Asa Greene.

A glance at New York: embracing the city government, theatres, hotels, churches, mobs, monopolies, learned professions, newspapers, rogues, dandies, fires and firemen, water and other liquids, & c., & c. .. online

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Online LibraryAsa GreeneA glance at New York: embracing the city government, theatres, hotels, churches, mobs, monopolies, learned professions, newspapers, rogues, dandies, fires and firemen, water and other liquids, & c., & c. .. → online text (page 2 of 11)
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such is the increasing tide of immigration,

* Daddy Slocum so called out of respect to his venerable
age — a member of the Massachusetts legislature, attempted
a few years since to procure, the enactment of a law to
force bachelors to consult their own happiness. He failed.
The like exploit was attempted, and with the like success,
in the legislature of New Vork, by General McClure, the
hero of the conflagration of Newark. It was reported of
the last, that the great number of letters he received from
the bachelors in every part of the state, by way of remon-
strance, while the motion was pending for the enforcement
of their happiness, cost him more in paying the postage,
than all his legislative fees amounted to. So insensible
were the single gentlemen of the great value of the favor
intended them !


that she can scarcely fail to continue, for
many years, her rapid growth, be the expenses
of living and the inconveniences of her crowd-
ed population as great as they will.

The increase, down to the close of the pre-
sent century, will probably continue with very
little abatement, what it has been from the
commencement of the same century to the
present time : and we have very little doubt
that many persons are now born, who will live
to see a population in New York of not less
than three millions.



♦< Shall I not take mine ease in mine inn ?'^ — Falstaff^

*' Wife. Heigho ! I wish I was in heaven.

Husband. I wish to heaven you were, and I was at the

Wife. Ah ! you old rogue, you ! you always want the'
best place." — Joseph Miller.

Without pretending to adopt the sentiment^
expressed with such singular unanimity by the
amiable pair, in the above quotation, namely,,
that a hotel is to be preferred to heaven itself,
we are nevertheless constrained to admit that
it would be exceedingly difficult, in a great
city, to do without that sort of convenience.
In patriarchal times, the way-worn and
hungry traveller was cordially pressed — nay,
constrained — to enter in and eat bread, and
accept of lodgings — and that without any sign
hung out, with " Entertainment for Man and


Horse." The Virginia and Carolina planters
hold out a like hospitality to the traveller. All
is afforded "without money and without price."
The planter thinks himself sufficiently paid by
your good company, and would scorn the idea
of bartering his hospitality for gold, silver, or
bank bills. The Yankee is not precisely so
squeamish on the score of taking pay ; and
the New England farmers have always a spare
bed and a meal of victuals at your disposal,
when you cannot conveniently get entertain-
ment at a hotel. They ask you nothing,
indeed ; but then they do not consider it an
insult to be offered money. What is offered —
at least to a moderate amount — they will gene-
rally accept. But, money or no money, the
New England farmer will never refuse a lodg-
ing and the best his table affords, to a stranger
who cannot elsewhere be better accommo-

But in New York, as well as in all other
cities, hospitality, or any thing resembling it,
is unknown. And this is the result, not of
any native churlishness or want of fellow feel-


ing ; but simply of the particular circum-
stances, the peculiar social condition, of the
inhabitants of cities. " What is every body's
business is nobody's." The citizens live too
close together, too crowded, to allow room for
hospitality. The scattered condition of people
living on farms and plantations renders them
hospitable. Bring the southerner to New York
— make him a citizen of this great metropolis —
and he would no more entertain strangers than
Mr. John Smith, or any of the other thousands
of our citizens who keep house, and whose
names figure in the Directory.

Hotels, in a city like this, being confessedly
articles of great convenience, if not of "dire
necessity," we could hardly do less than de-
vote an entire chapter to their consideration.
The number of hotels in New York is exceed-
ingly limited when we consider the size and
business of the place, and the great number
of strangers to be accommodated. There are
not in all, we believe — or at least all that de-
serve the name of hotels — much above thirty.
There are, indeed, hundreds of places where


spirituous liquors are sold, and which perhaps
are designated, in flaming characters over the
door, as " hotels." There are other places
again, of great respectability, where good eat-
ing is to be had, and which are generally de-
nominated " refectories." But of public
houses, where meat and lodging are furnished,
in genteel, respectable, or decent style, there
are not, as we have just said, much above

This, for a population of 300,000, and 20,-
000 strangers who are frequently in the city
at a time, we repeat, is a very small number.
If we allow them, on an average, to accom-
modate 200 persons apiece, — which we be-
lieve is a sufficiently liberal allowance — there
are only 6000 of the 20,000 strangers pro-
vided for ; to say nothing of the citizens, who,
in great numbers, both married and single,
both clerks and business men, and men of no
business, occupy a room and a seat at the
board of some one of the hotels.

