Albert Ulmann.

A landmark history of New York; also the origin of street names and a bibliography online

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A LANDMARK HISTORY
OF NEW YORK

ALSO THE ORIGIN OF STREET NAMES
AND A BIBLIOGRAPHY



BY

ALBERT ULMANN

MEMBER OF THE AMERICAN HISTORICAL SOCIETY



l-is- .Ft M-






NEW YORK

D. APPLETON AND COMPANY

1901



'\



THE LIBSAPV OF

CON(?R£SS,
Two Copies Received

APR. 4 1901

Copyright entry

CLASS C^XXc. Nw.

COPY B.



COPYEIGHT, 1901,

By D. APPLETON AND COMPANY.



^



>







A^



PREFACE



In a city like New York, governed by a spirit of
tearing down and rebnilding at short intervals of
time, it is not surprising that landmarks have been
destroyed and that old places have been in danger of
losing their historical associations. Fortunately, of
late, through the worthy efforts of certain patriotic
societies, many of the more important historic sites
have been determined and marked by suitably in-
scribed tablets. These memorials serve the double
purpose of awakening attention and of investing with
an air of reality the events they perpetuate. They
are, however, l)ut isolated mementos, bearing a sug-
gestive phrase or two that have a meaning only to
the student who has delved into the city's past. To
make clear the full significance of these tablet-
marked sites, to visit them in their chronological or-
der, together with other landmarks worthy of consid-
eration, and to weave around these relics and remind-
ers of other days an interesting, graphic, and precise
story, has been the object of this little work.

In order to lend additional value to the Iwok and
to emphasize how much the welfare and the progress
of the city depend upon the efforts, the civic love, and



vi A LANDMARK HISTORY OF NEW YORK

the civic pride of the citizen, special pains have
been taken to introduce as much information as space
would permit, of the characteristics and the careers
of those individuals that have figured prominently
and worthily in the development, from a little Dutch
town, of our great metropolis.

While the plan has been particularly to interest
the young, it is believed that the careful reproduction
of inscriptions, the exact location of historic sites, the
explanation of the origin of street names, and the
addition of a comprehensive bibliography and list of
references, can not fail to prove of interest to the
teacher and to the student of history.

For their generous assistance in this undertaking,
thanks are due to Mr. Hugh Hastings, State Histo-
rian, at Albany; to Mr. Robert H. Kelby, Librarian
of the jSTew York Historical Society; to Henry P.
Johnston, Professor of History at the College of the
City of Kew York ; to the librarians of the Mercantile,
Astor, and Lenox Libraries; to Dr. Frank B. Kelley,
of the City History Club; to Dr. Llenry S. Leipziger;
to the Holland Society; and to the Society of the
Sons of the Revolution.

A. U.

New York, January, 1901.



LIST OF ILLUSTEATIONS



PAGE

Au Indian village on Manhattan Island . . Frontisjnece

Stuyvesant's town house, erected in 1658 15

First City Hall. Erected 1642. taken down in 1700 ... 17

View of the Wall and Water Gate, at the foot of Wall Street . 18

Broad Street, 1659 20

Peter Stuyvesant 24

Stuyvesant's country house 26

Peter Stuyvesant's tombstone, St. Mark's church .... 28

Milestone on Kingsbridge road 31

Stuyvesant's pear tree 33

Map of New York in 1642 35

The earliest view taken of New Amsterdam 37

Section of Jewish cemetery established during Stuyvesant's time. 39

New York in 1664 43

New York as it appeared about the year 1667 .... 45

The city's seal .... 47

New York in 1695 53

Map of New York in 1728 66

View of the fort about the year 1750 70

New York Historical Society 76

Site of Fort Amsterdam, directly south of Bowling Green . . 79

Marinus Willett tablet, corner Broad and Beaver, Streets . . 94

Tearing down the statue of George III on Bowling Green . . 99

The old Post Office, originally the Middle Dutch church . . 101
Harlem Heights battlefield looking north from One Hundred and

