Weren’t they hot?
He also asked
BTW there is a famous photo of the New York 1900 heat wave. You can clearly see gentlemen wearing coats in the photo. Does it make sense?
I’m not sure what photo he is referring to, but I am guessing that it is this one.
Does it make sense? No. But what cultural dress code really does? After all, we barefooters think the disapproval on bare feet makes no sense, either.
Instead, people of the time just sweated it out, just as people today allow their feet to sweat it out in their shoes.
But note the boys in the picture! They sure have the right idea. This also shows just what was culturally allowed at the time.
Victor also noted that, relative to where he lives in Siberia, New York City is quite south and a pretty warm place. For perspective, New York City is around the same latitude as Lisbon or Beijing. It’s climate, though, is closer to Beijing than Lisbon, and that is largely because of ocean currents.
You can actually tie this in to which cultures went barefoot a lot.
Both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans have clockwise currents in them that bring warm currents to their eastern sides. That’s why a place like London, up near 51° is a fairly pleasant (though a bit damp) place. The same applies to the whole British Isles and Ireland.
In contrast, the western sides of those oceans’ basins tend to be cooler, because of things like the Labrador current that bring cooler water down their coasts.
But again, the eastern sides of the basins tend to be temperate and wet at high latitudes. You can compare Ireland on the Atlantic to western Canada (e.g., Vancouver) on the Pacific.
In such wet conditions, going barefoot makes a lot of sense. Hence, the Irish and the Scottish are well-known for going barefoot well into the late 1800s, as I wrote about in Irish Bare Feet.
Here’s a picture of an Irish maiden from an 1846 travel book.
Similarly, the Amerindians on the west coast of North America went barefoot almost exclusively. Leather just rotted away in those wet conditions. Here, for example, is a Clayoquot Indian (on Vancouver Island).
(From Volume 11 of “The North American Indian”, by Edward S. Curtis.)
Actually, Vancouver is relatively south (at least compared to Ireland). By the way, that cloak is made from woven cedar bark, one of the few things there that would not rot in the rain.
But even natives of the Aleutian Islands went barefoot. We get this description of the natives of Kodiak Island.
The Kaniags (Kadiak people) are tall, healthy, und strong, generally round-faced, with light-brown color; the hair is black, seldom dark brown, and is cut off around by men and women. . . . They have no shoes, going always barefooted, and at home entirely naked, with the exception of a small apron of skin. They wore parkas of the skins of beaver, otter, fox, bear, birds, ground squirrels, marmot, marten, rabbit, reindeer, wolverine, and lynx. Their rain garments are made of the entrails of sea lions, seals, and whales. On their heads they wore hats made of spruce roots and grass; also wooden caps, bent or curved, of one piece.
(Description by the Russian explorer Shelikhof in the late 1700s; found in the book “Seal and salmon fisheries and general resources of Alaska”, Dept. of Treasury, 1898.)
The affinity for bare feet lasted beyond just then. Here’s a picture of a bunch of Aleutian kids in 1938 (from the Library of Congress).
As the description says:
Even in the cold, foggy Aleutians, youngsters like to go barefoot, as this picture shows.
It is really rather interesting the way humans around the world come up with similar responses to similar conditions, and when it comes to wet but temperate climates, bare feet are the best.