1914: One Hundred Years of Reflection in the Making

1914 CHSWhile searching for images of life captured in 1914, I was amazed by the range of subjects; prison halls, family picnics, and at least three different fires were all immortalized one hundred years ago.

Union and Asylum Streets contained just a small portion of downtown Hartford that would be affected by the Union Station Fire in 1914. During that snowy season, the dense smoke was “visible in all parts of the city”, as large portions of the station were engulfed in flames. Ultimately, in the fight between the fire and the firemen, the flames won out, as the roof caved in and the furnace roared.

Children depicted in the summer of 1914 donned basic bathing suits while having fun in the sun at the Bradley family picnic. It is not certain as to whether these children were part of the family, but nonetheless they were prominent enough to pose for a photograph. The West Haven scene is rather charming; as some of the children hold tin pails and shovels in their hand, an almost unobtrusive cow can be seen amongst the trees in the left background.

Inmates at the Connecticut State Prison were entertained in November 1914 by Broderick’s Minstrels of Hartford and the Prison Orchestra, performing such delights as “National Emblem”, “Le Regiment de Sambre et Meuse” and “The American Phantasie”. The Maryland Quartet also participated in the fun, while pantomime and soft-shoe dancing also ensued. The three hours of song, dance and music was capped off by a generous Thanksgiving dinner. Prisoners in the Connecticut State Prison’s dining hall are depicted in one photograph, seated and wearing dark suits, and presumably being assessed by the standing guards.

These few examples of events from 1914 show the range of what can occur in the course of one year. As 2014 begins to unfold, one can only imagine what others will reflect upon one hundred years from now.

Sierra Dixon is a Research & Collections Associate at the Connecticut Historical Society

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