II. THE HARBOR OF NEW YORK.
III. THE CITY GOVERNMENT.
VIII. THE BOWERY.
IX. PUBLIC SQUARES.
X. THE FIFTH AVENUE.
XI. STREET TRAVEL.
XII. HORACE GREELEY.
XIII. THE TOMBS.
XIV. THE PRESS.
XV. WALL STREET.
XVI. THE FERRIES.
XVII. THE HOTELS.
XIX. STREET MUSICIANS.
XX. THE CENTRAL PARK.
XXI. THE DETECTIVES.
XXII. WILLIAM B. ASTOR.
XXIII. FASHIONABLE SHOPPING.
XXIV. BLEECKER STREET.
XXVI. THE CLUBS.
XXVII. THE FIVE POINTS.
XXVIII. THE MILITARY.
XXIX. NASSAU STREET.
XXX. THE METROPOLITAN FIRE DEPARTMENT.
XXXI. THE BUSINESS OF NEW YORK.
XXXII. THE SABBATH IN NEW YORK.
XXXIV. A. T. STEWART.
XXXV. PLACES OF AMUSEMENT.
XXXVI. THE MARKETS.
XXXVII. THE CHURCHES.
XXXVIII. BOARDING-HOUSE LIFE.
XXXIX. THE RESTAURANTS.
XL. THE CHEAP LODGING-HOUSES.
XLI. THE LIBRARIES.
XLII. PROFESSIONAL MEN.
XLIII. PROFESSIONAL CRIMINALS.
XLIV. THE PAWNBROKERS.
XLV. THE BEER-GARDENS.
XLVI. JAMES FISK JR.
XLVII. TRINITY CHURCH.
XLVIII. THE HOLIDAYS.
XLIX. THE SOCIAL EVIL.
L. CHILD MURDER.
LI. THE EAST RIVER ISLANDS AND THEIR INSTITUTIONS.
LII. BENEVOLENT AND CHARITABLE INSTITUTIONS.
LIII. HENRY WARD BEECHER.
LV. FEMALE SHARPERS.
LVI. EDUCATIONAL ESTABLISHMENTS.
LVII. JEROME PARK.
LVIII. COMMODORE VANDERBILT.
LIX. THE BUMMERS.
LX. TENEMENT HOUSE LIFE.
LXI. CHATHAM STREET.
LXII. JAMES GORDON BENNETT.
LXIV. WHAT IT COSTS TO LIVE IN NEW YORK.
LXVI. PETER COOPER.
LXVIII. STREET CHILDREN.
LXX. ROBERT BONNER.
LXXI. PUBLIC BUILDINGS.
LXXII. PATENT DIVORCES.
LXXIII. THE CROTON WATER WORKS.
LXXV. SAILORS IN NEW YORK.
LXXVI. THE BALLET.
LXXVII. THE POOR OF NEW YORK.
LXXVIII. QUACK DOCTORS.
LXXIX. YOUNG MEN’S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION.
LXXX. CASTLE GARDEN.
LXXXI. WORKING WOMEN.
LXXXII. STREET VENDERS.
LXXXIII. THE WHARVES.
LXXXIV. THE MORGUE.
LXXXV. THE CUSTOM HOUSE.
I. THE CITY OF NEW YORK
the morning of the 1st of May, 1607, there knelt at the chancel of
the old church of St. Ethelburge, in Bishopsgate street, London, to
receive the sacrament, a man of noble and commanding presence, with a
broad intellectual forehead, short, close hair, and a countenance
full of the dignity and courtly bearing of an honorable gentleman.
His dress bespoke him a sailor, and such he was. Immediately
upon receiving the sacrament, he hastened from the church to the
Thames, where a boat was in waiting to convey him to a vessel lying
in the stream. But little time was lost after his arrival on
board, and soon the ship was gliding down the river. The man
was an Englishman by birth and training, a seaman by education, and
one of those daring explorers of the time who yearned to win fame by
discovering the new route to India. His name was Henry Hudson,
and he had been employed by “certain worshipful merchants of
London” to go in search of a North-east
passage to India, around the Arctic shores of Europe, between Lapland
and Nova Zembla, and frozen Spitzbergen. These worthy gentlemen
were convinced that since the effort to find a North-west
passage had failed, nothing remained but to search for a North-east
passage, and they were sure that if human skill or energy could find
it, Hudson would succeed in his mission. They were not mistaken
in their man, for in two successive voyages he did all that mortal
could do to penetrate the ice fields beyond the North Cape, but
without success. An impassable barrier of ice held him back,
and he was forced to return to London to confess his failure.
With unconquerable hope, he suggested new means of overcoming the
difficulties; but while his employers praised his zeal and skill,
they declined to go to further expense in an undertaking which
promised so little, and the “bold Englishman, the expert pilot, and
the famous navigator” found himself out of employment. Every
effort to secure aid in England failed him, and, thoroughly
disheartened, he passed over to Holland, whither his fame had
Dutch, who were more enterprising, and more hopeful than his own
countrymen, lent a ready ear to his statement of his plans, and the
Dutch East India Company at once employed him, and placed him in
command of a yacht of ninety tons, called the
Half Moon, manned
by a picked crew. On the 25th of March, 1609, Hudson set sail
in this vessel from Amsterdam, and steered directly for the coast of
Nova Zembla. He succeeded in reaching the meridian of
Spitzbergen; but here the ice, the fogs, and the fierce tempests of
the North drove him back, and turning to the westward, he sailed past
the capes of Greenland, and on the 2nd of July was on the banks of
Newfoundland. He passed down the coast as far as Charleston
Harbor, vainly hoping to find the North-west
passage, and then in despair turned to the northward, discovering
Delaware Bay on his voyage. On the 3rd of September he arrived
off a large bay to the north of the Delaware, and passing into it,
dropped anchor “at two cables’ length from the shore,” within
Sandy Hook. Devoting some days to rest, and to the exploration
of the bay, he passed through The Narrows on the 11th of September,
and then the broad and beautiful “inner bay” burst upon him in
all its splendor, and from the deck of his ship he watched the swift
current of the mighty river rolling from the north to the sea.
