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					The Imperial Metropolis: Ancient Rome in Turn-of-the-Century New York
Author(s): Margaret Malamud
Source: Arion, Third Series, Vol. 7, No. 3 (Winter, 2000), pp. 64-108
Published by: Trustees of Boston University
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Accessed: 31/07/2009 10:53

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The ImperialMetropolis:
Ancient               Rome              in Turn-of-the-Century
New York


                           28-30,1999, marked THE centenary of
a lavish public spectacle held inNew York City to commemorate
Admiral Dewey's victory over the Spanish fleet inManila Bay,
an event            that transformed                      the United           States      into an imperial
power.        The                          event          a century          ago    featured            a                   of
                          three-day                                                                         parade

 ships, fireworks, speeches by the mayor of New York and Admi
 ral (then Commodore)      Dewey,  and a land parade with over
thirty thousand members of the military                                        escorting Dewey                 and his
entourage through the streets of New                                           York. Members                      of the
National Sculpture Society designed a massive Roman triumphal
arch through which Dewey was to pass in a celebration of the
American            victory          in the     Pacific       and      the    emergence           of        an Ameri

can      overseas                          In     imitation         of   Roman                                    arches,
                           empire.                                                        triumphal
the Dewey Arch displayed naval heroes and territories acquired
as a result of the Spanish-American War, and newspapers and
the parade's              souvenir       booklet          drew      comparisons             between            Roman

triumphs            and     Dewey's             victory       parade.         The       civic     extravaganza
was      so popular            that vandalism             presented a threat to the Dewey
Arch: many people wanted                             to take a piece of it home with them.
In the New York of 1899, America's                                           acquisition         of an empire
was      an   event        to celebrate.

  How America's                       imagined relationship with                        ancient Rome was
articulated           in turn-of-the-century                     New         York?in            civic       and      com

mercial   architecture, public spectacle, and popular entertain
ments?is      a fascinating but buried moment    in the history of
America's    identification with ancient Rome and the paradigma
tic myth of its rise and decline.1 Since the Revolutionary era, the
Roman Republic had served as the exemplary political model for
the young nation and it was invoked in art, architecture, and
                                                                      Margaret Malamud                    65

political oratory to help articulate and legitimate America's iden
tity. The other Rome, the Rome of the Caesars, was more prob
 lematic. On the one hand imperial Rome stood for the political
and religious tyranny of British rule, from which the States had
freed themselves, but on the other it provided a monitory image
of what the States might themselves become. When America
became a wealthy industrial nation and an imperial power a new
twist was         given                  negative references to imperial
                              to the usual
Rome:         favorable   images  of empire now began to be produced,

especially         in the built environment.    In the late nineteenth and

early twentiethcenturies, imperial rather than republican Rome
seemed the appropriate positive model to invoke in the analogies
drawn between Roman and American civilizations.
  Might           the new American
                                empire, like the Roman empire
imagined   in Virgil's Aeneid, be a beneficent one, rooted in the
virtues and values of earlier Republican    times but now resplen
dent in material magnificence?   For many Americans the answer
was      an                 yes,    and     a number           of   citizens                           cele
              emphatic                                                          unabashedly
brated the parallels they perceived between the glories of impe
rial Rome and America's own nascent dreams of empire. While
the tradition of culling admonitory                    exempla from the myth of
the rise and fall of Rome persisted                    in some media (notably in
historical        fiction    and        in the rhetoric of anti-imperialists), this
was       overshadowed             by a showy             celebratory           conflation        of     the
ancient       Roman         and    modern           American          empires      in architecture,

                                  and                    entertainments.            In   short,        new
public        spectacles,                 popular
constructions   of America's metaphorical  relationship to imperial
Rome     helped articulate and legitimate America's new imperial


The architecture  and popular entertainments at the 1893 Colum
bian Exposition at Chicago and at subsequent World's Fairs had
elaborated visions of an American empire and dreams of impe
rial abundance, and many of them dressed imperial ambitions
and desires           in Roman          garb. The         influence of the World's                 Fairs

and Expositions,               particularly      the 1893 Columbian                    Exposition            in
                 on   American          architecture             and    urban                  was      tre
Chicago,                                                                            design
mendous    and has been amply documented.       In effect, the Chi
cago Exposition   launched an architectural revival of classicism,
a movement    some architectural historians have called the "Amer
 ican Renaissance."2  In the realm of urban design itwas called the

City Beautiful  movement     and it transformed urban spaces and
architecture in a host of major American cities.3 The key archi
 tects involved in the planning of the 1893 Chicago Exposition
were active in designing new urban spaces and buildings for met

ropolitan areas throughout the country, and they were joined by
others interested in adapting classical architecture for the needs
of late nineteenth             and early twentieth                century cities.4

   There was a need at the turn of the century for harmonious
and coherent civic symbols: waves of immigration of non-north
ern European peoples and migrations     of African-Americans to
urban centers in the wake of the Civil War swelled urban popu
 lations; rapid industrialism                 and the rise of corporate monopolies
had        created      vast      economic,            social,         and      cultural       cleavages
between workers and urban elites and fragmented public life.5 E
Pluribus Unum was an ideal but the reality was pluralism. How
best to create a homogenous whole out of diversity? Architects
 involved in the City Beautiful movement    inNew York (and else

where) took   on the task of fabricating a grand and unifying civic
 architectureand creating architectural spaces for the acting out
of America's new roles and identities. Architects    like Stanford
White        and Daniel        helped create and choreograph sets
 for civic activities, pageants,   and spectacles commemorating
 shared triumphal acts and heroic deeds.6 Many architects and
 their patrons were              captivated by the monumentality,  scale, and
 accomplishments               of imperial Rome, and by its adaptations and
uses       in Renaissance         and   European           neo-classicism.             Roman         archi

 tectural       seemed particularly
                forms                  suited                                   to the militarism,

materialism, and cosmopolitanism    of the era, and Beaux-Arts
Roman buildings and monuments      quickly came to dominate the
urban landscape of New York.
                                                     Margaret Malamud             67

                              BUILDING POWER

Charles      Lamb     and other members         of   the National
Society designed the Dewey Arch after Roman triumphal arches,
and it was placed in one of the city's most prominent intersec
tions, where Broadway, Fifth Avenue, and Twenty-fourth    Street
meet    at Madison      Square (fig. 1). The official program for the
event      hailed  the erection of a Roman       triumphal arch with
approval:       "Nothing could have been     more appropriate. The
Romans were masters     in their temporary and permanent com
memoration  of triumphs; other nations have only followed their

example."7 Fifth Avenue was termed the "Appian Way" of New
York, and "the fit approach for triumphal processions."8 The
Arch was the architectural frame for the parade and it served as
a symbolic gateway     through which the military units were to
pass. Lamb modeled    his triumphal arch on the Arch of Titus in
Rome, which commemorated        the sack of Jerusalem by Titus,
and the Dewey Arch shared the connotation of colonial appro
priation. "The intention of the Arch is to symbolize the power of
the U.S.     as a maritime   nation,"   the   souvenir   booklet    announced.9

Roman    triumphal arches displayed images of the conquerors and
conquered on their walls, and the sculpture of the Dewey Arch
depicted eight prominent naval heroes and territories acquired as
a result of the Spanish-American         War.10

