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In 1892 Sigmund Krausz published his Street Types of Chicago. Rather than take photos on the streets, he lit and posed subjects in his studio to create what he termed “Character Studies” of average urban Chicagoans in the 1890s, illustrated with Kodak photographs. The artist has caught the inspiration of his subjects. His studio was at 3930 Cottage Grove.
He made 36 photogravures of people and below is a selection of the most interesting.
The literary descriptions are original to the images and were written by contemporary well-know local authors.The plates measure 9-1/4″ X 6-1/2″.
What brighter, sunnier than a bevy of American school girls? How happy they are ! Life to them seems as yet a perennial picnic. Can’t you read their love of fun in their smiling eyes? The tricks they are sure to play at school to-day; the saucy answer to rude boys that one can read on their half-parted lips ! And yet, at the same time, the affectionate nature they show, and the entire absence of all affectation!!
They’re a healthy type of our shifting, many-tongued street life. No schoolgirls in the universe are jollier, cleverer, more ambitious or nicer than are our American girls. Romping with the boys, coasting and skating with the best of them, trundling their hoops with the speed and agility of greyhounds, and playing lawn tennis till their young backs ache, they are yet thoroughly girlish — though not what one of them termed “girly girls.”
Try them at flirting — yes, even the girls in the short frocks— and you’ll soon find there’s a heap of pure femininity concealed about their slender anatomy. But try them also with their books, to be fair about it. You’ll find, in nine cases out of ten, they know more than boys of the same age.
They can jump and play, run and catch ball, but they can also sit at home and “do” a heap more difficult mathematics than Jack and Will, their stur dier playmates. Take it altogether, our American schoolgirls are made of pretty good stuff, the stuff which makes good wives and good mothers, good breadwinners and true mates. Nowhere else in this broad land of ours will the future American of the feminine gender show forth more gloriously than right here.
— Wolf von Schierbrand
Three keen ‘thin ones of the wolf tribe,’ ready for the day’s work. Spectacles over that sharpest pair of eyes; a hat carefully bat tered. Blacking to sell. The capper on the left; the back-capper on the right. Boys to make the beginnings of a crowd. crowd. If I be greedy, seeking for whom I may devour, let me pass quickly by this innocent three, this artful trio. They are not there to get rich buying blacking from one another.
But if I love my neighbor as myself I may approach. I may purchase a box of this wonderful product. I may speak without danger. They will show me their shell-game; they may set to work like beavers with their cap and their back-cap, exciting my supposed desire to rob them. But I have no such desire. How sharp, how keen, how thin! Ages of piracy behind them! Hereditary genius of robbery!
The lean one at the left, how clumsily he gives, but you should see how deftly he would take! Into this world is born every minute a greedy fellow who believes he could outwit these sinuous, clean-cut neat fakirs at their own games. Here comes one even now! Make way, boys; let the gentleman see this blacking! Ah, yes, five cents out of five dollars!
Are they not generous to give him a genuine nickel with his four dollars and ninety cents of queer money! Do I dislike these birds of prey? Ah, you ask a hard question! See yon eagle hovering between the crest of the mountain and the crag of cloud! There is a goosy-gander in the valley, plan ning the fall of Aquila, and Aquila, the eagle, has his unflinching eye fixed on something white and long-throated down below!
Out For a Stroll
She has just finished her frugal luncheon in the small, dingy office room where she is employed as stenographer and typewriter, and the warm sun shines so invitingly through the open windows that she decides to utilize her noon hour by taking a little walk.
She is pretty, and as she trips gracefully through the bustling crowd, daintily lifting her dress with a neatly gloved hand, many admiring glances follow her. Here and there she recognizes an acquaintance, but she does not stop.
Now she reaches a crowded corner and passes the gauntlet of young dudes and old Lotharios, who congregate there to review female pedestrians; but she does not seem to be annoyed, and rather enjoys the attention which her appearance has attracted. If we are not mistaken, she even smiles as she turns a side glance at a handsome young fellow.
She knows it is wrong to flirt — for it was only last Sunday that her pastor had warned his young flock, in a very elaborate sermon, against the sin of flirting — but then it is such pleasant pastime, and she will not do so again — till to-morrow, for it is one o’clock, and duty calls her to the desk.
A degenerated descendant of the ancient people of Rome or Sparta, the swarthy banana pedlar pushes his cart contentedly through the thoroughfares of the city. No thoughts of the an cient glory of his nation disturbs his mind when he cries out his “Ba-na-nos! Ba-na-nos!!” He is not sentimental. He is bent on making his profit, and the commercial instinct is far more de veloped in him than that warlike spirit which predominated in his ancestors. The banana cart is the war-chariot behind which he fights his battle of life. The few paltry dimes which form the profits of a day are to him perhaps as much as the spoils of a vic torious battle were for one of his progenitors. Indeed, Rome and Sparta have fallen. The ancient soil does not even grant a sufficient living to the descendants of Lycurgus and Scipio. The new world is the Mecca towards which their steps are now directed, and in America they find what the mother country denies them — a chance in the battle of life — a chance for a living. The banana pedlar is not a bad citizen. He is peaceful and saving. Though his surroundings in the quarters which he in habits are not of the most elevating kind, yet he is able to rise above them. Not all banana pedlars ere destined to become rich, but their thrift and industry are essential factors in the amassing of a small competence, sufficient for their modest requirements, when the cart gets too heavy too push and the legs too slow to follow.
