"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Where & When: Game #2

Our last game worked out pretty well, with Banter regular rbj winning a root beer for being the first with the full correct answer. To make this even more fun, I’ll be tallying winners throughout the month and posting the leaders on the last post of the month. Thus, one correct answer = 1 root beer, and subsequent correct answers in each game will receive an honorable mention = 1 cream soda >;)

Here is today’s challenge:

When & Where 02

Hint: This picture was taken when one of the clues in this picture was in its second year of operation.

The first player with the complete answer of Where the picture was taken and When (what year; exactly or closest to it) wins a root beer >;)

You may submit your complete answer to me at cixposse@gmail.com

The deadline for answering will be midnight EST tonight, and the answer and winner will be posted tomorrow morning at or after 9am EST. No peeking at the photo credit. Good luck!

[Photo Credit: Shorpy Historical Photo Archive]


1 TheGreenMan   ~  Sep 19, 2013 8:54 am

That's a fantastic picture. I'll be emailing my guess pronto.

2 rbj   ~  Sep 19, 2013 9:24 am

Sent mine in.

3 RIYank   ~  Sep 19, 2013 9:31 am

The 'where' part is easy-peasy!
Since I'm surely too late for root beer, I'll see if I can zero in on the 'when' without using the hint.

(It really is a great picture.)

4 kenboyer made me cry   ~  Sep 19, 2013 10:11 am

Longacre Square (now Times Square). 1906

5 kenboyer made me cry   ~  Sep 19, 2013 10:12 am

Oops, you want it emailed instead of on the blog? I guess I should read directions.

6 RIYank   ~  Sep 19, 2013 10:54 am

Okay, I sent my guess.

I will just say here that there's a little bit of misdirection involved, but it is indeed possible to determine the year. I mean, the exact year. In fact I've got it down to five months...

7 Sliced Bread   ~  Sep 19, 2013 11:30 am

dig deeper, RI. The exact time of day will be the tie-breaker.

nah, I'm just messin', but I do know the year. I found a similar shot from just a few years earlier and the differences are striking.

8 rbj   ~  Sep 19, 2013 11:31 am

Time of day is 9:17 am

9 ms october   ~  Sep 19, 2013 12:26 pm

i'm too late to the party to register a guess.
chyll and ri as the brain trust of this fantastic series, my thought - it would be good to figure out a way to both have the guess be done in a way that it doesn't kill it for others while also having the community interaction on the post itself.

10 RIYank   ~  Sep 19, 2013 12:29 pm

[9] Yeah, good point. I agree, the interaction is a big part of the fun.

One way out is just to scrap the 'contest' aspect. Or make it very short.

11 RIYank   ~  Sep 19, 2013 12:32 pm

Oh, and I have now concluded that the trolleys we see are in fact electric and draw their current from a third rail. You can see the slot in the middle of the tracks, where the electrified rail is protected. It was an Edison invention, and once it got a little traction (so to speak) it pretty quickly drove out cable cars. As Edison said, it was incredibly wasteful to be hauling untold tons of steel cable constantly with the power plant.

12 Chyll Will   ~  Sep 19, 2013 12:50 pm

[9] that is a good point. The community interaction is what inspired the contest, but if the contest itself inhibits that interaction, I'm willing to scale it back to the way it started. I didn't intend for it to be a race; more or less a discussion utilizing deductive skills. What do the rest of you think? Keep the contest aspect or scrap it? ( except I would still ban the use of the photo credit to figure out the answer) I like the game aspect, but the competition need not be serious...

13 Sliced Bread   ~  Sep 19, 2013 1:46 pm

I think this fun and friendly challenge should become a fight for survial.

Whoever doesn't know the exact coordinates, temperature, wind direction, and velocity at the precise moment the photo was snapped - dies.

At Chyll's discretion, of course.

14 thelarmis   ~  Sep 19, 2013 1:49 pm

let's up the stakes here a bit.

anyone who gets it right and anyone who gets it wrong...and, what the hell, anyone who doesn't even play the game - has to buy my new solo CD!

; )

15 rbj   ~  Sep 19, 2013 2:06 pm

[12] I could go either way on the contest. I wanted an email address especially for last week because I just don't want to get the answer right away and post it before some even get to their computer. That would spoil the fun.

Given the lady's dress in the bottom left of the photo it's definitely pre-war (The Great War.) If it were during WWI, there'd probably would be a lot of patriotic bunting around.

[11] Did NY switch from overhead lines to in the ground third rails?

