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1900: Publishing; arts and music; popular entertainment; architecture; theatre.

The U.S. had produced painters of talent and accomplishment in the fields of portraiture, historical painting, and landscape studies. No American painter of standing, however, fell into quite the same class in this period as did Albert Pinkham Ryder. Mostly self-taught, Ryder many times used as his subject the sea or moonlight. His work evokes a feeling of loneliness and mysterious force of nature. Of some 160 paintings, perhaps his best known is Toilers of the Sea (1900), which includes a dark sail and a wan moon giving off an aura of ghostliness. Ryder also did paintings with such titles as Death on a Pale Horse and Temple of the Mind.

Among books published this year was Sister Carrie, a first novel by Theodore Dreiser. An unflinchingly naturalistic novel, it examined in economic and moral terms the rise of a young woman from rural obscurity to success on the New York stage. Steeped in tragedy, the story was published only after Dreiser made extensive cuts. The book was issued, then recalled, by the publisher. The book's failure sent Dreiser into a deep depression. Reissued in 1912, the book was eventually recognized as an American classic. In 1981 it was republished with Dreiser's deleted text restored. Other books published this year included Eben Holden, A Tale of the North Country by Irving Bacheller, which sold 300,000 copies within six months; The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum; Whilomville Stories by Stephen Crane, a posthumous collection; Literary Friends and Acquaintances by William Dean Howells, a collection of the author's essays; To Have and to Hold by Mary Johnston, the author's best-known romance; The Son of the Wolf by Jack London, a first collection of stories; and Alice of Old Vincennes by Maurice Thompson, a historical novel set in Indiana in the late eighteenth century.

An American sculptor noted at the 1900 Paris Exposition was Hermon Atkins MacNeil, whose figure of American Indian life won him a silver medal. Other of his Indian pieces include The Moqui Runner, A Primitive Chant, and The Sun Vow. Returning to the U.S., MacNeil produced the statue President McKinley for the McKinley Memorial in Columbus, Ohio, and a relief of George Washington for the Washington Arch on Washington Square, New York City.

The most popular song of the year was "Good-Bye, Dolly Gray," a wartime song about a soldier departing for the Philippines. This and "In the Good Old Summer Time" (1902) were among the best-known songs of the first decade of the twentieth century.

The White Rats, a union of actors, was patterned after the similarly named actors' organization in London. The union was established to counter a recently formed association of vaudeville managers, whose main function was to keep actors' wages down by means of a so-called gentleman's agreement. As a result of the surprise appearance of The White Rats, many vaudeville theaters shut down. Others retaliated by exhibiting motion pictures as the sole attraction. Thus, indirectly, The White Rats had a great influence on the development of motion pictures as a mass medium.

Spectacular motion picture reportage of disasters in Bayonne, N.J., and Galveston, Tex., was recorded in two on-the-spot films entitled Destruction of the Standard Oil Company Plant at Bayonne and The Galveston Cyclone.


The first issue of The Smart Set, a literary monthly, was published by William D'Alton Mann. Contributors in its early years included Mary Austin, Ambrose Bierce, Theodore Dreiser, O. Henry, and Jack London. In Nov. 1908 H. L. Mencken began contributing a monthly column to the magazine, which was to hit its peak under the co-editorship of Mencken and George Jean Nathan from 1914 to 1923. During that period, The Smart Set published the early works of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Eugene O'Neill, and others. In 1923 Mencken and Nathan left to start up the American Mercury. The Smart Set, which would never again attain such literary heights, continued until 1930.

Oct. 15

Symphony Hall in Boston, designed by the New York firm of McKim, Mead, and White, was opened to the public with a special concert that included a chorale by J.S. Bach and Beethoven's Solemn Mass in D. Owen Wister, the novelist, read a poem entitled "The Bird of Passage, an Ode to Instrumental Music." Acoustics in the hall, which had cost about $750,000 to complete, were judged adequate; its furnishings were considered excellent. The building was designed exclusively for use as a music hall. No opera or theatrical performances could be presented. During the intermission, the elite of New York and Boston society mingled in the building's spacious corridors in what The New York Times called a "dress parade, quite equal in appearance to that which is seen on ordinary nights in the lower corridors of the Metropolitan Opera House."
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Author:Carruth, Gorton
Publication:Encyclopedia of American Facts & Dates, 9th ed.
Article Type:Reference Source
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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