What Was Entertainment Like in the 1800s?

Entertainment in the 1800s consisted of activities associated with urban and country areas. People in urban areas began to find department stores ripe for enjoyment. Those who lived in country areas, mostly out west, relied on more modest forms of entertainment like reading.

Affluent people found satisfaction in the ability to buy goods in spaces designed specifically for the experience of purchasing. Department store architecture and interior design influenced and enhanced the way people felt as they spent their money. Shopping areas became popular as they reflected the new and exciting life that existed in the city, a new kind of geographical experience that those who lived more rural lives had not yet experienced.

In rural areas, especially those in the western part of the United states, reading remained a prime form of entertainment. Some experts attribute the joy of reading to the labor involved with living a rural life. Reading contributed to an escape from the difficult, laborious life that these men and women lived. The ongoing narratives provided the readers a way to become engrossed in the troubles of fictional characters rather than focusing on their own hardships. In addition to narratives, publications like catalogues also provided a means of escape and entertainment for those living in this area of the country.