Sixteenth Street, west of Broadway 116

Statue of Nathan Hale in City Hall Park 119

Tablet to coinmemorate the battle of Harlem Heights . . .121

Library, Columbia University 122

Point of Rocks, One Hundred and Twenty-seventh Street and

Convent Avenue 125

The Grange, as it appeared in Hamilton's time .... 126
The thirteen trees planted by Alexander Hamilton at One Hun-
dred and Forty-third Street, cast of Amsterdam Avenue . 127
2 VTI



viii A LANDMARK HISTORY OF NEW YORK

PAGE

The Jiimel Mansion 131

Ehiuclander sugar house, prison during tlie Revolutionary War . 136

The old prison ship Jersey 138

Washington's house in Cherry Street 149

Wall Street in 1789, showing Federal Hall 151

Tammany Hall, 1830 ; present site of the New York Sun Building. 155

View of old buildings on William Street in 1800 .... 159

Statue of Alexander Hamilton in Central Park .... 161

Collect Pond, 1800 164

First boat propelled by steam 166

Cooper Union and Peter Cooper's statue 171

New York Free School No. 2, Chatham Street, 1808 . . .173

Modern schoolhouse. West End Avenue and Eighty-second Street 174

New Hall of the Board of Education 175

Map of McGowan's Pass and Forts Fish and Clinton . . . 177

Fortifications at McGowan's Pass, 1814 179

Site of Fort Clinton in Central Park 181

Blockhouse, One Hundred and Twenty-third Street . . .183

Canal boat village, Coenties Slip 185

View of St. Paul's church and the Broadway stages, 1831 . . 188

Departure of the Seventh Regiment 199

Grant's tomb, Riverside Drive 201

Astor Place Riot, 1849 204

Style of engine used in 1812 206

Scene at a fire, 1800 207

Theological Seminary, Twentieth Street and Ninth Avenue . 213

A glimpse of Hudson Park, Leroy and Hudson Streets . . 216

St. John's chapel, Varick Street 220

Montgomery's tomb, St. Paul's church 224

Trinity church 226

Hamilton's tomb 227

Trinity churchyard 228

Bowling Green, 1830 234

Old mansion in State Street 236

Statue of Liberty 238

Fraunces's Tavern 240

Statue of Washington, Subtreasury Building 243

Statue of Washington, Eighty-ninth Street and Riverside Drive. 245

Washington Arch 248

Columbus Column, Fifty-ninth Street and Eighth Avenue . . 250

City Hall and Printing House Square 254



A LAl^DMAEK HISTORY
OF ^EW YORK



CHAPTER I

"Father, wliat's Ijowliiig Green?" asked Tom,
turning to me one evening as we sat in the libraiy.

" It's a small park jnst north of the Battery," I
replied.

" And why do they call it Bowling Green? " con-
tinned Tom.

" Becanse at one time people used to play at
bowls on that very green. There's an interesting
painting in the Hotel Imperial that shows a party
at play. Some day we'll take a look at it."

" Seems to me," said Tom, whose dark eyes had a
Avay of lighting np when he was very mnch inter-
ested in a subject, " that there must be a lot of curi-
ous tilings downtown worth looking at."

" Guess there must be," assented his brother
George. " I read not long ago that there w^ere tab-
lets in nnmy places that tell all about the old history
of the city, and I have been planning to go down
some day, only I do not know exactly how to go
about it."

" Are you really interested in the matter? "
queried I, addressing the two lads.

1



2 A LANDMARK HISTORY OF NEW YORK

" Yes," answered each with enthusiasm.

" And I am, too," hastily added their sister
Emily.

