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The cover story for the December 16 issue was the grand duke’s review of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade in Tompkins Square.  Afterward, at the fire commissioner’s urging, Alexis tested the alarm system by telegraphing notice of a fire to the nearby station.  When the engines responded quickly, Alexis “expressed himself greatly impressed by the …discipline and efficiency of the [fire] department.”  The same Harper’s Weekly issue contained an illustration, description, and cartoon about the Grand Ducal Ball at New York’s Academy of Music.  The venue had served for over 30 years (1854-1886) as the city’s principal locale for opera and important celebratory events, as well as a popular site for meetings and a variety of public entertainment.  Besides welcoming the young Russian nobleman in 1871, the Academy of Music had been the place for the city’s formal reception of the Prince of Wales in 1860 and the Russian naval officers in 1863.

A cartoon in the journal’s next issue (December 23) conveyed the animal magnetism Grand Duke Alexis exuded on social occasions during his American tour.  The 21-year-old bachelor appeared as the symbol of his country, the Russian Bear, attracting the attention of beautiful American women.  Some accounts record his marriage to Alexandra Zhuhovsky, as well as the birth of their child in 1872, but the union was never officially recognized.  In 1877, he again visited the United States with his cousin, Grand Duke Constantine, but at their request they were treated as private citizens, not formal representatives of Russia.

Harper's Weekly References

1)  December 16, 1871, pp. 1169-70
illustrated article, Alexis and Fire Department

2)  December 16, 1871, p. 1177
illustration, “Ball at the Academy of Music…”

3)  December 16, 1871, p. 1178, c. 1-2
article,  “The Academy Ball”

4)  December 16, 1871, p. 1180
cartoon, “Ye Grand Ducal Ball…”

5)  December 23, 1871, p. S1216, c. 1-2
cartoon, “The Russian Bear…”

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