The Bradley-Martin Ball was a lavish costume ball at the Waldorf Hotel in New York City on the night of February 10, 1897. Mrs. Cornelia Bradley-Martin organized the ball, with the intention of making it "the greatest party in the history of the city". Eight hundred socialites spent about $400,000 imitating kings and queens. Mrs. Bradley-Martin's stated intention was to create an economic stimulus for New York City, which was at the end of the Long Depression which began in 1873 and included the Panic of 1893. The Bradley-Martins spent approximately $9,000,000 in today's money to throw the ball. Across the country, preachers and editorial writers argued over the propriety of a party that would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. In the end, the ball was a social triumph but created negative publicity.
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... After the ball many ministers preached against its excessive consumption and the authorities promptly raised Bradley-Martin’s taxes (as well as those of their ... primary research, the Bradley-Martin ball is perhaps best-remembered as the end of the excesses of the Gilded Age ...
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“We should burn all libraries and allow to remain only that which everyone knows by heart. A beautiful age of the legend would then begin.”
—Hugo Ball (18861927)