Scraping the sky

98for98 The century in photographs: today 1913

With the Balkan conflict set to plunge Europe into World War, the United States was entering the age of the sky-scraper (see picture). This image of high-rise derring-do takes 98 for 98 - The Independent's photo-history of the twentieth century - on to 1913.

Elsewhere in the States, novel construction techniques were also radicalising the automobile industry. Henry Ford's introduction of a moving assembly line at his Michigan plant reduced the time taken to construct one Model T to only three hours, reducing by a factor of seven the number of man hours spent on each vehicle.

On the other side of the world, Captain Scott and two of his original five-man team were found dead just ten miles short of safety over a year after his defeat in the race for the South Pole. Rendered tent-bound by the atrocious conditions, the team, as Scott's diary recorded, had run fatally low on provisions despite the famous sacrifice of Captain Oates

In Paris, modernism turned the world of ballet on its head. Stravinsky's musical setting for Diaghilev's ballet, The Rite of Spring, was greeted with uproar on its premiere. Half the audience reacted in noisy disbelief at Stravinsky's atonal, discordant accompaniment while others seemed driven into frenzy by the Russian composer's dramatic revision of the basic vocabulary of music.

Women's issues continued to grab the headlines in 1913. In Richmond, the authorities seized a woman wearing a split skirt for her lewd impropriety. The suffragette campaign sustained its first fatality in June when Emily Davison famously threw herself in front of the King's horse at the Derby. The year was also punctuated by the cat and mouse game played out between the judiciary and suffragette activist Sylvia Pankhurst, whose presence at various suffragette rallies in defiance of a licensed release from prison for arson charges provoked several failed police attempts to apprehend her. Mounting popular suspicion regarding the maternal abilities of these radical women culminated with baby shows in New York to demonstrate the mothering skills of suffragettes.

Mike Higgins

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