No. 427
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
June 16, 2019

New York Society Classified.

November 27, 2011
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(Thanks to the late University of Illinois history professor Clarence Walworth Alvord for the guest post, which originally appeared in an essay he wrote for the centennial of the Land of Lincoln‘s 1818 statehood. For context to this 1779 execution, the area comprising the future U.S. state of Illinois had been attached by the British […]
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Executed Today - 6/15/2019

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Dressing Miss Lizzie, which is a paper doll book featuring Lizzie’s garments described in newspapers of 1892 -1893 is now …

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Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 5/30/2019

This handsome cat displays an expression not uncommon among those who visit this blog for the first time. Watch out for those haunted elevators! Watch out for those haunted cars! Watch out for those Swedish ghost pigs! The Chevalier and his Clowder. Why gin explains a lot about the 18th century. Some bridesmaid superstitions. The murder of a roadhouse keeper. The barber and
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Strange Company - 6/14/2019
Jeff and Joe Soapy Smith buries Joe Simmons The Illustrated Police News April 9, 1892 (Click image to enlarge) oe Simmons was a tall, slender gambler known to many as “Gambler Joe” Simmons, a member of the Soap Gang who managed Soapy Smith's Tivoli Club in Denver, 1890, and Soapy's Orleans Club in Creede, 1892. According to William Devere’s poem "Two Little Busted Shoes," Simmons
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 3/25/2019
Two children playing near their house in Greenwich, New York, the morning of Saturday, October 20, 1889, found a woman’s hat and jacket lying on a log and reported them to a group of men who were working on a road nearby. Reuben Stewart, Superintendent of Streets who was also President of the Village, thought the circumstances were suspicious and went down to take a look for himself. It was a
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Murder By Gaslight - 6/15/2019

Countless artists have painted the Brooklyn Bridge. But not Edward Hopper. Instead of focusing on the city’s most beloved and beatified bridge, Hopper in 1928 used the nearby but less-loved Manhattan Bridge to depict the isolation and solitude of modern urban life. “In his powerful and evocative painting, Manhattan Bridge Loop, Edward Hopper has frozen […]
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Ephemeral New York - 6/9/2019
[Editor’s note: Guest writer, Peter Dickson, lives in West Sussex, England and has been working with microfilm copies of The Duncan Campbell Papers from the State Library of NSW, Sydney, Australia. The following are some of his analyses of what he has discovered from reading these papers. Dickson has contributed many transcriptions to the Jamaica Family […]
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Early American Crime - 2/7/2019
| Fight of the Century!

New York Society Classified.

New York Society
New York, New York, 1873 - In New York City there are many degrees or castes of society; probably in no other city in the world will we find so many phases of human life. Some of these, the most palpable, we would consider, and to that end refer them to those three great thoroughfares of trade and travel, the Bowery, Broadway, and Fifth Avenue.[more]
 
The Bowery

 The Bowery Boy is the personification of the New York “b’hoy” with a careless swagger and insolent leer. He cares “nothing for nobody,” but is bent on having a “general good time anyhow.” He is found hanging around porterhouses or corner groggeries in company with others of like proclivities. He is well known to the police, and well instructed in all ingenious dodges for the evasion of legal process. He is an object of aversion to the law-and-order-abiding citizen, of horror to the timid.

We see the Bowery girl with her gay turban and flowing head dress, yclept “waterfall,” aping, so far as her limited resources will permit, the style of her more fortunate sisters. She steps mincingly and stealthily along, casting from side to side covert glances through her semi-masque veil. She is cat-like in motion and demeanor. She works hard on the hoop-skirt or the sewing machine, and as day after day glides by without any special improvement in her social and pecuniary circumstances, she looks to marriage as the only relief from poverty, and often, trusting too implicitly the representations of a “friend,” she becomes the victim, and then sinks rapidly into a sad state of moral degradation.

Broadway

The Broadway swell is clean and fastidiously dressed, with hairs frizzed and mustache waxed and curled, a la militaire. He attends to some little matter which he dignifies by the name of business, but the greater portion of the day finds him lounging about a hotel or promenading the street cane in hand and staring at the lady pedestrians. He has much to do with sham-jewelry concerns, mock-auctions, and faro tables; is generally on the lookout for a green’un whose pocket he will adroitly lighten of his wallet. He believes in the “high life,” and he lives “fast.”

The Broadway belle is an object of much consideration. She saunters carelessly along, indifferent to everything but the admiration of others. She is far from indifferent to fashion, but consults contrast and conspicuity in her mode of dress. Does fashion prescribe a large bow to her bonnet strings, she is very likely to increase the size of said bow and permit long ends to flow gracefully down either side. She is a strange compound of simplicity and affectation, of naiveté and shrewdness, of intelligence and ignorance; at one time charming by her vivacity, at another repelling by her dullness or airy affectedness. She to a great extent controls her own fortune, and is not all the painted toy which many account her. She is the dashing, sprightly spaniel.

Fifth Avenue

The Fifth Avenue blood claims to be of all others, the very

“glass of fashion and the mold of form.”
He dresses exquisitely; his tailors and barbers are artistes, so that his fine (?) shape is displayed to the best advantage. With mustache and side whiskers of the Dundreary style, and eye-glass straining the orbicular muscles, he rides in his shining “dog cart,” or struts daintily along ogling the passers-by. He believes in aristocratic privileges and glories in castes; he is one of the “upper crust.” He is accounted a great catch by eligible young ladies and maneuvering mamas. He is a fair representation, on the principles of comparative physiognomy, of the furry-faced monkey, while the Broadway dandy is a good goat, and the rowdy an irascible bull-dog.

The Fifth Avenue flirt is a craft of a very different rig. She believes in “Full sail,” in crowding on “all the canvas.” Fashion is one of her chief gods, and they who can not come up to its requisitions re dropped out of her “set.” She sweeps grandly along with an air of assumption and importance that is as ludicrous as it is supercilious. She claims for herself aristocratic privileges, and she is not to be judged according to the “low, mean” standard of common people. Her portrait, as we give it, well portrays the purse-proud, stuck –up sentiments which reign within her mind. She may be likened to the indulged, capricious, and fickle poodle.

 


From: The Phrenological miscellany, or, The annuals of phrenology and physiognomy from 1865 to 1873. Rev. and combined in one volume. ed. New York: Fowler & Wells, 1882.