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.
Poverty was deep and pervasive and heartbreaking.*
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.
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:
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.
That cat hat is giving me the creeps. And the photograph and census page remind me that poverty is always with us. Unfortunately.
Nobody forgets about poverty, because everybody is afraid of it. We all know about it in theoretical terms and we’re still shocked when we come across it.