What trendy New York girls wore in summer 1872

Originally posted on Ephemeral New York:

LadyssummerballdressHave you noticed the hot fashion trends this summer? High-waisted denim short shorts, crop tops, and striped dresses are all over the place.

During the summer of 1872, however, things were a lot more, well, buttoned-up.

Chic young women decked themselves out in beautifully embroidered dresses with big bustles and full skirts (no underbutt here!), as well as elaborate hats decorated with ribbons and bows.

They must have looked quite fetching at picnics and parties. But how did they keep from sweating?


These illustrations originally ran in the August 1872 issue of Harper’s Bazaar, a magazine that 141 years later is still dictating fashion trends.

At least the woman in the ball dress is holding a fan!

[Illustrations from the NYPL Digital Gallery]

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Rare & Vintage: Voltess, the Girl Who Defies Electricity

Originally posted on Amusing the Zillion:


Vintage Sideshow Banner: Voltess, The Girl Who Defies Electricity circa 1930. Millard & Bulsterbaum, 2894 W 8th St. Coney Island via Urban Country

This vintage Millard and Bulsterbaum banner for “Voltess, The Girl Who Defies Electricity” was painted for Sam Wagner’s World Circus Sideshow in Coney Island. Variously known as Electra, Electricia and Voltara, the act features a girl who is said to be able to withstand high voltage and shoot sparks from her fingertips due to having been struck by lightning. The banner, which measures approximately eight by five, is offered for sale by Urban Country.

Algernon Millard and John Bulsterbaum established their Coney Island shop around 1915 at 2894 W 8th Street and were in business through the Depression. Their ads proclaimed “We Paint Banners That Get Top Money for Carnivals and Circus.” The studio was credited with introducing liberal use of orange paint and bold lines…

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Artifact of the Day: Coney Island in a Seashell

Originally posted on Amusing the Zillion:

Coney Island Seashell

Souvenir: Coney Island in a Seashell. New-York Historical Society Collection. Gift of Bella C. Landauer

Back in the early 1900s, the Shell View Syndicate sold seashells by Brooklyn’s fabled seashore. These scallop shells with accordion folded booklets of miniature photos tucked inside are one of the most charming souvenirs of Coney Island that we’ve come across. Tied together with red ribbon and measuring just 1-5/8 x 1 x 7/8, the seashells are in the collection of the New-York Historical Society.

Souvenir New-York Historical Society

Miniature Photos Inside Souvenir Seashell. New-York Historical Society Collection. Gift of Bella C. Landauer

If you take a look at the photographs on the Society’s Collections page, you’ll see Steeplechase Park’s Ferris Wheel and Airship Ride, Luna Park’s Promenade, Circle Swing, and Elephant Ride, Stauch’s Restaurant and Dance Hall, and a Beach Scene.

A web search of “The Shell View Syndicate” turned up a few tidbits about the company. They…

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Excerpts From The “Choose Your Own Adventure” Book ‘Journey Under The Sea,’ Presented Without Commentary

Originally posted on Thought Catalog:

So apparently, there is going to be a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ movie, which is great if you haven’t had enough of recycled 80s retro-ness yet. Luckily for me, I had already started writing this essay when this news come out. I started writing this because I found three ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books in a thrift store for 25 cents each. But now, because of the movie, this essay is topical, which is great!
…’Journey Under the Sea’ is the best of the three books that I got — although ‘Space and Beyond’ also has its charms. (Space! And beyond!) Reading these books reminded me of all my lonely 10-year-old days of flipping through CYOA books. It also reminded me of how weird — and oddly beautiful and existential — these books really are. I mean, how can you not love a book with the line: “Your closest…

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Ghosts of the 6 Train

Originally posted on mcnyblog:

New York City’s vast transit system is in a constant state of flux, expanding to fill the needs of underserved areas and simultaneously contracting due to budget cuts or obsolescence. Abandoned subway stations across the city remind us of how transit has changed over the years.

On March 24, 1900, the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT) broke ground in a ceremony at the front steps of City Hall for the construction of a subway system. This was not the first attempt at subterranean transit in the city, but it was the most comprehensive.

Photographer unknown. Engineers in tunnel during construction of present IRT at City Hall Station. ca. 1900. Museum of the City of New York. 46.245.2

Photographer unknown. Engineers in tunnel during construction of present IRT at City Hall Station. ca. 1900. Museum of the City of New York. 46.245.2

Only four years later on October 27, 1904 at 7 PM, subway stations spanning about 9 miles from City Hall to Grand Central, and Times Square to 145th Street and Broadway opened to…

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Anita Berber

Originally posted on Travalanche:


Today is the birthday of Anita Berber (1899-1928), the epitome of decadent Berlin cabaret during the Weimar years. Berger began dancing in cabarets in 1916, and appearing in films two years later. She scandalized the public by dancing and modelling nude, being openly bi-sexual (one of her lovers was alleged to have been Marlene Deitrich), engaging in S & M, and imbibing cocaine, opium, morphine, heroin and her own personal cocktail of cholorform, ether and flower petals mixed in a bowl and inhaled. (Oh, yes, and lots and lots of alcohol, of course).

She was famous for prowling the nightclubs dressed only in a sable coat (nothing underneath), a pet monkey in tow, and wearing a brooch she kept filled with cocaine, so her stash was never very far. Her lifestyle finally caught up with her in 1928, when she collapsed onstage while performing in Beiruit (which was then…

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