealthy. And he encourages women to do the same kinds of exercise as men.

I couldn’t decide what to excerpt, so I encourage you give the whole article a read.

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Written by David

December 3rd, 2010 at 9:45 am

The Psychology Of Baseball Discussed By A. G. Spalding

From November 13, 1910

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF BASEBALL DISCUSSED BY A. G. SPALDING

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF BASEBALL Discussed by A. G. SPALDING: The Game Elevates and Fits the American Character — It Brings Into Play the Emotional and Moral as Well as the Physical Side of Man’s Nature. (PDF)

By 1910, Albert Spalding had been a Major League Baseball player and manager, and had launched the Spalding line of sports equipment. At 60 years old, just five years before he would die, he gave the Times Magazine this wonderful and lengthy answer about why he loves baseball in response to a question about the psychology of baseball.

“The psychology of baseball?” he said thoughtfully. “I confess that the ‘psychology of baseball’ is a new one on me.

“I take it that you are trying to find out what effect the game has on the mind, and what effect the mind has on the game. The general impression among those who do not know, and, although there are several million people in this country who do know, still, there remain a few who don’t, is that baseball is simply a form of physical exercise which is interesting to watch and to take part in. Those who have played the game know well that it is more — much more. They know that it is quite as much a mental as it is a physical exercise.

“As a matter of plain fact, it is much more a mental exercise than a mere physical sport. There is really no other form of outdoor sport which constantly demands such accurate co-ordination between the mind and body as this National game of ours. And that is rather fine, when you come to think about it.

“Baseball elevates, and it fits the American character. The emotional and moral as well as the physical side of a man’s nature are brought into play by baseball. I know of no other medium which, as completely as baseball, joins the physical, mental, emotional, and moral sides of a man’s composite being into a complete and homogeneous whole. And there is nothing better calculated than baseball to give a growing boy self-pose, and self-reliance, confidence, inoffensive and entirely proper aggressiveness, general manliness. Baseball is a man maker.”

If you’re a baseball fan, it’s well worth reading the whole article. Mr. Spalding explains how baseball helps shape a man morally as well as physically, and how the skills translate to a man’s later life and business affairs. His wife and nephew both weigh in on the topic, too.

In related news, The Onion has an editorial this week by Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay called “If I Had One Piece Of Advice For Today’s Youth, It Would Be To Throw A Baseball Really, Really Well.”

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Written by David

November 12th, 2010 at 9:30 am

Posted in Life,Recreation,Sports

Scientific Croquet A Popular Pastime For Men In Central Park

From October 23, 1910

SCIENTIFIC CROQUET A POPULAR PASTIME FOR MEN IN CENTRAL PARK

SCIENTIFIC CROQUET A POPULAR PASTIME FOR MEN IN CENTRAL PARK: The Union Croquet Club Has Played There for a Quarter of a Century — Its Oldest Active Player Is Eight-Five. (PDF)

If you’re like me, you played croquet a few times as a kid, but have no idea what scientific croquet is. Well, it turns out that scientific croquet is the less wimpy version of croquet. Instead of grass, it’s played on a hard, smooth surface. While regular old croquet was enjoyed by men, women, and children alike, scientific croquet was for hardcore players only.

As a 1954 article from Sports Illustrated explains, scientific croquet later became known simply as roque because it is the heart of the game: c(roque)t.

If you’re interested in playing croquet in Central Park, the New York Croquet Club has free sessions every Monday from May through September just north of the Sheep Meadow.

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Written by David

October 22nd, 2010 at 9:00 am

Posted in Recreation,Sports

Many Pitfalls For The Unwary In Buying Antiques

From October 2, 1910

MANY PITFALLS FOR THE UNWARY IN BUYING ANTIQUES

MANY PITFALLS FOR THE UNWARY IN BUYING ANTIQUES: Cunning Dealers Ready to Impose on the Ignorance of Collectors. Buyers Do Not Take Precautions to Establish Genuineness of “Curios.” (PDF)

A great read for anyone who’s a fan of the Antiques Roadshow on PBS. A lot of the advice back then still stands today, like the suggestion that you “make your antique furniture a means, not an end.”

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Written by David

October 6th, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Posted in Art,Recreation