Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Experience the World of New York Society

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Society has different meanings to different generations."Society, or the Social world is made up of people who by reason of birth, wealth, personal attainments, or social or public service, obtain a certain standing as citizens." Col. Mann.

In order to claim membership in the American Society, two requirements were necessary. Money, the more the better, is a dominant factor and the ability to advertise oneself. In New York men and women were judged by their bank accounts. Some of these inherited their fortunes from their ancestors; others became wealthy through their ownership of valuable real estate, and the social ladder climbers who married someone with a title, or a large bank account in order to establish their presence in society. These people who by their tastes of wealth, love to display their riches, to friends and acquaintances, are led to join together in all social functions, of the Society World. The social register, is comprised of the elite and most prominent people of society, which fit these qualifications.

Some families made great fortunes from their investments throughout the second half of the 19th century. They had the money and leisure to indulge in conspicuous consumption, furthering a new emphasis on Society manners. The Astors were one of the landholding and mercantile families that made great private fortunes during the early nineteenth century. Cornelius Vanderbilt and Andrew Carnegie, giants in the nation's growth, were multimillionaires resulting from their investments in transportation and industry. "Through his association with Philadelphia's old established firm of Drexel & Co, J. P. Morgan came to the forefront of American finance, at a time of big opportunity." Other business giants of the era were Rockefeller in oil, the Armours, Swifts, and Morris in meat-packing, the Havemeyers in sugar, and the Dukes in tobacco. The peak of power and wealth of these financial giants was during the years 1866-1897.

Before they even had the warmth of cash in their hands, the new millionaires were deciding upon the mansion they would build, one which would satisfy even their pampered wives and daughters. Soon there would be nonstop invitations to balls for themselves and their family. There-or at the most exclusive men's clubs-- they would rub elbows with the elite. Old money was essentially dead. Money, if enough of it, talked, however recently it was produced.

During my research of the early history of New York City, I became totally fascinated by this world of prominent people of great wealth that lived in staggering opulence during the gilded era. This was a side of New York City history of which I was unfamiliar with.

In my determination to create a special directory for thehistorybox.com, I began to research public records, books, newspapers and web links, gathering as much information as I could in order to share it with the public. The unique presentation of "The World of New York Society" is a work in progress, which has required over six years of extensive research. Upon completion it will offer more than 600 transcribed articles of historical interest as well as hundreds of web links.

Topics will include Children, Young Ladies, Men, Society Women, Balls, Dances, Social Registers and more. Those who achieved great wealth lived in staggering opulence, while the vast majority of rural Americans and Immigrants flooding into New York City barely could survive, living in tenement housing amid crime, filth and disease. The social treadmill, the idleness of the rich, the power struggles among men and women of society, the financial crashes resulting from sudden reverses of fortune, all are here. The businessmen who prematurely age due to supporting a family living beyond his actual means in order to stay in society; fortunes that are spent every year on lavish dress, entertainment, and opulent house luxuries from the Gilded era find their way to TheHistoryBox.com . (Here is link to the flash intro ) or you can bypass the intro and go to the Main Directory of the World of New York Society.

Please note: the flash version of the introduction will take time loading, once it is loaded if you wish to go back to it, it will be much quicker...also please keep your speakers on for the music and the voice.

Goodbye for now.....until the next time........When "Mimi Speaks."

contact: miriammedina@earthlink.net

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Once Upon A Time, Home Sweet Home (A Tale of NYC's Homelessness)

Homeless! Just the mere sound of the word, sends shivers up my spine. Statistics say that approximately 100, 000 New Yorkers experience street homelessness each year and that the City shelter system accommodates at least 38,000 of these homeless individuals on a daily basis, among which are included 16,000 children .The soup kitchens and food pantries that are made available throughout the city of New York, cannot satisfy the overwhelming demand of hungry men, women and children who desperately pour into their facilities to be fed. Unfortunately, those who are not of the lucky ones, are turned away to find nourishment elsewhere. This ongoing problem not only exists in New York City, it is now becoming a national crisis.

"Once Upon A Time, Home Sweet Home" is my narration. In my narrative I make a comparison of the past homelessness that existed during the 1800s, among which were included thousands of abandoned children roaming the streets of the city of New York, as well as reflecting on the causes and effects of modern homelessness; emphasizing the obvious pattern between the two.

Increasingly, it has become hard for the non-homeless population to understand the situation of the homeless. As a result of Jacob Riis's book, "How The Other Half Lives," though not referring to the homeless, which documented and photographed the poor and destitute in New York City tenements in the late 1800s, public awareness was raised by this, causing some changes in building codes and some social conditions. Modern homelessness as we know it, is a result of the economic stresses in society, and reduction in the availabilty of affordable housing for the poverty level and working class income. It is not only those who live in the slums of the city of New York that suffer from landlordism, unemployment, as well as dangers from natural and man-made causes; the working and middle class population of the entire nation are equally exposed to these same dangers, but on a much larger scale. Without going any further into this subject matter, judging by the steady and alarming increase in its numbers, it must suffice to say that there are many facts to sustain, that homelessness will always be present as well as a persistent, unpleasant visible feature of urban life. (Click here to read my article)

Goodbye for now....until the next time.....when "Mimi Speaks."

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Contact: miriammedina@earthlink.net