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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]
The girls appear comparatively plainly dressed,
certainly destitute of the odious tendency to the-
atrical display observable in others of their unfor-
tunate sisterhood.  They talk to the frequenters,
of course, sit with them, drink with them, know
them, but, during our visit, at least, we observed
none but trivial familiarities.  The music and
singing have real merit, and are evidently recog-
nized as the major attractions of the place.
is next door to the Parlor Opera, No. 563 Broad-
way, resembling it in location and length, but
such narrower and infinitely inferior in decency.
For the waiter girls are, all of them, preposterous-
ly attired in theatrical masquerade of both ano-
malous and authentic character.  We observed a
gorgeous young lady, presumably the impersonifi-
cation of the genius of our country, dressed in a
skirt of average ballet brevity, composed of broad
red, white and blue stripes, her curls surmounted
by a velvet cap bespangled with stars; another, 
disguised in masculine Highland costume to such
an extent that it induced doubts as to her sex; a
bird, like an overgrown Medora, in a very low-
backed dress and Balmoral boots; a fourth ap-
parently attempting a compromise between Nancy
Sykes and Ophelia.  Their behavior rivalled their
costume in point of propriety.  The orchestra con-
sisted of a violin and piano, and the nigger busi-
ness predominated in the stage performances.
  This place, situate at 637 Broadway, between
Bleecker and Houston streets, is, notwithstanding
its title, eminently German, possessing, like the
parlor Opera, which it resembles in general arrange-
ments, a target apparatus, a piano and some good
vocalists, who generally sing in German.  The
girls dress decently, drink lager, and might be-
have better.
is next to Laura Keene s Theatre, and indicated
to the public by a painting in oil, representing a
gigantic odalisque, in company with sundry im-
possible palm trees, over the entrance, together
with posters, lamps and transparencies, setting
forth the names of performers in big letters.  Its
interior displays a bar, a long room with a low
ceiling, its walls decorated with portraits of Hee-
nan, Bill Poole, Titian s Venus, and the bills pro-
claiming the prices of the drinks retailed, a sanded
floor, tables, chairs, a stage, with a gaily-painted
set scene (probably intended for a view of Con-
stantinople), a piano and violin, and an average

[newspaper clipping continued: second column]
number of frequenters and waiter-girls.  The lat-
ter announced outside as  the prettiest in the
country,  are not specially remarkable in any way.
They wear decent clothing, and do not appear to
be particularly familiar or demonstrative.  The
performance is well enough sometimes amusing.
  This place emphatically the worst of its kind
on Broadway is situated on an upper floor at
616, next door to  The Novelty,  described in
the previous article, and two doors below Laura
Keene s theatre.  It publishes a play-bill, an-
nouncing itself as  the model concert room of
America,  an asserting that it  receives the
patronage of the fashion and elite of the metropo-
lis,  who are invited to pay thirteen cents for ad-
mission to the boxes, twenty-five to the orchestra
seats, and fifty to a seat in the private boxes.
   The model concert room of America  is a 
common-looking hall, with a sanded floor, a de-
formed stove on one side, a mean bar at the near
end, approached from the front by two arched
apertures.  The  boxes  consist of four or five
cheap seats with backs to them, close to the en-
trance, away from the stage; the orchestra com-
prises the body of the room; what the seats in
the private boxes are we shall discover by ascend-
ing to the gallery, a privilege thrown in for the
expenditure of the lowest price of admission.
  This gallery appears to be the principal attrac-
tion and lounging place of the frequenters of the
establishment.  There they are subjected to the
blandishments of  the young lady waiters in at-
tendance, whose captivating grace and lady-like
deportment  (see bill)  are universally admired. 
These miserable females there are twelve of
them, some not over fifteen, others averaging five
and twenty pertinaciously solicit orders, inquire
whether you are  not going to treat  them, and
ask if you do not require their company in one of
the aforesaid private boxes.  We were favored
with just five suggestions of this sort in as many
minutes.  The boxes are eight in number two on
either side of the gallery near the stage end, four
at the end abutting on Broadway.  Within them
it is the girl s business to extort as much money as 
she can by way of obtaining orders and
the allowing of various nauseous familiarities.
All these boxes were occupied during our visit.
The girls obtain $3 a week as wages, are fined
fifty cents for absenting themselves for a single
evening, and are liable to rebuke and discharge if
they do not succeed in procuring sufficient  or-
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Eighteen: page one hundred and thirty-three
Description:Newspaper clipping written by Gunn regarding various concert saloons in New York.
Subject:Broadway Parlor Opera (New York, N.Y.); Brothels; Clothing and dress; Gaieties Concert Room (New York, N.Y.); Gunn, Thomas Butler; Italian Opera and Concert Saloon (New York, N.Y.); Journalism; New York evening post.; Novelty (New York, N.Y.); Oriental Saloon (New York, N.Y.); Original Palace Concert Saloon (New York, N.Y.); Theater; Women
Coverage (City/State):[New York, New York]
Coverage (Street):563 Broadway; 616 Broadway; 637 Broadway; Bleecker Street; Houston Street
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.