Museum Open Monday

The New-York Historical Society Museum will be open Monday, December 22. For details, please visit our calendar.

“Lands of song and sunlight”

Dreaming of warmer climes?  All this snow has us wondering . . . where did 19th century New Yorkers travel to escape the winter blahs?

For those that could afford it, the Ward Line of steamships offered runs to Nassau, Cuba and Mexico, as advertised in this circa 1890′s brochure:


Within 36 hours of leaving port, the Ward Line promised, “cold weather is left behind and the blue waters of the Gulf Stream lap with loving ripples the sable flanks of the speeding craft.”


By the 1890′s, winter tourism had apparently become a booming industry.  As William Drysdale observed in the New York Times on December 13, 1891, “[w]hen the mercury runs down to 20 degrees or so, it is safe to expect a batch of Winter resort advertisements in the morning’s mail.  These artistic little sheets come in like the first snowstorm of the season, every one, nearly, with its artistic pictures, its time tables, and its list of attractions, till the prospective traveler is driven to distraction when he tries to choose among them, unless he has made up his mind where he is going and sticks to it with the firmness of a Spartan.”

Drysdale acknowledged that only a very small percentage of the population had the privilege of facing this decision — his “moderate estimate” was 200,000 persons.   But, he noted, “the Winter-resort question” also “makes employment the year around for a great many hundred people in this city alone — people who spend their lives in convincing the public of the great attractions of their places, often without ever seeing those places themselves.”

Creative: Tronvig Group