Gilded Age Progress in 1880 August 12 2015

This is the fifth installment in our series of posts comparing significant events from a year in United States history with a few of our unique architectural plans from the same period.  1880, the topic of this installment, subsequently marks the fifth year of the American Architect and Building News' existence.

Click on the pictures to find the plans below in our store!

1880 in the United States marked the peak of the so-called "Gilded Age" of the nation's history.  This period was characterized by an appearance of a shining gold lining masking a number of serious social problems persisting through the country.  For instance, while wages within the United States were significantly higher when compared to those in Europe, massive numbers of European immigrant arriving in the U.S. meant that many lived in extreme poverty.  Elsewhere, the American South was still trying to return to the prosperity it saw just before the Civil War.  These furniture designs by Edward Dewson & S. N. Small in Boston, Massachusetts provide a good example of the art seen throughout the Gilded Age: ornate and beautiful, but reserved for only the wealthiest of citizens.

Furniture Designs at 8 Pemberton Square , Boston, MA, 1880, Edward Dewson & S. N. Small


Though he had been hard at work for some time before 1880, the year would mark a big breakthrough for American inventor Thomas Edison.  The Wizard of Menlo Park, New Jersey had just patented his remarkable phonograph machine in the few years prior, and immediately set his sights on broader horizons.  In 1880, he performed the first test of his electric railway idea, which, after much development, would lead to a public transportation revolution and change railway transportation all over the world.  In nearby Orange, New Jersey, architects Silliman & Farnsworth designed this Music Hall (also built in 1880) which might have entertained Edison during one of his well-deserved breaks.