1910s Town & Country
In 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 up....it 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.
|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 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
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.
~~1916 WALWORTH COUNTY FAIR~~
When the fair was in town, railroads added additional trains to their schedule to accomodate the increase in ridership.
Barn room suitable for automobile,
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
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
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 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.
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.
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.
return to the 1910s main page