1896: West 102nd between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive
The extraordinary Bloomingdaler Florence Clinton Sutro (1865-1906) came to my attention thanks to reader Wilbur J.
He also shared the interior shots below of her home, with husband Theodore, at 320 W. 102nd Street. Designed by Alonso B. Kight, the Renaissance Revival townhouse at 320 W. 102nd Street, was first occupied by the Sutros. The interiors were meticulously photographed sometime soon thereafter and below, thanks to Wilbur, you will find the rosetta stone to Bloomingdale living 125 years ago. Daybed and desk huddle near the grand fireplace. Heavy velvet drapery stands at the ready to buffer the winter entering through the main door. High molded and vaulted ceilings top off burnished wood trimming everywhere. And an impressive cast iron stove gives rise to imagining the meals that must have come out of the kitchen (below).
The Sutros were on the NYC circuit of elites. And Florence was in many a vanguard. Cultural, social, intellectual.
Together, the Sutros were champions of women's suffrage. In an April 1894 suffrage meeting, to warm applause, Theodore said: "That women do not have the privilege of the ballot seems to me contrary to all ideas of justice in this free country. It is only in accordance with principles of logic - and I might say grammar - that the word 'male' should be stricken from the Constitution."
It is highly likely that Harriot Stanton Blatch and Florence moved in the same circle living just six blocks apart.
I have not yet scratched the surface of the lives of these erstwhile neighbors. Theodore's two brothers Otto and Adolph have intriguing trajectories. Adolph was the first Jewish mayor of San Francisco and responsible for the Sutro baths, the ruins of which are out by the Cliff House near Land's End, San Francisco.
Florence is best remembered as the founder of the National Federation of Women's Music Clubs where her mission was to undo the discrimination against female musicians who were "not able to excel...due to existing prejudice."
One can easily imagine these parlor and study rooms below filled with guests and tunes and intellectual discussions of all in this world that is just and beautiful and artful and female.
Something like a slice of Bloomsbury in Bloomingdale.
h/t to Wilbur J. for flagging the Sutros!
If anyone has any photos of the West 103rd Street head house of the subway station in the median from any period, please share them: firstname.lastname@example.org. Wilbur and I are interested in all details about it and in particular good images of it over the years it existed.