Who Needs a Time Machine When You Can Visit the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum

September 17, 2014

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The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden

421 East 61st Street, New York City

In the stones outside the building the year 1799 is written in bricks.  The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden is on the upper east side of Manhattan in New York City. It is a place where kids and adults get to learn what life was like in New York City in the early 1800’s.   Joseph Coleman Hart, who was a lawyer and journalist owned the hotel. The hotel was used as a country resort for middle class people in New York and foreign travelers.

Some interesting facts about life in New York City during that time you will learn at the museum are if you had a couch it meant that you were wealthy.  This is because most people lived in apartments too small to fit a couch.  You will notice that the legs on most of the furniture are shaped like lions feet.  The lion was a symbol for New York.  Oysters were sold for two pennies on the street.  They were popular back then, like hot dogs are now.

Amanda Nichols, an interpreter for the museum explained “I  would say it is kind of like pizza.  It didn’t matter if you were super, super poor or super, super rich, everybody ate oysters.”    When you walk into the museum today, you can see a table set with the food that was served for lunch or dinner.  The funny thing is there were no forks used.  They had spoons and knives.  They also ate turkey, turtle soup, apple pie, rolls and cranberry sauce.  There was a mat underneath the table and chairs.  It was made of sail cloth and painted to look like marble tiles.

Also, in the hotel there was a separate women’s and men’s parlour.  This is where people went for entertainment.  The women sewed, read, and played music.  There was a harp in the room and a French barrel organ.  A French barrel organ is like a juke box, basically.  In the men’s parlour, they gambled, chewed tobacco, drank alcohol, and played cards.

There was only one bedroom in the hotel. It was basic and simple. Not many people slept over at the hotel. It was a day hotel.   This means that they only hung out there and went home at the end of the day.  It cost only $1 per day to visit the hotel in the early 1800s.

Most of the population all lived 14th Street and below, It was very very crowded.  They would have come up here to the hotel to be in the country.

Chloe:    “ What did people do for entertainment back then?

Amanda:  “ At our hotel, popular things to do for entertainment were , we have horse racing tracks, and you could bathe in the river (which I would not recommend you do today) but you could then. It was very clean.  There was too much of a current to really go swimming, but you could wade in the water.  Men liked to play cards and gamble.  The women liked to play music.”

The hotel was on 23 acres of land.  That was huge.

I would recommend kids age 6 and up should come visit the Mt. Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden to walk through history and experience life in the 1800s in New York City.