How To: Be a Ladies' Man

A way with women
A flexible moral compass

One At a Time
Frank Lloyd Wright, the man who revolutionized American architecture, was equally, uh, revolutionary, when it came to his love life. In 1889, he married Catherine Lee Clark Tobin and set about raising a family of six with her. However, that version of his personal life came to an abrupt end in 1909, when Wright went on an extended vacation to Berlin, Germany—with Margaret Cheney, the wife of a client, in tow. The pair spent more than two years in Europe before returning to Chicago and starting a new life as man and wife (though not legally, as Catherine refused to grant him a divorce). That second coupling would only last until 1914, but, to be fair, its end wasn't Wright's fault. That year, a disgruntled member of the family's hired help set the Wrights' house on fire after locking all but one door. As the former Mrs. Cheney, her two children, and two other guests fled the fire, the workman axed them to death. The freak incident plunged Wright into depression bad enough to distract him from his work, but not bad enough to keep him from hooking up with another woman less than a year later. He spent seven years with that woman, Miriam Noel, before finally getting his divorce from Catherine in 1922. He married Noel the next year. But, by 1924, Miriam left him, an event from which Wright quickly recovered by falling in love with a Yugoslavian ballerina named Olga Hinzenberg. Amazingly, this relationship managed to last to the end of the architect's life in 1959.

While Wright cornered the market on serial sort-of monogamy, fellow architect Louis Kahn kept a slightly busier schedule. Beginning around the early 1950s and until he died in 1974, Kahn kept three different sets of women and children, only one of which he was actually legally wed to. Despite the fact that this was pretty much an open secret in architecture circles, his New York Times obituary famously listed only his wife and her daughter as survivors, leaving out his other two children (and their mothers) entirely.

A Very Brief History of Chamber Pots

Some of the oldest chamber pots found by archeologists have been discovered in ancient Greece, but portable toilets have come a long way since then. Whether referred to as "the Jordan" (possibly a reference to the river), "Oliver's Skull" (maybe a nod to Oliver Cromwell's perambulating cranium), or "the Looking Glass" (because doctors would examine urine for diagnosis), they were an essential fact of life in houses and on the road for centuries. In this video from the Wellcome Collection, Visitor Experience Assistant Rob Bidder discusses two 19th century chamber pots in the museum while offering a brief survey of the use of chamber pots in Britain (including why they were particularly useful in wartime).

A Tour of the New York Academy of Medicine's Rare Book Room

The Rare Book Room at the New York Academy of Medicine documents the evolution of our medical knowledge. Its books and artifacts are as bizarre as they are fascinating. Read more here.


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