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Victorian American History

See information on Victorian Era American Architecture and Victorian Era American Authors

John White Alexander – Artist

Thomas Worthington Whittredge was a landscapes and portraits painter from America

Victorian America refers to the influence of the Victorian period on the lifestyle, culture, religion and other aspects of America.

The Civil War in America was responsible for bringing about a change in the American culture. The impact of the Victorian culture was evident after the Civil War. Some of the popular cities having Victorian influence in America were Boston, Chicago, Buffalo, Albany and certain areas of Brooklyn.

During the time of Victorian America, the rich and the influential were uncertain about the old money and about the exact American culture to be followed. The result of their sceptical approach was that they adopted their culture largely from European culture and in particular, the French culture.

The wealthy were constantly struggling to keep ahead of the middle class as the latter would try to copy the lifestyle led by the wealthy. The rich people slowly started moving away towards the suburbs where they built large country estates like those in the Victorian period having orchards and gardens.


In Victorian America, homes were built drawing influence from various architectural designs like Gothic Style, Romanesque architecture, Queen Anne architecture, Second Empire and such other styles mainly popular between 1860 and 1900. Houses were painted with bright colours like the ones in Victorian England, there were false fronts, false chimneys, and gables, people used mahogany for making furniture, houses had curtains and wall-to-wall carpeting etc.

The houses were big with several small rooms and every room was built for a purpose like one room will be for dining, one will be a sitting area, etc. The American housing pattern was directly influenced by Victorian architecture.

However, with the expansion of the cities and the immigration of people from other regions, places like New York became extremely crowded. The living conditions were so bad that several people lived in one room rented in a lodge or hotel, there was no proper ventilation system and the places were usually unhygienic for a living.


Religion was an important part of the Victorian American culture. Almost all of the old money belonged to the Episcopalian Church which had a British feel and was extremely ritualistic. However, some of the old money was for Catholics. New York City was very open about religion in comparison to cities like Boston. The Victorian era brought America trustworthy ministers, missionaries, theologians and even authors who supported Christian truths.


The Victorian influence was also seen in the technological inventions in America. Steamboats and railroads provided better transport to people. The railroads connected different parts of America from north to south and east to west and making travelling easier and saving a lot of time. Also, steel cable made by John Roebling was used to build the Brooklyn Bridge. The mechanical reaper invented by Cyrus McCormick made America a top wheat-producing country.

Art and culture

Victorian art movements like Classicism, Neoclassicism, Romanticism, and Impressionism had an impact on American artists. When the Victorians were enjoying the rise of the literary and poetry works of their famous writers, America was experiencing a simultaneous growth of literature and poetry. It was during this time that Lucy Maud, Montgomery, Louisa, Mark Twain and others published their magnum opus. Music halls emerged in Victorian England during the 1830s and they emerged in America around the same time.

Music and songs

In the 1840s Stephen Foster mixed folk songs with black spirituals and created a new and lively form of popular song. Songs like Golden Slippers and The Old Folks at Home became popular worldwide. American music halls had drawn influence from Irish and European music such as jig, polka, and waltz. Songs became independent of their folk music roots by 1870. Thus, Victorian England had a deep influence on America in every aspect.

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