Best of Manhattan 1903
Those of Coney Island
Blessed be the harlots. Feed the naysayers penny candies so that their sour countenances may be correctively sweetened! Many
a blustery windbag has proclaimed Coney Island the home to women of chaste and demure demeanor. They say the ladies who walk the promenades of the entertainment complexes that grace the pristine shores of the Brooklyn neighborhood (so newly incorporated into our Christian Metropolis) are so virtuous to the point of being stingy with their physical affections. Not so! Lay your eyes southward for proof that bawdiness still runs rampant. Note the utter and complete lack of effort toward the purpose of concealing their arms. Were these sirens any less clad, their ankles would show!
"The Bomb Squad"
Who to arm next? The Chinaman? Lt. Petrosino is among the finest and bravest of all public servants. However we cannot help but believe that his latest expression of monomania has led him down a treacherous path.
We are no great friend of the Italian immigrant. This is why we keep them where we do. However, we cannot deny that the use of black powder devices by the fiendish Black Hand in an effort to extort meager funds from these unkempt oil merchants steps beyond the pale. Of that there is no doubt. We are, to a degree, a civilized city, and one which will not abide the random use of explosive devices, especially when a well-swung chain or well-aimed shovel would accomplish the same task.
This is why we were flabbergasted at the news that the police department's own Lt. Petrosino, charged with the task of putting an end to the foul dealings of the foreign Black Hand, has himself resorted to the same techniques. His formation this year of a unit of officers he has termed "the bomb squad" nearly gave us fits.
Lt. Petrosino assured the populace, as if this were a good thing, that each member of his "bomb squad" was well-trained in the design and operation of explosive devices. No such unit has ever existed before in the nation, and that we can believe, for what sane government would sanction a gang of bomb-throwing anarchists?
That the Black Hand would detonate explosives amongst the innocent public is despicable enough. That our own guardians of the public order would begin doing the same is an unfathomable affront!
Are we here at New York Press alone in considering the possibility that perhaps Lt. Petrosino is himself a member of the Black Hand? He is, after all, a man of swarthy characteristic.
The Paris Metro!
Our future lies under the ground. Perhaps it is unfair, even cruel of us to make light of the French tragedy of the past month. But is it not true our hubris is well-earned? Though still quite new, our much-anticipated subway system is sure to prove itself unsurpassed in the world. Not only will our trains not burn, they will be clean, free from thuggery, ample and efficient, offering unheard-of convenience for those citizens wealthy and poor alike who wish to travel in comfort from City Hall to Grand Central in a mere hour, and sometimes even less. There are rumors at City Hall that, should it prove its mettle, the subway might even extend as far as New Harlem.
With the imminent completion of the 2nd Avenue line in the coming years, we are quite certain the present motorcar fad will soon pass the way of ping-pong, to be remembered as little more than a rich man's folly.
His damnable "reformist" tendencies
Call this gentle man a carriage! Speaking before a crowd of malcontents in 1901, sharing the stage with no-talent confabulator of tales and social critic Mark Twain, Seth Low told the assembled rabble, "If I am elected Mayor I shall interpret the city ordinances in a liberal spirit and in a just one."
Hold your churlish laughter, gentle reader. We knew then that the man's bluster was a sign of his unique unfitness for the assuming mayoral duties. Sadly, the wool was pulled over the eyes of the people of this city as he attained the post of Mayor this most recent election-term. And his tenure has seen an end to the efficient cronyism and honest graft that has made New York the noted Christian City of today. With his trademarked strident tone and shrill brand of reform, he has ground the place to a halt.
Under Low, our tax-dollars are wasted on frivolities such as street cleaning and tenement improvement. Those crocodile tears shed for the immigrant? Save them please, sir. Were it their wish to live outside the supposedly wretched hovels of their tenements should they not adopt the industrious attitude of one of Mister Alger's cherubic newspaper boys and by their own bootstraps be upwardly pulled? Were the respectable property-owning class of New York polled on the issue, surely they would, to a man, demonstrate no love for the immigrant.