He was full of hope now, and the next day continued his progress up
the river, and at nightfall cast anchor at Yonkers. During the
night the current of the river turned his ship around, placing her
head down stream; and this fact, coupled with the assurances of the
natives who came out to the
Half Moon in their
canoes, that the river flowed from far beyond the mountains,
convinced him that the stream flowed from ocean to ocean, and that by
sailing on he would at length reach India—the golden land of his
encouraged, he pursued his way up the river, gazing with wondering
delight upon its glorious scenery, and listening with gradually
fading hope to the stories of the natives who flocked to the water to
greet him. The stream narrowed, and the water grew fresh, and
long before he anchored below Albany, Hudson had abandoned the belief
that he was in the Northwest passage. From the anchorage, a
boat’s crew continued the voyage to the mouth of the Mohawk.
Hudson was satisfied that he had made a great discovery—one that
was worth fully as much as finding the new route to India. He
was in a region upon which the white man’s eye had never rested
before, and which offered the richest returns to commercial
ventures. He hastened back to New York Bay, took possession of
the country in the name of Holland, and then set sail for Europe.
He put into Dartmouth in England, on his way back, where he told the
story of his discovery. King James I. prevented his continuing
his voyage, hoping to deprive the Dutch of its fruits; but Hudson
took care to send his log-book and all the ship’s papers over to
Holland, and thus placed his employers in full possession of the
knowledge he had gained. The English at length released the
Half Moon, and she
continued her voyage to the Texel.The
discovery of Hudson was particularly acceptable to the Dutch, for the
new country was rich in fur-bearing animals, and Russia offered a
ready market for all the furs that could be sent there. The
East India Company, therefore, refitted the
Half Moon after her
return to Holland, and despatched her to the region discovered by
Hudson on a fur trading expedition, which was highly successful.
Private persons also embarked in similar enterprises, and within two
years a prosperous and important fur trade was established between
Holland and the country along the Mauritius, as the great river
discovered by Hudson had been named, in honor of the Stadtholder of
Holland. No government took any notice of the trade for a
while, and all persons were free to engage in it.Among
the adventurers employed in this trade was one Adrian Block, noted as
one of the boldest navigators of his time. He made a voyage to
Manhattan Island in 1614, then the site of a Dutch trading post, and
had secured a cargo of skins with which he was about to return to
Holland, when a fire consumed both his vessel and her cargo, and
obliged him to pass the winter with his crew on the island.
They built them log huts on the site of the present Beaver street,
the first houses erected in New York, and during the winter
constructed a yacht of sixteen tons, which Block called the
“Restless.” In this yacht Block made many voyages of
discovery, exploring the coasts of Long Island Sound, and giving his
name to the island near the eastern end of the sound. He soon
after went back to Europe.Meanwhile,
a small settlement had clustered about the trading post and the huts
built by Block’s shipwrecked crew, and had taken the name of New
Amsterdam. The inhabitants were well suited to become the
ancestors of a great nation. They were mainly Dutch citizens of
a European Republic, “composed of seven free, sovereign
States”—made so by a struggle with despotism for forty years, and
occupying a territory which their ancestors had reclaimed from the
ocean and morass by indomitable labor. It was a republic where
freedom of conscience, speech, and the press were complete and
universal. The effect of this freedom had been the internal
development of social beauty and strength, and vast increment of
substantial wealth and power by immigration. Wars and
despotisms in other parts of Europe sent thousands of intelligent
exiles thither, and those free provinces were crowded with ingenious
mechanics, and artists, and learned men, because conscience was there
undisturbed, and the hand and brain were free to win and use the
rewards of their industry and skill. Beautiful cities, towns,
and villages were strewn over the whole country, and nowhere in
Europe did society present an aspect half as pleasing as that of
Holland. Every religious sect there found an asylum from
persecution and encouragement to manly effort, by the kind respect of
all. And at the very time when the charter of the West India
Company was under consideration, that band of English Puritans who
afterward set up the ensign of free institutions on the shores of
Massachusetts Bay, were being nurtured in the bosom of that republic,
and instructed in those principles of civil liberty that became a
salutary leaven in the bigotry which they brought with them.
