Ed Morris A Guide To Newport's Cliff Walk

ISBN 13: 9780970865809

A Guide To Newport's Cliff Walk

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9780970865809: A Guide To Newport's Cliff Walk
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It animates the History of the Gilded Age Era along this three-and-one-half-mile path, 30 feet above the Atlantic Ocean, by telling the story, not only of the path and of the development of Bellevue Avenue, but also that of 23 cottages along it: tales of their extraordinary owners: the Vanderbilts, the Astors, the Belmonts, their friends...their fortunes...their frailties and their extraordinary architects.

It includes a numbered map to guide the visitor--with margin numbers in the text to correspond. There are photos of 23 mansions as well as six 2-page photo spreads, illustrating that Gilded Age Social Life.

More than one third of tourists visiting Newport, R.I., explore at least a part of Cliff Walk during their stay.

The author researched this material to inaugurate the Newport Historical Society's two-mile, guided tour of this walk--then expanded it into this book. It features humor in addition to historical facts. More than 2,000 copies have been sold since publication in May, 2000.

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About the Author:

Ed Morris is a veteran reporter for two Connecticut newspapers and earlier a correspondent for United Press International's Berlin Bureau. In developing this book as a basis for the Newport Historical Society's guided tours of Cliff Walk, he has made extensive use of their research facilities and reports as well as other sources, but the responsibility for the material contained is his own.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Forward

Cliff Walk most probably began as an Indian trail along Newport’s Ocean cliffs; you’ll hear reports of part of it as a place for “tea and romping” in Colonial times; as a public path through sheep pastures in the middle of the last century; and then as a manicured right of way sunken below eye level for privacy of the great High Society parties held in the new palaces of the turn-of-the-century Gilded Age.

Just as the computer, the fax, the cell phone and endless kinds of automation are creating massive changes in the nature and ways of achieving wealth in our own time; so too did the fire-tube railway locomotive boiler in 1829; the oil well in 1859; the typewriter in 1867; the telephone in 1876; the incandescent electric light in 1879; the linotype printing press in 1884; the electric current transformer in 1885; the alternating current electric generator in 1892; the wireless radio in 1895; the safety razor in 1901; the airplane in 1903--and I haven't scratched the surface of these wealth changing events and the wrenching changes they occasioned in our society and culture.

The whirlpool of the American Industrial Revolution overran our agrarian economy; the railroads opened land inaccessible by river and slow overland wagon trails; immigrants poured into our make-it-on-your-own economy; and a great new wealthy class emerged, so wealthy in fact, that more than 500 marriages took place from 1880 to World War I between the children of the new-rich American millionaires and those of British and European nobility--with a total estimated dowry of more than $220 million, probably more than three billion in today's dollars, being transferred overseas in exchange for title, respectability and privilege.

The cultural veneer of the new money class grew with the generations. Old Commodore Vanderbilt could sell his fleet of steam ships, sail a new steam yacht to Europe, be received by the Lord Mayor of London and the Admiral of the Russian Fleet in St. Petersburg, but he cursed a bluer streak than barge captains, and liked to pinch his hostesses on the rear. It was his grandsons who were educated, a granddaughter-in-law who broke down the social barriers to their family.

The men built the palaces for the social queens to rule in, and had their own private clubs. But the women set the new social rules and governed battalions of household staff, dressed like those in European palaces. The U.S. was emerging as a new world power, but these ladies were emerging as emancipated women--divorce became acceptable as well as multi-million dollar divorce settlements and the right to own property.

There was a striving for greatness during the Gilded Age: in wealth, in palaces, in fashion, but also in architecture, painting, and in sculpture, in music and in literature. These were the new Medici, and they were ready to play their part as patrons.

We’ll be seeing some of their architectural works, and I’ll tell you something about their lives, their patrons and their fortunes, if you’ll follow the map route I have laid out. Each mansion I describe is numbered on the map and identified in the key.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9781596294387: A Guide to Newport's Cliff Walk: Tales of Seaside Mansions & the Gilded Age Elite

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  1596294388 ISBN 13:  9781596294387
Publisher: The History Press, 2009
Softcover

9781540218544: A Guide to Newport's Cliff Walk: Tales of Seaside Mansions & the Gilded Age Elite

Histor..., 2009
Hardcover

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