Broadway and Subways in 1900s New York

Scenes between Nottage’s characters ESTHER and MRS. VAN BUREN in Intimate Apparel reveal how different even entertainment could be for people of different classes and races in New York City in the early 1900’s. So let’s take a look at what the entertainment industry was like back then!

Something that significantly affected entertainment was the birth of the subway!


New York’s exploding population was also enjoying increased mobility. In 1904, the city opened its first underground commuter railroad lines. Thanks to this extensive system of “subways,” tens of thousands living miles away from the theatre district could catch a Broadway show and still sleep in their own beds. Add in the ever-increasing numbers of tourists who came into the city by rail and steamship, and Broadway had an expanded audience base that could support more productions and longer runs than ever before.


In the next few days, we will take a look at what kind of shows the different characters in Intimate Apparel might have had access to and just how much societal rules impacted how people could spend their free time.

Click here to continue reading the article about musical theatre and broadway in the early 1900s.


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