were the people who laid the foundations of the Commonwealth of New
York. They were men of expanded views, liberal feelings, and
never dreamed of questioning any man’s inalienable right to ‘life,
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’ among them, whether he first
inspired the common air in Holland, England, Abyssinia, or
Kamtschatka. And as the population increased and became
heterogeneous, that very toleration became a reproach; and their
Puritan neighbors on the east, and Churchmen and Romanists on the
south, called New Amsterdam ‘a cage of unclean birds.’”The
English, now awake to the importance of Hudson’s discoveries,
warned the Dutch Government to refrain from making further
settlements on “Hudson’s River,” as they called the Mauritius;
but the latter, relying upon the justice of their claim, which was
based upon Hudson’s discovery, paid no attention to these warnings,
and in the spring of 1623 the Dutch West India Company sent over
thirty families of Walloons, or 110 persons in all, to found a
permanent colony at New Amsterdam, which, until now, had been
inhabited only by fur traders. These Walloons were Protestants,
from the frontier between France and Flanders, and had fled to
Amsterdam to escape religious persecution in France. They were
sound, healthy, vigorous, and pious people, and could be relied upon
to make homes in the New World. The majority of them settled in
New Amsterdam. Others went to Long Island, where Sarah de
Rapelje, the first white child born in the province of New
Netherlands, saw the light.In
1626, Peter Minuit, the first regular Governor, was sent over from
Holland. He brought with him a
Koopman or general
commissary, who was also secretary of the province, and a
Schout, or sheriff,
to assist him in his government. The only laws to which he was
subject were the instructions of the West India Company. The
colonists, on their part, were to regard his will as their law.
He set to work with great vigor to lay the foundations of the
colony. He called a council of the Indian chiefs, and purchased
the Island of Manhattan from them for presents valued at about twenty
dollars, United States coin. He thus secured an equitable title
to the island, and won the friendship of the Indians. Under his
vigorous administration, the colony prospered; houses were built,
farms laid off; the population was largely increased by new arrivals
from Europe; and New Amsterdam fairly entered upon its career as one
of the most important places in America. It was a happy
settlement, as well; the rights of the people were respected, and
they were as free as they had been in Holland. Troubles with
the Indians marked the close of Minuit’s administration. The
latter were provoked by the murder of some of their number by the
whites, and by the aid rendered by the commander at Fort Orange
(Albany) to the Mohegans, in one of their forays upon the Mohawks.
Many of the families at Fort Orange, and from the region between the
Hudson and the Delaware, abandoned their settlements, and came to New
Amsterdam for safety, thus adding to the population of that place.
Minuit was recalled in 1632, and he left the province in a highly
prosperous condition. During the last year of his government
New Amsterdam sent over $60,000 worth of furs to Holland.His
successor was the redoubtable Wouter Van Twiller, a clerk in the
company’s warehouse at Amsterdam, who owed his appointment to his
being the husband of the niece of Killian Van Rensselaer, the patroon
of Albany. Irving has given us the following admirable portrait
was exactly five feet six inches in height, and six feet five inches
in circumference. His head was a perfect sphere, and of such
stupendous dimensions, that dame Nature, with all her sex’s
ingenuity, would have been puzzled to construct a neck capable of
supporting it; wherefore she wisely declined the attempt, and settled
it firmly on the top of his back bone, just between the shoulders.
His body was oblong, and particularly capacious at bottom; which was
wisely ordered by Providence, seeing that he was a man of sedentary
habits, and very averse to the idle labor of walking. His legs
were very short, but sturdy in proportion to the weight they had to
sustain: so that, when erect, he had not a little the appearance of a
beer barrel on skids. His face, that infallible index of the
mind, presented a vast expanse, unfurrowed by any of those lines and
angles which disfigure the human countenance with what is termed
expression. Two small gray eyes twinkled feebly in the midst,
like two stars of lesser magnitude in a hazy firmament; and his
full-fed cheeks, which seemed to have taken toll of everything that
went into his mouth, were curiously mottled and streaked with dusky
red, like a Spitzenberg apple. His habits were as regular as
his person. He daily took his four stated meals, appropriating
exactly an hour to each; he smoked and doubted eight hours, and he
slept the remaining twelve of the four-and-twenty.”Van
Twiller ruled the province seven years, and, in spite of his
stupidity, it prospered. In 1633, Adam Roelantsen, the first
school-master, arrived—for the fruitful Walloons had opened the way
by this time for his labors—and in the same year a wooden church
was built in the present Bridge street, and placed in charge of the
famous Dominie Everardus Bogardus. In 1635, the fort, which
marked the site of the present Bowling Green, and which had been
begun in 1614, was finished, and in the same year the first English
settlers at New Amsterdam came into the town. The English in
New England also began to give the Dutch trouble during this
administration, and even sent a ship into “Hudson’s River” to
trade with the Indians. Influenced by De Vries, the commander
of the fort, the Governor sent an expedition up the river after the
audacious English vessel, seized her, brought her back to New York,
and sent her to sea with a warning not to repeat her attempt.
The disputes between the English and the Dutch about the Connecticut
settlements, also began to make trouble for New Amsterdam. Van
Twiller possessed no influence in the colony, was laughed at and
snubbed on every side, and was at length recalled by the company in
1638. The only memorial of Van Twiller left to us is the Isle
of Nuts, which lies in the bay between New York and Brooklyn, and
which he purchased as his private domain. It is still called
the “Governor’s Island.”Van
Twiller’s successor in the government of the province was William
Kieft. He was as energetic as he was spiteful, and as spiteful
as he was rapacious. His chief pleasure lay in quarrelling.
He and his council made some useful reforms, but as a rule they
greatly oppressed the people. During this administration
agriculture was encouraged, the growing of fruit was undertaken, and
several other things done to increase the material prosperity of the
town. The fort was repaired and strengthened, new warehouses
were built, and police ordinances were framed and strictly executed.
