There are More Jews Living in New York than were Ever Collected Before in Any One Place
The Jewish invasion of America
Review of Reviews
There are More Jews Living in New York than were Ever Collected Before in Any One Place
BURTON J. HENDRICK, a feature writer on the McClure staff, deals in the March issue of that magazine with “The Jewish Invasion of America."
Next to Russia, the United States is the greatest Jewish country in the world.
There are 2,000,000 Jews in the United States, of whom 1,000,000 are found in New York City. There are more Jews living in New York than were ever collected before in any one place.
From New York the Jews are rapidly
spreading throughout the country. There are 100,000 in Chicago, 100,000 in Philadelphia, 75,000 in Boston, and 50,000 in St. Louis. Practically every American city likewise has representation.
The United States furnishes the greatest opportunities to Hebrews that the race has ever had. Here they are economically and politically free—unhindered by the restrictions that interfere with their success in eastern Europe.
What use has this indomitable people made of these new opportunities? To what extent is their influence increasing in the United States? The article answers these and other similar questions.
After detailing the success of the Jews in the clothing business, Mr. Hendrick considers the real estate aspect of the subject.
Another most interesting phase of the article concerns the Jewish invasion of the theatrical world and the trust which has resulted.
Perhaps its most marked result is the fact that the Jews are rapidly acquiring a monopoly of the land. New York’s greatest single landed proprietors are the old family estates—the Astors, the Goelets, the Rhinelanders, and the rest—who still tenaciously hold to the soil. Nearly all the new purchasers of land, however, are Jews. This people not only clothes the masses—it also shelters them. One needs only to read the real-estate transfers published every day in the newspapers to learn the extent to which the Jews are acquiring the land. The particular morning on which these lines are written, for example (December 12, 1912), the New York Times records the transfer of thirty-six pieces of property in Manhattan and the Bronx. The names show that twenty-six of these particular purchasers are Jews; one is Italian; one probably German ; while seven are unquestionably AngloSaxons. The list contains not a single Irish name—although the Irish make up at least a quarter of the city’s population. The Real Estate Record and Guide annually publishes a bulky volume containing a complete list of all the property-holders in New York. This book amounts to an almost continuous catalogue of Jewish names. There are comparatively few Smiths, Robinsons, O ’Briens, and Murphys; there is page after page of Cohns, Levys, Kahns and Rosenthals. Outside of the great New York landed families already referred to, the largest individual property-holders in New York are men bearing such names as Appel, Bachrack, Buttenweiser, Fleischmann, Frankenthaler, Hyman, Jarmulowsky, Lese, Lowenfleld,
Mandelbaum, Ottenberg, Sulzberger and Weil. Only a few years ago a considerable number of these present-day millionaire proprietors were carrying packs on their backs or driving push-carts. And they are large holders not only in the East Side tenement district, but in all parts of the city, including the high-class business and residential sections. The^ chances are, if you wish to lease an apartment in almost any part of New York, to-day, that you wiU pay your rent to a Jewish landlord. There is not the slightest doubt that in a few years the Jews will own the larger part of Manhattan Island—the richest parcel of real estate in the world.
They have accomplished this success as landholders by the exercise of precisely those traits and talents that have led to the control of the clothing industries—their ability to economize, to operate on a small capital, to live on almost nothing, and to find minute profits in hitherto unsuspected corners. Peddlers, push-cart venders, storekeepers, pawn-brokers, and contractors in the clothing trades—these occupations mark the beginnings of New York’s future landlords. In many instances, they break into the ownership of real estate just as they break into the clothing business—as middlemen. Until the appearance of the Jews, there were only two parties conerned in the control and management of landed property —the landlord and the tenant. Under these conditions, the Jews could make little progress, as the fee ownership of land, even when it is so liberally mortgaged as it is in American cities, demanded more capital than the average immigrant could command.