A Disciple of Æsculap
You all know this character, have known him for years, and, judging from his perennial vivacity and virile force, he is likely to survive many of his younger competitors. His beard is silvery, but his form is erect, and there are not wanting men who allege that he wears spectacles, not to see through, but so that they cannot be seen through — by an outsider. Our friend’s stock in trade is not extensive. It consists of a black bag, an aged um brella, a suit of shiny black, and a venerable appearance. In the black bag he carries mysterious compounds, guaranteed to cure every ill to which human flesh is subject. He is a bird of passage, and principally affects the smaller country towns, where he es tablishes himself at a second rate hotel. Then a small boy dis tributes circulars, setting forth that Professor Blank of the Royal College of Physicians of Dunnowhere will be in town for one week and holds himself in readiness to cure every trouble from toothache to cancer. His clientage is derived mostly from that class of women whose chief trouble is ill-temper generated by dyspepsia. With a wholesome fear of the State Board of Health before his eyes, our friend seldom stays more than a few days in one place; and as to his so-called panaceas, it would be found on analysis that if they could do no good, they- certainly could do no harm.
Perhaps the method does not appeal to everyone, but surely the aim of these Salvation Army girls is a noble one. What the nurse in the sick room is for the body, any member of the great religious society called ‘ ‘ Salvation Army ‘ ‘ is for the soul. What if the use of the tambourine and the drum is ridiculed by those who do not take the trouble to look beyond the surface!
The end justifies the means; and there is no denying that the Salvation Army has achieved commendable results. Go into the dingy quarters of the poor, visit the grimy streets of the tenement dis tricts, and you will find the self-sacrificing soldier of the Lord in the thick of the battle, not only against Satan, the arch-enemy of the soul, but against those mighty foes of humanity: vice, drunk enness, filth, and other forms of moral degeneracy.
Doughty warriors they are, even if frail of body, and the souls they have snatched from moral perdition, the human beings they have saved from utter despair, number in the thousands. It is, therefore, a matter of congratulation rpr the world in general to see the growing influence of this Church militant in the quarters where moral improvement is most desirable.
Whether they call themselves ” Salvation Army ” or “American Volunteers ” is a matter of small importance; and if their method sometimes elicits a smile even from a sympathizer, let it not be a reason to withhold our approval of the work to which our “Hallelujah Lasses” have bravely devoted their whole energy and life.
Rapid Messenger Service
A white-whiskered libel in the picture-papers represents the blue-suited and red-trimmed messenger boy as a human snail. Illustrated by cuts, he is shown in youth receiving an important message. An old man, with bleary eyes and the gray of extreme age on his face, is seen returning fifty or sixty years afterward with the answer, which is delivered to the grandson of the sender.
This series of pictures embodies a malicious falsehood, for the messenger almost always gets back before he reaches middle age. In the popular mind, some business man in an awful hurry twangs the mechanical jamboozle in a corner of his office, and two and a-half minutes later a winged Mercury in blue and red rushes into the room. A note is handed him, and he dashes out with a whoop and a clatter that startle the whole neighborhood.
Once outside, the boy lets down gradually into a trot, which subsides into a walk that presently fetches him up in front of a theatrical bill-board, where he stagnates in open-mouthed admiration of the pink and yellow attractions of a ballet troupe. Then he drifts off into space and wanders about the universe until he gets ready to come back.
These are popular errors, which have very slight foundation in fact, for the little fellow is a very useful help in the scheme of nineteenth century civilization.
At any hour of the twenty-four, in fair weather and foul, the messenger- boy may be seen trudging with sturdy legs along the street; or hanging to the tail-end of a horse-car, always with a grave and sober sense of responsibility befitting his function in the community, He never slips into the seductive opening of an alley to pitch pennies or shoot “craps.” As a rule he is active and reliable , and on the whole has a higher appreciation of duty than had the Judge who adjourned court to look at a dog fight.
In the Employ of the Gas Companies
We all know this man, many of us to our sorrow. He may be said to be in bad odor continuously — both above and below ground.
There is not much superfluous flesh on his bones, but then a diet of escaping gas is not particularly conducive to adi pose tissue. In spite of his acts of vandalism one cannot with hold a feeling of pity for the poor devil who works so faithfully and unremittingly — when the gang-boss is in his proximity. Wait until the foreman is at the farther end of the block, how ever, and your sentiments will experience a change. Instead of pity, it is admiration you will feel for this worthy representative of the dinner-pail brigade, who can do more artistic loafing than any other member of the order. Not that he stops work at all ; bless you, he is too cute for that ! Just watch his pick rise and fall, and you will comprehend my meaning.
Why, a blind man could detect by its sound just how far away that gang-boss was from the digger. He is a social sort of fellow. He likes to chat with his neighbor in the next trench, nods to the cabbies that drive by, and has even been known to attempt a flirtation with the servant girl engaged in sweeping her mistress’s porch.
He drinks freely of the water that the small boy with the wooden bucket offers in a tin dipper, for he sweats profusely, and his system needs replenishing. But it is at noon, when his growler-can is filled from the nearest saloon, that he appears in all his glory.
Watch him take a swig ! No bottle with a white label was ever emptied with keener zest than that beer-can. Talk about nectar for the gods? He would none of it! Give him beer — all he can guzzle — and he is supremely happy.
—Sam T. Clover