   Shortly before the Dewey Victory Parade the new supercity of
Greater New York had been ushered in with great ceremony
on New Year's Eve, 1897. Thereafter Manhattan,       Brooklyn,
Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx were incorporated into a
new megalopolis. Moses King had classified New York as a cos

mopolis, the peer of any city ancient or modern. According  to

King, New York was "the great mother-city of money" and "the
paramount city of theWestern World, and the center of its com
mercial      and financial
                         activity."11 And Andrew Haswell Green,
president of the Greater New York Commission,           argued for
 incorporation,  insisting   that New York must recognize and
accept its imperial destiny and status as a cosmopolis: "Cities are
 the crowns,        the signs, the factors of empire," he said, and the

 imperial city "wins honorable   renown throughout   the world
which all her colonies may proudly inherit."12
   As a "cosmopolis" and the capital of American commerce and
 finance, New York's railroad stations and banks were worthy of
 special attention and many dramatized their functions through a
 celebratory and majestic Roman architecture. McKim, Mead
 and White'sBowery Savings Bank (1894) enshrined commercial
banking in monumental  Roman splendor; its temple front was
framed with Corinthian    columns, and it housed    a grand
 'Roman' room,                    ringed with marble columns, its walls modeled
with        tabernacles             and swags, that served as the main banking
floor.13 Other                   banks imitated the Bowery Bank's classicism

 though none matched its lavishness and splendor.
   New York train stations were considered grand                                                          ceremonial
gateways, signaling                   arrival  in the city, and their monumental
architecture expressed                    an imperialistic urbanism. Railroads were
the vital arteries of commerce                               and the railroad                  tracks that rap
 idly spread across the nation were                                  the visible            signs of economic
conquest.         New        York's         train         stations        reflected          the      city's      impor
 tance as the commercial                        capital            of the nation             and a suitably
bombastic    rhetoric accompanied    the opening                                          of the new Grand
Central Terminal     in 1913. The promotional    literature located its
 site as "the center of the city of New York, Metropolis         of the
Western   Hemisphere, and in many respects the 'First City of the
World.'"14 The firms of Reed and Stem, and Warren and Wet
more,        the Terminal's                                  and     architects,            created        an    eclectic
Roman   style, one influenced by the ornate French neo-classicism
popular at the time, but one that also drew directly on imperial
Roman buildings for its inspiration.15 The influence of imperial
Roman          baths        is evident both                in the main             facade of the terminal
station,        which            contains       great          arched windows                      flanked          with
Roman Doric      columns,                      and in the barrel-vaulted                       ceiling of the
main waiting room. Grand Central Terminal                                                suggested the gran
deur of imperial Rome; as one passenger put it, while in it "the
traveler instinctively looks for white-robed priests and vestal vir
                             flowers."16            Its    architecture            was       deemed
gins       scattering                                                                                          magnifi
 cent, utilitarian,               and inspirational?worthy                               of the great city it
 served:       "It      is the                        introduction             to     the     great       city    whose
                                                                          Margaret Malamud                         69

 heart-throbs             are felt all over the civilized world, and this is a
  ture worthy            of the frame that has been given to it."17
      The jewel of the new railroad complexes which sprang up
 across  the nation was McKim, Mead        and White's   stunning
Pennsylvania    Station which was formally dedicated on August 1,
 191o.18 The great buildings of imperial Rome inspired Charles
McKim's     design; McKim had visited Rome in 1901 and photo
 graphed           the Baths of Caracalla                and the Colosseum.                The external
 proportions             of the Colosseum    with its three storeys and a high
 attic were translated             into the facade of the station and, like the
 Colosseum,              the station had separate entrances and exits at dif
 ferent levels. The general waiting room was modeled on the tepi
 darium of the Roman Baths of Caracalla and like those Baths
  (and other imperial Roman buildings) it was sheathed in Traver
 tine marble quarried from the Campagna district in Italy where
Romans had obtained marble for their buildings (figs. 2 and 3).19
McKim put a magnificent     steel and glazed concourse shell next
 to the grand waiting room (fig. 4), and the
                                              juxtaposition of the
 two        spaces,      one                        ancient         and                            the     other
                                  seemingly                               monumental,
modern    and utilitarian, highlighted the continuity                                      of the classi
 cal form and its new uses in America.20
      The       adaptation            of   Roman       monumental                architecture             served
both        a practical          and symbolic purpose: practically, the Roman
Baths provided                  one of the greatest examples of
                                                                  large roofed-in
areas adapted to the movements                             of large groups of people and
provided              a model         for urban        train stations which also had to
 accommodate               mass        movements               of                Their
                                                                    people.                    magnificent
architectural             design           and monumental                 spaces gave            the act of
                or                a train      an   elevated                      As     one      enthusias
meeting                taking                                       meaning.
 tic admirer put it: "In catching or                                          a train at Penn Station
one       became                 of    a                                  and    movements
                        part               pageant?actions                                               gained
 significance while
                  processing through such grand spaces."21 W.
Symmes Richardson,  who worked at McKim, Mead and White,
commented on the appropriateness of Roman forms for Ameri
can life at the turn of the century: "The conditions of modern
American    life, in which undertakings of great magnitude    and
scale are carried through, involving interests in all       of the

world, are more nearly akin to the life of the Roman          Empire
 than that of any other civilization."22


Many   of the Gilded Age rich in New York and elsewhere made

grand philanthropic   use of some of their wealth and became

patrons of the arts and learning. A number of America's wealthi
est families endowed universities, orchestras, museums,   libraries,
and operas inNew York and in other metropolitan       areas. Many
of these new cultural institutions utilized the architectural   lan
guage of Rome   filtered through the Beaux-Arts movement to sig
nify solidity, imperial splendor, and civic grandeur. Roman
 influence is evident in the architecture of the Metropolitan
Museum  of Art, the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, the
New York Public Library, and the New York Historical    Society.
McKim, Mead     and White's  pantheonic   designs for the Low
Library at Columbia University     (1894) and the Gould Memorial
Library  at the Bronx Campus of New York University          (1895
 1902) are particularly noteworthy    examples of the influence of
Roman      models   on New   York's   architecture.

     The                          architecture was both a gesture
           taste for Roman-inspired
back to colonial and early Republican uses of Rome in American
architecture and part of a wave of progressive and nationalist
 fervor that viewed America as the heir to the great civilizations
of antiquity and Europe. The metaphorical power of architecture
as a symbolic system helped bestow upon American culture a
                                       at the pinnacle of a trajec
genealogy and a legitimacy, placing it
tory that reached back through the more recent European cul
 tures to the Renaissance      and ultimately  to the Greco-Roman
world. As Lawrence       Levine has pointed out, this cultural identi
 fication with Europe marked a significant shift in American
 views of its cultural relationship to the Old World. For much of
 the nineteenth century, "Americans did not think of themselves
 as participants in a common Western    civilization," but by the
 end of the century American architecture and art had incorpo
                                                         Margaret Malamud           71

rated images, symbols,                 and artefacts of other earlier cultures          to
assert                    that.23
   An  appropriation  of and identification with classical and

European  cultures also aided urban elites in fashioning an iden
tity that differentiated   them from the waves of immigrants
whose teeming presence in New York had upset old hierarchies
and lifestyles. One elite response to the fragmentation and disor
der of a changed world was "an escape into culture, which
became one of the mechanisms               that made it possible to identify,
distinguish,           and order   this new universe."24 The "escape into
culture" involved,             among other things, the emergence of new
cultural hierarchies; and a number of historians have traced the
development of categorical and hierarchical differences between
 'high' and 'low' in the field of cultural production.25 Levine has
catalogued the wide popularity of Shakespearean drama, opera,
and the fine arts among Americans        in the eighteenth and early
nineteenth            centuries.      The   "sacralization"   of   these    entertain
ments began during                  the second half of the nineteenth      century, as
the institutions and criteria     for high culture were developed.
Arts     that had been part of a shared public culture were removed
from      public enjoyment and the marketplace     and put in newly
built    opera houses, museums,   and concert halls built in neo-clas
sical    splendor to be enjoyed by the initiated: those who had the
 leisure, funds, and knowledge to appreciate them. The fragmen
 tation of audiences, the segregation of performers and of perfor
mance      spaces,  the adoption     of the phrenological    terms
"highbrowed" and "lowbrowed" to the categorization of culture
and the classification of tastes, all provided new cultural strate
gies for social control. The taste for Roman references and mod
els in the arts and in the civic and private architecture                     of New
York is emblematic of this new mapping of culture?it                            added
the symbolic weight of authority, tradition, order, and imperial
splendor to new cultural hierarchies.
   The flamboyant   life and career of architect Stanford White is
representative of the imperialist mood and the tastes and prac
tices of the era. White designed numerous public buildings in
Roman       or Renaissance
                        style, and he also designed homes and
clubs for the Gilded Age rich, helping to translate vulgar capital

into cultural      capital. He shamelessly  looted Europe to design
palaces     for the robber barons "stripping Italian palazzi not only
of their objects but their ceilings, their mosaics,  their very door
jambs and window     frames."26 White     saw nothing wrong with
this imperial process; like many ancient Romans, he believed
that it was the right of an ascendant nation to appropriate the
treasures      of     civilization.             "In   the                  he      said,       "dominant
nations     had always plundered works                          of art from their predeces
sors   . . .America        was                    a                                         nations        and
                                       taking         leading      place        among

