Charles Loring Brace

Brace was the founder of the Orphan Train movement, which grew out of his many years of working to improve the lives of homeless and destitute children. He plays only an indirect role in The Gilded Hour and Where the Light Enters.Read more.

Malthusianism

A social theory discussed in the novel in connection with the purpose of the [[orphan trains]]. Text from Wikipedia, citations and some links intact.

 

Malthusianism is a school of ideas derived from the political/economic thought of the Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus, as laid out in his 1798 writings, An Essay on the Principle of Population, which describes how unchecked population growth is exponential while the growth of the food supply was expected to be arithmetical.… Read more.

Campbell Family

Archer Campbell, a postal inspector and employee of Anthony Comstock‘s, lives in a small house in a modest neighborhood with his wife, Janine, originally of Maine, and their four boys, the youngest of which is born in the early chapters of The Gilded Hour.  … Read more.

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.

Bellevue Hospital

Bellevue, located  on First Avenue in the Kips Bay neighborhood of Manhattan, is the oldest public hospital in the country. It was founded in 1736 as a quarantine hospital  and built in what was then wilderness, almost two miles north of the settled region of Manhattan.… 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.

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.

Vanderbilt Family Residences

William Henry “Billy” Vanderbilt (1821-1885) was an American businessman, the eldest son and heir of Cornelius Vanderbilt. When W. H.  Vanderbilt died in 1885, his will provided some insight into the confusion of mansions along Fifth Avenue. His  “heirs-at-law and next of kin” were

  • Marie Louise Vanderbilt, the widow, living at
  • No.
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.