When we were more alike

I saw a picture recently that was chosen to illustrate a certain point, but from which I took quite a different point. Here it is:



The scene is Times Square in New York City, July 1921, where a crowd of some 10,000 men were outside the New York Times building to get updates on the Jack Dempsey vs Georges Carpentier boxing match. You might say, look at all those people interested in that one boxing match. But here’s what struck me–all those nearly identical hats!

It has been a long time since we were so homogenous, hasn’t it? It’s not hard to find a crowd of 10,000 people, especially in large cities, or at festivals, concerts, or sporting events. But a photo of such an event now would be significant for its variety rather than its homogeneity, most likely.

It got me wondering, what are places you could go today where you would see as much uniformity as in the picture above? A military display in North Korea would fit the bill, or some other scripted event where people’s participation necessarily involves wearing the costume. I thought of groups of men in an orthodox synagogue, where they’d all be wearing yarmulkes,* but they wouldn’t all be so similar, unless it was a group of Hasidic jews. Even with them there’s room for a little variation.


Some of them might be sporting this look:

Yarmulkes don’t all look the same.


So here’s my question: though we can’t expect the uniformity evidenced in the opening image, what kind of gathering of 10,000 people in the US right now would have the least amount of visual variation?


*A couple of fun facts: the word for this small skullcap in Hebrew is Kippah, כִּיפָּה‬. Yarmulke derives from the Aramaic, “yarei Malka,” to have “reverence for the King.”

[Images: Wikimedia Commons, pinterest, thoughtco.com, jewinthecity.com]

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