Freud in America Part 2: Freud Goes Sight-Seeing in New York

About Sigmund Freud's trip to America, his tour of New York City, a picture of life at the turn of the century.

Dr. Freud Visits America

By Irving Wallace

The following day, the pioneer psychiatric trio boarded the German liner George Washington. Freud, who alone insisted he never got seasick, enjoyed the smooth but foggy voyage. The first 3 days at sea, Freud kept a diary, then abandoned it to write pages of letters to his wife. "During the voyage," reported Jones, "the 3 companions analyzed each other's dreams--the 1st example of group analysis--and Jung told me afterwards that Freud's dreams seemed to be mostly concerned with cares for the future of his family and of his work." A high spot of the crossing was the day Freud learned that his cabin steward was reading one of his books.

The Lloyd liner docked in New York Harbor on August 27, 1909. Only his American disciple, Brill, and several curious reporters were on hand to greet Freud.

Just one New York newspaper bothered to note the arrival of "Professor Freud of Vienna." Freud and his companions had checked into the Hotel Manhattan where the rate was $2.50 per night. Their 1st day in America's largest city was a busy one. After calling upon his brother-in-law, Eli Bernays, and meeting with an old friend, Freud was ready for sight-seeing. With Brill as their guide, the trio drove through Central Park, Chinatown, the Jewish ghetto. In the afternoon, they relaxed at Coney Island. Freud, his mind still on his beloved Vienna, called Coney Island "a magnified Prater."

The following day, with Brill again leading the way, the threesome went to the Metropolitan Museum, where Freud satisfied his desire to see the great collection of Cyprian antiquities. After that, the group went on a tour of Columbia University.

The 3rd day, Freud's British disciple, Dr. Ernest Jones, came down from Canada to join them. As Jones recalled it: "We all dined together in Hammerstein's Roof Garden [where "Shine on Harvest Moon" by Norworth and Bayes and "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" by Von Tilzer were still reigning hits], afterwards going on to a cinema to see one of the primitive films of those days with plenty of wild chasing. Ferenczi in his boyish way was very excited at it, but Freud was only quietly amused; it was the 1st film they had seen." While there is no record of the American movie Freud viewed that evening, it could have been either The Count of Monte Cristo starring Hobart Bosworth, or more likely, since it contained "wild chasing," a Western film shot in New Jersey starring Al Christie, both big hits in New York at the time.

By the 4th day in the U.S.--more museums in the morning--Freud was beginning to grumble. Suffering a prostatic condition, he complained about the lack of urinals, telling Jones, "They escort you along miles of corridors and ultimately you are taken to the very basement where a marble palace awaits you, just in time." Another grumble was the richness of American food, and Freud determined to diet for 24 hours.

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