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WILLIAM PAULDING AND PHILIP HONE,
A number of
citizens associated in 1823, and
formed a society for the custody of juvenile delinquents, and their moral
and scholastic improvement; and as another party entertained the purpose
of constructing a House of Refuge for such delinquents after the manner
which had been proposed by Dr. John Griscom six years previously, the two
associations joined; and in 1824 the United States Arsenal at junction
of Broadway and the old Boston or Middle Road, which had been built in
1806, now the site of the Farragut, Worth, and Seward monuments, was fashioned
to accommodate the two sexes of juveniles, and on the 1st of January, 1825
it was opened for operation. This building was burned in 1839, and the
institution was removed to the foot of East Twenty-third Street in October
of that year.
The site of these buildings and the surrounding area,
in 1807, extended to Thirtyfourth Street on the north, Third Avenue
on the east, and Seventh Avenue on the west; it was reduced in 1814 to
the limits of Thirtyfirst Street, Fourth and Sixth avenues, and designated
as Madison Square. About 1844 a further reduction was made to the present
limits of Madison Square-Madison and Fifth avenues, Twentythird and
Twentysixth streets. The original design was that of a great military
In this year Chambers Street was extended from Cross (now
City Hall Place) to Chatham Street; the name of Hester Street, from Centre
to Broadway, was changed to Howard Street; the Merchants' Exchange building
was begun; a new building for the Savings Bank lately known as the Bleecker
Street was erected in Chambers Street. An extensive fire occurred in Spring,
Sullivan, and Thompson streets. The city was divided into twelve wards.
Illuminating gas was coming more and more into general use, and the wooden
lampposts were being replaced by those of iron. Gaspipes were
now first laid in Broadway from the Battery to Canal Street. As the gasoliers,
burners, etc., were made in England, and no invoice for them was received
with the first shipment of these articles, a delay of several weeks ensued
before their cost could be known, and the price be computed for which they
should be sold.
March 1. First
appeared the Courrier des Etats Unis, published at 55 Wall Street,
and on March 21 the first Sunday
newspaper known in New York, the Sunday Courier, edited and published
by James C. Melcher.
The steamboats United States, Captain Beecher,
and the Linnaeus, Captain Peck, ran to New Haven, fare three dollars.
The dimensions of these boats were less than those of the transfer boats
that now ply between Brooklyn and Jersey City, without equal accommodations
and with very much less speed. The steamboats Constitution and Constellation
were launched in the early part of this year, and, when engined, were
put upon the route to Albany, by an association known as the Hudson River
Line, in opposition to the Old or North River Line, which was ultimately
rendered bankrupt by this competition.
The Mowatt Brothers, owners of the steamboat Henry
Eckford, proposed the novel project of transporting merchandise and
produce between New York and Albany in barges towed by a steamboat, and
in pursuance of the design, the Henry Eckford was advertised to
start from the foot of Rector Street with two barges in tow. As the design
was generally held to be impracticable, the attendance did not exceed one
hundred and fifty persons (of whom I was one); it was generally asked,
if the engine of one boat was well employed to transport itself, how could
it effectively transport two others? At the appointed time, with a punctuality
worthy of imitation, the boat moved off with her load, and reaching Albany
in the practicable time of twentyfour hours, the operation was acknowledged
to be a success.
Up to this year, when tow or tug boats were introduced,
sailing vessels were navigated from Sandy Hook around the city, and even
through Hell Gate, under their canvas alone. Vessels of war, beating from
the Navy Yard down the East River and Bay, were a frequent and interesting
Charles Hall, a prominent merchant of this city, generally
known by an undesirable sobriquet, built the ship Washington,
of 979 tons old measurement (equal to about 1120
of the present, for a hull of her dimensions and model),
and stayed her lower masts with chain shrouding. This was not only the
largest merchantman that had ever been built in the United States, but
the first one in which chain rigging was introduced. In consequence
of her great size and novel rigging she was very generally visited by residents
and strangers, who with common accord pronounced her a failure, as a business
experiment on account of her size, and nautically on account of her lower
rigging; and she was colloquially termed "Bully Hall's failure."
April 26. The cleaning of the streets, piers, etc., for
the current year, with possession of the sweepings, was offered at public
auction, and the lowest price to be received by the contractor was five
The sweeping of the streets was so different from that
in operation at the final period of these reminiscences that it is worthy
of reference. Thus, all house and store holders were required to clear
the gutters and sweep the pavement in front of their buildings out to the
centre of the street, from whence it was the duty of the department of
streetcleaning to remove the dirt; but alike to many other public
duties, the neglect of it was more apparent than the observance; and, as
a result, not only were the newspapers and individuals loud in their many
complaints, but frequently parties, suffering from the neglect by the accumulation
of filth in the streets, would pile it up in a great mass and then label
it "Corporation Pudding," and, in later years, "Bloodgood
Pies," etc.; Bloodgood being the head of the department.
