April 6 marks the 104th anniversary of America’s entry into World War I, but the impacts of this global conflict were already being felt in New York City. Starting in 1914, panicked markets, inefficient infrastructure, and marauding U-boats caused price shocks and shortages, and the war led directly to the creation of new modes of food distribution, leading to the creation of New York City’s wholesale and retail public market system that still exists today. In this program, we will examine reports from the time period by the city and state Departments and Markets about how new open-air markets were stood up, pushcart peddlers were mobilized to bring food to neighborhoods, and the public was educated to conserve scarce or strategically valuable ingredients.
- The Great War and NYC: Street Vendors and Public Markets
- Dillon, John J., Seven Decades of Milk: A History of New York’s Diary Industry (1941)
- “The High Cost of Eating: Three Answers to the Problem of Food Shortage” (Independent, Mar 12, 1917)
- Westerville Public Library: Anti-Saloon League Collection
- “Food Will Win the War” (The Library Company of Philadelphia)
- “American School Lunch Is Becoming More Diverse” (Atlas Obscura)
- Unofficial Collection of World War I Photographs (National Archives)