1905 Photo Of A New York City Street Reveals Just How Bad Things Were For Women

I stumbled upon this amazing image of downtown New York City, circa 1905. The caption at Shorpy is: “Broad Street exchange and curb brokers.”

Click the image to view the full size.

New York City

The most shocking thing about this photo is that there are very few women. A reader comment:

So few women, it looks like the Egyptian demonstrations. Only 100 and a few years ago, some of our grandparents just kids then, but the cityscape is overwhelmingly male (except for a few women selling fruits and vegetables from the carts). Are the men actually purchasing vegetables to bring home for supper? There’s one man in the foreground on the left smoking a cigarette, while the man next to him has his hand up to his face like he is using a cellphone. Or making a gesture of some kind (“Hey, can you spare a smoke?”) Of course, this could be a Jack Finney time traveler who forgot he isn’t supposed to bring his cellphone and that not only do cellphones not work on planes, they don’t work when you take the Third Level either.

We’ve come a long way, baby! However discouraging it is to see the lack of progress for women, it’s important for us to remember our sisters of generations past and how oppressed they were. They found hard for us and we’ll continue the fight.

More about the photo:

If you’re wondering what those carts are all about, they are selling fruit, not vegetables, to the brokers, who often didn’t have time for a proper lunch. Instead, they’d grab a couple of apples or bananas, etc., and go back inside for more trading. (This comment from food historian Jane Ziegelman)

It’s interesting to me that they’re all dressed in nearly the exact same suit! Some even look just a little too snug. Here is a 1905 look with a distinctive bowler hat.


There are three buildings still left standing in the exact same location. From a reader:

“Actually only three of the buildings shown here are still standing: 1) The New York Stock Exchange of George B. Post (the pedimented building midway up the left side of the street), built in 1903; 2) the Subtreasury, aka Federal Hall National Memorial, originally the US Custom House (the partially visible Greek temple at the corner of Wall Street), built by Town and Davis, 1833-1842; and 3) the Broad Exchange Building, second from the right, built by Clinton & Russell in 1900. Everything else you see has been torn down and replaced by newer buildings.”

The same location today:


via Shorpy

Tiffany Willis Clark is a fifth-generation Texan and the founder and editor-in-chief of Liberal America and AmReading.com. An unapologetic member of the Christian Left, she had a long and successful career actively working with at-risk youth, people struggling with poverty and unemployment, and disadvantaged and oppressed populations. She’s passionate about their struggles. In 2011, she made the decision to pursue her dreams and become a full-time writer. Connect with her on LinkedIn, follow her on Twitter, and like her Facebook page.