" Well, then, I have a plan to submit to you. I
think it the duty, and it ought to be the pride and
pleasure, of every inhabitant of jSTew York, young
and old, to know its history and its historic sites. I
confess that my education in this field was sadly neg-
lected, but I don't think I am too old to take it up
now. I am glad that you introduced the subject,
and that you want to learn something about it.
Now, suppose we arrange some Saturday afternoon
excursions, and have our friend. Professor Williams,
go with us. lie has always taken an interest in you,
and I feel very certain that he'll be glad to give us
the benefit of his knowledge."

"Hurrah! that's a fine idea!" exclaimed Tom,
while (lieorge and Emily, who were of a quieter dis-
position, but none the less in earnest, fairly beamed
with pleasure.

It may be well to say right here that Emily was
eleven, Tom twelve, and George fourteen years old,
and that I was three times as old as George. We
were great friends in spite of this difi^erence in our
ages, which, I imagine, was due largely to the fact
that they looked upon me as a sort of older brother,
who was ever ready to be their companion and their
confidential adviser.

Professor Williams, a great friend of the young
people, and immensely admired by them, approved
heartily of our plan. He named us the Walking
Historians, and said he w^ould be ready to go with us



A LANDMARK HISTORY OF NEW YORK



at any time. Accordingly, a few days later, on a
fine afternoon about tlie middle of September, we
entered a Ninth Avenue elevated train at Seventy-
second Street and rode downtown.

" By the way," said the professor after we were
seated, " do you know that Hudson was very much
disappointed with the re-
sults of his expedition in
this neighborhood? "

"Keally?" said Emily
in surprise.

" Yes. You see when
he sailed from Holland in
the Half Moon he expect-
ed to find a short route to
India, the land of rich
silks, precious stones, and
other valuables, and when,
on September 2, 1G09, he
first beheld the mouth of

the glorious river that now bears his name, he
thought he had surely found the path to the East.
So he sailed past ]\Ianhattan Island without paying
much attention to it, and after ten days arrived in
the neighborhood of the present city of Albany.
Here the river became so shallow that he had to
stop. He sent on a crew in a small boat, hoping
against hope, but the men returned presently, re-
porting that it was useless to go farther in that
direction. Hudson then turned about with a heavy
heart and drifted downstream, caring very little
for the beautiful l)aid-;s that lav ou either side. The




Henrv HucTson.



4: A LANDMARK HISTORY OF NEW YORK

fact was that lie was interested in water, not in
land. His employers, the East India Company, were
as keenly disappointed as he was, and they were un-
able to follow np his discoveries, as their charter did
not permit them to visit countries bordering on the
Atlantic for the purposes of trade."

" Wasn't it strange," remarked George, " that so
many years passed after Columbus's discovery be-
fore any one visited these parts? "

" As a matter of fact Hudson was not the first
discoverer," answered the professor. " In 1524,
John Verrazano, in the employ of the French, sailed
into ^ew York Bay, w^rote a description of it, and
handed it to Francis I, who was King of France at
the time. But the French were then at war, and so
no attention was paid to the matter. One year later
Stephen Gomez, a Portuguese, came here and carried
off a quantity of furs, and some Indians whom he
sold into slavery. The S]ianiards listened to Gomez's
story, but they, being interested in fountains of
youth and rich mines, which they thought could be
found only in the sunny South, scorned the northern
wilderness and never visited it again."

" H'm," grunted Tom, to indicate his contempt of
Spanish ideas.

" How was the city begun," asked George, who
always wanted to get at the bottom of things, " if
the East India Company did nothing? "

" Private individuals took up the matter. The
Dutch were shrewd merchants, and when it became
known that there were great quantities of furs to be
obtained in the new laud, some enterprising men



A LANDMARK HISTORY OF NEW YORK 5

fitted up a vessel and seut it across the ocean. The
ship returned with a hirge cargo of furs, and the
enterprise was regarded as a great success."

" Twenty-third Street! " called out the guard.

" Watch for Twenty-first Street," said the pro-
fessor, " and notice the theological seminary. This
neighborhood is known as ' Old Chelsea,' and well
deserves a visit, which we shall pay later on."

