First Time For Everything
Working on Feeding the City
I’ve never missed a deadline but here I am, missing the deadline to publish today’s regularly scheduled story. I’ve been throwing my brain at it for six days now only to experience many incidents of mangled sentences due to the long annoying dance with COVID.
The story is about Feeding the City, a manuscript produced by the WPA’s Federal Writers Project in 1940. It was inspired by a 1921 workers’ strike at all the docks and ports of entry in New York and New Jersey. If it—or any other catastrophic event—happened it would have stopped most food supplies to get into New York City and then to market, leaving the population vulnerable to starvation. The manuscript, which has never been published, is an impressive, almost mindboggling, work that investigates all gateways within a 50-miles radius of Columbus Circle and covers every point of origin starting with harvest on through transportation and wholesale and retail distribution. Source, poundage, and inspection of any kind of fruits and vegetables that you can think of are enumerated along with their varieties and what the population most favored. Spices; beverages (beer, wine, and alcohol included); nuts; dairy; grains; canned, dried, and frozen food are given individual sections. There is a story about the city clearing the last pushcart from the Lower East Side to make way for more sanitary markets. Another one describes the differences between an Italian bakery in Greenwich Village (better wedding cakes) and a German bakery on the Upper East Side (better chocolate)—that one comes off as subjective but nevertheless instructive. Hotels, clubs, institutions, a fine discussions about foreign restaurants, and home cooking round out Feeding the City. Extending the beauty of the project is the wealth of dynamic photographs taken by Farm Administration photographers.
How much fun is all this, right?
So please bear with me. It’ll be worth it.
But now I have to go lie down.
Much appreciative of your understanding,
Some photographs that were intended for Feeding the City