No. 526
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
June 21, 2021

New York Society Classified.

November 27, 2011
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"Louisville Courier-Journal," May 8, 1881, via Newspapers.comWhen I started this blog, I hoped to focus on the smaller, obscure stories from the past--the long-forgotten bits of random oddities that, when taken together, show just what a strange world we live in.  In short, the "uncommon" is really quite commonplace.One such story is the death of one otherwise completely unmemorable young man. 
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Strange Company - 6/21/2021

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An Ordnance to Cover the Defective Points.Denver Tribune-RepublicanMay 14, 1885(Click image to enlarge)   n order to cover such cases as "Soapy" Smith, the arrest of whom for violating the lottery ordinance"  Note how bad the Xerox copy at the top is. This was shared to my father, by his brother (my uncle) Joseph Jefferson Smith​ (1909-1977). Obviously, the copiers at the time did not do
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 6/13/2021

When railroad baron H.H. Cook decided to build himself a New York City mansion, he didn’t try to squeeze into a plot of land on Fifth Avenue in the 50s—an area that had been colonized by several Vanderbilt heirs and other Gilded Age moneymakers. Instead, he went to the then-hinterlands of Manhattan, purchasing the entire […]
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Ephemeral New York - 6/20/2021
Youth With Executioner by Nuremberg native Albrecht Dürer … although it’s dated to 1493, which was during a period of several years when Dürer worked abroad. November 13 [1617]. Burnt alive here a miller of Manberna, who however was lately engaged as a carrier of wine, because he and his brother, with the help of […]
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Executed Today - 11/13/2020
Parental hostility drove Fanny Madison out of her home and into the arms of her cousin, Thomas Cluverius. It was not a wise decision.Read the full story here: Kissing Cousins.                                             Pictures from Illustrated Police News, May 2, 1885.
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Murder By Gaslight - 6/19/2021

Producer-director Ric Rebelo has today, in memory of LeeAnn Wilber, former co-owner of the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast, released this award-winning film for public view on Youtube. This was filmed in 2010, some of the participants in the production are no longer with us today. What was recorded in 2010 has not changed much today in 2021, only intensified in fascination.
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Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 6/16/2021
[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
She Played Kissy Kissy | He Hit the Pipe

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.