“Located on Hudson Street at the corner of 11th Street, the tavern had opened in 1880 a few blocks from the Hudson River piers. Generations of dock workers and laborers finished their day at its commodius bar crafted from a solid piece of mahogany under the pressed tin ceiling.”
By 1880 single-family houses were rapidly disappearing from the city. On an island that was more crowded every day, the price of land grew quickly, and few could afford to live in a house designed and built for a single family. Tenements, apartment houses, french flats, boarding houses, all of these types of dwellings were being built at breakneck speed in the 1880s.
There were still some single family houses in the city — the wealthy, of course, built elaborate mansions — but on a few streets much older small cottages survived into this period. In the first photo below are such houses, as would have been home to the Stone and Campbell families in The Gilded Hour.
The townhouse seen here was built about twenty years after the events in The Gilded Hour, but it is an excellent example of the type of home the rich built on small lots. From Daytonian in Manhattan:
“In April 1903, R. Livingston Beeckman purchased the old home for $325,000. Apparently undecided on exactly where they wanted to live, the Beeckmans also purchased Harry Payne Whitney’s house at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street a month later. “Mrs. Beeckman will have the present dwelling removed and will erect in its place an American basement residence for her own occupancy,” said The New York Times.
But by October they had made up their minds and The Times reported that Beeckman intended to erect a new six-story house designed by architects Warren & Wetmore on the site of the Andrews home. The house “will cost $60,000,” the newspaper said.
Completed in 1905, the house was a dignified Beaux Arts palace on a small scale. Only two windows wide, it rose three stories to an impressive two-story mansard roof with dormers and projecting bulls eye windows. A short, wide flight of steps led to the doorway and a low stone wall flowed from the entrance to wrap the sidewalk, protecting the basement entrance.”
Compare what might seem at first glance to be a modest townhouse — just two windows wide — with the homes of the working class who could still afford a single family residence:
Neighbors who lived across the street from Janine and Archer Campbell and their sons. The Stones lived in an older cottage that they inherited from Mrs. Stone’s family. They were of the laboring class.
1877 “Cook’s Substantial Dinner,” Boston: 40¢ for a meal including Soups, Chowders, Fish, Meats, Poultry, Sauce, Vegetables, Puddings, Pies, Tea, Coffee, and Dessert. “No extra charges for second orders.”
1885 A cheap French restaurant in New Orleans: Soup (10¢), “Gombo” (15¢), four “Croakers” (20¢), Broiled Sheep Head (35¢), Roast Mutton (15¢), Stew (15¢), Custard or Pudding (10¢).
1885 Brooklyn: “In most restaurants the charge for a dinner of roast meat, with bread and vegetables, is 15 cents … Two eggs, fried or boiled, accompanied by the invariable boiled potato, fetch from 10 to 15 cents; steak 15 cents; sirloin, 25 cents; plain omelet, 25 cents; tea or coffee, 5 cents; pies and puddings from 5 to 10 cents.”
1888 Rock-bottom prices at the New York Kitchen in Chicago: Small Beefsteak, Pork Chop, Ham, Liver & Bacon, Oatmeal & Milk, One-third of a Pie, Large Wheat Cakes with butter and syrup, Ham & Beans – each 5¢.
1893 French table d’hôte dinners in NYC “cost usually 50 cents and consist of relishes, soup, fish with potatoes, something like chicken fricassee, vegetables, a roast dish, lettuce salad, French pancakes, fruit and cheese, and coffee, along with a pint of California claret.”
The original Delmonico’s was opened by the brothers John and Peter Delmonico, from Ticino, Switzerland.
Beginning in the 1850s, the restaurant hosted the annual gathering of the New England Society of New York which featured many important speakers of the day. In 1860, Delmonico’s provided the supper at the Grand Ball welcoming the Prince of Wales at the Academy of Music on East 14th Street. Supper was set out in a specially constructed room; the menu was French, and the pièces montées represented Queen Victoria and Prince Albert…. The New York Times reported, “We may frankly say that we have never seen a public supper served in a more inapproachable fashion, with greater discretion, or upon a more luxurious scale”.1
The business was so successful that from 1865 to 1888 it expanded to four restaurants of the same name. At various times, there were Delmonico’s at ten locations.
Delmonico’s was the kind of place where the wealthy held their parties and balls, gave dinners and announced engagements. Lüchow’s was a far more democratic place, and situated perfectly just off Union Square.
…located at 110 East 14th Street at Irving Place … the property running clear through the block to 13th Street. It was established in 1882– at a time when the surrounding neighborhood was primarily residential – when a German immigrant, August Lüchow, purchased the cafe where he worked as a bartender and waiter. Lüchow’s remained in operation at this place for a full century, becoming a favorite establishment for people in the entertainment world, helped by its proximity to the Academy of Music, the city’s opera house, as well as Steinway Hall and Tammany Hall, Tony Pastor’s, numerous theaters and other entertainments (adapted from Wikipedia).