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May 2, 2019

What Happened on Twenty-Third Street, New York City in 1901

54 years before Marilyn, there was Florence Georgie!

Florence Georgie in an image from “What Happened on Twenty-Third Street, New York City.”

The corner of 23rd Street and 6th Avenue was renowned for its gusty breezes that might allow a man to catch a glimpse of a woman’s stockings. In this staged scene we see Alfred Abadie, an Edison cameraman, and Florence Georgie strolling along when Georgie has a Marilyn Monroe type moment.

Some compared the sequence to the iconic image of Marilyn Monroe in the 1955 film The Seven Year Itch. The image of Monroe’s thighs exposed under her billowing skirt entered American popular culture.

This film was restored by the Library of Congress and was copied at 16fps from 35mm. It offers a fascinating glimpse of what Manhattan looked like at the turn of the 20th century. The clothes and vehicles are fantastic!

Only a year after this movie was filmed and the Flatiron building was completed (also on 23rd Street), legend has it that men and boys would loiter around the base of the building (where due to its unique shape, strong winds were generated) in the hopes of catching a glimpse of a young woman’s shapely ankle. Police officers of the time would tell the men to, “Skiddoo”, thus creating the popular phrase of the time, “23 Skiddoo”.

The Library’s motion picture and broadcasting collections provide the opportunity to document not only how women’s roles and their depictions have changed throughout the past hundred years, but also how much has remained the same.



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