Translating New York City to 1920s Small Town America

In the 1920s, when the concept of a big city like New York was still new to many Americans, one newspaper columnist brought the city to small town America.
May 15, 2011, 1pm PDT | Nate Berg
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O.O. McIntyre wrote a daily column, "New York Day by Day", which ran in more than 500 newspapers during the '20s.

"McIntyre's most devoted audience was small-town America, where readers saw him as a local boy turned foreign correspondent, reporting from an exotic, faraway place. He referred to his daily column as "the letter," and its tone often resembled a note to the folks back home. "[T]he metropolis has never lost its thrill for me," he once wrote. "Things the ordinary New Yorker accepts casually are my dish-the telescope man on the curb, the Bowery lodging houses and drifters, chorus girls, gunmen," as well as "speakeasies on side streets, fake jewelry auction sales, cafeterias, chop houses, antique shops, $5 hair bobbing parlors-in short all the things we didn't have in our town."

In any given column he might pay tribute to some neighborhood of the Big Town, reminisce about his youth in Gallipolis, Ohio, and sprinkle in personal glimpses of the famous men and women he seemed to bump into everywhere he went."

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Published on Monday, April 25, 2011 in Smithsonian
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