had,   therefore,       the               to obtain         art wherever          she      could."27
  White's  acquisitive                   objects was echoed in
                                      desire for beautiful
his desire to possess and consume women. His most notorious
affair was with Evelyn Nesbit,  a dancer and actress, who was
sixteen when  they first met. According to White's great-grand
daughter, Suzannah Lessard, White enjoyed acting out fantasies
of Roman debauchery: "Sometimes when she and Stanford were
in the loft withthe red velvet swing Stanford would dress up in a
toga  and put Evelyn naked on his shoulder, pick up a big bunch
of grapes, and then, looking at their image in the mirrors, march
around the loft, singing at the top of his lungs."28
  White's       obsession         with       collecting and incorporating the arte
facts of other cultures                 in his architectural creations reflected the
tastes of the age of empire, and a fascination with the luxurious
material details of the imperial Roman world was part of the
cosmopolitanism    of the era. Catharine Edwards has pointed out
that in late nineteenth  century British representations of Rome
there is a new interest in the "recreations of the material texture
of a vanished world."29 There was a fascination                                    on both sides of
the Atlantic with the material culture of empires and their colo
nies, with the textures, fabrics, furniture, and interiors of impe
rial life. One of the era's favorite painters was Sir Lawrence
Alma-Tadema             paintings dwelt in luxurious and meticu
 lous detail on the material splendor and domestic life of ancient
Rome.30     Alma-Tadema's                 work        had     transatlantic          appeal,       and      the

Carnegies                    and other newly rich American fami
                and Vanderbilts
 lies paid huge sums for his paintings. As technologies of repro
duction    increased in sophistication, reproductions   of art and
 luxury objects    became available for purchase     to the middle
                                                         Margaret Malamud              73

classes. Admirers                      paintings could enjoy them
                             of Alma-Tadema's
in lithographic, chromolith, or photogravure reproductions, and

Henry Erkins, the designer of Murray's Roman Gardens restau
rant, had a studio that specialized in the reproduction of classi
cal columns, Roman-styled       chairs and lamps, fountains and
other domestic   paraphernalia for the consumption of the middle
classes.       availability of reproductions
             The                               allowed the middle
classes to imitate the practices of wealthy elites and acquire and
decorate      their homes with         the artefacts of empire.

                              THE PLEASURES EMPIRE

New Yorkers gave Roman       shape and form to a number of public
facilities, including public baths. Beginning in 1906, increasingly
magnificent    and lavish public baths were constructed for New
York's citizens. Indoor plumbing was a rarity for much of city's
population   and public bathing facilities were a hygienic neces
sity.31 These baths offered more than just bathing facilities: they
 included swimming pools, open and enclosed areas for games,
meeting rooms, and steam rooms. Like ancient Roman baths, a
number of New York public baths were designed as social as
well as hygiene centers.32 William Aiken and Arnold Brunner's
Public Baths (1906), for example, occupied a full block site and
contained   a swimming pool, plunges, Turkish baths, and meet

 ing rooms.33 The twin arches of the portals framed by paired
Corinthian         columns      that marked     the   separate    entrances      for men

and women            alluded     to the Roman         prototype      of       the modern
  The Fleischman    Baths (1908), located near the New York Pub
 lic Library at Forty-second  Street and Sixth Avenue, was the
most opulent and lavish of all the public baths inNew York, and
 its design and decoration explicitly                 invoked  the great imperial
Roman baths (fig. 5). Fleischman's                    recreated the luxury and
magnificence    of ancient Roman baths for the enjoyment of well
 to-do New Yorkers, and its publicity material cited the Baths of
Diocletian   as the model for its own magnificence:  "The people
of ancient Rome              lavished the revenues of the State in the con
74                 METROPOLIS

struction of magnificent  bathing institutions, which contained
not only baths but gymnasiums,    libraries, and in some instances
theaters. The Baths of Diocletian   contained 3,200 marble seats
for the use of bathers, and were adorned with exquisite mosaics,
classic columns, and the rarest pieces of statuary. The Fleisch
man Baths are a modern       adaptation of the famous baths of
                                            was one dollar, which
 imperial Rome."34 The cost for admission
was a hefty entrance fee: in 1908 a loaf of bread cost five cents
and the average yearly salary for all industry workers  (excluding
farm laborers) was five hundred and sixty-four dollars.
  The inscription on the entrance or "antelarium" to the Baths
conflated Dante and imperial Rome: "Abandon Care All Ye Who
Enter Here And Do As The Romans Did." Fleischman's           'Ro
man'   facilities included a tepidarium, a calidarium,   a steam

 room, a natatorium or plunge pool (fig. 6), a shampooing room
with marble compartments where bathers were scrubbed and
                                                        a hundred
scraped, an electric light bath (cabinets containing
electric lights, to "stimulate all the vital forces" and help ail
ments           caused      by       "nervous       exhaustion"),              gymnasia,         dressing
rooms furnished with                divans,         a massage            room for rubs with             oils
and perfumes,               pedicure and manicure                   departments,             barber and

hairdressing              salons, a solarium which                  contained a tropical gar
den     with       trees,                              statuary          and   birds,      a restaurant,
                             plants,     flowers,

and a grill. The complex was adorned with marble pillars,
mosaic floors, fountains, replicas of classical statuary, and its
walls were frescoed with Roman scenes. Located at the top of
 the building was "The Diocletian   Club Room,"      an exclusive
club which provided valet  service and round-the-clock    services
 for    those      able     to pay     an   extra    annual       fee.    Fleischman's          also   pro

vided          less exclusive          amusements:
                                                pool          it offered                    and billiard

games, a bowling-alley,  and boxing matches    in the gymnasium.
The complex was noteworthy enough for it to receive a citation
for excellence from the Commissioner  of Health in 1908.35
     Members              of the Diocletian          Club    (and other privileged elites)
 could, if they wished, continue                       their Roman experience into the

 evening and dine at Murray's Roman Gardens        (1907), designed
             Erkins and located on Forty-second     Street between
 by Henry
 Seventh and Eighth Avenues      inManhattan  (fig. 7).36 Murray's
                                                     Margaret Malamud              75

publicity material billed the Roman Gardens as a reproduction of
a luxurious Pompeiian villa (Pompeii was considered "the New

port of Rome")    during the rule of Nero,    the time of Rome's

"greatest opulence    and magnificence";37    and its promoters
claimed that it was built "for the pleasure and delectation of the

people  in the one city in the new world, where such luxury and

elegance are likely to find appreciation."38 The Manhattan Ro
man-therned   restaurant anticipated Caesars Palace in Las Vegas
in the lavish and meticulous     attention it devoted to creating a

sumptuous pleasure palace    for imperial entertainments and osten
tatious     consumption.39

  Murray's    "atrium" or interior court served as the main dining
area, and  it contained a huge fountain surmounted by a temple
on a Roman barge; its sky-blue ceiling was lighted with electric
stars, and festoons of vines and foliage covered the walls (fig. 8).
Fountains, palm trees, frescoes of imperial Roman scenes and
bucolic views of the Bay of Naples, Roman sculpture and statu
ary, and marble and mosaic pavements adorned the dining area.
A spacious balcony extended from a mezzanine at one end of the
 interior court from which patrons could overlook the banquet
area.     The   mezzanine    area   was   divided   into   two   apartments,     one

having Roman details and decorations,    the other Egyptian in

design. The walls of both apartments were divided by columns
into panels on which frescoes were painted; the Roman room's
frescoes displayed a bucolic valley strewn with temples and baths
 (fig. 9). This room also contained statues and vases in Roman
design and friezes representing war and hunting scenes. Private
dining rooms were located on the second floor, including one
from "the period of Antony and Cleopatra" which contained a
fresco of the Egyptian Queen gazing from a balcony out over the

landscape. There was also a fresco of the famous temple of Isis
at Pompeii, which displayed a nude woman playing a lute, and a
devotee   of Isis worshiping with upraised hands. Guests could

proceed from this room to the Pompeian Garden where palm
trees, statuary, and two magnificent marble and mosaic foun
tains designed by Stanford White              for the 1893 Columbian           Expo
sition were displayed.

