Realities: Manhattan 1880s

There were indeed rich women who loved cats so much that they made hats out of them. Kate Fearing wore this cat-hat (I assume it came out of a taxidermist’s shop) to the Vanderbilt costume ball in March 1883.

Kate Fearing and Puss

Kate Fearing and Puss

Poverty was deep and pervasive and heartbreaking.*

destitute mother child

Prostitution was another fact of life. It was illegal, but tolerated to the degree that women told the census taker what they did for a living.

101 Forsyth Street. 1880 Census for Mary Brown, Keeper of a House of Ill Repute, and the nine prostitutes in her employ.

101 Forsyth Street. 1880 Census for Mary Brown, Keeper of a House of Ill Repute, and the nine prostitutes in her employ.

 

For those of you who have read The Gilded Hour and were wondering about the Mezzanotte florist shop, here’s a postcard that gives you an idea of the kind of thing you would find in Manhattan:

 

Florist at Fifth Avenue and 36th Street, Manhattan, ca 1890

I’ll be adding to this list now and then. 


*Usually I keep notes about images I come across, but not in this case. If you recognize the photo, please let me know.