In 1896, Alice Austen traveled around New York City taking photos of everything. Most images were of people working – police, city employees, mailmen, etc.
These were the people who made the city run daily. This is a photo of a bicycle messenger and there are photos of various other workers like a shoe-string peddler and a sponge peddler and a knife sharpener. Could you make a living doing these tings? Remember the scotch tape store that was a recurring skit on Saturday Night Live? It was a store in the mall that just sold scotch tape. That’s it.
The cost of living is so high these days that it makes you wonder how people survived by selling shoe-lace strings. But when most things cost a nickle or less (like wasn’t a newspaper a penny or two?) I guess it was possible.
Alice’s photos were donated to the Library of Congress. There are many shown here at Mashable. Check them out, they are really enjoyable to see.