  The design and atmosphere of Murray's Roman Gardens drew
heavily on the richly detailed Pompeii in Edward Bulwer-Lyt
ton's 1834 novel The Last Days of Pompeii and on nineteenth
century paintings that dwelt on the material texture of imperial
Roman life. The novel contains lavish descriptions of Pompeian
domestic             architecture  and gardens, and the luxurious life of its
 inhabitants.            Soon after its publication itwas adapted for perfor
mance           on     stage        as     a              and     an       opera          and        it remained                 enor

mously popular well into the twentieth century. Lytton,      like
many Victorians, was fascinated with the archaeological excava
 tions in Pompeii and what they revealed about the last days of
the doomed city, and he spent time there before writing his
novel. A visit to Pompeii was part of the Grand Tour, and many
writers and artists produced detailed descriptions and paintings
of Pompeiian daily life. Lytton's novel inspired painters like
Alma-Tadema                    to    illustrate           some        of     its    fictive      scenes,            and         adver

tising for Murray's    Roman Gardens made the claim that it
brought    to life the villas described   in Lytton's novel and in

paintings. A patron of Murray's     "can feast his eyes on an artistic
and authentically                    exact reproduction                            of the most                  beautiful            fea
tures      of    Rome's             most         ornate         homes,             of     the                        villas          and
                     resorts        of     her      wealthiest               and        most         cultured              citizens,
such       as Bulwer-Lytton                        so                              describes."40
   New          Yorkers did not need to actually visit the ruins at Pom
           at Murray's                                   were                                          to       a   sumptuous
peii:                                    patrons                      "transported"

imperial Rome when they crossed the threshold. Erkins sought
to recreate the Rome of the Caesars,      the period when, he
believed, "Rome reached its zenith of wealth and luxury. The
restaurant's                                effects        combined                 to     create           a    villa,         in     the
words  of its publicity material, "such as a Roman general would
build on return from his conquests, replete with various trophies
of victories."41 Murray's    Roman Gardens was patronized      by
New        York's     "upper ten," men who enjoyed emulating the sup
posed        lifestyles of their imperial Roman predecessors, and it pro
vided        the beneficiaries of the new American       empire with an
environment                that      was                                     with         artistic          taste         and    unri
valed      elegance,           the       storehouse             for    all    that was          precious              and       beau

 tiful      in the world                       that       the Romans                     knew,          conquered                    and
                                                Margaret Malamud        77

 plundered"     (fig. io).42 The Rome constructed       at the simulated
 villa signifies and legitimates ancient as well        as modern    opu
  lence, imperial conquest, and privilege.
   New    York elites were well known  for hosting dinners worthy
 of the ostentatiousdisplays of wealth and consumption of Tri
malchio,  the freed slave of Petronius' Satyricon, At a dinner
given by C. K. G. Billings inMarch    1903, known as the "Horse
back Dinner,"    Sherry's restaurant in Manhattan       refitted its
 grand  ballroom   for thirty-six guests and their horses.43 The
guests ate on horseback on miniature tables attached to the pom
mels of saddles, and were served by waiters dressed as grooms at
a hunting party. Saddle
                           bags equipped with rubber tubes dis
pensed champagne, and elaborate oat-filled feeding troughs were
set out for the horses who dined after their riders were finished.
At another dinner party described by John Kasson, guests dined
near a thirty-foot long ornamental
                                   pool containing four swans,
discovered black pearls placed in their oysters, and found ciga
rettes wrapped    in one hundred dollar bills at their dinner
places.44 The diners occasionally made their identification with
the elites of the classical world explicit. In a
                                                 photograph of a din
ner given by or for Harrison Grey Fiske in the winter          1900
 1901, the black tuxedoed dinner guests are shown relaxing after
dinner with brandy and cigars: all are crowned with             laurel
wreathes,   signifying    their victorious   status and privileged   posi
tions (fig. 11).45


While    New    York's   elites were
                                indulging in private fantasies of
Roman                      and building neo-classical
        imperial pleasures                             buildings to
house art treasures from ancient and European cultures for their
own enjoyment and the improvement of the
                                              populace, entertain
ment    entrepreneurs like Phineas T. Barnum, and Bolossy and
 Imre Kiralfy were constructing gigantic spaces for the
mance of spectacular events
                               loosely based on popular images of
the imperial Roman world for the enjoyment of the
classes. For a small fee, thousands of New Yorkers

 the                      entertainments               of    the      ancient              Romans            at    the   cir
cus,     at elaborate                                           and        at                  Island.
                                stage-spectacles,                                Coney
     These popular               entertainments
                                   provided            image of                       a different
the majesty and grandeur of imperial Rome than those suggested
by the architecture of the City Beautiful movement inNew York.
The      didactic       and uplifting intentions of that movement, which
Rem Koolhaas              has termed "the patronizing puritanism of the
Urbanism            of Good Intentions," was turned inside out in the cir
cus      and                                      At    these      events,           patrons           were        offered

 spectacles         of imperial cruelty and decadence                                      and other              forms of
 'Roman'           entertainments            with       no                                  to moral
                                                                pretensions                                       improve
ment.    Instead of uplift, the circuses and stage-spectacles created
 spaces   for the performance of allegories of imperial power and

 spectacles of colossal Roman excesses.

                             CIRCUSESAND STAGE-SPECTACLES

Circuses  capitalized on their distant link to Roman circuses.
Many boasted that they were animating the Circus Maximus    of
 ancient Rome; one circus poster boldly proclaimed   "Ancient
Roman    Hippodrome.     A Glorious    Picture of the Eternal City
under    the Caesars, Reproducing      with Startling Realism     the
 Sports, Gladiatorial Displays, and Thrilling Races of the Circus
Maximus."47 Madison        Square Garden, once called The Great
Roman Hippodrome,       offered a variety of entertainments, includ
 ing light operas,                romantic comedies, and P.T. Barnum's                                                   and

 John Ringling's                 circuses.48 The 'Roman' entertainments                                                  per
 formed at these circuses                     included acts like the Octavian
 sixteen Roman   soldiers and athletes who performed "the sports,
games combats and tournaments of classic days. An historically
correct representation of the thrilling scenes of the Caesarian

period."49 Chariot races, tableaux of mythological figures (such
as Hercules,  the Apollo Trio, the Seven Sapphos), gladiatorial
combats, and acrobats dressed as Romans who juggled 'Roman
 axes'    were                        acts   at     a variety         of        circuses                 12).50 Cleo
                     popular                                                                   (fig.
           often      made       an     appearance           in circus              tableaux           and        in circus
 street parades,               a spectacular             form of advertising                            held on              the
                                                             Margaret Malamud                  79

morning   before the grand opening of the circus designed    to
entice people  to come to the show. Adam Forepaugh's  1889 cir
cus street parade, for example, displayed the Egyptian                                Queen
reclining on a colossal decorated     barge which was                                  pulled
through the street by six plumed horses.51
  Spectacular stage productions were one of the most                                 popular
forms        of    entertainment       in late nineteenth-century                   America.
Stage-spectacles            took spectacle elements of Victorian               theater and
some of its melodramatic    themes and reproduced them in gigan
tic spaces for thousands of people. Enormous     in scale and size,
these productions   featured elaborate scenery, hundreds of sing
ers,    dancers,     and     actors   in extravagant         costume   who     mimed       the

drama       to orchestral                              The     most    successful      stage

spectacles of the era were produced by Imre and Bolossy Kiralfy,
who were the undisputed masters of the medium.52
   The       two brothers    along with other members of their family
had emigrated          from Hungary to New York in 1869. All members
of the family were             involved   in dance, and in the 1870s Imre and
Bolossy  began producing                shows. Both had experience in chore
ography, design, and production,   and they had European con
nections to draw upon in order to get the artists and musicians
necessary to put on their shows. They understood the American
 immigrant audiences' need for affordable entertainment,     their
desire for visual spectacle, and the advantages of mimed action,
which solved the potential problem of the multiplicity    of lan
guages.  In the 1880s they began producing and writing their own
shows, but in 1886 Imre and Bolossy split over a business dis
agreement, and Bolossy moved to England where he produced
spectacles for the enjoyment   of the British masses.     Imre
remained   in America, and in 1887 he built an outdoor theater on
Staten Island where he staged his Nero, or the Destruction      of
Rome. Nero was produced on a lavish scale and was performed
to great acclaim in 1888.53