The boarding houses, of which there are
many of great respectability in different parts


of the city, accommodate a pretty large num-
ber of strangers. But, after all, we do not
see where all of them find the conveniences
of bed and board. Meat they may find at
the eating houses, and that at all hours, and
whenever they are hungry. For lodgings they
must do as heaven pleases. If they find ac-
commodations, as doubtless they must some-
where, we confess our utter ignorance of the
whereabouts. It is an old story^ — that of the
man who lodged in the Park, and caught cold
by the watchmen leaving the gate open. But,
if we recollect aright, he was a citizen loafer,
and not a stranger.

That persons from abroad are often straight-
ened for a lodging, we see exemplified every
spring and fall, when the city is most amply
filled with strangers. They arrive in great
numbers by the steamboats. They order
their baggage to be carried, each one, to such
or such a hotel; "We are full," says the land-
lord, " The mischief you are !" says the
stranger ; " but hav'nt you some snug little
corner you can stow me into ? You know I


always put up with you." — " I know you do,"
says the landlord, " and I am very sorry that
I can't accommodate you now. But I'm full
from cellar to garret. There is not room
enough to get in a shad edgeways."

The stranger orders his baggage to be car-
ried to another hotel. He finds the other
hotel in the same predicament as the first —
crowded to suffocation — or, at any rate, so
crowded that he cannot get in. He orders
Sambo to shoulder the baggage once more,
and to follow him to another house of enter-
tainment — which he finds, in like manner, has
no entertainment for him.

Thus do we often see the poor stranger
trudging from house to house, and everywhere
denied admittance. How he finds himself
accommodated at last, we know not. But
the reader may very well conclude, from all
we have said, that the number of hotels and
the amount of accommodation for strangers
are very unequal to the demand.

The consequence is, that the keepers of


hotels, are enabled to charge for their accom-
modations whatever sums they please. A-
bout two years ago — though they had pre-
viously been doing an excellent business —
they, by a simultaneous movement, raised their
prices thirty-three and a third per cent.

But as the gentility of the house is alwa3^s
estimated by the extravagance of its charges,
and as the strife of gentility is somewhat pre-
valent in our growing country, so those hotels
which lay on the largest price, are pretty cer-
tain to be thoroughly filled.

In speaking of the high price of board and
lodging in the New York hotels, we would not
be thought to accuse the keepers of a greater
lack of conscience than most other people of
their own country and time. They ask a
good price because they know they can get it •
and that those, who want accommodations,
must either pay it, or go without them. It is
" human natur," as Stapleton says.

Then, as we have before stated, the price
of provisions is enormously high. Rent is


enormously high. And it would be expecting
more, than any man acquainted with "human
natur," especially with tavern-keepers' " na-
tur" — ought to expect of them, that they
should charge a moderate price for their ac-

All, or nearly all these hotels are situated
in the southerly part of the city, and most of
them in the three lower wards. There they
are convenient to the steamboat landings, and
also to the business operations of the city.
Nearly half of the whole number are situated
in Broadway ; and these, with two or three
exceptions, no further north than the Park.