Passengers from Philadelphia via steamboat to Bordentown
thence by stage to New Brunswick, thence by steamboat, reached the city
in eleven hours and fifteen minutes, and the occasion was deemed worthy
of public notice.
May 2. The Bull's Head and the attendant tavern were removed
from the Bowery and Bayard Street to Third Avenue and Twentysixth
Street, remaining the headquarters of the drovers and horsedealers;
for many years Daniel Drew was the proprietor of it, and as there was not
at this period a bank: above the Park, the money of his customers was deposited
At the time of the construction of the Bull's Head Tavern
the locality was covered with trees, and back of the building was a grove,
to which picnic parties from the city resorted. The property was at one
time owned by Peter Lorillard. In its earlier history it was a simple roadhouse
after the style of the times. In the evening it was a place of meeting
of the drovers, and it was told that they were in the habit of playing
"crack loo" there, to an extent that involved the loss of hundreds
The evident and increasing demand for an enlarged supply
of water for the city was becoming so manifest that Bronx River was suggested
by some, and boring by others, as means of obtaining the needed supply.
The capacity of this river was estimated to exceed three
million gallons per diem, but it was, and is, in the summer months,
barely equal to the volume of water now required for the Hushing of our
gutters, the sprinkling of the streets and the parks and drives.
May 28, The steamboat Bellona, under command of
Cornelius Vanderbilt (the late "Commodore"), commenced to run
to Union Garden, Staten Island, for 121/2 cents each way. This was
Captain Vanderbilt's second command, and when William Gibbons (the owner
of the steamboat line to Amboy and New Brunswick) in 1828 withdrew all
his boats in consequence of a newly enacted law of the legislature of New
Jersey, which he alleged to be unjust to him, he gave the Bellona to
Captain Vanderbilt. In illustration of the difference in the manner in
which steamboats of that day were fitted, compared with the present mode,
it will be interesting to learn that the pilothouse of the Bellona
was immediately over the engineroom, and that instead of bells
to signal to the engineer, one stroke of a cane on the floor was the signal
to start or to slow, as the position of the engine admitted, and two strokes
were the signal for backing.
FitzGreene Halleck puhlished his "Marco Bozzaris"
and "Fanny" in this year.
The steamboat Constitution, on May 29, made the
run from Albany to New York, aided by a freshet in the river, in the unprecedented
time of 131/2 hours. A flue of the boiler of this boat, on June 21,
collapsed while she was landing at Poughkeepsie, and three persons were
killed. As the boilers of all steamboats, with the exception of the Aetna,
which burst her boiler in 1824, were made of copper, the circumstance
that this one of the Constitution was of iron, was made the occasion
of much consideration and discussion as to the safety of iron compared
The boiler of the steamboat Legislator, at foot
of Rector Street, exploded on June 2, killing four persons and wounding
three others. I witnessed the occurrence and went on board of her a few
minutes after it. One of her crew in the messroom, on hearing the
rupture of the boiler, threw himself into a large toolchest, closed
the lid, and by this course escaped unharmed.
The removal of houses, fences, etc., in the line of Sixth
Avenue to Love Lane (Twentyfirst Street), in view of the opening of
the avenue, was ordered to be effected before the 15th of July.
Theodore Downing, long and well known as a caterer, after
having essayed at 40 Sullivan Street, in 1820, and at 33 Pell Street in
1822, opened at 5 Broad Street, where he continued, until the building
was removed to accommodate the Drexel building, to enjoy a widespread
reputation for the excellence of his oysters, and the superior manner in
which he cooked plain dishes.
About this period Captain Maxwell, of a line of Liverpool
packets, who resided on the bluff at the Narrows near to Fort Lafayette,
brought over a number of English pheasants and set them free, having in
view the domestication and rearing of them in that locality. This is cited
to illustrate the primitive condition and wildness of the locality at that
Mr. Daniel R. Lambert, on the night of the 3d of June,
in company with some friends, was returning from a visit to a friend (Lyde)
who resided on or near Broadway and Tenth Street, a location so strictly
suburban that it partook of the character of the country. About 1 A.M.
he was offensively addressed by a party of young men, and upon retaliation
and defence being essayed, Mr. Lambert was killed by a blow in his stomach.
