A few remarkable images to illustrate the frenzied mobilization that swept through New York City after the United States joined World War I.
German Submarine UC5 on the Sheep Meadow, October 1917.
While these temporary interventions in our beloved public spaces were short lived, many massive, permanent infrastructure projects were created during this period that remain with us today and will be subjects for future entries.
Submarine was converted to a Liberty Bond Booth, rechristened from UC5 to U-Buy-a-Bond.
One imagines that German submarine on the Great Lawn still reeked of diesel and brine, a wrecked leviathan of the kind that had destroyed the RMS Lusitania and 1,200 of her passengers sailing from New York, utterly terrifying for a city so tied to sea-faring commerce and transportation.
Navy Recruiting Station in Union Square, looking east towards 15th Street, Summer 1917
In this Holiday Season, as we grind our way into the tenth year of our latest war overseas, it’s worth a pause to remember the great sacrifice, costs and unimaginable anguish that continues to be demanded of so many people as a result of this fighting – and perhaps to ask ourselves how we’d feel about a giant recruiting station in Union Square.
Peace and Goodwill to All.