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Don Wilmeth on:
popular entertainment in New York City

Don Wilmeth The 1880’s and 90’s, 1890’s in particular, was really the period of the quick rise of popular entertainment in New York. There were entertainment venues on virtually every block of the city. And in some areas (the Bowery, for example) there would have been a lot of popular entertainment venues: concert saloons, variety theaters, dime museums, all kinds of entertainment centers. I guess he could have seen almost anything you can imagine, because I think it was all there, including some very odd entertainments. Dime museums would indeed advertise what’s inside on the outside, so there would have been a chance literally on the street to see performances taking place, or to see human anomalies demonstrated, or even possibly a magician on the street. So I think he could have seen a wide range of entertainment. American entertainment was still very much in its kind of formative stage, but it was very much on the uprise in the 1890’s. Between the 1890’s certainly and the turn of the century, it exploded. And he was coming along just at that point of explosion.

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