The old wooden church was made a barrack for troops, and a new and
larger edifice of stone was constructed by Kuyter and Dam within the
walls of the fort. Within the little tower were hung the bells
captured from the Spanish by the Dutch at Porto Rico. The
church cost $1000, and was considered a grand edifice. In 1642
a stone tavern was built at the head of Coenties Slip, and in the
same year, the first “city lots” with valid titles were granted
to the settlers.The
latter part of Kieft’s administration was marked by contests with
the citizens, who compelled him, in 1641, to grant them a municipal
council, composed of twelve of the most prominent residents of New
Amsterdam, which council he arbitrarily dissolved at the first
opportunity. He also stirred up a war with the Indians, in
which he was the principal aggressor. This war brought great
loss and suffering upon the province, and came near ruining it.
Kieft, alarmed at the results of his folly, appointed a new municipal
council of eight members, and this council at once demanded of the
States General of Holland the removal of Kieft. Their demand
was complied with, and in 1647, Peter Stuyvesant was made Governor of
New Netherlands, and reached New Amsterdam in the same year.Stuyvesant
was essentially a strong man. A soldier by education and of
long experience, he was accustomed to regard rigid discipline as the
one thing needful in every relation of life, and he was not slow to
introduce that system into his government of New Amsterdam. He
had served gallantly in the wars against the Portuguese, and had lost
a leg in one of his numerous encounters with them. He was as
vain as a peacock, as fond of display as a child, and thoroughly
imbued with the most aristocratic ideas—qualities not exactly the
best for a Governor of New Amsterdam. Yet, he was, with all his
faults, an honest man, he had deeply at heart the interests of the
colony, and his administration was mainly a prosperous one.He
energetically opposed from the first all manifestations in favor of
popular government. His will was to be the law of the
province. “If any one,” said he, “during my
administration shall appeal, I will make him a foot shorter, and send
the pieces to Holland, and let him appeal in that way.” He
went to work with vigor to reform matters in the colony, extending
his efforts to even the morals and domestic affairs of the people.
He soon brought about a reign of material prosperity greater than had
ever been known before, and exerted himself to check the
encroachments of the English, on the East, and the Swedes, on the
South. He inaugurated a policy of kindness and justice toward
the Indians, and soon changed their enmity to sincere friendship.
One thing, however, he dared not do—he could not levy taxes upon
the people without their consent, for fear of offending the States
General of Holland. This forced him to appoint a council of
nine prominent citizens, and, although he endeavored to hedge round
their powers by numerous conditions, the nine ever afterwards served
as a salutary check upon the action of the Governor. He
succeeded, in the autumn of 1650, in settling the boundary disputes
with the English in New England, and then turned his attention to the
Swedes on the Delaware, whom he conquered in 1654. His politic
course towards them had the effect of converting them into warm
friends of the Dutch. During his absence on this expedition,
the Indians ravaged the Jersey shore and Staten Island, and even made
an attack on New Amsterdam itself. They were defeated by the
citizens, and Stuyvesant’s speedy return compelled them to make
peace. This was the last blow struck by the savages at the
1652, the States General, much to the disgust of Stuyvesant, granted
to New Amsterdam a municipal government similar to that of the free
cities of Holland. A Schout, or Sheriff, two Burgomasters, and
five Schepens, were to constitute a municipal court of justice.
The people, however, were denied the selection of these officers, who
were appointed by the Governor. In February, 1653, these
officers were formally installed. They were, Schout Van
Tienhoven, Burgomasters Hattem and Kregier, and Schepens Van der
Grist, Van Gheel, Anthony, Beeckman, and Couwenhoven, with Jacob Kip
Stuyvesant’s administration, the colony received large accessions
from the English in New England. “Numbers, nay whole towns,”
says De Laet, “to escape from the insupportable government of New
England, removed to New Netherlands, to enjoy that liberty denied to
them by their own countrymen.” They settled in New Amsterdam,
on Long Island, and in Westchester county. Being admitted to
the rights of citizenship, they exercised considerable influence in
the affairs of the colony, and towards the close of his
administration gave the Governor considerable trouble by their
opposition to his despotic acts.In
1647, the streets of New Amsterdam were cleared of the shanties and
pig-pens which obstructed them. In 1648, every Monday was
declared a market-day. In 1650, Dirk Van Schellyne, the first
lawyer, “put up his shingle” in New Amsterdam. In 1652, a
wall or palisade was erected along the upper boundary of the city, in
apprehension of an invasion by the English. This defence ran
from river to river, and to it Wall street, which occupies its site
east of Trinity Church, owes its name. In 1656, the first
survey of the city was made, and seventeen streets were laid down on
the map; and, in the same year, the first census showed a “city”
of 120 houses, and 1000 inhabitants. In 1657, a terrible blow
fell upon New Amsterdam—the public treasury being empty, the salary
of the town drummer could not be paid. In that year the average
price of the best city lots was $50. In 1658, the custom of
“bundling” received its death blow by an edict of the Governor,
which forbade men and women to live together until legally married.
In that year the streets were first paved with stone, and the first
“night watch” was organized and duly provided with rattles.
