Like everyone who will see this, I was born long after the Gilded Age ended. So how is it possible that I feel so nostalgic for these days of beauty and grace? I think I must be a ghost.
Today, I have for you pictures of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City at the turn of the century. There are also a few photos from the 1910s from a Senate inquiry into the sinking of the Titanic that was held at the hotel, and a couple of photos of women with their dogs from the first meeting of the American Pomeranian Club.
All photos courtesy the Library of Congress, except where marked.
In my recent foray into the federal archives, I began to notice that the reference info on many of the most interesting photos indicated they came from San Francisco. Many of these San Francisco images were tagged “glamour photographs”: an irresistible combination!
I’m excited to share my findings here, but first I need to issue a warning that you may need to adjust your ideas around what glamour is. In some cases, what qualified as glamorous and exciting in 1900, may not be enough to land you in the next issue of Vogue in 2019. Also, Victorian San Francisco was a little less sensitive to language, as evidenced by some of the photograph titles.
The incredible life of Mata Hari, the beautiful World War I-era dancer and spy, is going to be the subject of an upcoming series on Old Spirituals.
In her day, Mata Hari inspired early film stars. Since then, countless artists, actresses, and models have tried to recreate the mystique that was effortless for the Dutch dancer. She was known for many things, including her elaborate costumes and headdresses.
Countless intriguing figures peopled the 20th century, but Mata Hari still fascinates us over 100 years after her death. These photographs may give you some idea of why!