A glimpse was accorded us of the stately college
buildings and the trindy kept lawns, but George
brought us back to our subject by saying:

" What sort of people were the Dutch? "

" A fine nation," answered the professor. " They
were brave, enterprising, inventive, loved liberty,
and, what was ])articularly praiseworthy, allowed
every one, no nuitter what his religious belief might
be, to worship as he pleased. This was a rare privi-
lege in those days, and no other country in the Old
AVorld was as free as Holland. You can understand
their character fully when I tell you that the Dutch
have often been called the Yankees of Europe."

" Why was the island called .Manhattan? " asked
George.

" It was the name of the Indian tribe that lived
here. The name means, literally speaking, the
' Place of the Whirlpool,' and refers to the tum-
bling, rushing, boiling waters of IIcU Gate, that both
fascinated and puzzled the natives."

" Did tliey fight the Dutch? " inquired Tom, who
loved adventure of all kinds.

" Yes, there were some bloody wars, but the
Dutch were as much to blame f(U' this as the Indians.



Q A LANDMARK HISTORY OF NEW YORK

It is only fair to say that the red men met the whites
in a friendly spirit. They greeted Hudson with
every sign of welcome and brought him food, for
which he gave them axes, knives, shoes, and stock-
ings. jSTot knowing the purj^oses of these articles,
they surprised Hudson by hanging the axes and shoes
around their necks as ornaments, and used the stock-
ings as tobacco pouches. It was only when the
whites injured them that the Indians turned against
the Dutch. The Indians Avcre exceedingly revenge-
ful — revenge was a part of their religion — and they
never rested until they had shed blood to atone for
that of any relative that had been killed."

"Christopher Street! " shouted the guard.

" We are now in old Greenwich village," said the
professor.

" Where is it? " asked Tom in his impulsive way,
looking out of the window, as if he expected to see
some of the ancient farmhouses.

" The village has long ago disappeared," ex-
plained the professor; '' in fact, excepting the neigh-
borhood of the Battery, this is probably the oldest
settlement of white men on the island of Xew York.
Originally, it was an Indian village called Sappolrnu-
can, and Indian huts stood near the shore where you
can see the red funnels of that French steamer. A
little stream, called Manetta Creek, emptied into the
river near by, and though it can no longer be seen,
it still flows through its ancient channel under-
ground. It rises somewhere east of Fifth Avenue
near Twentieth Street, touches Union Square, and
then turns westward. Builders putting up new build-



A LANDMARK HISTORY OF NEW YORK 7

iiigs discover, to their cost, that the old stream is still
there, as it means expensive pile driving. I shall tell
you more of Greenwich village at the proper time;
meanAvhile we are traveling along the old Green-
wich road, which was one of the principal and most
popular roads of colonial New York."

" IIow is it that the streets in these parts are so
mixed up?" asked George.

" We shall get to that later," responded the pro-
fessor. " It will be necessary, in order to avoid con-
fusion, to take one period at a time. First, w^e shall
inspect the old Dutch town, ])assing over a number
of English landmarks that belong to a later period.
In this way we shall follow the historical order of
events, even if we have to pay a second visit to some
of the localities. I suppose you have noticed that
Manhattan Island is like a long stocking, having its
toes at the Battery and its heel at the eastern ter-
minus of Grand Street. It was at the toe end that
the earliest settlement was located."

"Rector Street! " called out the guard.

" Ah, here w^e are in the old Dutch town at last,"
said the professor, rising and leading the way out.

As we passed up Rector Street toward Broadway,
Tom, who had been casting disapproving glances
around him, remarked: "Why did the Dutch have
such narroW' streets? "

" They never thought that their little lanes would
some day become the thoroughfares of a great me-
tropolis. In their time such a street as this was noth-
ing more than a country pathway, and the old Dutch
burghers found it wide enough. The wonder is that,



8 A LANDMARK HISTORY OF NEW YORK

as the eitj grew, no attempt was ever made to im-
prove tlie old paths."

