How To Behave In 1920s New York: An Illustrated Guide

VISITORS to 1920s NYC  could study the Valentine’s City of New York: A Guide Book. As any reader of P.G. Wodehouse’s Psmith, Journalist will now full well, New York was a dangerous place back then, overrun by gangs, slum landlords and shysters.

 

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Some Simple Dos And Don’ts

The New York skyline in Midtown is shown with its new addition of the Chrysler Building, center, with the Channin Building on the left and the New York Daily News Building at right, Nov. 20, 1929. (AP Photo)

The New York skyline in Midtown is shown with its new addition of the Chrysler Building, center, with the Channin Building on the left and the New York Daily News Building at right, Nov. 20, 1929. (AP Photo)

 

  • Don’t ask a pedestrian where a certain street is. He is usually too busy to stop, and if polite enough to stop, won’t know. No New Yorkers knows anything about New York. Consult the Guide.
  • Don’t cross the street in the middle of the block. In Paris they arrest you for that, in New York they simply run you down.  Use the corner crossing only.
  • Don’t leave finger rings on the wash stands of public dressing rooms while you go outside to telephone. It is bad form…

 

A general view of the court house and crowds of curious people during the trial of Mrs. Ruth Snyder and Judd Gray who are on trial for the murder of Albert Snyder, April 18, 1927 in Long Island, New York. (AP Photo)

A general view of the court house and crowds of curious people during the trial of Mrs. Ruth Snyder and Judd Gray who are on trial for the murder of Albert Snyder, April 18, 1927 in Long Island, New York. (AP Photo)

 

  • Don’t buy the Woolworth Building, Brooklyn Bridge, the Metropolitan Tower, the City Hall or any prominent structure because a stranger happens to want to sell it to you for a few hundreds dollars. The Goid Brick industry is till a flourishing industry in New York.
  • Don’t hand your baggage to a porter outside Grand Central unless he wears a red hat.
  • Don’t travel with a dog.

 

Babe Ruth getting the sunshine atop St. Vincent's Hospital in New York, May 4, 1925, which he soon hopes to be able to leave. (AP Photo)

Babe Ruth getting the sunshine atop St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York, May 4, 1925, which he soon hopes to be able to leave. (AP Photo)

 

  • Bring somebody else’s kid if you can’t bring your own. Children are great company.
  • Don’t take the recommendation of strangers regarding hotels…
  • Don’t get too friendly with plausible strangers.

 

Gene Tunney, American Heavyweight Champion of the World, with a group of young admirers, at Spectator, near New York, USA, July. 19, 1928, where he was training for an upcoming fight with Tom Heeny. (AP Photo)

Gene Tunney, American Heavyweight Champion of the World, with a group of young admirers, at Spectator, near New York, USA, July. 19, 1928, where he was training for an upcoming fight with Tom Heeny. (AP Photo)

This aerial view shows lower Manhattan, New York City, in 1928. At far right is the tower of the Woolworth building and in left center is the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island. The Manhattan Bridge is in the foreground and the Brooklyn Bridge is at center. (AP Photo)

This aerial view shows lower Manhattan, New York City, in 1928. At far right is the tower of the Woolworth building and in left center is the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island. The Manhattan Bridge is in the foreground and the Brooklyn Bridge is at center. (AP Photo)

Tunnel Commission officials pose as they pay the first Holland Tunnel toll at midnight after the dedication ceremony in New York on Nov. 12, 1927. (AP Photo)

Tunnel Commission officials pose as they pay the first Holland Tunnel toll at midnight after the dedication ceremony in New York on Nov. 12, 1927. (AP Photo)

The Spirit of St. Louis is shown in this aerial photo as a crowd surrounds the monoplane after American aviator Charles A. Lindbergh completed the first nonstop transatlantic flight at Le Bourget Airfield near Paris, France, Saturday, May 21, 1927. Lindbergh left Roosevelt Field in New York at 7:52 a.m. on May 20 and landed at Le Bourget at 5:24 p.m., Paris time, after a flight of 33 hours 32 minutes. (AP Photo)

The Spirit of St. Louis is shown in this aerial photo as a crowd surrounds the monoplane after American aviator Charles A. Lindbergh completed the first nonstop transatlantic flight at Le Bourget Airfield near Paris, France, Saturday, May 21, 1927. Lindbergh left Roosevelt Field in New York at 7:52 a.m. on May 20 and landed at Le Bourget at 5:24 p.m., Paris time, after a flight of 33 hours 32 minutes. (AP Photo)

 

  • Don’t gape at women smoking cigarettes in restaurants. They are harmless and respectable. They are also “smart.”
  • Don’t forget to tip. Tip early and tip often.
  • Don’t block the sidewalk. New Yorkers will gather in crowds to see a young lady demonstrate a new razor in a shop window or a safe going up the side of a building. Ignore such gatherings; show our ex-hicks that you come from a real town.

 

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Defendents charged with maintaining a birth control clinical bureau in violation of the law are shown seated in the Chief Magistrate's Court in New York City on April 24, 1929. From left to right are, Margaret Sanger, head of the clinic; Dr. Hannah M. Stone; Sigrid Brestwell; Antoinette Field and Marcelia Sideri. More than 500 persons, including prominent physicians, are supporting Sanger, the founder of the birth-control movement, and many will give testimony on her behalf. (AP Photo)

Defendents charged with maintaining a birth control clinical bureau in violation of the law are shown seated in the Chief Magistrate’s Court in New York City on April 24, 1929. From left to right are, Margaret Sanger, head of the clinic; Dr. Hannah M. Stone; Sigrid Brestwell; Antoinette Field and Marcelia Sideri. More than 500 persons, including prominent physicians, are supporting Sanger, the founder of the birth-control movement, and many will give testimony on her behalf. (AP Photo)

Inauguration Day for the newly elected Governor of New York, Franklin D. Roosevelt. Also shown in this January 2, 1929 photo is the former governor, Alfred E. Smith, and his wife. (AP Photo)

Inauguration Day for the newly elected Governor of New York, Franklin D. Roosevelt. Also shown in this January 2, 1929 photo is the former governor, Alfred E. Smith, and his wife. (AP Photo)

 

  • Don’t judge the importance of a man by the number of times he is ‘paged’. That is old stuff.
  • Don’t telephone if you are in a hurry. Walk. It’s quicker, though it used to be the other way ’round.
  • Don’t act as if you were another Daniel in the lions’ den… New York is just like your own home town, only bigger…

 

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