Skip to main content

Season 2/Episode 7, "Wonders Never Cease"

As New York celebrates a historic event, Bertha reconsiders her loyalty to the Met while Marian has doubts about her future.

Mansions & Gardens Featured

In this Episode…

Great Railroad Strike Image
The great railway strike–attempt to start a freight train, under a guard of United States marshals, at East St. Louis, Illinois / from a sketch by G. J. Nebinger.

George Russell mentions the violence of the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, which lasted for 52 days across several cities in the eastern U.S. and Midwest and resulted in the deaths of approximately 100 people. Concurrent with this strike was a three-day pogrom against Chinese immigrant workers in San Francisco. Mr. Russell’s claim that his tactics in splitting the union will work partially due to hatred of Catholic immigrants – such as the Irish immigrants who appear later in the episode – and Jewish people reflects this xenophobia.


Jack Trotter (right) watches nervously as a clock and watch expert reviews his work. (Photos by Barbara Nitke/HBO)

☞ Jack Trotter, footman for the van Rhijn house, meets with an expert from a clockmakers’ society called the Deutscher Uhrmacher Verein, who examines his invention for an improved alarm clock. German immigrants founded the Deutscher Uhrmacher Verein, later called Uhrmacher Verein der Stadt New York and New Yorker Uhrmacher Verein, in 1866. As clock and watch makers from other nationalities joined its ranks, the name was less accurate, and in 1930 it became the Horological Society of New York.

Ada comforts her ailing husband, the Reverend Luke Forte.

☞ While we do not know the nature of Luke Forte’s cancer or the method of his diagnosis, we can situate the disease in the medical discoveries of the period. By 1883, scientists had identified cancer as being composed of cells, had identified and named the process of metastasis, and had begun to note demographics of cancer diagnosis. Hereditary basis for cancer were not part of the medical discussion until a few years later. It would be over a decade before the discovery of X-rays.

☞ The scene in which Russell and Henderson spar over labor rights even while shaking hands begins with a bang – and a flash. In the 1880s, flash photography required pyrotechnics. Flash powder, lighted by hand, was made of a metallic fuel and an oxidizer. This combination burns very quickly, providing enough light for a photograph.

George Russell has ulterior motives for agreeing to terms with striking workers at his Pittsburgh mill.

Maud Beaton’s deception is reminiscent of the recent news story of Anna Sorokin/Anna Delvey, who deceived New York Society by posing as a wealthy heiress. Some of Maud’s contemporaries among scam artists included Bertha Heyman, who conned men by pretending she was wealthy but unable to access her money, and donated most of her loot; Adele Spitzeder, a German banker who ran the first known Ponzi scheme in history; and Sophie Beck, who accepted investments for a false-front company out of a luxurious apartment and absconded to Europe with $2 million.

Brooklyn Bridge Opening Night
Bird’s-Eye View of the Great New York and Brooklyn Bridge, and Grand Display of Fireworks on Opening Night…May 24, 1883. / The Metropolitan Museum of Art

☞ Emily Roebling did receive recognition for her vital role in the Brooklyn Bridge’s construction at its opening, in a speech by Abram Stevens Hewitt, a lawyer and industrialist who would become New York mayor in 1887. Learn more about Emily Roebling

☞ One year prior to the action of the episode, in 1882, Phillip A. White became the first Black member of the Brooklyn Board of Education. (Brooklyn was a separate municipality from New York City until 1898.) White opposed forced segregation, and integration rapidly grew more common by 1890.

More Episode Guides

Additional Visitor Info

Partners in Preservation

BartlettLogo_white BNP-white