A fire department, supplied with buckets and ladders, was also
established, and the first public well was dug in Broadway. In
1660, it was made the duty of the Sheriff to go round the city by
night to assure himself of its peace and safety. This worthy
official complained that the dogs, having no respect for his august
person, attacked him in his rounds, and that certain evil-minded
individuals “frightened” him by calling out “Indians” in the
darkness, and that even the boys cut
city grew steadily, its suburbs began to smile with boweries, or
farms, and in 1658 a palisaded village called New Harlem was founded
at the eastern end of Manhattan Island for the purpose of “promoting
agriculture, and affording a place of amusement for the citizens of
New Amsterdam.” “Homes, genuine, happy Dutch homes, in
abundance, were found within and without the city, where uncultured
minds and affectionate hearts enjoyed life in dreamy, quiet
blissfulness, unknown in these bustling times. The city people
then rose at dawn, dined at eleven, and went to bed at sunset, except
on extraordinary occasions, such as Christmas Eve, a tea party, or a
wedding. Then those who attended the fashionable soirées of
the ‘upper ten’ assembled at three o’clock in the afternoon,
and went away at six, so that daughter Maritchie might have the
pewter plates and delf teapot cleaned and cupboarded in time for
evening prayer at seven. Knitting and spinning held the places
of whist and flirting in these ‘degenerate days;’ and
utility was as
plainly stamped on all their pleasures as the maker’s name on our
the period of Dutch supremacy on Manhattan was approaching its
close. Charles II. had just regained the English throne.
In 1664, with characteristic disregard of right and justice, he
granted to his brother James, Duke of York and Albany, the whole
territory of New Netherlands, including all of Long Island and a part
of Connecticut—lands to which he had not the shadow of a claim.
In the same year, a force of four ships and 450 soldiers, under the
command of Colonel Richard Nicholls, was sent to New Amsterdam to
take possession of that city. It arrived at the Narrows about
the 29th of August, and on the 30th, Nicholls demanded the surrender
of the town. Stuyvesant, who had made preparations for
defending the place, endeavored to resist the demand, but the people
refused to sustain him, and he was obliged to submit. On the
8th of September, 1664, he withdrew the Dutch garrison from the fort,
and embarked at the foot of Beaver street for Holland. The
English at once took possession of the town and province, changing
the name of both to New York, in honor of the new proprietor.The
English set themselves to work to conciliate the Dutch residents, a
task not very difficult, inasmuch as the English settlers already in
the province had to a great degree prepared the way for the change.
In 1665, the year after the conquest, the city was given a Mayor, a
Sheriff, and a board of Aldermen, who were charged with the
administration of municipal affairs, and in the same year jury trials
were formally established. In July, 1673, the Dutch fleet
recaptured the town, drove out the English, and named it New Orange.
The peace between Great Britain and Holland, which closed the war,
restored the town to the English, November 10th, 1674, and the name
of New York was resumed. The Dutch Government was replaced by
the English system under a liberal charter, and during the remainder
of the seventeenth century the town grew rapidly in population and
size. In 1689 there was a brief disturbance known as Leislers’
Rebellion. In 1700 New York contained 750 dwellings and 4500
white and 750 black inhabitants. In 1693 William Bradford
established the first printing press in the city. In 1696
Trinity Church was begun, and in 1697, the streets were first
lighted, a lamp being hung out upon a pole extending from the window
of every seventh house. In 1702 a terrible fever was brought
from St. Thomas’, and carried off 600 persons, one-tenth of the
whole population. In 1711, a slave market was established.
In 1719 the first Presbyterian Church was built; in 1725 the New York
Gazette, the fifth
of the colonial newspapers, was established; and in 1730 stages ran
to Philadelphia once a fortnight, and in 1732 to Boston, the latter
journey occupying fourteen days. In 1731 the first public
library, the bequest of the Rev. Dr. Wellington, of England,
was opened in the city. It contained 1622 volumes. In
1734 a workhouse was erected in the present City Hall Park. In
1735 the people made their first manifestation of hostility to Great
Britain, which was drawn forth by the infamous prosecution by the
officers of the crown, of Rip Van Dam, who had been the acting
Governor of the town. The winter of 1740-41 was memorable for
its severity. The Hudson was frozen over at New York, and the
snow lay six feet on a level. In 1741, a severe fire in the
lower part of the city destroyed among other things the old Dutch
Church and fort, and in the same year the yellow fever raged with
great violence. The principal event of the year, however, was
the so-called negro plot for the destruction of the town.
Though the reality of the plot was never proved, the greatest alarm
prevailed; the fire in the fort was declared to be the work of the
negroes, many of whom were arrested; and upon the sole evidence of a
servant girl a number of the poor wretches were convicted and
hanged. Several whites were charged with being the accomplices
of the negroes. One of these, John Ury, a Roman Catholic
priest, and, as is now believed, an innocent man, was hanged, in
August. In the space of six months 154 negroes and twenty
whites were arrested, twenty negroes were hanged, thirteen were
burned at the stake, and seventy-eight were transported. The
rest were released. In 1750 a theatre was opened, and in 1755
St. Paul’s Church was erected. In 1754 the “Walton House,”
in Pearl street (still standing), was built by William Walton, a
merchant. It was long known as the finest private residence in
the city. In 1755 the Staten Island ferry, served by means of
row boats, was established, and in the same year Peck Slip was opened
and paved. In 1756 the first lottery ever seen in the city was
opened in behalf of King’s (now Columbia) College.New
York bore a prominent part in the resistance of the colonies to the
aggressions of the mother country, and in spite of the efforts of her
royalist Governor and the presence of a large number of Tories,
responded cordially to the call of the colonies for men and money
during the war. On the 14th of April, 1776, the city was
occupied by the American army, the British force stationed there
being obliged to withdraw. On the 26th of August, 1776, the
battle of Long Island having been lost by the Americans, New York was
occupied by the British, who held it until the close of the war.
