For the last couple of weeks I've been exploring the architecture and literature of New York City in 1900, paying particular attention to the writings of Henry James and Edith Wharton. Through my architectural explorations I now see the visual inheritance of the years 1880-1920 everywhere I go, and I've come to appreciate the excesses and extravagance of the era. Second, through reading some of the literature, I appreciate how the dazzling growth in New York at the turn of the century created hope and excitement, but in many cases, how the same conditions engendered social anxiety and revolutionary sentiment. As Wharton focused so much attention on Wall Street and the financial speculations of her time, particularly in The House of Mirth, I also came to understand how much the story of New York is tied up with the story of wealth and money. As I walked through this landscape over the past week, the biggest financial story in a generation started to unfold, and so the two stories became intertwined.
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The map presents locations relevant to the life of writer Edith Wharton. Most of these places are near Madison Square Park, the fashionable area into which she was born. The House of Mirth (1905) is set in the years 1900-1901 when fashionable New York shifted north along Fifth Avenue near Central Park. To best appreciate the styles of the era, stroll the side streets between Fifth and Madison Avenues in the area near Museum Mile (E. 104th St. down to E. 82nd St. (The Metropolitan Museum of Art) and farther down toward E. 70th.
The complete text of Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth is available online here at the University of Virginia's Electronic Center.
See related posts:
Strolling the Museum Mile (and a Half) and Contemplating the Current Financial Crisis (Slideshow)
Walking Off the Wall Street Bears, Part II: The Crisis at Lehman Brothers, and You
New York in The House of Mirth: Social Class, Money, and Speculations on Wall Street
The New York of Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth: Introduction to a Walk
Henry James' Uneasy Homecoming to Washington Square
The Making of the Modern Metropolis: New York and the Ecole des Beaux Arts
More Curiosities from Nooks and Corners of Old New York (1899)
An Exterior View of the New York Stock Exchange, On a Day Dropped 344.65 Points
Charles Helmstreet's Nooks and Corners of Old New York: Lessons in Mortality
Living Now in the Gilded Age: Inheriting the Built Environment of the Nineteenth Century