The young men were subsequently tried and convicted of manslaughter.
In consequence of the general want of confidence in the
safety of travel by steamboats, a company which had been duly organized
constructed the steamboats Commerce and Swiftsure, and the
passenger barges Lady Clinton and Lady Van Rensselaer; the
design being total detachment of the passengers from the risk of explosion
of the boiler or fire on the steamboat. The first trip was that of the
Commerce and Lady Clinton on July 9. They made the run hence
to Albany in about twentyfour hours, and were held to be very pleasant
and safe, but the want of speed was fatal, and in two seasons they were
displaced by the steamboats New Philadelphia and Albany, of
Messrs. R.L. & J.C. Stevens of Hoboken. The safety barge system was
supplemented, however, in September of this year by service of the (repaired)
Legislator, towing the barge Matilda hence and from New Brunswick,
At this time it was suggested, the project being favorably
considered by many, that it would be practicable and advisable to open
and extend Canal Street, as a canal or strait, from river to river. The
public pound then was in the Park grounds and near to the City Hall.
September 7. General Lafayette, having completed his tour
in this country, in the course of which he had received distinguished marks
of popular reverence and affectionate regard, embarked on board the United
States frigate Brandywine, Captain Charles Morris, for Cherbourg.
A most interesting and significant series of celebrations
began when, on October 8, the Erie Canal was formally opened to the Hudson
River at Albany, and Samuel L. Mitchell, LL. D., M.D., on the part of this
city, poured water from the Pacific and Atlantic oceans into that of the
canal. On the 26th the completion of the great work was celebrated by the
departure of a flotilla of canalboats from Buffalo, at 1O A.M., added
to at Albany by steamboats, and proceeding thence to Sandy Hook, where
water from Lake Erie, from the Mississippi and Columbia rivers, and from
the rivers of twelve foreign countries, was solemnly poured into the Atlantic.
The start from Buffalo was at the signal of a gun, which was transmitted
by other guns at intervals for the entire distance to New York, and then
returned in the same fashion; the times between the first and last guns
from lake to sea, and from sea to lake again, were an hour and twentyfive
minutes each way. This famous aquatic procession, with its fit company
of dignitaries, traversed-it might almost be said under a canopy of flags-the
whole breadth of the State, and then the Hudson River, lighted by successive
bonfires and to the sound of church bells through the whole length of its
route. On November 4 it reached New York, when the city fairly "broke
loose," with every possible official and popular demonstration of
rejoicing. At the City Hall fifteen thousand fireballs were ignited
A writer of 1892 notes:
" Probably no one who witnessed this celebration-unless it was a babe
in arms, carried by some mother who herself wished to view the procession-now
lives." An incomprehensible statement, since only sixtyseven
years had passed in 1892, and many witnesses of the celebration in the
days of their conscious childhood or youth remained, and still remain (1895).
The Lafayette Theatre, in Laurens Street near Canal, which
had been built in the previous year and was occupied as a circus, was selected
as the most available arena in which to hold the Grand Canal Ball, which
occurred on November 7.
It was while
the canal celebration was engrossing public interest (October 15)
that Mordecai M. Noah, editor of the New York Enquirer,
essayed the realization of a longmeditated scheme, and at the
head of an association of Hebrews purchased Grand Island in Niagara River,
termed it the city of Ararat, laid its cornerstone, and by a proclamation
of his, as first Judge of Israel, announced the reorganization of the Government
of the Jewish nation. The enterprise failed.
Thomas S. Hamblin, the actor, arrived from London on October
26, and on November 1, appeared at the Park Theatre in "Hamlet."
Mrs. Sharpe (nee Leesugg), sister to Mrs. Hackett, had arrived in
New York ten days earlier. She appeared at the Park on November 15. Her
diverse talents elicited praise for her in almost every department of the
drama. She retired from the stage in 1839.
Edmund Kean, who had returned from London in this month,
was engaged to appear in Boston, but in consequence of his having left
England under the cloud of a very public scandal, the attendance at the
theatre at the time of beginning his performance was so light, as observed
by him from behind the curtain, that he declined to appear, withdrew from
the theatre, returned to this city, and essayed to appear here. A large
portion of the audience, comprising many Bostonians, resented his action
and arrested the performance. Mr. Kean, having published a very candid
statement of the cause of his action, coupled with a very proper apology,
was permitted to perform.
During this autumn "The Lady of the Lake," produced
at the Chatham Garden Theatre, created a genuine furor, and at the same
house great popularity was obtained by a domestic opera entitled "Forest
Rose," written by Samuel Woodworth, in which Yankee character was
represented, much to the public delight.
