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More 1910s

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1910s Town & Country


In The City

In New York City, the Woolworth Building opened in 1913. It was the world's tallest building, with 55 stories, 30 elevators and its own power plant. The lobby was quite lavish, with marble floors, fine sculptures and a stained-glass dome. The Woolworth Company occupied two floors and rented out the rest.

Prior to this, the world's tallest building was the 51-story Metropolitan Life Insurance Company building, which was also located in New York and was completed in 1909.

Any town or city with more than 2,500 people is considered urban. In the 1910s, the number of people living in urban areas increased from 46 percent of the population to 51 percent.

The Woolworth Building
The Equitable Building

Click here to see more sights from the city!


Public transportation was provided by electric streetcars and trolleys. The cars were powered by either an electrified track or overhead cable. The troller was the device that connected the car to the cable....this was where trolleys got their name.

City dwellers saw streetcars as the solution to inner city crowding. By making the suburbs accessible to people of modest means, the city would hopefully become a healthier, cleaner and safer place.

Equitable Building, New York City

This skyscraper was built in 1915 on the site of the old Equitable Life Assurance building, which burned down in 1912. Notice how the sides go straight was the last building to be constructed before the 1916 zoning laws went into effect.

The problems created by increasingly taller and bulkier skyscrapers were becoming more evident. In 1916, New York City passed the first skyscraper zoning law. This law required that tall buildings be scaled back in a stair-step fashion after reaching certain heights. This would increase the amount of light and air to reach street level.


The Suburbs

A suburb is any community that is connected to a city. In the 1700s and early 1800s, wealthy families built homes in affluent carriage suburbs. In the mid 1800s, railroad suburbs were created when the first rail lines radiated out from the city center.

Beginning in the 1890s, streetcar suburbs were located where the streetcar lines met the city limits. Many of these communities were laid out in an orderly pattern before the homes were built, and were advertised as the "perfect combination of city and country living."

As the city limits expanded outwards, the suburbs were pushed farther and farther away from the city center. By the 1910s, the earliest streetcar suburbs no longer existed....they had been overtaken by the city and were now part of it.

-----A brand new type of suburb began to appear in the 1900s. Known as automobile suburbs, they were located miles away from the trolley lines and were accessible by auto only. These communities were settled by middle class families who had the financial means to build homes in the country. Because they owned motor cars, they didn't depend on trains and trolleys for transportation.

Click here to see some suburban views!

Garden City

"New York's Most Beautiful Suburb"...
has "every modern city improvement and
most unusual country advantages...."

Garden City was an affluent suburb located on Long Island, just a 30-minute trolley ride from Manhattan. A 1910 brochure listed its advantages:

*2 private schools
*a public school with kindergarten
*a country club
*2 golf clubs
*the famous Garden City Hotel
*wide macadamized streets bordered by shade trees
*a perfect system of modern sewers
*gas, electricity, telephone & telegraph


Businesses &
Places To Go


state fair
county fair
At the local fair, farmers and businesses could exhibit their produce and merchandise. It was also a time to engage in some good-natured competition, be entertained and have some fun.

This image shows the Fat Man's Race, one of the many races that were popular at the fair.


31 Exhibition Buildings
9 Great Speed Events
10 High Class Vaudeville Acts
Carnival Of Up-To-Date Shows
50 Acres Of Exhibits
19 Special Trains

When the fair was in town, railroads added additional trains to their schedule to accomodate the increase in ridership.

~~typical fair attractions~~
contortionists & gymnasts
airplane daredevils
vaudeville acts
hot-air balloon ascensions
horse races
fat man's race
baseball games
local business displays
fashion shows
Ford auto races
rides & concessions

For Rent
Barn room suitable for automobile,
phone 104M

Automobile storage in well-heated quarters in garage,
$4.00 per month for live cars,
$3.00 for dead

Smith's Rendering Factory
We will pay the highest cash price for horses and cattle, dead or alive, for rendering purposes and take them off the premises.
N.W. Smith, phone 162-R

Society Day
January 11th is Society Day at
Woodstock Dry Goods. Your society will get 5 percent
of your sale if you tell the clerk
what society you are from.
Cash sales only.