  Advertising   for Nero said it was a "gigantic, historical, bibli
cal, dramatic and musical spectacle," and like other Kiralfy pro
ductions, it combined dance, music, visual spectacle, and mimed
action.       Its program claimed that the production     enabled the
audience        to be "transported in imagination to
                                                     early Rome and

 to read through the eyesight a novel." The plot draws on the

 images of a cruel and decadent Rome prevalent in Bulwer Lyt
 ton's Last Days of Pompeii and Lew-Wallace's    Ben Hur,   in
 "toga" plays, popular  from the 1880s on, and in Jean-L?on
G?r?me's            popular            Roman         arena paintings.                   The         performance
 included        representations                of Roman             arena      events,        such          as
 torial combats; an imperial orgy; Nero's attempted seduction of
 an innocent Christian girl; Christians burned as human torches
 in the arena; Christians  thrown to the wild beasts in the arena;
 and Nero's  burning  of Rome. The drama ends with Nero's death
 and the dawning of Christianity,  signaled by angels appearing to
 transport the martyred Christians to heaven.
      P. T. Barnum              saw Nero  and was so impressed that he immedi
 ately contacted                Imre and asked him if he would be interested in
 shortening it into a "circus spec" and joining him with it on tour
 in London. Imre agreed, and the collaboration of the two popu
 lar entertainers marked a breakthrough     in circus entertainment.
Whereas            earlier       circuses          offered          multiple           separate              entertain

ments,       now         they    began          to offer      narrative                                 on
                                                                                  spectacles                      popular

topics. Kiralfy's Nero became a part of Barnum and Bailey's
Greatest Show on Earth and it reached thousands of people, first
on tour in London and then in New York and the nation. The

 joining of the two forms of performance                                        was       so successful                  that
Barnum           later       commissioned                  Imre       to   create         "circus                             of
 some of his other productions    for the Greatest Show on Earth

 including Kiralfy's  The Fall of Babylon in 1890 and Columbus,
 and the Discovery of America in 1892. In 1912 Barnum and Bai
 ley's offered its New York audiences a Superb Spectacle Cleopa
 tra, loosely based on Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra and
 other theater productions about the famous Egyptian Queen.54
     As early as 1889, the Barnum and Bailey circus referred to
  itself as "a stupendous mirror of departed empires."55 Like
Roman           emperors,              circus       entrepreneurs                 provided              spectacular

 entertainments;                they    made        the      "pastimes            of   the Caesars"                   avail

 able to masses                 of people         and offered                "a millionaire              vision             for
 even     the    poorest          child."56        The       Roman             pastimes           the        entertain

ment        entrepreneurs              created       for      the     pleasures         of     their         audiences

were      based on those depicted                            in popular           novels       and paintings,
                                                             Margaret Malamud                  81

especially the paintings of the Neo-Grec school. G?r?me's well
known Roman paintings dwelt in detail on spectacles in the
Roman       arena, and the covers for many                   circus souvenir booklets
and the advertising posters for Kiralfy's Nero       reproduced his
famous paintings of gladiatorial combats, wild beast hunts, and
 the martyrdom of Christians   (figs. 13 and 14).57 Circus attendees
were not at all disturbed by any moral consideration          of the
events     in the arena:
                       "Whatever may be thought of Nero, he
deserves the best thanks of everyone for the races and the gladia
torial contests which are brought off for his amusement." One
might condemn Nero and still enjoy the spectacle.
    In creating a miniature imperial Rome some of the glory of
 that era devolved onto the circus itself and its modern re-cre
ators; as Bailey said about his Greatest Show on Earth: "It is one
of the nineteenth     century's most    colossal and magnificent
achievements         . ..    to exhibit              as   she                in the   zenith
                                            Rome,               appeared
of her architectural,  imperial, warlike, coliseum, civic and festal
splendors   two thousand years ago. We do this, and with a maj
esty, perfection   and superbness that would have amazed and
captivated Nero himself." Barnum and Bailey's lavish entertain
ments thus rivaled and even superseded the imperial spectacles
once provided by Roman emperors. Similarly, a language of
imperial power was employed                    to describe      the success of the cir
cus's    "victory"     and      "triumph"       in London:       "Nero     the new,     tran

scendent       dramatic
                     spectacle                 which
                                        reigned triumphant    and
resplendent in London for over two hundred performances."
One poster for a circus held shortly after the Parade in honor of
Admiral Dewey has circus performers proceeding        in triumph
through the Dewey Arch (fig. 15). Barnum boasted in a letter to
his circus audiences that his show was so popular in London that
he could "truthfully exclaim 'Veni, vidi, vici.'" Like Caesar (and
later Cecil B. DeMille), Barnum had the skills necessary to orga
nize, supervise, and direct masses of men and animals. After all,
it was no easy task to recreate imperial Rome under a circus
tent! One admirer said: "One is lost in admiration of the master
ful generalship, the enormous      labor, and the infinite care
bestowed upon details ... all going forward with the regularity
and apparent ease of clockwork." At a banquet given in Bar
82                 METROPOLIS

num's honor          at the Hotel       Victoria   in London, the editor of the
Pall Mall         Gazette
                    suggested                that Barnum ranked with Caesar
himself or even Alexander the Great.                      "After all, are not the great
men      of all ages showmen? Was                      not Julius Caesar, when he
crossed     the Rubicon ... was not he a showman? Was                                not Alex
ander the Great                     he burned Persopolis, with a
                            a showman when

magnificent display of ten thousand additional lamps?"
  Not only did Barnum appropriate the language of imperial
victory for himself and his circus, he also conflated his achieve
ments with          those of the American          nation. He        referred to himself
both as a conqueror and a diplomatic envoy from America: he
went to England, he said, "representing the Republic in amuse
ment," and returned "triumphant to his native land," wearing
"the brightest laurels the old world could bestow." In Barnum's
bombastic rhetoric, nationalism,    patriotism, and the circus are
conflated: "We went as Americans; we respectfully asked for rec
ognition    as Americans;   and we won      squarely on American
merit." The victory obtained   was the recognition and admiration
of the British public for the unsurpassable entertainments he and
America  provided the citizens of the Old World. In the entertain
ment  arena, Americans had once again defeated the British, and
proved American     superiority. Barnum's    triumph in London
demonstrated,   he claimed, "a pretty fair sample of American
progress, for it proves itself at least one hundred years ahead of
the kind Europe can produce."

                                       CONEY ISLAND

Coney Island opened in 1895 and its amusement parks flour
 ished in the years before World War I. Like the Midways   of the
World's   Fairs (which had been the inspiration      for Coney's

                   Coney         Island offered        an array of fantasy             environ
ments      and      entertainments,                                            and     reenact
                                            including       pyrodramas
ments      of the destruction         of Pompeii           and Roman          chariot     races.
The architecture            of its three amusement              parks was wildly          eclec
 tic: minarets,        towers,     domes,    stucco,      gilding,   paint,    over-decora

 tion,    jumble, and garishness;              and at night, Coney               Island was
                                                              Margaret Malamud               83

dazzling:  a fairyland of electric lights. In the same way that the

Midway at the 1893 Columbian Exposition had offered an invig
orating contrast to the monumental,     neo-classical, dignified, and
 correct White City, Coney Island offered an exhilarating anti
dote to nearby New York City. During the summer months, mil
lions of urban workers went to Coney Island where a carnival
atmosphere prevailed, and the normal structures and rules gov
 erning social behavior were temporarily suspended.58
   Coney    Island was most popular with      immigrants, out-of
 towners, and New York's middle and working classes, "the very
groups that artists and City Beautifiers targeted for socialization
and edification   through public art."59 Like the circus, Coney
Island functioned as an antidote and even a protest to the mor
 alism and ideology of the Progressive era. Coney Island had no
didactic pretensions, indeed its architecture and sculpture pro
 vided a "parodie commentary" on the aims and ideals of propo
nents of the City Beautiful movement. One contemporary called
it "a mimic White City," and Coney Island's design and decora
tive elements poked fun at "highbrow" architecture. At the heart
of Dreamland,       one   of   the        amusement                stood   a beaux    arts

 shaped horseshoe   organized around a lagoon, and its composi
 tion deliberately  recalled but playfully subverted the majestic
 vision of the Court of Honor at the Chicago Exposition and the
Electric Tower    at the 1901 Pan American Exposition  in Buffalo
 (fig. 16). Chariot races were staged around the sunken plaza
 ringing the horseshoe,    and its mock   triumphal arches were
 adorned with       clowns, pierrots, and masks.60
    If Murray's      Roman Gardens recreated the ritzy Pompeii of
Roman       patricians for the enjoyment of New York elites, nearby
on Coney        Island at Manhattan
                                  Beach that same Pompeii was
destroyed by  a fiery cataclysm in nightly performances of James
Pain's pyrodrama The Last Days of Pompeii (fig. 17). By the late
 1880s The Last Days of Pompeii had been adopted for perfor
mance    as a pyrodrama in England and it enjoyed considerable
 success there and later in America until well into the twentieth

 century.61 Pain's production was a very abbreviated rendition of
 the novel, and performances of it were held nightly in July and
August,     where   as many          as     10,000    spectators                to watch.
 84       THE IMPERIAL