The principal hotels in New York are the
following, namely: In Broadway, commen-
cing at the Battery, the Atlantic Hotel, Sey-
mour &Anderson ; Mansion house. Bunker ;
Globe Hotel, Blanchard ; Varick House, Bean ;
City Hotel, Cruttenden & Mather ; National
Hotel, Carr ; Congress Hall, Mrs. Sherman;
Southern Hotel, Otter ; T'ranklin House,
Hayes ; Astor House, Boyden & Son ; Ame-
rican Hotel, Milford ; Washington Hotel,


Ward; Athenaeum, Windust : In Cortland^
street, commencing at the Ferry, Northern
Hotel, Harrison ; Orange County House,
Dunning ; Otsego House, Van Pelt ; Wes-
tern Hotel, Brown ; York House, Williston :
Greenwich street. Pacific Hotel, Nichols &
Jessup : Broad street. Exchange Hotel, How-
ard : Pearl street, the Pearl Street House,
Flint ; Eastern Pearl Street House, Foster :
Fulton street, Holt's Hotel : Beekman street,
Clinton Hotel, Hodges & Son : Bowery,
North American Hotel, Bartlett : Park Row,
Lovejoy's Hotel ; Nassau street, Tammany
Hall, Lovejoy & Howard; Custom House
Hotel, Horn.

The three last are kept on the " European
plan," or in the English mode, of separating
the two important concerns of bed and board.
In taking the first, you are under no obliga-
tions to take the last. You consult your own
convenience both as to time and place. You
may eat at your landlord's, if you please, and
you may order what you please ; but this has
no connection with your bill for lodging, and


you pay down on the nail for what you have
eaten. This plan has been only introduced
here within five or six years.

The other hotels are kept on the old plan.
A long table — or what is called in France a
table (Thote — is furnished daily, at a certain
hour, which, in most of the houses, is 3 o'clock.
A few, out of Broadway, dine at 2; and some
of those in Broadway — ^such as the Astor
House, the American, and perhaps some
others, set an extra table at 5, for the accom-
modation of foreigners, or such aspiring
Americans as are anxious to prove their aris-
tocracy by going hungry to that late hour.

The table d'hote is more sociable than the
refectory. At the latter you discuss your
beefsteak, your chicken, or whatever you
have ordered, alone, and with plenty of elbow
room. At the former you eat in company
with one or two hundred, to the music of as
many knives and forks, and usually so crowd-
ed together that your elbows are pinned down
to your sides like the wings of a trussed fowl.
But, besides the greater sociability of eating


in a crowd, there is another advantage, par-
ticularly to an irresolute or absent minded man,
in dining at the table d'hote — it saves him the
necessity of studying the particular dish he
would prefer, since every thing is spread out
to his eye, and the laborious effort, either of
thinking or of memory, is not required in
making the choice. We are acquainted with
a man of science, who thinks this a most
important item in favor of the table d'hote
over the refectory. In point of elbow room, in
command of time, and in cheapness, if a man
so chooses, the latter has decidedly the ad-

The price of lodging per week, at the Cus-
tom House Hotel, is $2,50. At Tammany
Hall and at Lovejoy's it varies from $2,50 to
$3,50, according as your room is situated, up
one or more pair of stairs — the price being
lower, the nearer you approach heaven ; and
higher, the closer you cling to earth. In the
eating department of these houses, the price
of a meal consisting of one dish, varies from
12J to 3U cents.


In the hotels on the old plan the price of
bed and board, per day, varies from $1,50 to
$2,50. The latter is the price at the Astor
House. The other houses in Broadway, for
the most part, if not all, charge $2,00. The
Clinton Hotel does the same. In the other
streets, from $1,50 to $1,75 is the price.



"Much ado about nothing." — ShaKspiare.
"A very frampold life." — Ibid.

Next to the hotels, the prime sources of en-
tertainment are the theatres. Some persons
make them the first, and postpone the subject
of eating, drinking, and lodging, to the more
alluring one of theatricals. But most people
are prudent enough first to " take thought for
the morrow, what they shall eat and what
they shall drink," and whereon they shall
sleep, before they devote themselves to theat-
rical entertainments.

We would not have the reader infer from
this, that they first pay — or provide the ways
and means for paying — for the necessaries of
life. That is, with many o( them, an after-
thought — a thing to be attended to at their


perfect convenience ; or, what is more con-
venient still, not to be attended to at all. But
at the theatres there is no trust. The system
of credit is unknown. Tickets cannot be
had " on tick." The ready cash, therefore,
is necessary for the manager, let the landlord
or the landlady come off as they will. The
latter as well as the former, we arc charitable
enough to hope, are in a majority of instances,

JNIost persons who come to the city, or who
reside here, at some time or other attend the
theatre ; unless they are restrained by religious
scruples. All strictly religious persons, of
course, abstain. Besides these, there are a
good many others, not strictly religious, who
are seldom or never seen at the theatres,
because they either care little or nothing for a
play; because they think they can amuse them,
selves better in some other mode ; because
they deem theatricals immoral ; or because
they cannot conscientiously bestow ^money
on mere matters of amusement of any kind,
while they have families to maintain, children


to educate, or other concerns of decided im-
portance, which have an unquestionable de-
mand upon their purse.

