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.

 

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The Exterior

The beautiful Waldorf Astoria, which billed itself as the finest hotel in the world.

 

The Thirty-third street entrance

 

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The Rooms

The Waldorf Astoria had apartments. This room, with the carved mahogany canopy bed, fireplace, and lovely decor is called the Francis I bedroom.

This room is not quite so lavish as the others, though still quite beautiful. It’s labeled Room 212.

The Marie Antoinette Room. Can you imagine?

 

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The Public Areas

The Myrtle Room. I’m not sure what this was used for. I could imagine private parties, or maybe meetings?

 

The charmingly-named “Peacock Alley” was a three hundred foot long corridor connecting the Waldorf and Astoria Hotels. It gained fame in the early 1900s as the spot where the fashionable women of New York City paraded their fashions and jewelry for their peers. (Getty Images)

 

This one I find to be puzzling. It’s called the Ladies Hairdressing Room. There are three vanities for the room– not just from the angle the photographer captured, but the whole room. I’m guessing it might be a small room outside of a ballroom where women could freshen up?

Though it seems a little impractical even for then, it makes me think of how very over-crowded our cities are today.

 

 

A lavish, private dining room

The Billiard Room. Can’t you just see men with mustaches and top hats smoking cigars in here?

 

A reception room. I imagine this was used for smaller parties and events.

The Palm dining room: This room is so beautiful. Look. At. The. Chandelier.

 

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Notable People (1910s)

Senate Hearing on the Sinking of the Titanic. There is an arrow pointing to J. Bruce Ismay, the high-ranking White Star Line official. Passengers who came to testify at this hearing said they heard Ismay pressuring the ship’s captain to travel faster. Ismay, of course, was one of the lucky people to get a seat in a lifeboat.

 

“Miss M. Kennedy and Buttercup” at the American Pomeranian Club meeting

 

Mrs. George Peabody and Mauchi at the American Pomeranian Club meeting. That is a real hat Mrs. Peabody has on.

 

The Met Museum has posted some images from a book called the Album of Paris Crime Scenes, collected between 1901 – 1908.

Apparently, it belonged to Alphonse Bertillon, the fellow who invented modern mugshots. Actually, Bertillon’s mugshots are more detailed than a modern mugshot, with measurements of the body, evaluation of teeth, etc. This mugshot is from New Orleans in 1914 and is a good example of Bertillon’s method.

Back to the Album of Paris Crime Scenes. The photographs are interesting but most are quite gruesome so I’m not going to share those here. If you want to see them, you can view them here. I do think you might appreciate some of the criminal photos though. The Paris police arrested a lot of women, but today we’ll just look at the men– not just any men. There are several guys in the album who are obviously down on their luck, but it’s the well-dressed ones that I find most interesting.

One thing is clear. Bowler hats and elaborate mustaches were the trademark of the fashionable Parisian man. I didn’t realize at first that these were actually two separate people. 

A cruel face…

 

Missing the hat but the mustache is intact

 

You may have to zoom in to see it, but it’s worth it to see a guy who was so deadly serious about his mustache

My guess is, these aren’t the kind of guys who are thugs. They won’t break into your house or mug you in an alley.

But they might be the kind of guys who would take out a life insurance policy on you and then pay someone else to murder you. Confidence Men didn’t get their hands dirty. Instead, they got people to trust them and then swindled them.

What do you think? Do they look honest? Would you have trusted any of them to be your accountant?

An impertinent dignitary once suggested to President Theodore Roosevelt that he control his daughter. “I can be President of the United States, or I can control Alice,” TR replied frankly. “I cannot possibly do both.”

Alice Roosevelt, the eldest child of Theodore Roosevelt, was a force of nature. She was a rebellious child, who turned into a rebellious teenager, who became a rebellious woman. Alice lived nearly a full century (1884-1980) and she was a presence in Washington, D.C. Politicians called her “the other Washington monument”, and there was something to it. Alice went to the White House during every administration after her father’s. A visit from her conferred some sort of extra legitimacy upon any politician. She was a reminder of a grander time, before World Wars, and the Great Depression.

And, she was fun. When she was a young woman and her father was the president, she carried her pet garter snake (named after her aunt) in her purse to frighten unsuspecting visitors. She smoked cigarettes and was spotted driving on occasion. Later, her acerbic wit was famous in D.C. One of her favorite sayings, which she had embroidered on a pillow for her sitting room, was:

Alice Roosevelt Longworth’s signature sentiment

Alice was unpredictable in most ways, except one: she was always on the cutting edge of fashion.

Here are a few pictures of her life through the years:

Johnston, Frances Benjamin. Alice Roosevelt Longworth, ca. 1890.

 

Alice (center) with her father and stepmother, Edith, in 1900 at Cambridge. 

Alice frequently rebelled against her father and step-mother. Her relationship with Edith, who never overcame her bitterness about Theodore’s first marriage, was often rocky.

Mrs. Alice Roosevelt Longworth, full-length portrait, facing left; wearing ball gown ca. 1902
Alice in January 1902, not long after Theodore Roosevelt became the president

 

 

Johnston, Frances Benjamin. Mrs. Alice Roosevelt Longworth, three-quarter length portrait, standing with right hand on hip, wearing coat and hat ca. 1902
Alice in 1904, at the White House
Alice on horseback, 1905

Alice’s wedding to Rep. Nicholas Longworth in 1906 was the event of the season. The press was fascinated with the details and “Princess Alice” photography was ubiquitous in the early months of 1906.

Alice Roosevelt Longworth, three-quarter length portrait, wearing hat and muff, standing at window, facing front ca. 1906. Feb. 8.
Johnston, Frances Benjamin. Alice Roosevelt Longworth.

On the evening of the wedding, just before Alice and her new husband left, Edith Roosevelt looked at her step-daughter and said,  “I want you to know that I’m glad to see you go. You’ve never been anything but trouble.”

Alice, however, reflected later in life that she enjoyed her step-mother very much.

Alice (right) spotted leaving a Chicago hospital in 1912 after visiting her father, after a would-be assassin shot the former president.

Read about Theodore Roosevelt’s near-assassination here.

 

Alice Roosevelt Longworth in 1915
Alice Roosevelt Longworth, in December 1921 – she favored this style of hat for the rest of her life
Alice, on her 43rd birthday, with 2-year-old Paulina, her only child

It was rumored – and never denied by Alice – that Longworth was not Paulina’s father. The Longworths’ marriage was at times contentious, and neither troubled to hide their philandering much from one another.

Alice with her half-brother, Theodore, Jr., in 1932

 

87-year-old Alice, with her granddaughter, Joanna Sturm, being escorted into Tricia Nixon’s wedding in 1971