Peale's Museum, at 232 Broadway,
opened October 26 of this year, was for many years a deservedly popular
resort for old and young; the young people were amused with the comic recitals
of Dr. Valentine, and interested by exhibitions of curiosities, by being
weighed, electrified, etc.
The Garcia troupe that had lately arrived, the
first Italian troupe in the country, appeared at the Park Theatre
on November 29 in "Il Barbiere di Seviglia" before a most brilliant
audience. It was reported that the boxoffice receipts for the evening
were three thousand dollars, an enormous sum for those days. My impression
is that the Garcia company was brought to this country through the effort
of Dominick Lynch, himself a musical amateur, and a man of fashion and
great favorite in the society of his time. The nights of performance were
Tuesdays and Saturdays; boxes, two dollars; pit, one dollar. Signorina
Garcia was the prima; she was very pretty and sprightly, and was
soon married to Mr. Eugene Malibran of this city. Her musical fame as Mme.
Malibran is a part of history. The few remaining men of her day will probably
agree that Malibran has been unequalled, and though deductions may be made
on the score of immature musical judgment at the time of their hearing
her, and fond attachment to youthful impressions, there remains ground
for supposing from the consent of adequate critics who knew her performances
that she really was the most gifted and accomplished singer of modern times.
Mme. Malibran's most successful career was brought to an early close through
the effects of a fall from her horse at Manchester, England, in 1836 (she
was born in 1800).
The Garcia company gave seventynine representations
of various works of the Italian school, appearing for the last time in
New York late in September of 1826. Mme. Malibran, however, remained here
for about a year longer.
In this year there was introduced from Paris the novel
fashion of tapering the legs of men's pantaloons from the knee down to
the foot, shaping them over the instep and holding them down by straps
under the boot; it was termed a la mode de Paris. This inconvenient
manner was soon after improved by returning to the wide legs of the pantaloons,
and securing them with a leather strap under the boot or shoe, buttoned
at the sides.
The steamboat Sun
was launched about this time, and at a
later day she ran from Albany to this port in a few minutes over twelve
hours, which was far in advance of any previous passage. This performance
was held to be worthy of being recorded in rhyme, which read:
" Now hurrah for the steamboat sun,
From Albany to York she come;
In hours twelve and minutes few,
The time is short the story's true."
December 23 the name of Slote Lane was changed to Exchange
Place. On the 31st the thermometer marked 27 degrees below zero.
The Botanical Garden on Murray Hill, known as Elgin's
Garden, from Fortyseventh to Fiftyfirst Street, and Fifth to
Sixth Avenue, had been founded by David Hosack, M.D., as early as 1801,
while he was Professor of Botany in Columbia College,
and the question of its utility was the subject of much discussion at this
time. This estate of "Elgin" had been purchased from Dr. Hosack
by the State in 1814 and given to Columbia College to replace a Vermont
township granted long before, and lost when the claim of New York to ownership
of Vermont was defeated. This ground forms the chief part of Columbia's
In this year the young Duke of SaxeWeimar visited
the city and country. En route to Niagara Falls by stage, at one of the
changestables or hotels he entered the barroom to warm himself,
when, as he was the only passenger wanting to fill the list, the new driver
entered and asked, "Where is the man I am going to drive?" to
which the Duke responding, the driver rejoined, "And I am the gentleman
that's going to drive you."
The prototype of the present steel pens was made of silver;
the sale, however, was very restricted, in face of attachment to the established
quill; the everpointed pencil also made its first appearance in this
About this time were built in Broadway, opposite to Bond
Street, two houses, Nos. 663 and 665, with marble fronts, probably the
only houses in the country constructed of that material. They were then
known as the "Marble Houses," later as the Tremont House, and
now are absurdly renamed the New York Hotel. So exceptional were they as
to excite a very general curiosity, and the Sunday afternoon walks of our
citizens were in some cases extended, in order to obtain a view of them,
and the "Marble Houses" became one of the landmarks of the
boundaries of the city.
In evidence of the difference in the character of those
who then superintended and controlled local political matters from those
of the present day, termed ward politicians, a newspaper of 1825 gives
notice of ward meetings, signed by such men as Campbell P. White, Isaac
L. Varian, Daniel P. Ingraham, Stuart F. Randolph, I.B. Thorp, and others
The consumption of cotton in the United States for the
preceding year was estimated at 150,000 bales. For the "cotton year"
ending September 1, 1894, it was 2,319,688 bales, and for the year September
1, 1892, to September 1, 1893, it was 2,431,134 bales.
