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CHAPTER VIII

1825

WILLIAM PAULDING AND PHILIP HONE,

MAYORS

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 parade ground.

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 sight.

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 thousand dollars!

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 with him.

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 of dollars.

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 with copper.

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 time.

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, N.J.

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 and projected.

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 present endowment.

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 year.

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 like them.

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 when necessary.

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, and 1Brown.