Falling Down The Rabbit Hole

A blog on 18th & 19th century New York & other distractions.

Castle Garden

Castle Garden, also known as Castle Clinton National Monument, has had a varied past. Since its inception in 1808, the sandstone fortress in Manhattan’s Battery Park has been a military fortification, pleasure garden, and America’s first immigration center.

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Eating at a restaurant on the verandah, 19th century

Restaurants and the City

About two hundred years ago, the first restaurants appeared in New York City. Before long, they became a mirror to society, reflecting greater divisions in gender, wealth, and occupation than ever before.

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NYC Water: A Tale of Bureaucracy & Greed

New York City parts ways with the Manhattan Company after years of barely upholding their waterworks charter. In this conclusion, find out the crises and triumphs that finally bring “pure and wholesome water” to the city.

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The Reservoir of Manhattan Water Works, 1825. A fortress looking building with a Greek god on top and columns.

Aaron Burr & His Perfect Monster

Water in New York City is a story of greed and bureaucracy in public service where it least belongs but always does. It’s also the story of how a new nation takes shape. You just have to be patient. And in the case of NYC water, very patient!

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Collect Pond

Christopher Colles Had a Good Idea

Whoever had the idea that the streets of New York were paved in gold was lucky enough to miss about 100 years of filth flowing down the streets and fouling the drinking water. Good thing someone thought to pipe in fresh water. Did it work? No….

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The Barber Shop

A Profile on Perukes

Wigs were a big deal beginning in the 17th century. This fashion held until about 1800, which is a very long time for a trend to run its course. What happened in the intervening years? And what made all those men flip their wigs?

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Les lunettes: Five people looking through various types of spectacles. Colour lithograph.

Inventing 18th Century Spectacles

Are you one of millions of eyeglasses wearers who are thankful there is more than one style to chose from? Personally, I love the cat eye look, but they don’t look good on me. Neither do round frames, but that was the only shape available for a very long time. When the 18th century hit, readers reaped the benefits of progress. Check out all the options.

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Writing the 18th Century

If the smell of fresh pencils makes your heart quiver, that’s one more thing you have in common with Jane Austen…Maybe. I actually have no idea. But it could be true.

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Slips on the East River

During the early days of New Amsterdam, when a ship arrived, it anchored off the East River. Small boats which could handle the shallow river’s muddy edge conveyed the cargo and passengers to shore.

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Colonial Theatres

As soon as professional actors came to the colonies, the first playhouses were built. Which NYC theatre did George Washington visit? Hint: It wasn’t on Broadway.

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Tea Water Pumps

Manhattan’s drinking water has always been famous. However, in the 18th century, you were lucky if it made decent tea.

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