Tuesday, August 16, 2011

August 16, 2011 – The Wonder City

I recently have been accumulating more vintage postcards and postcard booklets for various art projects including the 2011 Project. Today a booklet popped out of the pile titled New York – The Wonder City. When I saw the 1914 copyright, I was a bit reluctant to put this one under the exacto knife. But it was already damaged, so here it is.

I’ve never heard New York given the moniker The Wonder City but a century ago the description surely fit. Back then there were few cities in the world with skyscrapers and they were virtually all in America (there were just a handful of skyscrapers in Europe at the time). Skyscrapers were initially an American phenomenon. The earliest ones were in cities like San Francisco, St. Louis, Buffalo and of course Chicago and New York.

Even today, it’s hard not to be impressed your first time in New York. But 100 years ago, New York must have been truly an amazing sight. So many Americans have ancestors who first arrived in the United States through New York. And it’s never really stopped, for much of the world New York remains America’s front door. It’s hard to imagine what it must have been like seeing New York for the first time a century ago. It truly would have been like nothing else you had seen before. I wonder what was going through my great grandfather’s head as that ship sailed in from Europe, as he saw the Statue of Liberty and the skyline of Manhattan. It was definitely was nothing like the countryside of Poland. It was the Wonder City.

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