So a third party, in the shape of the Jewish lessee, gradually squeezed himself between the landlord and the tenant. By saving and scraping in every direction, the prospective landlord gets together from fifty to a hundred dollars—enough to make a beginning. With this he leases a whole tenement-house. He then moves himself and his family into the least expensive flat, and proceeds to cut expenses in every possible direction. He dismisses the janitor and takes the job himself. He is also his own plumber, plasterer, carpenter and general repair man, while his wife or daughter usually acts as scrubwoman. Once a week he makes the rounds of the several apartments, collecting the rents. By the end of a year he usually has a safe margin of profit; in five years, the period for which such leases commonly run, he has $3,000 or $4,000. With this he purchases a tenementhouse of his own. The building may have a market value of $40,000, but the new pur-
chaser gives back two, three, four, five or six mortgages, falling due at successive dates. Once more he moves in, his family assumes all the details of management, and the profits of the building are used to pay the mortgages. In this way the industrious Jew in a few years works himself up into the actual ownership of the building. With the profits from this he purchases others. He is constantly speculating in vacant land, and becomes a builder of tenements and apartment-houses on his own account. Briefly, this is the mechanism under which the soil of New York City is passing from the hands of its old-time possessors into those of this immigrant people.
Another most interesting phase of the article conerns the Jewish invasion of the theatrical world and the trust which has resulted.
The activities of American Jews, however, extend far beyond the borders of New York. They control, in particular, one business that reaches into every part of the country—the business of public amusement. They absolutely dominate the “legitimate drama” on its business side, and are the largest single factors in vaudeville and moving pictures. Indeed, the business of relaxation and entertainment for more than 90,000,000 Americans is almost exclusively a Jewish industry. Here, again, the Jews have converted a hazardous speculative enterprise into an enormously profitable commercial undertaking. In doing this, they have completely made over the business, and have secured control in precisely the same way that they have secured control of the clothing business—by introducing and making all-powerful the middleman.
One needs to go back only twenty-five years to discover how completely the Jews have eliminated all other races in the amusement field. Just glance, for a moment, at the names of the great theatrical “magnates” of a generation ago. They were nearly all Irish or plain Anglo-Saxon. The legitimate theatre was dominated then by men like John B. Stetson, A. M. Palmer, J. H. Haverly, J. M. Hill, and Augustin Daly. In musical comedy the leading names were those of E. E. Rice and John A. McCaul. Scattered all over the country were successful managers of local stock companies of great competence—such as McVicker in Chicago, Mrs. Drew in Philadelphia, and Macauley in Louisville.
A similar roster now would show an overwhelming majority of Jewish names. It is not only in the matter of race, however, that these old-time “magnates” differed from the new. In many cases they repre-
sented an altogether different theatrical type. Nearly all were primarily theatrical managers, and only secondarily business men; many, indeed, had earned their apprenticeship as actors and playwrights. They understood writing as a technical art, and approached the business of entertaining the public largely from an artistic standpoint. The Jewish managers who control the industry now, however, are nothing but business men. A few exceptions, of course, must be made; certainly no one would say that such men as David Belasco and Charles and Daniel Erohman are primarily commercialists. With practically all the rest, however, the modern theatre is simply merchandise, like ready-made clothing and women’s cloaks. Whereas the old managers started their careers on the stage, it is significant that nearly all of the new managers started in the box-office or in one of the occupations closely allied to the theatre.
Abraham L. Erlanger was a ticket-seller in a Cleveland theatre, and afterward became an advance agent. Marc Klaw started as a newspaper man in Louisville, Kentucky, and also achieved early success as an advance agent. Frederick Zimmerman was a bill-poster. Theodore Liebler a printer and lithographer. Al Hayman did a profitable business in the West, financing stranded tneatrical companies on a percentage basis. Martin Beck, one of the two great “magnates” of modern vaudeville, was originally a waiter in a Chicago music-hall. The Graus, who dominated grand opera in this country for forty years, used to work as street peddlers in front of the old Astor House. The Shuberts, originally haberdashers in Syracuse, made their theatrical beginnings as water-boys and ushers. One of the few rich Jewish managers of to-day who could be described as having entered the theatrical business from the “artistic” side is William Harris, who was once part of a poplar black-face song-and-dance team in Boston . Daniel Erohman started life as on office-boy for Horace Greeley, and Charles Erohman as advance man for Haverley’s minstrels. The figure of Charles Frohman marching at the head of the minstrel parade down Broadway is still vividly recalled by old-time New Yorkers.