Bonfires    and firework displays created the effect of an eruption,
 the flow of lava, and the burning of the city. There is an apoca
 lyptic flavor to Pain's Last Days: those who escape Pompeii are
Christians,           and molten      lava purges        and punishes           the corrupt
Roman       city.62
   A juxtaposition of the Roman Pompeiis inManhattan      and at
Coney Island is telling: at Murray's wealthy elites indulged in
the supposed prodigious pleasures of imperial Rome while at
Coney    Island that same Pompeii was destroyed in a spectacular
conflagration.   In the novel and in the pyrodrama, the city and its
luxury-loving   citizens represent the dark side of empire, its cor
rupt, decadent, and oppressive face. The contrast between the
poverty of the immigrant working-class populations  in their ten
ements and the imperial splendor of the civic architecture and
            mansions        and    retreats   of   the                 elites   was    enor
private                                                  wealthy
mous.63 So this vision of an urban Armageddon     offered specta
tors a double pleasure: a voyeuristic enjoyment of lavish displays
of luxury and extravagance      set in doomed Pompeii and the
moral   pleasure of witnessing   the ultimate triumph of justice. In
The Last Days of Pompeii the unbearable conditions of metro
politan    life were  transformed    into melodramatic   and fiery


 In a recent article reviewing a PBS documentary      on Theodore
Roosevelt, Matthew     Jacobson noted that Roosevelt's   enthusias
tic support of American imperial expansion                         is elided in the docu
mentary,   and this elision evinces what    he calls "imperial
amnesia,"        by which     he means
                             the tendency in American national
memory to deny a desire for or an active role in the acquisition
of empire.64 Jacobson makes the important point that popular
historiesof Roosevelt's   presidency and analyses of the signifi
cance of the Spanish-American War frequently obscure the fact
that many Americans     consciously   chose and enjoyed imperial
power. Theodore Roosevelt's     imperialist policies outside the bor
ders of the United          States marked          the dawn of America's              Pacific
                                                           Margaret Malamud                    85

Empire        and the emergence            of the United       States as an imperial
power,       but  the ideologies           that fueled     this overseas
were rooted          in America's      triumphant conquest of its own indige
nous   populations     and           its defeat of other colonial powers      in
North   America. In New York, the massive celebration of Admi
 ral Dewey's    victory in the Philippines and the popularity of

imperial Roman inspired architecture and entertainments    should
remind  us that, at the turn of the century, many Americans liked
having            empire.65
  American            imperialism,       the new       articulations       of America's

metaphorical  relationship to ancient Rome, and a reframing of
culture were intimately related. The enthusiastic adoption and
adaptation of Roman references in a variety of cultural media in
New York City was part of a wider phenomenon       in the late nine
 teenth century in which new hierarchical definitions of culture
were articulated          and new institutions
                                       and rules for its enjoyment
were   elaborated and set in place. Much of the architecture that
adorned New York (and other cities) in classical dress was com
missioned    by new urban elites, and it symbolized among other
things their identification and appropriation of 'culture,' some
thing that functioned to mark them as culturally distinct from
the increasingly large populations of urban immigrants. Identifi
cation with the accomplishments                and grandeur of imperial Rome
aided urban elites in fashioning              a new cultural identity, an iden

tity which   increasingly            utilized a connection   to classical (and
European) culture as a badge of                      its elevated      status, privilege,
and authority.
   Evocations of imperial Rome in the popular entertainments of
New   York's working classes offer notably different images of

imperial Rome than those suggested by New York's civic archi
tecture and the uplifting intentions of urban elites. Beginning in
the late nineteenth           century,      thousands     of New      Yorkers        enjoyed
                  of Roman     decadence       and    excess    at   the   circus,    at out
door stage performances,  and at Coney                         Island. Entertainment
entrepreneurs played the role of populist            emperors and offered
the public voyeuristic          access to a sumptuous and titillating realm
of imperial pleasures. The deployment of the cultural resonances
of imperial Rome in elite and mass culture suggest a revival of
86                 METROPOLIS

and continuity with the classical world, but these articulations
were shaped and reorganized by interests and conflicts formed in
the late nineteenth   and early twentieth centuries. Analogies
drawn between      the ancient Roman     and modern American
empires in architecture, imperial spectacles, and popular enter
tainments helped articulate and legitimate American     imperial
ism, and fabricated connections with the imperial Roman world
came to undergird new cultural and class hierarchies.


  An   early version of this article was given as the Department     of Art Baldwin
Lecture   at Oberlin College, April 2,1999. Thanks     to Susan Kane for inviting me
to Oberlin    and for several animated discussions  about ancient Rome and Ameri
can culture. I would    also like to thank Karl Galinsky   who made time in a very
         schedule      to read and comment          on an early draft. Thanks          toMartha     Mala
mud      for editorial    suggestions.
     1. America's relationship   to Roman antiquity illustrates what Eric Hobsbawm
has called         invention of tradition," by which he means
                "the                                                the ways in which

groups, usually   nations, establish a connection with a usable past as a means of
constructing   identity, validating present actions and values, and fostering group
cohesion.      Eric Hobsbawm             and Terence       Ranger,     The    Invention    of Tradition
 (Cambridge   1983).
   2. See, for example,            the collection     of   essays    in The American       Renaissance

1876-1917 (New York 1979).
   3. The key characteristics of City Beautiful design plans included neo-classical
architecture, grand avenues, green spaces, massive     buildings  and civic centers,
and a unity of design and scale.
   4. The use of classical architectural models   for American   buildings was not
new       in the    late nineteenth     century.      Federalist     architecture     in particular    had
                                   for American                      and Thomas
employed Roman             forms                      buildings                      Jefferson's designs
for the University   of Virginia    and the Virginia   state capital                are only two exam
      of the early American     interest in Roman architecture     and architecture's                  role
 in "the invention of tradition." Jefferson and Federalist architects, however,                          ad
mired and invoked the Roman Republic           rather than imperial Rome.

     5. See   the discussions         in New    York       1900: Metropolitan        Architecture      and
Urbanism  1890-1915           by Robert     A. M.
                                       Stern, Gregory Gilmartin,     and John Mas

sengale (New York 1983), 11-25, and Lawrence        Levine, Highbrow/Lowbrow:
The Emergence    of Cultural Hierarchy      in America     (Cambridge, MA     1988),
   6. New      York      1900 (note 5), 20. Triumphal Roman arches celebrating                 American
heroes      and military      victories were among the earliest neo-classical                  structures

built     to adorn New       York public spaces, and civic extravaganzas  were
 to commemorate                and events. Among
                          those heroes              the earliest was the Washing
 ton Square Arch erected in 1876 to mark the centennial of George Washington's

 inauguration. Stanford White designed an Arch (1889-92) to replace the tempo
                                                                 Margaret Malamud               87

