The Gilded Age of Mrs Astor

Another fun thing about changing up where you live in the city is the change up of your routes. I was really in the habit of following the same paths to get to and from my clients everyday. Now that we’re living a little closer to Central Park the A/C/E train got me downtown to an East Village client. I would take this train down to the West Village every day and walk over to her via Waverly Place. It was about a 25 minute walk once I got off of the train, but I loved it. The weather was so nice and I got to pass the idyllic North End of Washington Square Park with it’s preserved townhouses (and Mario Batali’s Babbo Restaurant).

I’m reading a history book right now called A Season of Splendor: The Court of Mrs. Astor in Gilded Age New York. Reading about the Gilded

Age of Manhattan (before anyone had to pay income tax and slavery was still en vogue) has taught me so much about the roots of this town and now it’s starting to become a little bit of an obsession of mine. If I had the time, I’d write a little history of the Washington Square Park, society matrons and the world of Edith Wharton, but alas… I can tell you this…the fancy of the era (mid to late 1800s I think) plowed over a pauper’s burial ground to build Washington Square Park and their well appointed townhouses. And to this day there are tales of the Park being haunted. Ooooooooo…

I also came to really understand Anderson

Cooper’s Vanderbilt family tree from reading this book. His great great great grandfather was the Dutch shipping magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt who amassed a ridiculous fortune in the 1800s. His great grandfather was Cornelius Vanderbilt II (photo above). They look alike…don’t you think? CVII owned The Breakers mansion in Newport. I didn’t realize it was historically preserved. We’re going to try to go visit it soon. See photo below. This was their summer ‘cottage’ ps. Jeeeesh.

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