Gilsey House Hotel

In part adapted from Wikipedia.

Gilsey House was designed by Stephen Decatur Hatch for Peter Gilsey, a Danish immigrant merchant and city alderman. It was constructed from 1869 to 1871 at the cost of $350,000, and opened in 1872.

The hotel was luxurious – the rooms featured rosewood and walnut finishing, marble fireplace mantles, bronze chandeliers and tapestries.… Read more.

Restaurants and Cafes

Food could be had in many places, including bakeries, ice cream parlors, taverns and saloons, and in every neighborhood.

This sampling of the cost of eating out is from Restaurant-ing Through History:

1876 Shorey’s, Haymarket Square, Boston: “Famous Boiled Dinner” (25¢), Soups (10¢), Chowders (10¢), Stews with Dumplings (15¢), Roast Beef (25¢), Sirloin Steak (35¢), Chicken Pie (25¢).… Read more.

Corsets

Construction

cort ad royal worcester

From the Met Museum:

The torso atop the bustle also reflected increasing technological innovation in the construction of foundation garments. With the increased reliance on steel boning and ever more complex pieced construction, the corset became capable of delivering an armored underpinning to conform the body to an hourglass silhouette.… Read more.

Dress Reform

Rational Dress

Victorian dress reform was an objective of the rational dress movement of the middle and late Victorian era, comprising various reformers who proposed, designed, and wore clothing considered more practical and comfortable than the fashions of the time.

Dress reformists were largely middle class women involved in the first wave of feminism in the United States and in Britain, from the 1850s through the 1890s.… Read more.

Croton Water Reservoir

Croton Distributing Reservoir, also known as the Murray Hill Reservoir, was an above-ground reservoir at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue in the New York City borough of Manhattan. It supplied the city with drinking water during the 19th century. The reservoir was a man-made lake in area, surrounded by massive, high, thick granite walls.

Read more.

Transportation, New York City

The Crowded City, Then and Now

Manhattan was a very crowded place in the 19th century.

The actress Jenny Lind  arrived to perform at Castle Garden (then a performance space) on September 11, 1850.   30,000 people met her at the dock and another  20,000 lined the streets to her hotel.  … Read more.

Apartment Houses and French Flats

The city newspapers were full of real estate advertisements then, as they are now. With the development of apartment houses — some targeted for the very rich — a new vocabulary began to creep in.

These New York Times ads from 1882 are all for named buildings, which seems to have been a marketing strategy.… Read more.

Boarding Houses

Looking for a Place to Live

Classified ads in the 1880s will make it clear how wide-spread and well established boarding house economy was.   There were  ads in every edition of every paper for decades. From Gamber’s excellent historical study:

[,,,]  if the nineteenth century was the golden age of the bourgeois home, it was also the age of the boarding house.
Read more.

French Quarter, Manhattan

This article concerns the French community in Manhattan. There were similar communities in other places, particularly in Louisiana, relevant to Queen of Swords.

“In 1851 over 20,000 French immigrants arrived in the United States and the French newspaper, Le Republican, began to be published in New York.

Read more.

Public baths

Private Bathing 1880sDr. Angell's BathsIn the 1860s the European habit of Roman and Greek bathing began to find converts in the U.S.  By the 1880s there were both private and pubic baths in the city.

Dr. Angell’s Lexington Avenue Baths were the most widely known and very popular.  … Read more.