Rod 222: I have accumulated quite a few photos of presidential inaugurations to frame with a manuscript document such as a military commission or presidential appointment.. starting wit Abraham Lincoln and including Grant, Garfield, Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, McKinley, teddy Roosevelt and Taft, what can be said about these large conglomeration of people with the epicenter being the new President are that they are all in black and white, they all contain hundreds to thousands of people, because of the event they show by definition they are candid photos as opposed to portraits which were the norm before the Civil War, the number of people in focus to actually see their faces is truly remarkable for late 19th C early 20th C technology and virtually everyone, except the President is wearing a hat.
I have never understood why anyone thinks it's so important for everyone to wear a hat. Essentially everyone was forced to wear one in those days; if you didn't, everyone would look at you funny. The police might even take an interest figuring that it's suspicious. Mysteries were even written based on that premise. Some people don't look good in hats, and some just don't like them. But they were stuck to wearing them anyway. Phooey.
Thank you for posting, as a lifelong NYC area resident I appreciate the pictures and history of the city. Regarding the hat wearing, besides being a -must have- fashion accessory it was also functional. In some neighborhoods it was routine for people to toss their garbage or waste out the window into the streets to be cleaned up by street sweepers. Coal and wood were primary heating and cooking elements and the air in some densely populated neighborhoods could have been sooty. Hats kept your hair clean and neat, especially if you only bathed once a week or so!!
My Father wore a dress hat his entire life along with white dress shirt and a tie. Dark creased trousers and shiny Florsheim shoes. In the heat of Summer working in the garden there he was dressed just like that. He was born in 1922 in abject poverty and only graduated High School and went directly into the Army Air Corp. For him being respectably dressed was a sign of respect and pride in self and it was most of all a matter of discipline. Heck, I have photos of him on the beach wearing a shirt and tie. The way you dress is about respect for people or a place. You did not get on an airplane in sweatpants and a wrinkly t shirt. You did not go to the bank for a meeting in jeans and sneakers.
My father was born before that and also always wore a hat. And he was also in the Army Air Corp. But he would never wear a shirt and tie to the beach, or to do gardening. Wearing them there has nothing to do with respect; the sand and the plants don't care, and most people would certainly think it funny in those locations. The way I dress is about comfort for me. If it's not a wedding, a funeral, or a bar mitzvah, I don't dress for anyone else ever, nor do I see why I should.