But there are others — -and the number is
pretty large — who seem to think of little else
in the world but theatricals. They attend
the theatres every night. They talk of the
theatres every day. They criticise, they
spout, they hum snatches of songs, they de-
bate on the merits of their favorite actors or
actresses, they eulogize the beauty, the grace,
the tenderness of Miss such a one, they pro-
claim aloud the vigor, the pathos, the startling
force, and effective points of Mr. such a one.
Theatricals are never out of their thoughts,
and rarely out of their mouths. They seem
to have found in Plays what the Platonists
were looking for — the summum bonum — the
greatest good. They use them as Boniface did
his ale : they eat, drink, and sleepupon them.
At least they dream of them when asleep, and
have them constantly in their mouths when



There are supposed to be, on an average,
about 5000 persons nightly attendmg the dif-
ferent theatres in New York. Of these,
nearly, or quite, one half are strangers.
Hence the theatres are always best filled dur-
ing the spring and autumn, when there are
most country merchants, and other persons
from abroad, in the city.

The number of theatres in all is five. Of
these the most ancient is the Park, situated in
Park Row, and facing the southern part of
the enclosure called the Park. It was first
built in the year 1797, just forty years since,
and just forty-four after the building of the
first theatre in this city, which Dunlap informs
us, was in Nassau street, where the old Dutch
Church now stands.

The Park Theatre was burnt in 1820.
The next year it was rebuilt, and reopened,
with a prize address from Mr. Sprague. It
is still under the management, as it has been
for the last twenty years, of Price & Simpson.
It is, we believe, the most capacious of all the
theatres ; and ranks as number one in the ex-


cellence of its performances, and in the value,
politeness, and intelligence of its audiences.
The price of admittance to the is $1 ;
pit, 50 cents ; gallery, 25 cents.

Next in age to the Park, is the Ame-
rican Theatre, formerly called the Bowery,
It was first built in the year 1826. It has
been twice burnt to the ground : the first
time in the year 1828; and the last in the
year 1836. It was each time rebuilt in the
short space of about two months. It is lo-
cated in that spacious street called the Bowery
a little above Chatham Square, and about half
a mile northeast of the Park. It is under the
management of Mr. Dinneford. The price
of admittance to the boxes is 75 cents ; pit,
37J cents; gallery, 25 cents. The au-
dience here is different from that at the Park-
being, in general, less fashionable, less polite,
not quite as well dressed, nor quite so intelli-
gent ; but, we believe quite as attentive to the
performances, which are, for the most part,

Next comes the National Theatre, at


the corner of Church and Leonard streets.
It was built for the Italian Opera, by a com-
pany of g-entlemen, who wished to introduce
that species of theatricals into New York,
But they pretty soon found that Americans
are not endued with Italian ears ; and, more-
over, that the finest music, when accompanied
with words which are not understood, soon
ceases to please. Those who at first affected
to be in raptures with the performances,
in a very short time dropped off; and the
Italian Opera House was changed into a thea^
tre for the enactment of English plays, and re-
christened by the name of the National. It
is next in size and respectability to the Park.
The prices are the same. The manager is
Mr. Hackett, the celebrated American come-

Next is the Franklin Theatre — the " lit-
tle Franklin," as it is not improperly called.
It is situated in Chatham Square, at no great
distance from the American Theatre, and
hke the last, is also under the management of
Mr. Dinneford. Its size may be about half



that of one of the others. The price of the
boxes is 50 cents; the pit, 25; gallery we be-
lieve it has none.

The fifth and last is the Richmond Hill
Theatre, which, out of respect to its age,
should have preceded the National and the
Franklin. It takes its name from the former
seat of the celebrated Colonel Aaron Burr, of
which building it is partly formed, and through
which is the entrance to the boxes, pit, &c.
In size it is much about the same as the "little
Franklin," and its prices are the same. It
has been for the last year or two under the
management of females : first, of Mrs. Ham-
blin ; and since, of Miss Nelson. Under such
fair management the gallantry of New York
should have afforded it a fair support. But
it has been permitted to languish; and we be-
lieve is at present closed.




