The top-most photo pictures a matinee of Lover's Lane at McVicker's
theater in Chicago on a hot summer day in July
1901. Looking out at the Iroquois Theater audience
in December 1903 would have been similar in that it
was also comprised of a high proportion of women,
but winter clothing would have been darker and there
would have been an abundance of children.
As the size of hats grew in
the late 1880s, creating ever-larger viewing
obstructions, so too did objections to their
presence in theaters.
In Chicago, Iroquois Theater
manager Will J. Davis was an active anti-hat
In 1893, with help from The Chicago Daily Tribune, who
gave Will's pet peeve seventy column inches and ten line
illustrations, Davis made hat-elimination in theaters a
personal goal. Unfortunate that he wasn't equally
passionate about public safety.
A penny counter, Davis's
interest may not have been altogether altruistic.
Storing and handling hats required space and
man-hours not easily recouped by theaters.