Got up late so I went
to work in the afternoon. --
Evening visited sister Clara
and spent the reminder
of the evening at the
academy of Music.
The Academy of Music Papa refers to here was probably the New York Academy of Music at 14th Street and Irving Place, where the Con Edison building now stands. Built in 1854 and reconstructed after a fire in 1866, the Academy was a major opera house and the site of numerous grand balls, social events and diplomatic receptions for much of the late 19th century; it was even where Samuel Morse sent his final ceremonial telegraph transmission as part of an elaborate celebration New York threw for him in 1871.
According to musicals101.com, the Academy lost much of its cache as society moved uptown and the Metropolitan Opera took over as the city's primary opera house (the Metropolitan Opera's Web site describes how a group of wealthy New Yorkers built the Metropolitan Opera House in part because box seats were scarce at the Academy of Music).
The progression of images in the Library of Congress archive attests to the Academy's decline:
In 1860, we've got a reception for the Prince of Wales:
In 1871, the Samuel Morse celebration:
But by 1898, fifteen years after the Metropolitan Opera's inception, the academy had removed all of its now-unfashionable box seats and was host to such popular entertainments as pro wrestling:
In 1910, a New York Times article reported that the Academy had been leased by the New England Theatre Company, "and hereafter is to be the home of musical plays at which a maximum admission of 75 cents will be charged." While the new occupants denied any intention to present other types of entertainment at the Academy, six years later the Times would, in an article about the general decline of Union Square, characterize it as "given over to melodrama and the movies." The Academy's last hurrah came in 1926, when the Consolidated Gas Company arranged a star-studded, sentimental farewell evening for former performers and patrons before knocking the place down to make way for its new headquarters.
Additional references for this post:
- The New York Public Library has a bunch of great images of the Academy. I can't show them here due to the NYPL's licensing policies, but they're worth looking at.
- From the New York Times, articles about the Academy's opening and closing.