Photo via Library of Congress
We came across a postcard on Ebay recently and despite our knowledge of vintage New York, we were surprised. Why would a battleship be in Union Square? And, perhaps more importantly, how did it get there?
The postcard supposedly dates back to 1922. It turns out that this ship, dubbed the “USS Recruit,” was actually a wooden mockup of a battleship, used during World War I to recruit soldiers in Manhattan. From 1917 until the end of the war, the Recruit sat in Union Square, one of the city’s busiest areas at the time, and was apparently responsible for encouraging approximately 25,000 New Yorkers to enlist.
Following the war, the Recruit was dismantled and slated to be moved to Coney Island. However, no documents exist that confirm that this was what actually happened. No one knows where the Recruit disappeared to.
If you like this story, think about buying the postcard. It’s going for a hefty $15.50, but you’ll get to own a rare document that depicts this seriously quirky moment in Manhattan history!
Get in touch with the author @YiinYangYale.