Business postcards display commercial and industrial buildings. These postcards might contain an individual photo of a business building or a street shot of a business district. Featuring the frequently used businesses of the time from which the photos were taken, these postcards enable one to determine the materials and services in demand of the era. They document the transformation from family owned businesses to company owned franchises and at the same time capturing the state of the economy.
As the industrial revolution plundered through New England, Beverly economy lay in the midst of a great transformation. The invention by a local man Jan Messinger, of a machine that could produce machinery to make shoes, prompted the construction of the United Shoe Machinery Corporation in 1903. The “Shoe”, as it was often referred to, brought great prosperity to Beverly. It’s significant impact on the town is evident in that it was documented in a postcard. The United Shoe brought thousands of jobs to Beverly as well as a strong reputation for its industrial capabilities. The “Shoe” helped to transform Beverly from a rural town into suburban town, with a large middle class population. This reflects the general change New England was witnessing in the early 1900’s.
As Beverly began morphing into a suburban town, the downtown business district began to come into its own. Once a few general stores and farm stands, Cabot Street flourished into the busy business district of Beverly. With Beverly becoming a suburban, family orientated town, the standard of living increased and spending money did also. General stores became quite popular and doted the streets of the city. With more pocket change people began to indulge in good not necessary. In this postcard, a sign advertising the soft drink ‘Moxie’, clearly shows the increase in being able to buy not only necessary materials for living, but indulging in unneeded goods. Much later Beverly developed similar business districts with more modern day stores including convenient stores, drug stores, supermarkets and department stores. As depicted in the North Beverly plaza postcard, the economy of Beverly flourished in time leaving its citizens the spending money and the options to buy “wants” not only “needs”. Wherever money can be found there is also the need for a bank. The Beverly Savings bank was one of the several banks to service the people of Beverly. As depicted in the postcard the bank shown individually as a dominant building was held in high regards, as the value of money grew increasingly important in society.
With an access amount of money in the pockets, society began to develop means of spending it. Recreational buildings and act ivies were founded and long with this increase of standard of living came an increase in free time. Citizens began finding ways to organize and spend their free times together. Recreational Buildings and Civic Associations were founded.
With the establishment of the United Shoe came company orientated recreation. The United Shoe Machinery Association served not only as a source of employment but as a recreation provider. They company established an athletic club (now the Beverly Golf and Tennis building) for its employees and often sponsored organized races and entertainment. As depicted in these postcards, large companies such as the shoe began to involve themselves in not only their employees working hours but also their free time. This allowed for company loyalty and socialization among the staff.
Non-profit buildings were being built once communities had the extra time and money to put into them. These buildings reflect the moral values and concerns of the community. They also show the dominant cultures and religions of the society.
The Beverly Public Library provided recreation in through education. With more time on their hands and the importance of education increasing the library became a public wealth of knowledge. Reading rooms were of easy access to all citizens and provided them with a place and materials to learn.
The establishment of the Young Men Christians Association in Beverly shows that the city held a fairly high Christian population. The turnout for President Taft’s groundbreaking of the YMCA building in 1910 shows that this establishment was a great success with high hopes among the people. Being a Christian association, the YMCA building symbolized the importance of religion among the citizens of Beverly. The association was not limited to only Christians therefore displaying the acceptation of diversity in the city.
Recreational and non-profit building postcards depict how free time was spent and what society valued. These postcards display how people lived when they weren’t working. They also showed peoples personal beliefs and interests.
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