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The Vault at PfaffsAn Archive of Art and Literature by the Bohemians of Antebellum New York
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[newspaper clipping continued: first column]
achievement we depose to the lady s being amaz-
ingly got up in red, white and blue, and to her
performance being sufficiently noisy.
  This place, the largest of its kind within the
city, was once Wallack s old theatre, originally
Brougham s Lyceum.  Not so handsomely fitted
up as Canterbury Hall, it rivals it in pretensions
and popularity, advertising, among its many at-
tractions, complete ballet divertisements, and boast-
ing a large corps of performers.  Its proprietors
publish a weekly play-bill, and give a  grand
matinee  every Saturday afternoon,  intended
solely for the accommodation of ladies and chil-
dren,  when no liquors or cigars are sold.  Ordi-
narily, of evenings, those articles are procurable
from a bar at the right-hand side of the entrance,
of course through the medium of waiter girls.
The prices of admission range as follows: Gallery,
13 cents; dress circle and parquette, 25 cents;
orchestra chairs, 35 cents; private boxes, four
  The Broadway Music Hall appears to be ex-
tensively patronized by the public, especially on
Saturday nights, when all parts of the house are
crowded by male visitors of the same appearance 
and diversity of character as those already spoken
of in connection with similar establishments. As
they wear their hats and caps at pleasure, smoke
cigars and pipes, drink, and conduct themselves
generally in accordance with the popular song of
 We ll be free and easy still,  the interior of the
theatre affords a curious contrast to that present-
ed in former days, and one more remarkable than
  The girls here exhibit the usual characteristics
of their class, but are less offensively familiar and
defiant in behavior than those at the places des-
cribbed in our first article; dressing also more
quietly, though not without a certain tendency to
theatrical bedizenment, manifest in little gay-
colored jackets, ribbons, cheap jewelry, eruptions
of buttons, rings on each finger, hair parted man-
fashion on one side of the head, fantastic curls
and braids, rouge, pearl-powder, and similar pro-
fessional vanities.  Some not the majority are
certainly not older than fourteen or fifteen, per-
haps none average more than thirty.  You see
among them two or three really handsome faces,
some good-looking ones, many common-place, a
few forbidding, coarse, ugly countenances; here
and there one whose sad, wearied aspect, induces
reflections foreign to the scene, akin to John
Wilkes s (alderman and citizen of London) obser-
vation on hanging that it s the worst possible 
use to put a human being to.   I m so sick and

[newspaper clipping continued: second column]
tired of this place!  said such a girl in our hear-
ing.  Doubtless she was tired of it; she might
have had a home once, a mother somebody to
love her unselfishly.
  These girls, like those at the Canterbury,
mostly stand grouped in the parquette, near the
orchestra seats (a limited space here_ where sits a
middle-aged man for the collection of the addi-
tional ten cents.  As said, the familiarities be-
tween them and the frequenters of the place ap-
pear exceptional; we observed, however, the waist
of one encircled by the arm of a vicious-faced
young fellow in a fur cap.  Of course, acquaint-
ances are formed and meetings arranged with
ulterior objects.  But for this the Broadway Music
Hall might be considered a legitimate place of
public entertainment.  There is little to object to
in the performances on the stage, with the excep-
tion of occasional semi-obscene  gag,  introduced
in what a London street vocalist would denomi-
nate the  patter  of a comic-singer evidently
a favorite with the audience.  He appears with
ruddled cheeks, wears a preposterous red waist-
coat, plaid trowsers and a light gray hat, stuck on
one side of his extremely impudent countenance.
The bulk of the performances consist of ballet-
dancing, singing, farce, and the inevitable nigger-
minstrel buffooneries, with which a certain class of
New Yorkers never appear to be satiated.
  This is a down-stairs establishment a spacious
hall at number 561 of our principal thoroughface.
Descending the flights of steps leading to it, you
behold at its entrance a recognition of the season
and attraction to visitors in the shape of a fine
Christmas tree, gaily lighted and decorated with
many-colored ribbons.  No price is charged for
admission; you are simply expected to order
something to drink, which something, if you fol-
low the example of ninety-nine out of a hundred
frequenters of the place, will certainly be lager-
  The parlor opera is essentially Teutonic in its
arrangements and attractions, and all but unex-
ceptionable it would be entirely so but for the
waiter-girl addition, which, though so common as
to be almost universal in Germany, must develop
license in New York.  There is a bar at the left
hand side of the near end, on a raised portion of
the hall, an apparatus for target-shooting, (appa-
rently combining the popgun and musket for the
production of the effect of the former,) innumera-
ble round tables, chairs, a handsome stage, and an
orchestra, comprising a piano, a violin and bass
viol.  The walls are gaily papered with pictures
of temples, colonnades, lake and river scenery.
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Eighteen: page one hundred and thirty-one
Description:Newspaper clipping written by Gunn regarding various concert saloons in New York.
Subject:Broadway Music Hall (New York, N.Y.); Broadway Parlor Opera (New York, N.Y.); Canterbury Hall (New York, N.Y.); Clothing and dress; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Journalism; Louise, Miss; Lyceum (New York, N.Y.); New York evening post.; Theater; Wilkes, John; Women
Coverage (City/State):New York, [New York]
Coverage (Street):561 Broadway
Scan Date:2010-06-14


Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Eighteen
Description:Includes Gunn's descriptions of the scene in New York at the commencement of the Civil War, his visits to military camps in and around New York City as a reporter for ""The New York Evening Post,"" boarding house life, the shooting of Sergeant Davenport by Captain Fitz James O'Brien for insubordination, and Frank Bellew's marital troubles.
Subject:Boardinghouses; Bohemians; Civil War; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Journalism; Marriage; Military; Publishers and publishing; Women
Coverage (City/State):New York, New York
Note:Thomas Butler Gunn was born February 15, 1826, in Banbury, England, and came to New York in 1849. During the Civil War he worked as a correspondent for the New York Tribune and the New York Evening Post. He returned to England in 1863, and died in Birmingham in April 1903. The collection includes twenty-one volumes of his diaries, including newspaper clippings, letters, photographs, sketches, and various other items inserted by Gunn. Diary entries date from July 7, 1849, to April 7, 1863, and include his experiences with the New York publishing and literary world, his descriptions of boarding houses, his travels throughout the United States, and his experiences traveling with the Federal army as a Civil War correspondent.
Publisher:Missouri History Museum
Rights:Copyright 2010 Missouri History Museum.
Source:Page images, transcriptions, and metadata of the Thomas Butler Gunn diaries have been provided by the Missouri History Museum.