St Augustine, Florida
St Augustine Hotel, St Augustine, Florida, late 1800s
Public DomainSt Augustine Hotel, St Augustine, Florida, late 1800s - Credit: Robert N Dennis

St. Augustine is located in north central Florida.  It is known as the "Ancient City."  The historic district is today characterised by cobblestone streets, cafes, bars, boutique shops and bed-and-breakfasts. 

The city has long been a popular travel destination, offering a mild climate for much of the year.  It boasts many marinas, enabling easy boating access by sea, river and Intracoastal waterway, together with miles of pristine beaches.   

Lightner Museum, St. Augustine, Florida, originally the Alcazar Hotel
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeLightner Museum, St. Augustine, Florida, originally the Alcazar Hotel - Credit: Poco a poco

Tourism landmarks that would have been available to the Wellands in the 1870s include the Castillo de San Marcos, dating from the time of the Spanish empire, and constructed over 23 years, from 1672 to 1695.  It is made of coquina, a very strong limestone comprised of broken sea shells and coral. They might also have gazed upon Fort Matanzas, built between 1740 and 1742 by the Spanish, to provide a strategic view of sea vessels approaching from the south, via the Matanzas River. In 1889 Henry Flagler opened the Alcazar Hotel, offering guests a huge indoor pool, retractable roof, casino, spa, and movie theatre.

New York City
by hector

The Age of Innocence is set in 1870s New York.


New York, 1865
Public DomainNew York, 1865 - Credit: John Bachmann

Newport, Rhode Island
Newport, Magog and Owl's Head
Public DomainNewport, Magog and Owl's Head - Credit: Robert N. Dennis collection

An August 1873 supplement to Harper's Weekly records Rhode Island as being settled in 1638 “by John Clark and a little band of persecuted brethren seeking an asylum from the religious intolerance of Massachusetts.”  The first settlement was on the north of the island, at Portsmouth.  The following spring, Newport was founded on the south of the island. 

Memphremagog House, Newport
Public DomainMemphremagog House, Newport - Credit: Clifford, D. A.

The supplement describes Newport as “the oldest and most picturesque watering-place in this country.  The town began its rise to popularity in 1830, when it “became known as a pleasant watering-place. Families from the Southern States, attracted by its genial climate, began to visit here during the summer, living entirely in boarding-houses.” It took until 1851 before the town became a highly popular and fashionable watering-place.  The rush for development quickly followed – private cottages sprung up along the main streets, and the wealthy soon began building ornate summer residences.  The town was suddenly populated by Swiss chalets, French villas, and English cottages.  According to the supplement, “probably in no other place in America has there been such lavish expenditure of money in the search for comfort and luxury.”

By 1870, Newport was “the metropolis of summer resorts. Its picturesque situation, delightful climate, and the charm of shady groves… must for many years to come give it the preference with those who value these advantages above the attractions of a purely fashionable resort.” Read more from the supplement here.