It suffered very much at their hands. Nearly all the churches,
except the Episcopal, were used by them as prisons, riding schools,
and stables; and the schools and colleges were closed. On the
21st of September, 1776, a fire destroyed 493 houses, including
Trinity Church—all the west side of Broadway from Whitehall to
Barclay street, or about one-eighth of the city; and on the 7th of
August 1778, about 300 buildings on East River were burned. The
winter of 1779-80 was very severe; there was a beaten track for
sleighs and wagons across the Hudson; the ice in that river being
strong enough to bear a horse and man as late as the 17th of March;
eighty sleighs, with provisions, and a large body of troops, crossed
on the ice from the city to Staten Island. On the 25th of
November, 1783, the British evacuated the city, which was at once
occupied by the American army.In
1785 the first Federal Congress met in the City Hall, which stood at
the corner of Wall and Nassau streets, and on the 30th of April,
1789, George Washington was inaugurated first President of the United
States on the same spot. By 1791 New York had spread to the
lower end of the present City Hall Park, the site of the new Post
Office, and was extending along the Boston road, or Bowery, and
Broadway. In 1799, the Manhattan Company for supplying the city
with fresh water was chartered. On the 20th of September, 1803,
the cornerstone of the City Hall was laid. The city fathers,
sagely premising that New York would never pass this limit, ordered
the rear wall of the edifice to be constructed of brown stone, to
save the expense of marble. Free schools were opened in 1805.
In the same year the yellow fever raged with violence, and had the
effect of extending the city by driving the population up the island,
where many of them located themselves permanently. In 1807,
Robert Fulton navigated the first steamboat from New York to Albany.The
war of 1812-15 for a while stopped the growth of the city, but after
the return of peace its progress was resumed. In August, 1812,
experimental gas lamps were placed in the City Hall Park, though the
use of gas for purposes of lighting was not begun until 1825.
In 1822 the yellow fever again drove the population up the island,
and caused a rapid growth of the city above Canal street. In
1825 the Erie Canal was completed. This great work, by placing
the trade of the West in the hands of New York, gave a powerful
impetus to the growth of the city, which was at that time spreading
at the rate of from 1000 to 1500 houses per year. In 1832 and
1834, the cholera raged severely, carrying off upwards of 4484
persons in the two years. In 1835, the “great fire”
occurred. This terrible conflagration broke out on the 16th of
December of that year, and swept the First Ward of the city east of
Broadway and below Wall street. It laid almost the entire
business quarter in ashes, destroyed 648 houses, and inflicted upon
the city a loss of over $18,000,000. New York rose from this
disaster with wonderful energy and rapidity, but only to meet, in
1837, the most terrible financial crisis that had ever burst upon the
country. Even this did not check the growth of the city, the
population increasing 110,100 between 1830 and 1840. In 1842
the Croton water was introduced. In 1849 and 1854 the cholera
again appeared, killing over 5400 persons. In 1852, the first
street railway was built. In 1858, the Central Park was begun.The
Civil War checked the growth and trade of the city, which languished
during the entire struggle, but upon the return of peace New York
resumed its onward progress. The growth of the city since 1865
has been most marked, especially in the immediate vicinity of the
Central Park. Not less marked has been the improvement of the
older portions. The city is rapidly increasing in size,
population, and magnificence, and is fully maintaining its position
as the brilliant metropolis of the New World.II.
DESCRIPTIVE AND STATISTICAL.The
city of New York, the largest and most important in the United
States, is situated in New York County, on Manhattan Island, at the
mouth of the Hudson River, eighteen miles from the Atlantic Ocean.
The city limits comprise the entire county of New York, embracing
Manhattan Island, Randall’s, Ward’s, and Blackwell’s Islands,
in the East River, and Governor’s, Bedloe’s, and Ellis’
Islands, in the bay. The last three are occupied by the
military posts of the United States Government. Manhattan
Island is bounded on the north by Spuyten Duyvel Creek and the Harlem
River—practically the same stream; on the east by the East River,
on the west by the Hudson, and on the south by New York Bay. It
is nine miles long on the east side, thirteen and a half miles long
on the west side, and two and a half miles wide at its greatest
breadth, the average breadth being a mile and a half. It is but
a few feet in width at its southern extremity, but spreads out like a
fan as it stretches away to the northward. The southern point
is but a few inches above the level of the bay, but the island rises
rapidly to the northward, its extreme northern portion being occupied
by a series of bold, finely wooded heights, which terminate at the
junction of the Hudson River and Spuyten Duyvel Creek, in a bold
promontory, 130 feet high. These hills, known as Washington
Heights, are two or three miles in length. The southern portion
of the island is principally a sand-bed, but the remainder is very
rocky. The island covers an area of twenty-two square miles, or
14,000 acres. It is built up compactly for about six miles,
along the east side, and irregularly to Harlem, three miles farther.