The charge that the Jewish theatrical men have commercialized the theatre is unquestionably justified; it is also true that a certain amount of commercialization was needed. Thirty years ago the theatre was probably the most demoralized business that made any claim to respectability. Few theatrical managers of that day had advanced
to the dignity of having a private office. Americans are a nation of play-goers, and the aggregate amount spent on the theatre in the United States is enormous. The industry was all at loose ends; it needed coordination: in a word, here was a splendid business chance for a middleman. In the Jewish firm of Klaw and Erlanger this middleman appeared. These men, keen, alert, and persistent, became, in the years from 1894 to 1900, the great clearing-house of the American theatrical business. They ‘ ‘ cornered’ ’ the theatrical market by a perfectly obvious expedient. The way to control the business was not to corral the actors, the playwrights, or the managers; the thing to do was to get the theatres themselves. And, in order to monopolize the theatre in the country, it was necessary actually to control only those in the large cities. Therefore, Klaw and Erlanger made Charles Frohman a part of their syndicate, as Mr. Frohman controlled many big theatres in New York. Nixon and Zimmerman entered the combine because they controlled leading theatres in Philadelphia. AÍ Hayman, who owned many theatres in large Western cities, was indispensable for the same reason. Rich and Harris, who had large theatrical interests in Boston, also affiliated themselves more or less directly with the syndicate. With the exception of Frohman, these men were not theatrical men in the old sense; the trust was simply a business organization of men who controlled theatrical real estate.
Having got the biggest theatres in the largest cities in their hands, the next step was easy. Messrs. Klaw and Erlanger went to local managers all over the country with the proposition that they should take the season’s “booking” of “attractions” entirely out of the managers’ hands. For a commission, say five or ten per cent, of the box-office receipts, they agreed to provide shows for the whole season. The local managers need take no more expensive trips to New York, or spend time in perplexing correspondence; all they needed to
do was simply to sit at home, see that their theatres were cleaned and lighted, and take such attractions as the syndicate sent them. As a matter of fact, such was the power of the syndicate that local managers were compelled to accept this proposition. “Unless you let us book for you,” the syndicate said, almost in these very words, “you won’t get any attractions at all; your theatre will remain ‘dark’ all winter.”
Certain managers and actors— Mrs. Fiske, Belasco, Hackett, and Francis Wilson, among others—tried to break this monopoly, but without the slightest success. As in the cloak business, the real competition in theatricals has been between German and Russian Jews. The members of the syndicate were Germans, and it was three young Russian Jews from Syracuse, New York State, who finally destroyed their monopoly. When the Shuberts came to New York, in 1900, to open warfare on the trust, the idea seemed fairly grotesque. Sam Shubert, ablest of the three brothers, was only nineteen years old, and weighed only ninety pounds. These men had started business in New York State in the smallest possible way, getting a theatre here and there in small towns. Their relatives, their grocerymen, their bakers, and their butchers financed their operations. The three brothers finally scraped together enough money to lease the Herald Square Theatre in New York. A fortunate speculation, Augustus Thomas’ play, “Arizona,” put the Shuberts in funds and launched them on their career. At the present time the two surviving brothers—Sam Shubert was killed in a railroad accident a few years ago—control fifteen theatres in New York City, and also have theatres in every large city in the country. In all, there are nearly eighty theatres in their hands. They have a large number of traveling companies and booking-offices of their own. The old syndicate is still very rich and powerful; however, it no longer has the field exclusively in its hands, but now divides it with the Shuberts.
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