While The Knick is a work of fiction, it is based on exhaustive historical research. Below, the show’s writers share some of the true facts of the era that are depicted in this episode.
A failed method for treating a detached retina during the period was to pass gold wire into the eye to let it drain. Algernon wants Thackery to use an electric current to get rid of the fluid build-up in his eye. The tool Thackery uses to hold the eye open is a very real device from the era. (Image courtesy of the Burns Archive.)
Algernon mentions cyclist “Major” Taylor, one of the 1st black champions in an American sport. Despite his wide fan base in Europe and Australia, Taylor faced a huge amount of racism at home. Fellow cyclists would box him out during races. In one case, he was knocked off his bike and choked unconscious. (Image courtesy of the Burns Archive.)
There was a huge building boom in New York (and other cities) at this time. The availability of steel, advances in architecture, as well as the growing wealth and expanding population, combined to send construction soaring. (Image courtesy of the Burns Archive.)
Wrestling started in 1800, and was originally a staged performance at carnivals. Immigrants from Central Europe brought the wrestling tradition with them to America. It boomed as a competitive sport, and became especially popular for placing bets. (Image courtesy of the Burns Archive.)