Along the west side it is built up compactly to the Central Park,
Fifty-ninth street, and irregularly to Manhattanville, One hundred
and twenty-fifth street, from which point to Spuyten Duyvel Creek it
is covered with country seats, gardens, etc. Three wagon, and
two railroad bridges over the Harlem River connect the island with
the mainland, and numerous lines of ferries afford communication with
Long and Staten Islands, and New Jersey. The island attains its
greatest width at Fourteenth and Eighty-seventh streets.The
city is finely built, and presents an aspect of industry and
liveliness unsurpassed by any place in the world. Lying in full
sight of the ocean, with its magnificent bay to the southward, and
the East and Hudson Rivers washing its shores, the city of New York
possesses a climate which renders it the most delightful residence in
America. In the winter the proximity of the sea moderates the
severity of the cold, and in the summer the heat is tempered by the
delightful sea breezes which sweep over the island. Snow seldom
lies in the streets for more than a few hours, and the intense
“heated terms” of the summer are of very brief duration. As
a natural consequence, the city is healthy, and the death rate,
considering the population, is small.The
southern portion is densely built up. Between the City Hall and
Twenty-third street New York is more thickly populated than any city
in America. It is in this section that the “tenement houses,”
or buildings containing from five to twenty families, are to be
found. The greatest mortality is in these over-crowded
districts, which the severest police measures cannot keep clean and
free from filth. The southern portion of the city is devoted
almost exclusively to trade, comparatively few persons residing below
the City Hall. Below Canal street the streets are narrow,
crooked, and irregular. Above Houston street they are broad and
straight, and are laid out at regular intervals. Above Houston
street, the streets extending across the island are numbered.
The avenues begin in the vicinity of Third street, and extend, or
will extend to the northern limit of the island, running parallel
with the Hudson River. There are twelve fine avenues at
parallel distances apart of about 800 feet. Second and Eighth
are the longest, and Fifth, Madison and Lexington the most
fashionable. They commence with Avenue D, a short street, near
the East River. West of this, and parallel with it, are three
avenues somewhat longer, called Avenues C, B, and A, the last being
the most westerly. Then begin the long avenues, which are
numbered First, Second, and so on, as they increase to the westward.
There are two other avenues shorter than those with numbers, viz:
Lexington, lying between Third and Fourth, and extending from
Fourteenth street on the south to Sixty-ninth street on the north;
and Madison, between Fourth and Fifth, and extending from
Twenty-third street at Madison Square to Eighty-sixth street.
Madison and Lexington are each to be prolonged to the Harlem River.
These avenues are all 100 feet wide, except Lexington and Madison,
which are seventy-five feet wide, and Fourth avenue, above
Thirty-fourth street, which is 140 feet wide. Third avenue is
the main street on the east side above the Bowery, of which it is a
continuation, and Eighth avenue is the principal highway on the west
side. Fifth and Madison avenues are the most fashionable, and
are magnificently built up with private residences below the Park.
The cross streets connecting them are also handsomely built.The
numerical streets are all sixty feet wide, except Fourteenth,
Twenty-third, Thirty-fourth, Forty-second, and eleven others north of
these, which are 100 feet wide. The streets of the city are
well laid off, and are paved with an excellent quality of stone.
The sidewalks generally consist of immense stone “flags.”
In the lower part of the city, in the poorer and business sections,
the streets are dirty and always out of order. In the upper
part they are clean, and are generally kept so by private
avenues on the eastern and western extremities of the city are the
abodes of poverty and want, and often of vice, hemming in the wealthy
and cleanly sections on both sides. Poverty and riches are
close neighbors in New York. Only a stone’s throw back of the
most sumptuous parts of Broadway and Fifth avenue, want and
suffering, vice and crime, hold their courts. Fine ladies can
look down from their high casements upon the squalid dens of their
is the principal thoroughfare. It extends from the Battery to
Spuyten Duyvel Creek, a distance of fifteen miles. It is built
up compactly for about five miles, is paved and graded for about
seven miles, and is lighted with gas along its entire length.
There are over 420 miles of streets in the patrol districts, and
eleven miles of piers along the water. The sewerage is
generally good, but defective in some places. Nearly 400 miles
of water-mains have been laid. The streets are lighted by about
19,000 gas lamps, besides lamps set out by private parties.
They are paved with the Belgian and wooden pavements, cobble stones
being almost a thing of the past. For so large a city, New York
is remarkably clean, except in those portions lying close to the
river, or given up to paupers.The
city is substantially built. Frame houses are rare. Many
of the old quarters are built of brick, but this material is now used
to a limited extent only. Broadway and the principal business
streets are lined with buildings of iron, marble, granite, brown,
Portland, and Ohio stone, palatial in their appearance; and the
sections devoted to the residences of the better classes are built up
mainly with brown, Portland, and Ohio stone, and in some instances
with marble. Thus the city presents an appearance of grandeur
and solidity most pleasing to the eye. The public buildings
will compare favorably with any in the world, and there is no city on
the globe that can boast so many palatial warehouses and stores.
Broadway is one of the best built thoroughfares in the world.
The stores which line it are generally from five to six stories high
above ground, with two cellars below the pavement, and vaults
extending to near the middle of the street. The adjacent
streets in many instances rival Broadway in their splendors.
The stores of the city are famous for their elegance and convenience,
and for the magnificence and variety of the goods displayed in them.
The streets occupied by private residences are broad, clean and
well-paved, and are lined with miles of dwellings inferior to none in
the world in convenience and substantial elegance. The amount
of wealth and taste concentrated in the dwellings of the better
classes of the citizens of New York is very great.The
population of New York, in 1870, according to the United States
census of that year, was 942,337. There can be no doubt that at
the present time the island contains over 1,000,000
Thousands of persons doing business in New York reside in the
vicinity, and enter and leave the city at morning and evening, and
thousands of strangers, on business and pleasure, come and go daily.