" Hello/' said Tom suddciilv, " here's a grave-
yard. I never knew they buried people down-
town."

" That's Trinity," said the professor. " The
churchyard is over two hundred years old, but it be-
longs to the English period, and so we shall pass it
for the present."

" I Avonder what the Dutch would say if they
were to come back now and see these high houses,"
remarked George as he raised his eyes to the top of
the American Surety building, three hundred and
six feet above the ground and twenty-two feet above
the top of Trinity steeple.

No one attempted to solve this problem, and so
we turned into Broadway, walking dow^n the west
side.

" I don't see," remarked Tom, " why they ever
called this Broachv ay."

" Others have made the same comment," said the
professor. " At first it was nothing more than an
Indian trail, running along the ridge of a hill that
formed the backbone of the island. The original
settlers did not consider it a choice locality, pre-
ferring Pearl and Broad Streets, as we shall pres-
ently learn. In fact, for some years the houses,
especially on the cast side, were little better than
hovels, consisting of a single room with a fireplace.
But here we have Tablet IS^o 1."

Pointing to a bronze plate near the downtOAvn
edge of Aldrich Court, 41 Broadway, the professor



A LANDMARK HISTORY OF NEW YORK 9

asked George to read the legend, George tliere-
upon read the inscription, which was as follows:



THIS TABLET MARKS THE SITE OF THE

FIRST HABITATIONS OF WHITE MEN

ON THE ISLAND OF MANHATTAN.

ADRIAN BLOCK

COMMANDER OF THE TIGER

ERECTED HERE FOUR HOUSES OR HUTS

NOVEMBER 1613.

HE BUILT THE RESTLESS THE FIRST VESSEL

MADE BY EUROPEANS IN THIS COUNTRY.

THE RESTLESS WAS LAUNCHED

IN THE SPRING OF 1614.

THIS TABLET IS PLACED HERE BY

THE HOLLAND SOCIETY OF NEW Y'ORK

SEPTEMBER 1890.



"What's the Holland Society? " qneried Tom.

" It is an association," answered the professor,
" of descendants of those who can trace their ances-
try back, throngh the male line, to the colonists from
Holland prior to 1075. That little text," continued
the professor, referring to the tablet, " furnishes us
with a good starting point, and will give ns a clew
to the manner in which the first attempt at anything
like a settlement was made. I have already told
you that the first vessel to reach jManhattan after
the Half Moon, w^as fitted up by private individuals.
Its voyage proving a success, other merchants fol-
lowed the example of the pioneers, and in this way
the fur trade was fairly established. One of the
pioneers in this traffic was Adrian Block, whose



10 A LANDMARK HISTORY OF NEW YORK

name ajjpears there on the tablet. His vessel, the
Tiger, took fire jnst as he was about to sail for home.
Nothing daunted, he set about building a new ship,
aided bj the Indians, who helped him drag trees to
the shore, and supplied him with food. AYhile en-
gaged in constructing the first boat ever launched
in the waters of Manhattan, he erected the houses
or huts to which reference is made. Block was
thus the first house as well as boat builder in this
vicinity."

" Was the Kestless a good boat? " asked George.

" Oh, yes. Block sailed it up through the East
River into the Sound and discovered Block Island,
which still bears his name."

" Why is it called the East Biver? " queried
Tom.

" Because," said the professor, " the current
from the heel of the stocking to the toe — that is, the
section first settled by the Dutch — flows east and
west. North River was so called to distinguish it
from the South or Delaware River, where the Dutch
had also planted a colony. Now, let us go down to
Bowding Green."

A short walk brought us to this miniature
park.

