A century-old honeymoon journal gives us a view of New York City in 1916 as seen through the eyes of a young woman from Ohio.

New York in 1916 Graphic

We’ve done a little time-traveling, courtesy of Sid and Myrtle (Lookabaugh) Earhart, accompanying them 102 years later as they traveled to the East Coast, visiting friends and relatives. Comparing Myrtle’s journal entries, photographs, and post cards to historical documents gives us a great look back at the previous century.

In Part 1 of our excerpts from the Honeymoon Diary, we followed Sid and Myrtle from their Kentucky elopement to Washington D.C. during a railroad strike.

Part 2 featured Myrtle’s visit with her paternal grandfather, whom she had never met before, as the couple explored the beautiful Pennsylvania mountains.

In Part 3 of this series, the honeymooners visited Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and looked up Myrtle’s cousin, then toured Philadelphia and the  famous Atlantic City boardwalk.

New York City in 1916

September 11th  details the couples’ journey to Perth Amboy, N.J to visit “R.C. Ross, a friend of Uncle Fred’s.” The next day, they traveled to New York City. Apparently it was quite a day.

Myrtle writes:

Sept 12th – Mr. Ross took us to New York City and paid all expenses. Seems as if he was trying to make up for the way his wife had acted.  He told us he had business in New York and wanted to go with us.  You see, we had planned on going to N.Y. alone.  It was a day too wonderful to describe.  First, we saw the Aquarium and the Statue of Liberty. Walked up Wall St., which seemed like a dark alley with the Bldgs. so high and street so narrow.  Also, on Broadway, Fifth Ave. and 42nd Street.  Had our lunch down at the Wharf.  Nothing to eat but Sea Foods.  Sure out of luck myself. Saw Trinity Church where Washington took Oath of OFFICE, 1780.  Went to the top of Flat Iron Bldg. saw where Thaw killed White and where Rozenthaw was murdered.  Took a double-deck Buss [sic] ride to Central Park down famous Fifth Ave.  The Bus hit a man but he was not hurt. (A thrill for us) Saw Cleopatra’s Needle and visited the zoo which seems to be in the heart of the City.  Mr. Ross took us to the Hippodrome Theater in the evening.  Never saw anything so grand before.

Sadly, the album did not include photographs of these sites, but there were several post cards.

Post Cards

Post card of skyline of New York City in 1916 Myrtle ends the day’s entry with:

We returned to Perth Amboy via Brooklyn Bridge and Ferry across New York Harbor. My first ride in a sub-way or tunnel. A street-car strike was on in New York, so all cars were guarded by Police.

Just for fun, I found a stock image with a current view of the Brooklyn bridge to compare with the post card the young Earhart couple purchased.

Brooklyn Bridge Currently

Blissful Ignorance?

Myrtle and Sid certainly had a knack for finding transportation strikes.  In fact, Myrtle’s blithe mentioning of current events give her journal a love-struck tone, whether she meant it to or not.

Regardless, a quick look at New York Tribune that day, shows that the strike was literally headline news.[1]

New York Tribune from Sept 12 1916

In fact, the New York Tribune does more than give us details about the strike, which was a massively big deal. It puts Mytle and Sid’s honeymoon in the context of history. A major election loomed, with Democrat Woodrow Wilson facing Republican Charles Hughes. Beyond the WWI headline notes here, a lot had happened that week. In the last days, Bulgaria had just declared war on Romania. In addition, the British had prevailed against the Germans in East Africa and in the Battle of Some, the 16th Irish Division had captured the village of Ginchy away from the Germans.[2]

We have no way of knowing if these events preyed on Sid’s or Myrtle’s minds. If they did, the grandness and charm of New York city distracted them. They had a fabulous day.

Whirlwind Tour Continues

Here’s Myrtle’s entry for September 13, 1916:

Left Perth Amboy, N.J. at 9 A.M. for Grand Central Station, N.Y. City. We were there for several hours and what a Station.  Just too much excitement. Missed the boat ride up the Hudson River, but the train followed the River all the way to Albany.  It was beautiful. Arrived at Albany, N.Y. 3:53 P.M.  Went sight-seeing since Albany is a Capitol City. Left at 11:05 P.M. for Montreal, Canada, arriving at 7 A.M.  So very tired by no rest.

For this day, the album had a post card and a photo:

Grand Central Station in New York City

Your Turn

What old mementos have you found in the drawers and closets of your house? Have you tried turning them into stories?  Have you researched to find the rest of the story?

New York City in 1916

Photo Credits:  

  • Modern Brooklyn Bridge courtesy of Pixabay.com user Pexel.
  • Background image for pinnable graphic:  Background image courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington D.C., Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ggbain-21741

Footnotes

[1] New York Tribune Headlines from Tuesday, September 12, 1916. Digital image accessed via U.S. Library of Congress’ Chronicling America June 25, 2018, https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83030214/1916-09-12/ed-1/seq-1/#date1=09%2F01%2F1916&index=6&date2=9%2F31%2F2016&searchType=advanced&language=&sequence=1&lccn=&words=&proxdistance=5&state=New+York&rows=20&ortext=&proxtext=&phrasetext=&andtext=&dateFilterType=range&page=1.

[2] “The Great War Timeline – 1916,” The GreatWar 1914-1918, accessed June 25, 2018, http://www.greatwar.co.uk/timeline/ww1-events-1916.htm; “Battle of Ginchy,” Wikipedia.org, accessed June 25, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Ginchy.

 

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