rary arch, and he was also responsible   for the Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial
Arch   at the Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn   (i 899-1902).
   7. My description  of the Dewey  Parade is based on the Official    Programme
and Souvenir Reception   of Admiral Dewey by the City of New York to Admiral
Dewey September  29th and 30th, 1899 an^ Moses King, The Dewey Reception     in
New York City, located in the Prints and Photographs Division of the New York
Historical    Society. For a discussion   of the sculpture of the Arch,   see Mich?le
Bogart,   Public Sculpture and the Civic Ideal inNew York City, 1890-1930 (Chi
cago 1989), 100-104,       342. The quotation    is from the Official Programme,      6.
Note    also: "The Battle of Manila     Bay transformed    the United States from an
 insular to a world power," 3.
    8. Official   Programme      (note 7), 7.
   9. Official Programme    (note 7), 7.
   10. Bogart, Public Sculpture   (note 7), 104.
    11.Moses   King, New    York. The American                               and   the Foremost
City of the World    (Boston 1894), 2.
    12. Green quoted   in Edwin G. Burrows       and Mike Wallace,     Gotham: A His
 tory of New York City to 1898 (New York, 1999)
    13. New York 1900 (note 5), 178.
    14. The Center of the First City of the World: Concerning           the New Grand
Central Station, Forty-second    Street, New York (New York, 1904), 1; and again:
"Situated   in the center of New York, the greatest city in America,         the financial
center of the world,     and the most    important commercial      city on the globe,      it
occupies   a unique position   and is an ornament     to its surroundings,"    4-5. This
pamphlet was put out by the New York Central and Hudson                  River Railroad
Company,    Passenger Department,    and is located in the Rare Books Division        of
 the Avery Architecture  Library at Columbia University.
    15. The result: "A renaissance of architecture which    is no mere resurrection of
old styles, but really the creation of a new type, organically                in accor
dance with    the new conditions   among which     it has grown up," Center of the
First City (note 14), 4.
    16. Center    of the First City    (note 14), 3.
    17. Center    of the First City(note 14), 19.
    18. For Pennsylvania   Station, see especially Steven Panssien, Pennsylvania  Sta
tion: McKim,    Mead     and White      (London 1996), and New     York 1900 (note 5),
    19. In comparing  the plans for Penn Station            and the Baths    of Caracalla,    Janet
DeLaine    has pointed out that the relationship               between   the concourse     and the
waiting hall in Penn Station is the same as the relationship   between   the frigidar
 ium and the natatio of the Baths. Janet DeLaine,   "The Romanitas    of the Railway
Station,"   in The Uses and Abuses    of Antiquity,  ed. Maria Wyke     and Michael
Biddiss   (Bern 1999), 145-66.
    20. As Richard Wilson    put it: "Between the two spaces, one of modern materi
als, the other of (seemingly) ancient prototypes, McKim        obviously intended for
a dialogue    to take place on the nature of American  civilization," McKim, Mead
and White, Architects         (New York    1983), 217.
   21. McKim, Mead         and White     (note 20), 217.
   22. W.    Symmes Richardson,        "The Architectural       Motif  of the Pennsylvania  Sta
tion,"    in History of the Engineering         Construction      and Equipment    of the Penn

 sylvania     Railroad     Company's        New      York Terminal          and Approaches,           ed. W. M.

Couper         (New York      1912), 77.
    23. Lawrence         Levine, The Opening      of the American Mind:    Canons, Culture,
and History   (Boston           1996), 60. The framers of the constitution    had of course
looked to the Roman             Republic   for a model   for the new American   republic; the
point    here     is that there       is now     a new      cultural    identification     with     Europe      and

   24. Levine, Highbrow/Lowbrow,          177.
   25. In addition  to Levine,    see Paul DiMaggio,    "Cultural Entrepreneurship     in

Nineteenth-Century     Boston, Part II,"Media,     Culture and Society 4 (1982), 303
22; and Neil Harris,     Cultural    Excursions: Marketing     Appetites  and Cultural
Tastes             America
            inModern           (Chicago,   1990).
    26. Suzannah Lessard, Architect    of Desire: Beauty and Danger       in the Stanford
White Family (New York 1996), 115.
   27. Stanford White   quoted    in Lawrence G. White,        Sketches and Designs     by
Stanford White   (New York 1920), 24-25,        cited in American Renaissance,      15.
    28. Lessard, Architect  of Desire   (note 20), 285. White was later shot by Nes
bit's husband, Harry Thaw,      a wealthy Pittsburgh      industrialist,   at a rooftop gar
den of a restaurant White    had designed    inManhattan.

    29. Catharine  Edwards,    Imagining Rome: British Artists           and Rome      in the
Nineteenth     Century     (London 1996), 13.
     30. For Alma-Tadema's       recreations of Rome, see Elizabeth Prettejohn,  "Recre

 ating Rome     in Victorian   Painting: From History   to Genre,"  in Imagining Rome

 (note 29); Vern Swanson, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema:            The Painter of the Victo
 rian Vision of the Ancient World       (New York 1977); Christopher Wood,      Olym
pian Dreamers:     Victorian Classical   Painters   1860-1914; and Mario Amaya,   "The
Roman World of Alma-Tadema,"           Apollo   (December    1962), 771-78.
    31. For public baths, see New York 1900, 137-41.
    32. New       York     1900 (note 5), 138.
    33. New       York     1900 (note 5), 139.
   34. My description           of these Baths        is based on an advertising booklet printed in
 1908, The Fleischman            Baths,  located in the Public        Baths File of the Prints and
             Division            at the New York Historical                    Society.   All    quotations      are
from this booklet which               is unpaginated.

    35. A      copy   of   the citation        is placed     at the end of Fleischman's              advertising

    36. My description     of Murray's   is based on Charles R. Bevington New                                 York
Plaisance?An       Illustrated Series of New York Places of Amusement,      no.i                               (New
York     1908), and Henry     Erkins,   "Murray's Roman Gardens,"     Architects'                               and
Builders' Magazine       8 (Sept. 1907), 574-79. Brief discussions of the Roman                               Gar
 dens    can also be found          in New       York      1900 (note 5), 224-25,          and    in Rem      Kool

 haas, Delirious       New     York     (New York          1994),   101-103.
    37. Erkins,   "Murray's," (note 36), 575.
    38. Bevington, New York Plaisance      (note 36), no page number.
    39. For an analysis of images of imperial Rome at the Caesars Palace   complex
 (there is no apostrophe    in Caesars),  see my "As the Romans Did? Theming
Ancient Rome    in Contemporary     Las Vegas," Arion 6.2 (1998), 11-39; and Mala
mud and Donald McGuire,         "Living Like Romans     in Las Vegas: The Roman
World         at Caesars     Palace,"     in Imperial        Projections:      Ancient     Rome       in Modern
                                                                              Margaret Malamud                   89

 Popular      Culture         edited     by Sandra R. Joshel, Margaret Malamud,                      and Donald
McGuire,         forthcoming           from Johns Hopkins   University Press.
     40. Bevington,       New          York Plaisance        (note 36), no page number.
     41. Erkins,      "Murray's,"          (note 36), 575.
     42. Bevington,     New York Plaisance    (note 36), no page number.
     43. For     this dinner, see Grace Mayer,    Once Upon a City: New                               York    from
                as Photographed
  1890-1910                       by Byron (New York 1958), 224-25.
    44. John Kasson,  Rudeness  and Civility:                          Manners        in Nineteenth-Century
 Urban America    (New York 1990), 202.
    45. The     photograph     is in Mayer,  Once Upon       a City,                       222-23.   Mayer     was
 unable     to identify the precise occasion  for the dinner.
    46. Koolhaas,        Delirious        New     York     (note 36), 70.
    47. Charles   Philip Fox and Tom Parkinson,        Billers, Banners and Bombast:
 The Story of Circus Advertising     Posters (Boulder, CO 1985), 160.
    48. In 1873 P. T. Barnum    leased from the Vanderbilts     the New York and Har
  lem Rail Road shed, which took up an entire square block bounded
                                                                             by Madison
 and Fourth Avenues        and Twenty-sixth   and Twenty-seventh        streets. Barnum
 remodeled    it as the Great Roman                   and put on performances      of the
world's      first three-ring          circus. After      Barnum     gave up the lease in 1879, Vander
 bilt renamed       itMadison
                            Square Garden.                       In 1885 Vanderbilt   razed the building
 and sold the site to a group of millionaires,                     including Andrew Carnegie    and J.P.
Morgan,       who     hired      Stanford White           to design the new Madison
                                                                                         Square Garden.
 John Culhane,          The American            Circus:    An      Illustrated               (New York
                                                                                 History                     1990),
    49. From       the 1898 Forepaugh-Sells   Company's Official Route Book of the Cir
 cuses,    located    in the Billy Rose Theater Collection, Circus File, New York Pub
 lic Library.