" Let us pass right through," said our guide, " ig-
nore the statue, and examine yonder tablet on the
Cunard Company's building." *



* This and the neighboring buildings have recently been re-
moved to make room for the new Customhouse, to which, no
doubt, the tablet will be afltixed.



A LANDMARK HISTORY OF NEW YORK H

"We crossed the street, mounted the stoop, and
George read the inscription which is here copied:



THE SITE OF FORT AMSTERDAM

BUILT IN 1026.

WITUIN THE FORTIFICATIONS

WAS ERECTED THE FIRST

SUBSTANTIAL CHURCH EDIFICE

ON THE ISLAND OF MANHATTAN,

IN 1787 THE FORT

WAS DEMOLISHED

AND THE GOVERNMENT HOUSE

BUILT UPON THIS SITE.

THIS TABLET IS PLACED HERE BY

THE HOLLAND SOCIETY

OF NEW YORK.

SEPTEMBER, 1890.



'' Yon will notice that this date is thirteen years
later than that of Tablet iSTo. 1. Some very impor-
tant events took place dnrine; this period. At first
no attempt was made to establish a colony — that is,
to have people come over and make their homes here,
but soon the English began to lay claim to the terri-
tory, asserting that, owing to the discoveries of
Cabot, they had a right to the whole coast. The
Dutch quickly saw that to hold their possessions they
would have to found a permanent settlement on
Manhattan Island, whereui)on, in 1G24, a number of
families crossed the ocean, followed shortly after by
a director general, whose name you no doubt re-
member, George."

" I think it was Minuit."



12 A LANDMARK HISTORY OF NEW YORK

" Quite right; Peter Minuit. He began his ad-
ministration by jDurchasing the island. The Indian
chiefs met him, probably in this neighborhood, nnder
some spreading trees, and concluded the bargain.
As they looked with contempt on European money,
considering it worth nothing, they accepted a
quantity of beads and other showy triHes, amount-
ing to twenty-four dollars. For this they gave up
all title to Manhattan Island, containing some
twenty-two thousand acres. This w^as the first real
estate transaction in the history of New York.
Have you any idea what its real estate is worth
to-day? "

As none of us could answer this question, the
professor informed us that the latest valuation fixed
by the tax commissioners was over two thousand
three hundred millions of dollars.

" Having now become lawful owners of the land,
the settlers made plans to provide for their personal
safety. A fort was at once staked out, consisting of
a blockhouse surrounded by cedar palisades and
called Fort Amsterdam. This rude structure did not
last long, and a few years later a larger fort was
erected, three hundred feet in length by two hundred
and fifty in breadth, consisting of stone and earth.
One side of it covered the ground where these six
steamship buildings now stand. Inside, three wind-
mills, a guardhouse and barracks, a stone church,
and a house for the director were set up. Above
them all waved the Dutch flag."

" What was it like? " asked Emily.

" Red, white, and blue, in horizontal stripes, thus



A LANDMARK PIISTORY OF NEW YORK 13

curiously supplying Manhattan with a red, white,
and blue ensign two hundred and fifty years ago.

" The settlement," continued the professor,
" comprising about thirty simple huts, was strung
along the shore of the East River, close to the fort.
Every settler had his own house, kept his cows,
tilled his land, or traded w^ith the natives — no one
was idle. Opposite the fort a space was kept open,
and there it is to-day," added our guide, pointing to
the Bowling Green through which we had just
passed. " It was the heart of the old Dutch town.
There the children played, there the youths and
maidens danced around the May pole, there the sol-
diers paraded, and on Sundays the country wagons
were gathered while the people were at church.
There, too, after a bloody war with the Indians, a
great assembly of chiefs took place, the pipe of peace
was smoked, and the tomahawk buried as a sign of
peace. Later on it w^as used as a market place and
for an annual cattle show. Still later, during the
English period, it was the scene of many stirring-
events of which we shall learn at the proper time."

" Let's go over again and look at it," suggested
Tom.

'' Xot now," said the professor; " I want to take


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