Bother us not with reform! Save your mocking eulogies for Tammany Hall, Mister Twain. We have seen your "reforms." We'll take twenty score Crokers over even a single Low.
The Elkins Act
Rebates be gone! Thank the heavens above that our young and robust president Teddy Roosevelt still has the courage to face down the mighty trusts. In yet another bold strike for the integrity and rational operation of our fair republic, the Roughest Rider in Washington has applied his black ink to the Elkins Act, thereby putting a quick end to the endemic extortion that heretofore has sullied the business conducted along our mighty railroad lines. Alas, no more will the barons extort shippers into using their rails. Now if only the President can get around to signing that Meat Inspection Act. Our tapeworms are becoming damn intolerable. How about it, TR?
Alfred E. Smith, Democrat
Give them hell, Al. No longer issuing protestations against Tammany, young Al Smith has gotten himself elected to the State Assembly. We could not be more hopeful for this bright young Irishman with a fever for helping the poor and working people of his native Lower East Side. It is hard to see Mister Smith at work in Albany-bowler hat tilted to the side, cigar clamped in his busy workaday mouth-and not think to yourself, by Golly, but this is a man with a future the size of U.S. Steel. That he has a lot to learn there can be no doubt, but in drive and intensity, young Al Smith lacks nothing a few weeks with the books can't fix. One to watch in ought-four.
Take heed of Babel, good architects! In only the most recent of years, the once-prim sky-line of our fair city has been torn asunder by jagged intrusions. The men who build these violations term them "sky-scrapers," a moniker that strikes us as properly violent.
Some of these monoliths rise two hundred feet or more from ground level. And to what purpose? Centrally, we must assume, these eyesores are erected for the sole purpose of blocking our view of the Harbor. Even were we to stand atop our very roofs, the walls of these architectural leviathans would remain insurmountable.
What egregiousness! Espy that hideous "Flat Iron" building constructed last year. It fills an entire city block-and such an odd and ghastly shape to it as well. We must assume that some Indian worker sat upon the plans in the midst of its erection.
What's more, do not the men who design and construct these "sky-scrapers" realize that the human body cannot withstand the pressures and the thin air that are present once such a height is assumed? And once there, what will we be expected to do under such wretched conditions? Toil?
These expressions of human arrogance are disasters waiting to be enacted! Consider: Should those alleged Wright "brothers" bring that contraption of theirs to our city for an exhibition, what would happen? Confronted with walls of such great elevation, it would surely collide with one of these "sky-scrapers"-and no doubt with the most injurious results! It sounds ridiculous, of course, but we feel all such risks, regardless how fantastic, must be considered before this plague is allowed to spread any further.
The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. DuBois
No Booker T. Washington, this man. "Herein lie buried many things which if read with patience may show the strange meaning of being black here in the dawning of the Twentieth Century. This meaning is not without interest to you, Gentle Reader; for the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line."
Thus begins the young Harvard Negro scholar W.E.B. DuBois in his burning tract on the future of the races. Spurious? Hardly! The racial injustice in our southern states is a scandal that acts as a stain upon the moral fabric of the republic, one that threatens to tear it asunder if not addressed and rectified in haste. In the North, the condition is hardly better, with the avenues of advancement and professional development closed to even the brightest of the Negro race. Why, even here in New York, the rougher elements of our Society continue to show a marked degree of antipathy toward the Negro. DuBois' clarion call for the education and spiritual uplifting of his people should be heeded by all who subscribe to the most basic definitions of Civic Decency.
Would the kind reader please be obliged to turn to the next pages for more "Best Of Manhattan" (and its incorporated "boroughs") listings, including:
Best Miracle elixir (morphine-based)
Best Miracle elixir (alcohol-based)
Best 15-cent Regular Dinner
Best New York World Columnist
Best New York Sun Columnist
Best Midweek Vaudeville Review
Best New Memorial to President McKinley
Best Penny Arcade
Best Rockefeller Son
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