    50. The  circus poster collections                 at the Library of Congress,      Prints and Photo
graphs  Division,      and at the New                  York Historical     Society's Prints and Photo
 graphs Division     contain fabulously                 illustrated posters advertising    these and other
 non-Roman     acts.

    51. Another   of Forepaugh's     circuses  in 1888 featured a tableau with such a
 lavish barge and gorgeously     dressed Cleopatra     that it presented a scene "far sur
passing the poet's most fitful dream." Charles Philip Fox and F. Beverly Kelby,
The Great Circus Street Parade in Pictures          (New York 1978). The quotation        is
taken from the poster advertising       the 1888 Cleopatra     spectacle.
    52. For the Kiralfy Brothers,    see the short articles in the                Diction
ary of Dance;           for     Imre Kiralfy, see Barker,    "Imre Kiralfy"; for Bolossy,                      see
Bolossy Kiralfy,         Creator     of Great Musical     Spectacles: An Autobiography,                        ed.
Barbara Barker         (Ann Arbor, MI              1988); and see Laurence Senelik, "Spectacle and
the Kiralfys,"       Dance Chronicle              12 (1989), 149-54, a review of Barker's
    53. The Billy Rose Theater Collection   at the New York Public
                                                                   Library has the
souvenir   program   for the Staten Island Nero which   includes a synopsis of the
events of the spectacle,    and the Library of Congress   has Imre Kiralfy's copy
righted 1888 manuscript.
   54. The      circus performance              included her seduction           of Antony and their double
suicide,   enlivened    with many            dancing      girls,   animals,      and elaborate sets and cos

 turnes. The souvenir program book for the                                  can be
                                              Superb Spectacle Cleopatra
 found at the Billy Rose Theater Collection at the New York Public Library.

   55. Bluford       Adams, ? Pluribus Barnum: The Great Showman                             and the Making
of the United        States Popular Culture (Minneapolis, MN 1997),                         188.
     56. A claim asserted in a poster for The Great                    Barnum       and Forepaugh Combi
nation,    located in the Circus File at the Museum                     of the City    of New York.
     57. A copy of the important and lavish program      for the 1890 New                             York per
formance     can be found in the Circus File at the City Museum     of New                            York. AH
of    the quotations            below,       unless      otherwise     indicated,     are   taken     from     this

     58. See    John Kason's             fascinating       analysis   of the carnivalesque   aspects   of
Coney      Island in Amusing             the Millions:      Coney     Island at the Turn of the Century
 (New York         1978).
     59. Mich?le   Bogart, Public Sculpture     (note 7), 243.                 I am    indebted     to Bogart's
discussion     of Coney Island in this section.
     60. Amusement          park entrepreneur   Frederick Thompson,     who designed Luna
Park, one of Coney            Island's parks, brought his skills into Manhattan.    His New
York Hippodrome               (1905), located on Sixth Avenue     between   Forty-third  and
Forty-fourth   streets, contained an enormous     theatrical space for the performance
of extravagant    events. Its design also playfully   subverted neo-classical   architec
ture: the Hippodrome's       column capitals had elephant heads, there were horses
on the spandrels, and passersby could see live animals                         in cages     through      the glass
on the street level. New York 1900 (note 5), 208-209.
     61. For the pyrodrama,              see the discussion    inMaria Wyke,                             the Past:
Ancient     Rome, Cinema               and History      (New York and London       1997),                157; and
David     Mayer,      "Romans           in Britain   1886-1910:   Pain's 'The Last Days                  of Pom
peii,'" Theatrephile   2.5 (1984-85),  41-50.
   62. Visitors  to Coney  Island could also experience    the destructionof Pompeii
at the Dreamland.    One of its buildings     took the form of a classical
                                                                         temple, and
 its front was decorated with Charles Shean's fresco of the Bay of Naples with the
dormant volcano      in the background. Inside, patrons could witness   the eruption
of Vesuvius,   which was realized with scenic and mechanical     equipment    and an

extraordinary        electric     display.
   63. Nightmarish             of an urban Armageddon
                             visions                         were popular     in the litera
ture of the i88os           and
                          1890s: Joaquin Miller's      The Destruction    of Gotham     fea
tures Bowery mobs sacking and burning mansions             of the wealthy    and pillaging
and gorging   themselves    at fashionable    restaurants. The fires become an inferno
that consumes     corporate    office  buildings    and carries rivers of molten        lead

through the city, purging and purifying      it. See the discussion  of this and other
novels like it in Burrows and Wallace's   Gotham       (note 12), 1155-56. Novels      like
these express middle-class Protestant   angst about the conditions     of metropolitan
 life and the threats to civic life posed by the enormously wealthy     and the immi
grant aliens    in their midst. They      form the sensationalist counterpart    to the
unease experienced      and expressed    by Henry  James, Edith Wharton      and other
novelists who found themselves       in a New York they no longer recognized.

     64. Matthew   Frye Jacobson, "Imperial Amnesia:                       Teddy     Roosevelt,       the Philip

pines,    and the Modern   Art of Forgetting, Radical                      History     Review       73    (Winter
1999),     116-27.
                                                       Margaret Maiamud            91

  65. As    Jacobson    put it: "We consciously     chose imperial   power   and many
Americans     liked it." "Imperial Amnesia,"   (note 64) 126.


       ! II'

                                    ;% "ir*

Figure i Charles Lamb, Dewey Triumphal   Arch,   1899, demol
ished. New York Historical Society.
                                                         Margaret Malamud         93

                                      ,.-'- +**>?.??^^


                     ?*/ir <> :?L:'


Figure 2 Baths of Caracalla,               reconstruction     of the central hall of
the Baths.   Rome,      early    third      century.

Figure 3McKim, Mead and White, Pennsylvania Station, 1910,
demolished: general waiting room. New York Historical Society.
                                     Margaret Malamud      95

  H         *$:                                  _,it

Figure 4 McKim, Mead and White, Pennsylvania Station,   1910,
demolished: concourse. New York Historical Society.

Figure   5 Advertisement   for The Fleischman Baths, Bryant Park
Building,   1908, demolished.   Pamphlet: The Fleischman Baths,
 1908. New York Historical Society.
                                           Margaret Malamud     97




Figure 6 Advertisement for The Fleischman Baths,      1908, demol
ished: natatorium decorated with     lavish Roman     details. The
Fleischman    Baths. New York Historical   Society.
98              METROPOLIS

Figure 7 Henry Erkins, Murray's Roman Gardens,      1907, demol
 ished: main entrance. New York Plaisance: An Illustrated Series
of New York Places of Amusement,     1 (New York 1908).
                                          Margaret Malamud      99



     Figure 8 Henry Erkins, Murray's Roman Gardens,   1907, demol
     ished: main dining room. New York Plaisance.

                    i #=?

Figure 9 Henry Erkins, Murray's Roman Gardens,   1907, demol
ished: fresco on wall of the Roman room. New York Plaisance.
                                                    Margaret    Malamud       ioi

                    % \r*

         io Henry      Erkins,              Roman    Gardens,     1907, men   at
Figure                           Murray's
dinner   inmain dining room. New            York Plaisance.

                                         ^1 &%
W.                      iOt~

Figure    ii Joseph Byron, photographer, Harrison Grey   Fiske
Dinner,    1900-1901. Museum of the City of New York.
                                                            Margaret Malamud           103

                              UOHH ROBIN**?!


             12 Circus     Poster,   circa    1890s,                   Roman   enter
Figure                                                   advertising
tainments.       Library    of Congress.

                      . <
                        _   f&


Figure    13 Jean-L?on G?r?me,   Pollice Verso,    1872. Phoenix   Art
                                     Margaret   Malamud   105



Figure 14 Cover for Barnum and Bailey's Greatest Show on
Earth souvenir booklet, 1890, reproducing Jean-L?on G?r?me's
Pollice Verso, 1872. City Museum of New York.



Figure   15 Circus   Poster,   circa     1899-1900:   Circus   Performers   Pass

under the Dewey Triumphal              Arch. Library of Congress.
                                           Margaret Malamud          107


Figure   16Dreamland,   Coney   Island, 1905. Library of Congress.

Figure     17 Poster advertising         the pyrodrama   The Last Days   of
Pompeii,    circa   1890.   Paine   Archive.

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