Invisible Magicians: Domestic Servants in Gilded Age New York


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Tom and Greg are still off celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Bowery Boys podcast, so this week we're highlighting one of the best shows produced by the Bowery Boys this year -- for The Gilded Gentleman podcast, the spin-off show hosted by Carl Raymond.

Domestic servants during the Gilded Age did more than simply maintain the mansions of the wealthy. New York City simply could not function with these 'invisible' armies of butlers, housekeepers, footmen, ladies maids, gardeners, cooks, valets and others.

The subject will be familiar to viewers of television shows like Downton Abbey, The Gilded Age and Upstairs, Downstairs. What was life like for a valet, a cook or a scullery maid in the mansions of late 19th century New York? How were houses with large staffs even managed? What were the hardships? And what were the benefits?

In this episode Carl is joined by Esther Crain, author of The Gilded Age in New York 1870-1914and the website Ephemeral New York, to look at the various roles and responsibilities of domestic staff in grand mansions and even in more modest homes.


And after you're finished with this show, subscribe to The Gilded Gentleman on your favorite podcast player to hear Carl's new episode on the mysteries of absinthe, the mysterious elixir that fueled Paris and London’s cafe society and artistic circles in the Belle Epoque and late Victorian and Edwardian worlds.

Carl is joined by Don Spiro, creator of New York’s Green Fairy Society to discuss and demystify the myths and legends of this most evocative of spirits.

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