Walter Barrett, in his wonderful history, "The Old
Merchants of New York," gives the cause of so many boys from the Eastern
States, or from abroad, succeeding in business and becoming partners in
the houses in which they were employed, while the advance of our city boys
was much less; asserting it to be their cheerful willingness to do that
which is required of them, when the City boy would mutter, "I'm not
an errand boy." In illustration of this, I became acquainted with
a Mr. Bernard Graham, who had been a porter in the extensive house of Peter
Harmony & Co., at No. 63 Broadway, and was then known as the outdoor
man of the firm, of which he subsequently became a partner. Further, a
young man who had worked on a farm until he was seventeen years of age,
became a pedler of tin and wooden ware. In 1793 he established a store
at 40 Maiden Lane, and commenced the sale of drygoods. He made money,
then bought a house in Pearl Street, and, as customary at that period,
he and his family lived over the first floor or store. In 1823 he built
himself a handsome home in the upper part of Broadway, and when he died,
he left a fortune of eight hundred thousand dollars, which was divided
among a large family of children; but little of which now remains with
the heirs of those who received it.
After the acceptance of the Commissioners' Map of the
city of 1807, a square designated as Hamilton was bounded by Third and
Fifth avenues, Sixtysixth and Sixtyninth streets, but it has
been since closed. Fayette, running from Chatham Square to Bancker, was
in this year changed to Oliver Street.
The several city ordinances defining the requirements
of housekeepers, individuals, etc., were better observed than at a later
day. There was one that restricted signs, emblems, etc., from being projected
beyond the face of buildings, and in evidence of the strict manner in which
it was observed, a teadealer on Broadway, an Englishman, displayed
a carved elephant over his store, with the head projecting out into the
street; he was summoned to pay the fine due to his violation and also to
remove the figure. He refused to comply; so singular, so unprecedented,
was such resistance that the matter became of public notoriety, being reported
and animadverted upon in the daily papers. This man, some years afterward,
while looking out of a front window of the American Hotel, corner of Broadway
and Barclay Street, saw a woodcock alight in the Park. He took his gun,
went over to the Park, flushed the bird, killed it, and blinded an eye
of a boy, for which he was sued for damage.
In winter the wearing of fur caps by gentlemen was so
general that felt hats were exceptional; even the ladies' hats were either
made of fur or trimmed with it. Passing up Broadway in the winter of 182526,
at the northern corner of Vesey Street, I witnessed in great part the following
scene. At this period and for many years after, until the street was sewered,
all the surface water from the Park ran over a depression across Broadway,
and down Vesey Street, and, as a result, the gutter during a heavy rain
or thaw would be kneedeep, involving the use of a board to bridge
it. At this time the gutter was running very full from the effects of a
thaw, and a man, welldressed and of presentable appearance, had dragged
a chinchilla hat from off the head of a negress, stamped on it, and then
threw it into the gutter, where it was rapidly borne down the street. Upon
being questioned why he had done it, he replied: "I have just paid
eighteen dollars for a chinchilla hat for my sister, and I don't mean that
any niggerwench shall wear one like it, while I know it."
It is worth noting that the social status of negroes,
at that period and for many years afterward, was very different from that
of the present time. Negroes were not admitted in street stages, in the
cabins of steamboats, theatres, or places of amusement; and in churches
only in pews at the foot of the aisles which were assigned to them. Later,
when street railways were put in operation, the Sixth Avenue line designated
some of its cars by painting conspicuously on the sides, "Colored
Persons allowed in this Car."
With the exception of the negresses of the Dowling, Jackson, and Dandy Cox class, they generally wore bandanna kerchiefs on their heads, and they were not called ladies; in fact, the terms ladies and gentlemen were used with much more discrimination than later. The appellation of saleslady to a saleswoman would
have been held as a joke, and would have been resented
by the recipient of the term.
New York Dispensary, organized 1790,
incorporated 1798. Having
omitted any previous notice of this institution, I avail myself of a recollection
of a visit to it in company with one of its physicians. It was and is located
in Centre, corner of White Street. The district of its operation is bounded
by the North River, a line through Spring Street, Broadway to Fourteenth
Street, thence to and down First Avenue to Allen and Pike streets and the
East River. Its object is the furnishing of free medical, surgical, and
dental aid, vaccination, and the visiting of deserving sick in their homes
In this year the population of the city was only 160,086,
and of this number 12,575 were
colored and sixteen of them were entitled to vote. *
* The first Directory was
published by David Frank in 1786, but thirtynine years previous
to this, and contained but 851 names, of which there were 7 Smiths, 1 Kelly,