Jake Gittes leans on a doorbell button but, inside, Ida Sessions won’t hear a sound. She’s dead. The “push” pictured below is just like the one Gittes was pressing but it isn’t L.A. circa 1938 and it isn’t the movie Chinatown. This push is in the Bain Co-op (Toronto) which was built in 1913. The Bain has a variety of pushes, as they were first called.
The ancient and non-functioning pushes reside next to the more modern and sometimes-working renditions. Two varieties from different eras pictured below – two, because the postman always rings twice.
The old buttons – dead as Ida Sessions, dead as a doorbell – are covered in layers of paint.
Joseph Henry invented the doorbell in 1831. The push later became known as the “push button”.
Bells, buzzers or chimes for your home or office – these all really hit their stride in the postwar 50s. No doubt my co-op had doorbells from its inception, as some units are located on the 2nd floor with their front door at ground level.
Burning the midnight oil, I look out my window & see these little glow-spots on my neighbour’s stoop. They’re threatened by encroaching light pollution and occasionally rivalled by a cigarette flaring up as some insomniac takes a drag in the shadows. “Forget it, Jake. It’s the Co-op.”
- & called it macaroni
- If I Ventured in the Slipstream