All the Bible News That Was Fit to Print

NYTStreetscapesLogoThis weekend’s New York Times “Streetscapes” article about an early Manhattan skyscraper built in 1892 and demolished in 1920 leads off with some wacky NYC newspaper history:

In 1888, when Cyrus Field sold the Mail and Express to Elliott F. Shepard, the newspaper was losing money, a failing amalgam of other papers. But Shepard didn’t care; he had other things in mind. In the same year, Shepard, a Presbyterian, bought control of the Fifth Avenue stage line to stop it from running on Sunday and violating the Sabbath.

Shepard altered the Mail and Express into a religious enterprise, unusual for a mass-market newspaper, with a biblical text on the front page every day, and what the Chicago Daily Tribune said were editorials that were “free from wickedness.”

Shepard married into money, and according to the article it was that bounty that allowed him, four years after acquiring the newspaper, to add a Mail and Express Building to the southwest corner of Broadway and Fulton. At the newspaper offices, he prohibited profanity and insisted that Sunday be spelled “Sonday” so as to reflect the day’s Son of God meaning.

The Mail and Express was published from 1881 to 1904. Read the rest of Christopher Gray’s NYT piece here.

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@hollywoodspin Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.