It is estimated that the actual number of people in the city about
the hour of noon is nearly, if not fully, one million and a half.
According to the census of 1870, the actual population consisted of
929,199 white and 13,153 colored persons. The native population
was 523,238, and the foreign population 419,094. The
nationality of the principal part of the foreign element was as
follows:FromNumber of persons.Germany151222Ireland201999England24432Scotland7554France8267Belgium328Holland1237British America and
Canada4338Cuba1293China115Denmark682Italy2790Mexico64Norway373Poland2392Portugal92Russia1139South America213Spain464Sweden1569Switzerland2169Turkey38Wales587West Indies487Besides
those mentioned in this table, are representatives of every
nationality under heaven, in greater or less strength. It will
be seen that the native population is in the excess. The
increase of natives between 1860 and 1870, was 93,246. The
Germans increased in the same period at the rate of 32,936; while the
Irish population fell off 1701 in the same decade. The foreign
classes frequently herd together by themselves, in distinct parts of
the city, which they seem to regard as their own. In some
sections are to be found whole streets where the inhabitants do not
understand English, having no occasion to use it in their daily life.In
1869, there were 13,947 births, 8695 marriages, and 24,601 deaths
reported by the city authorities. The authorities stated that
they were satisfied that the number of births was actually over
30,000; the number reported by them being very incomplete, owing to
the difficulty of procuring such information.Its
mixed population makes New York a thoroughly cosmopolitan city, yet
at the same time it is eminently American. The native element
exercises a controlling influence upon all its acts, and when the
proper exertion is made rarely fails to maintain its ascendancy.The
number of buildings in the city is from 60,000 to 70,000. In
1860, out of 161,000 families only 15,000 occupied entire houses.
Nine thousand one hundred and twenty dwellings contained two families
each, and 6100 contained three families each. After these come
the tenement houses. At present, the number of houses occupied
by more than one family is even larger.It
has been well said that “New York is the best place in the world to
take the conceit out of a man.” This is true. No matter
how great or flattering is the local reputation of an individual, he
finds upon reaching New York that he is entirely unknown. He
must at once set to work to build up a reputation here, where he will
be taken for just what he is worth, and no more. The city is a
good school for studying human nature, and its people are proficients
in the art of discerning character.In
point of morality, the people of New York, in spite of all that has
been said of them, compare favorably with those of any other city.
If the darkest side of life is to be seen here, one may also witness
the best. The greatest scoundrels and the purest Christians are
to be found here. It is but natural that New York, being the
great centre of wealth, should also be the great centre of all that
is good and beautiful in life. It is true that the Devil’s
work is done here on a gigantic scale, but the will of the Lord is
done on an equally great, if not a greater scale.In
its charities, New York stands at the head of American
communities—the great heart of the city throbs warmly for suffering
humanity. The municipal authorities expend annually about one
million of dollars in public charities. The various religious
denominations spend annually about five millions more, and private
benevolence disburses a sum of which no record is to be had—but it
is large. Besides this, the city is constantly sending out
princely sums to relieve want and suffering in all parts of our broad
land. New York never turns a deaf ear to an appeal for aid.The
people of New York are very liberal in matters of opinion.
Here, as a general rule, no man seeks to influence the belief of
another, except so far as all men are privileged to do so.
Every religious faith, every shade of political opinion, is protected
and finds full expression. Men concern themselves with their
own affairs only. Indeed this feeding has been carried to such
an extreme that it has engendered a decided indifference between man
and man. People live for years as next door neighbors without
ever knowing each other by sight. A gentleman once happened to
notice the name of his next door neighbor on the door-plate. To
his surprise he found it the same as his own. Accosting the
owner of the door-plate one day, for the first time, he remarked that
it was singular that two people bearing the same name should live
side by side for years without knowing each other. This remark
led to mutual inquiries and statements, and to their surprise the two
men found they were brothers—sons of the same parents. They
had not met for many years, and for fully twelve years had lived side
by side as neighbors, without knowing each other. This incident
may be overdrawn, but it will illustrate a peculiar feature of New
coming to New York are struck with the fact that there are but two
classes in the city—the poor and the rich. The middle class,
which is so numerous in other cities, hardly exists at all here.
The reason of this is plain to the initiated. Living in New
York is so expensive that persons of moderate means reside in the
suburbs, some of them as far as forty miles in the country.
They come into the city, to their business, in crowds, between the
hours of seven and nine in the morning, and literally pour out of it
between four and seven in the evening. In fair weather the
inconvenience of such a life is trifling, but in the winter it is
absolutely fearful. A deep snow will sometimes obstruct the
railroad tracks, and persons living outside of the city are either
unable to leave New York or are forced to spend the night on the
cars. Again, the rivers will be so full of floating ice as to
render it very dangerous, if not impossible, for the ferry boats to
cross. At such times the railroad depots and ferry houses are
crowded with persons anxiously awaiting transportation to their
homes. The detention in New York, however, is not the greatest
inconvenience caused by such mishaps.To
persons of means, New York offers more advantages as a place of
residence than any city in the land. Its delightful climate,
its cosmopolitan and metropolitan character, and the endless variety
of its attractions and comforts, render it the most delightful home
in America. Its people are warmly attached to and proud of it,
and even strangers feel drawn towards it as to no other city save
their own homes. Few persons care to leave it after a
twelve-months’ residence within its limits, and those who are
forced to go away generally find their way back at the earliest