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History101.NYC is an ad-free learning resource available to the public at no charge. The project is dedicated to exploring New York’s fascinating past. We restore vintage photographs and prints that document the City's history and heritage. We also research the natural forces that shaped the environment, along with the people who formed the landscape and culture.

History of NYC - 1915 to 1920

After years of growth and success, the City faces some of its most harrowing challenges in the form the Influenza Epidemic, which would later become a full-blown pandemic due to its spread during World War 1. All of the city’s workers were issued face masks for protection and citizens were socially distanced to minimize the impact of the virus which would eventually claim the lives of over 50,000 New Yorkers. By contrast, the end of this time period was one of celebration, as the virus subsided and the city celebrated the Allied victory of the Great War, setting the City up for a full decade of decadence.

1915: Birds Eye View Lower Manhattan

An illustration depicting an elevated perspective of New York Harbor, buzzing with activity from many ships.

Artist Credit: Detroit Publishing Company. Reprinted with permission. Library of Congress

1915: Brooklyn Bridge

Aerial photograph of downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge spanning the East River.

Artist Credit: Unknown. Reprinted with permission.

1916: Horse-Drawn Carriage and Automobiles

Photograph shows a horse-drawn carriage and automobiles on a city street in strong sunlight.

Artist Credit: Paul Strand. Reprinted with permission. Library of Congress

1918: Multi-Millionaires March in Liberty Loan Parade

General George R. Dyer, Benjamin Strong, Seward Prosser, J.P. Morgan, Charles H. Sabin, Gates McGarrah and Frank A. Venderlip at NYC's 3rd Liberty Loan Parade.

Artist Credit: Unknown. Reprinted with permission. The National Archives

1917: World War I-Recruiting Parade

Photograph of military procession at Union Square drumming up support and enlistments for World War 1.

Artist Credit: George Grantham Bain. Reprinted with permission. Library of Congress

1917: Snowbound Automobiles

Photograph of parked cars, locked in place by piles of snow after a blizzard.

Artist Credit: Unknown. Reprinted with permission. Library of Congress

1918: Conductorettes Wearing Masks During Pandemic

Photograph of female transit workers wearing face masks for protection from the highly contagious and deadly flu which was spread far and wide by the war.

Artist Credit: Unknown. Reprinted with permission. The National Archives

1918: Influenza Epidemic - Street Cleaner Wearing Mask

Mask worn by a street cleaner to check influenza spread. The catch phrase of the New York Health Board to wear masks has been headed: "Better ridiculous than dead"

Artist Credit: Unknown. Reprinted with permission. The National Archives

1918: Influenza Epidemic - Letter Carrier Wearing Mask

Photograph of a mailman wearing a face mask during the deadly avian flu which was sweeping the world.

Artist Credit: Unknown. Reprinted with permission. The National Archives

1918: Influenza Epidemic - Policeman Wearing a Mask

Photograph of a policeman wearing a mask during the Spanish Flu pandemic. 1700 of these masks were distributed to police throughout the city for protection.

Artist Credit: Unknown. Reprinted with permission. The National Archives

1918: 369th Infantry on the Transport Decks

Photograph of the famous African American regiment arriving home - they never had one of their men captured, and received the Croix de Guerre for their bravery.

Artist Credit: Unknown. Reprinted with permission. The National Archives

1918: Crowds at Parade of the Famous 369th Infantry

Photograph of crowds waiting for the parade of the famous 369th Infantry (Harlem Hellfighters).

Artist Credit: Unknown. Reprinted with permission. The National Archives

1919: 369th Infantry

Some of the men of the 369th Infantry Regiment (aka Harlem Hellfighters) who won the Croix de Guerre for gallantry in action.

Artist Credit: Unknown. Reprinted with permission.

1918: Colors of the 369th Infantry

Photograph of the 369th Infantry, commonly referred to as "The Harlem Hellfighters" waving an American flag and their infantry colors.

Artist Credit: Unknown. Reprinted with permission. The National Archives

1919: Victory Way on Park Avenue

Aerial photograph of Victory Way on Park Avenue, showing two pyramids that were covered in German helmets to celebrate Allied victory in the Great War (WW1).

Artist Credit: Unknown. Reprinted with permission. Wikimedia Commons

Next Chapter: History of NYC - 1920 to 1925

Like many other cities in the aftermath of a global war and pandemic, New York was ready to kick off a decade with a spirit of celebration. Society would break much new ground, ... Continue Reading

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