America Learns to Play: A History of Popular Recreation, 1607-1940

By Foster Rhea Dulles | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX
MID-CENTURY

BY MID-CENTURY GREATER WEALTH AND MORE LEISURE MEANT broader opportunities for recreation among the well-to-do. They began to give increasingly elaborate balls and entertainments. When Charles Dickens landed in New York, the great Boz Ball -- "the tallest compliment ever paid a little man, the fullest libation ever poured upon the altar of the muses," as Philip Hone described it -- was attended by twenty-five hundred persons representing the world of society. The decorations were scenes from Pickwick Papers, and tableaux vivants were presented of Nicholas Nickleby, Oliver Twist, and The Old Curiosity Shop. Supper was enlivened with quantities of champagne. It was an occasion typifying a new measure of sumptuous display in American social life.1

There was also a growing enthusiasm for yachting, inspired by the memorable victory of the America in the first international cup race; an increasing vogue for driving in summer and sleighing in winter; and greater interest in field sports. Game- hunting had always been popular in the South. It had long been commended in Baltimore for drawing the young gentlemen of the town into the open fields "where no man ever contracted dyspepsia, or imbibed an ignoble passion." Wealthy eastern sportsmen -- and visiting Englishmen -- now went to the Far West to shoot elk and buffalo.2

More significant was the beginning of pleasure travel and the growth of summer resorts. New turnpikes and canals, the steam- boat and the railroad, were working revolutionary changes in American life which affected recreation as well as business and

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America Learns to Play: A History of Popular Recreation, 1607-1940
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xiii
  • Illustrations xv
  • Chapter I - In Detestation of Idleness 3
  • Chapter II - Husking-Bees and Tavern Sports 22
  • Chapter III - The Colonial Aristocracy 44
  • Chapter IV - The Frontier 67
  • Chapter V - A Changing Society 84
  • Chapter VI - The Theatre Comes of Age 100
  • Chapter VII - Mr. Barnum Shows the Way 122
  • Chapter VIII - The Beginning of Spectator Sports 136
  • Chapter IX - Mid-Century 148
  • Chapter X - Cow-Towns and Mining-Camps 168
  • Chapter XI - The Rise of Sports 182
  • Chapter XII - The New Order 201
  • Chapter XIII - Metropolis 211
  • Chapter XIV - World of Fashion 230
  • Chapter XV - Main Street 248
  • Chapter XVI - Farm and Countryside 271
  • Chapter XVII - The Growth of the Movies 287
  • Chapter XVIII - A Nation on Wheels 308
  • Chapter XIX - On the Air 320
  • Chapter XX - The Great American Band-Wagon 332
  • Chapter XXI - Sports for All 347
  • Chapter XXII - The New Leisure 365
  • Bibliography 375
  • Notes 391
  • Index 425
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