16 RIYank   ~  Sep 19, 2013 2:32 pm

[15] I can't find any really comprehensive history.

From what I can tell, at least some of the lines went from cable car straight to the Edison design 'third rail'.

The cable car, as I guess everyone knows but maybe some need reminding, works like this: a cable is running just below the street, for miles, moving at a constant speed and driven by pulleys at a station. The cars clamp onto it, and then release at their stops. The cars have no source of power at all. There's something nice about this system, but it is incredibly inefficient with energy.

The Edison system worked essentially like our subways. The trolleys had brushes that rubbed on either side of the third rail, which was hidden in a slot between the regular rails -- for safety.

Some of the lines did have overhead wires at some point, attached to the cars by those precarious-looking poles sticking off the roof.

If anyone can find a nice web page or two that lays all of this out, do let me know. Or, ahem, a book, you know, in case anyone reading happens to specialize in those antique media...

I'm on the Acela right now. Doesn't it seem like the promise of rail transport at the beginning of the century was never fulfilled? I wish we could get a do-over on that.

17 TheGreenMan   ~  Sep 19, 2013 3:43 pm

[6] Looks like we used the same bit of evidence to narrow it down to a five-month period. Very cool.

18 Chyll Will   ~  Sep 19, 2013 5:30 pm

[13] What's a little Battle Royale among friends, eh?

I should clarify just in case anyone got the wrong idea, the root beers and cream sodas are points, not prizes. Just for bragging rights. I don't know how many of you owe me root beers for the jinxes I've laid on you over the years, so this is my way of redistributing the wealth, giving back to the community as it were >;)

[16] I second you on the do-over. When my grandparents moved up from Georgia to Harlem during the Great Migration (concurrent with the Great Depression), Uncle Woodrow tells me my grandmother did a random kindness for a young child and braided her hair. A day or two later, the child's father came by to thank her for what she did, and told her to tell her husband that if he wanted work, he should meet him in front of the house the next morning, which he did. The man took him to Croton-Harmon, where he was soon employed with the New York Central Railroad and worked steady until retirement. The legacy continues through my older brother, who has worked for Amtrak police for over twenty years. I've always had a special affinity for trains (except the subway when it's crowded); lots of history and possibilities.

19 rbj   ~  Sep 19, 2013 5:46 pm

[18] The root beers aren't real? What about the Klein bottles?

Cool story about you grandparents.

20 Chyll Will   ~  Sep 19, 2013 6:16 pm

[19] Hey now, I save the existentialism for my own blog >;) and thank you. I'm also a GM baby, so you can say that transportation is what drove me to this point

21 Chyll Will   ~  Sep 19, 2013 6:17 pm


22 Chyll Will   ~  Sep 20, 2013 9:41 am

UPDATE: The answer is Times Square c. 1908.

23 TheGreenMan   ~  Sep 20, 2013 10:45 am

[22] I think it would be fun to include some of the investigation work done by the guessers either in the comments or as an update to the original post. For example, RIYank (I'm assuming here) and I came up with the correct answer and I believe we both used the same clue to get there. "Paid in Full" was playing at the Astor Theatre at the time of the picture, and a quick search will show that it played there from February of 1908 to July 1908. There are probably other items in the pic that can nail down the year as well. Would be interesting to see some of those.

24 TheGreenMan   ~  Sep 20, 2013 10:47 am

By the way, really zoom in on the guy in the background lower left carrying the ladder (or something). He looks JUST like Charlie Chaplin!

25 TheGreenMan   ~  Sep 20, 2013 10:55 am

[24] Ugh...I meant lower right. Sorry about that.

26 Chyll Will   ~  Sep 20, 2013 11:21 am

[23] That's cool; I did point out some of the things that you discovered in a recap in today's latest post, but I could quote you on the research in the recap. I wasn't sure how that would be accepted, but if you're all okay with it I'll do so going forward.

[24] Too young to be Chaplin and perhaps too early in his career, but it wouldn't be surprising if the off-chance that he saw this picture or person in life inspired him.

27 Chyll Will   ~  Sep 20, 2013 11:26 am

Added the quote, that does look better. Thanks!

28 TheGreenMan   ~  Sep 20, 2013 11:54 am

Chyll Will - Wasn't looking for credit, more interested in what everyone else found since guesses were sent via email. However you want to handle it is jake with me. And yeah, Chaplin wasn't even in the States by Spring of 1908 yet. Just thought the character looked like him.

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