These walls we to thy honor raise ;

Long may they echo to thy praise — Doddridge.

In touching upon places of public resort, it
was due, perhaps, to the churches to name
them before the theatres : for, though public
attention is divided between them, it is nearly
all on the side of the churches, of which there
ara at least thirty to one theatre.

There are, in all, about 150 churches, or
religious societies, in New York. If we sup-
pose their congregations, on an average, to
amount to 1000 each — and this we think is
not rating them too high — there are assembled
weekly in this city 150,000 worshippers — or
one half the entire population. The balance,
then, in favor of church-going, and against
the theatres, is just equal to 29 in every 30


persons. So much does the taste in this great
metropoUs, run on the side of religion, and so
much more popular are sermons than plays.

It would not, however, be quite fair to esti-
mate the comparative popularity of plays and
sermons by the number of persons on a given
time attending each. Some of those, who are
regular theatre-goers, are also regular church
goers : and if they fill their box at the thea-
tre every week-day evening, so in like man-
ner do they fill their pew at church every

But there is another reason why sermons
are better attended than plays — they are less
expensive. It will cost a man some hundreds
of dollars per annum for a nightly ticket at
the theatre ; while it will scarcely cost him
so many cents for admission at a church twice
every Sunday. Nay, for that matter, it need
not cost him any thing if he chooses to go
free. The doors of all the churches are open
to all who wish to enter, provided they demean
themselves in a sober and orderly manner.
But if a man take a pew, or otherwise con-


tribute his full share to the support of public
worship, the expense is trifling indeed com-
pared with that of a nightly attendance on the

Another thing, which decides many in favor
of the church, is — in the estimation of a com-
munity so religious as ours — the superior re-
spectability of the church to that of the thea-
tre. This has no inconsiderable influence.
The opinion of friends, relations, and ac-
quaintance, diverts many from the theatre and
directs many to the church, who, in their se-
cret hearts, would prefer a play to a sermon ;
and whose ears would be more delighted with
the profane sounds of the orchestra than with
the sacred music of the choir.

Another motive for attending church, pre-
ferably to the theatre, is its superior advantage
for exhibiting the charms of person and dress.
For this, the church, being mostly attended in
the daytime instead of the night, is far better
calculated than the theatre. Then the going
to and returning from the house of worship,
aflfords the fairest opportunities that could be


desired for exhibiting an elegant dress or a
comely person. We dare hardly ascribe it to
personal vanity — because the fair sex are con-
stitutionally devout : and yet whoever will at-
tend the church and the theatre, will find the
balance of female beauty, in proportion to the
numbers attending each, immensely on the
side of the church. Perhaps it is not so much
their beauty that leads them to the church, as
the offices of devotion that contribute to their

But after making all due allowance for
those who attend church from motives not
strictly religious, there will still remain so
large a proportion of church-goers from more
pious motives, as cannot fail to convince the
most sceptical, that New York is essentially a
devout community ; and that however great
the popularity of plays and farces, still greater
■ — immensely greater- — is that of prayers and

We have stated the number of churches in
New York to be 150. It would take up more
room than we can spare to give their names


and locations. For information on these
points, we would refer the reader to the Sun-
day Morning News, where he will find in a
regular list, published weekly, the names and
situations of all the churches, as well likewise
as the names of all their pastors. But if he
is conscientiously scrupulous against taking up
a newspaper on Sunday, and is desirous to
find some place of worship, he can scarcely
go amiss in a city so abounding with places
devoted to the public services of the sanctuary.
Of all the numerous sects into which this
religious community is divided, the Presby-
terians are the most numerous, having no less
than 39 churches. Next to these are the
Episcopalians, who have 29. The Baptists
have 20 ; the Methodists of all sorts, Wes-
leyan and Independent, 20; Dutch Reformed

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Online LibraryAsa GreeneA glance at New York: embracing the city government, theatres, hotels, churches, mobs, monopolies, learned professions, newspapers, rogues, dandies, fires and firemen, water and other liquids, & c., & c. .. → online text (page 2 of 11)