Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Vital City

Detroit, 
1940


In 2011, eighty-three-year old Philip Levine was named Poet Laureate of the United States. A native of Detroit, Levine once worked in various industrial jobs, including the night shift at an auto factory. This life experience provided one of the major topics of his poems. He remembered Detroit as a “vital city,” which is reflected by five menus from the spring of 1940, showing a prosperous Midwestern city hard at work and play. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Two Unexpected Guests

New York City, 
1885

Henry Irving
Henry Irving, one of the most celebrated actors of the Victorian period, completed his highly-acclaimed American tour in April 1885 and was preparing to return to England, when a group of prominent men in New York hosted a farewell banquet in his honor at Delmonico’s. Those who subscribed for this dinner received an admission ticket, a menu card, and a seating chart, showing where everyone would be seated. Perusing the seating arrangement in advance, some of the attendees may have been surprised to find two names—the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, the aging Congregationalist minister who was opposed to the theater, and twenty-six-year-old Theodore Roosevelt who left the city the previous year after experiencing a personal tragedy.