--a great fundraiser for your organization, 1917

How is your Victor Talking Machine
or Victrola running? Does it need adjusting
or oiling? Drop us a card or
phone 169-J and we will send a man to do
the adjusting and oiling free of charge.

--ad for the local Victor dealer, 1912

In the 1910s, most automobiles were unsuitable for winter driving. Heaters were not standard equipment and 90 percent of all cars were open to the air. It was common for car owners to "put their cars up" for the winter. If they didn't have their own garage, they rented a stall in a barn or commercial garage and put the car up on blocks to protect the tires.

Don't Dodge This Garage!

Grocery delivery wagon, 1915

home delivery

Almost every bakery, grocery store, department store and dry goods merchant provided home delivery. Most businesses used horse-drawn wagons. In the late 1910s, larger and more prosperous stores used motor cars and trucks.

Ice Tools
Ice Harvesting
King Coal


Ice was delivered regularly throughout the year. When you needed ice for the icebox, a window card told the ice man how much to bring in when he came around. Each ice company used a different colored card, which specified the amount of ice by weight or price.

Coal was also delivered to the home. Families with coal-burning stoves or furnaces placed their orders with the coal dealer in the fall. Coal was loaded into the cellar by placing a coal chute in the cellar window.

ice companies
In the northern states, ice was harvested from rivers, lakes and large ponds. Each winter, ice companies operated for approximately two to six weeks and provided employment for up to 250 men. These men stayed in local boardinghouses and visited local taverns, which helped bolster the town's economy.

At harvest time, the ice was cleaned with horse-drawn scrapers and scored into large blocks. Ice saws were used to cut the ice into rafts of 20 blocks each, which were towed by horses to the conveyor belt. Here, they were cut into individual blocks and were sent up the conveyor belt to be stored in gigantic ice houses.

A railroad spur led to the ice house, where blocks of ice were loaded into insulated boxcars for shipment to the city.


Small Towns

Many small towns were paving their streets and converting their wooden sidewalks to concrete. This created a dilemma: should we keep the old hitching posts? If we remove the hitching posts, where will the farmers keep their horses when they come to town? The hitching ring was the answer....a metal ring imbedded in a concrete block or sidewalk. This provided a place for farmers to hitch up their horses, while allowing the town to adopt a modern appearance. My town installed hitching rings in 1912 when the town square was paved with brick.


The train yard was a maze of railroad tracks, rail sidings and spur tracks. Lumber yards, coal bins, ice companies, mills and grain elevators were located near the depot and were each served by their own spur track.

Click here to see more small town views!


In The Country

We passed the halfway point in the 1910s. During this decade, the percentage of Americans who lived on farms or in rural areas dropped from 54 percent to 49 percent.

Threshing separates the wheat grain kernels from the stalks. In the 1910s, this operation was performed by large machines known as threshers. Threshing was a big job, and the machines were too expensive for individual farmers to own. At threshing time, a group of farmers would pool their resources and rent a thresher. They helped each other, doing a different farm each day until the job was done.

Click here for more images of country life!


Life on the farm was in a state of transition during the 1910s. This was due primarily to technology. Technology was making the farmer's job easier, but it was also beginning to crowd out small family farms in favor of large corporate farms.

Gasoline and electricity were beginning to transform the farm into a model of efficiency. Up-to-date farms used gasoline-powered tractors, threshers and combines. Electricity was used to power water pumps, incubators and milking machines. In 1910, 2 percent of American farms were either wired for electricity or generated their own.

Most farms continued to do things the old-fashioned way. Their tractors and threshers were powered by steam, their incubators were powered by kerosene and their water pumps were powered by windmills.

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