Corolyn Faville Ober.

Manhattan: historic and artistic; a six day tour of New York city; online

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The Old Park Theatre was burned.
182 1. — In January, the North River from Cortlandt
Street to Jersey City, was crossed on the ice by
loaded sleighs.
1822. — New York, with other counties, had a sepa-
rate District Attorney.

A steamship line carried passengers and
freight between New York and Norfolk.
1823.— The first steam-power printing press in
the United States was put in operation. An


abridgement of Murray's English Grammai
was the first work done by this machine.

The New York G^is-Light Company was
1824. — A House of Refuge for the reformation of
juvenile delinquents was erected by private
subscription. This was the beginning of a
new system for the correction of the vices of
the young.

General Lafayette was welcomed with great
rejoicing as the guest of the city and nation.
1825. — October 26th, the sound of cannon, first
heard at Buffalo, and then repeated from
point to point, announced the completion of the
Erie Canal, and the union of the Great Lakes
with the Atlantic. The arrival in New York
City of the first canal-boat was the occasion
of a grand aquatic and civil pageant, in which
the " commingling of the waters, " was typical-
• ly illustrated by Governor De Witt Clinton,
the *' Father of the Canal, " who, amidst impres-
sive ceremonies, poured from a keg the water
of Lake Erie, into the ocean at the Narrows.

The first Sunday newspaper published in
this city was issued under the name of the
Sunday Courier. It was soon discontinued for
want of patronage.

The first performance of Italian Opera was
given at the Park Theatre.

Homoeopathy was introduced by a physi-
cian from Denmark.

The tinder-box,, which had been the imple-
ment used for lighting fires, was superseded
by a bottle filled with acid and cotton, and
surmounted by phosphorized pine sticks.

The quintal of one hundred, instead of one
hundred and twelve pounds, was adopted by

MA Nil A TTAJV. 2 1 1

the merchantvS as the new measure for purchase
and sale.

Gas mains were laid in Broadway.
1827. — The Journal of Co??wierce and the Morning
Inquirer were started. These two papers,
in their efforts to rival each other, established
swift schooners and pony-expresses for the
purpose of obtaining- the commercial news.
1828. — The Law Institute was organized.

Webster's Dictionary was published.

Varnish was first manufactured.
1829. — The American Institute was incorporated,
and held its first fair.

Bricks were manufactured by machinery.

Galvanized iron was invented.
1830. — 'A railroad locomotive, the first one con-
structed in America, was built in New York
for a railroad in South Carolina.

Omnibuses were introduced. The word
"omnibus," painted in large letters on both
sides of the vehicle, was generally supposed
to be that of the owner.

The Christian Intelligencer^ an organ of the
Dutch Reformed Church, published its first
1 83 1. — A street railroad was completed, and opened
for travel, between the City Hall and 14th

The first sporting paper, called The Spirit
of the Times, was issued.

The New York and Harlem Railroad Com-
pany was incorporated.
1832. — Peter Cooper, the philanthropist, demon-
strated to the stockholders of the Albany and
Schenectady Railroad, that cars could be
drawn around short curves.

2 1 2 MA NHA T TA N.

Five thousand persons died from Asiatic
1S33. — The New York Sun, a penny paper, was

1834. — A meeting of the American Anti-Slavery
Society was broken up by a mob

In conformity with an amendment of the
Constitution, a mayor of New York was elected,
for the first time by the votes of the people.
1835. — The Neiu York I/era/d was founded.

Pins were manufactured by machinery.

A disastrous conflagration, destroying prop-
erty to the extent of twenty millions of dol-
lars, was checked only by blowing up several
1836. — Work on the aqueduct was begun.

The Common Council ordered pipes to be
laid, preparatory to the introduction of water
into the city.

Commercial distress and financial panic
spread over the whole country, and swept
numerous firms out of existence.
1840. — A manufactory of gold pens was estab-

The New York Tribune, edited by Horace
Greely, was published. The receipts of this
paper for the first week, were ninety-two
dollars; the expenses amounted to five hun-
dred and twenty-five dollars.
1841. — The *' Princeton," a ship-of-war, w^as con-
structed by John Ericsson. This was the first
ship in which the propelling machinery was
placed under water, and secured from shot.
1842. — Abolitionists declared a separate nom-
ination, held a State Convention, and ran a
candidate for the mayoralty of New York.

June 27th, water was received through the


aqueduct into the reservoir at 86th Street,
July 4th, it was introduced into the distribut-
ing-reservoir on Murray Hill; while waving
flags, clanging bells, floral canopies, and songs,
proclaimed the great interest which this event
awakened. The fountain in the park, opposite
the Astor House, consisted of a central pipe
with eighteen subordinate jets, in a basin one
hundred feet broad. By shifting the plate of
the conduit pipe, the water assumed such
shapes as the " Maid of the Mist, " the " Croton
Plume," the "Vase," the "Dome," the "Bou-
quet,"' the " vSheaf of Wheat," and the " Weep-
ing Willow. '

A similar display in Union Square, then
called Union Park, was a weeping willow of
crystal drops illuminated with fireworks
that kindled the cloud of mist until it resem-
bled showers of many colored gems.

1843. — A submarine telegraph connected New
York with Fire Island and Coney Island.

A patent for a sewing machine that made a
lasting stitch, was granted to a resident of the

1844. — An enormous immigration poured in from
Ireland and other European countries, in con-
sequence of famine and political disturbances.

1845. —A disastrous fire occurred, which destroyed
a large amount of property.

1846. — The first granite- block pavement was laid.

1847. — The first sucessful type-revolving press was
made by a resident of the city.

The Board of Education took action in
reference to the establishment of a Free
Academy. This was the first institution,
maintained at the public expense, by which
the pupils of the New York schools could

2 1 4 Jl/J XHA T TA N.

secure the advantages of those higher depart-
ments of learning, usually obtained at great
expense in the colleges.
1848. — The first Electric Telegraph Service was

1849. — The " Astor Place Riot" occurred.

The New York Press Association was

The phenomenon of spirit-rapping caused
much excitement.
1850. — P. T. Barnum introduced Jenny Lind to
an enraptured audience.

An Arctic expedition sailed from New
York in search of Franklin.

The American Bible Union was organized.

1 85 1. — Kossuth, the Hungarian patriot, visited

the city and received an enthusiastic welcome.

The New York Times appeared.

1853. — An International World's Fair was held in

the Crystal Palace.

The New York Clearing House was organ-
ized by fifty-two of the city banks
1854. — The Astor Library was opened to the pub-
1855. — Castle Garden was utilized as a receiving-
depot for emigrants.

The ground for Central Park was selected by
commissioners appointed by the Supreme
1857. — An unsuccessful attempt to lay the Atlan-
tic Cable was made, the wire parting when
but three hundred and thirty-four miles had
been paid out.
1858. — The successful laying of the Atlantic Cable
was announced, and celebrated by public dem-

Crystal Palace was burned,


The voice of Adelina Patti was heard for the
first time in public. The cantatrice had not
then attained her seventeenth year.

i860. — The secession of South Carolina caused
much consternation in business circles.

The Prince of Wales and his suite were wel-
comed with elaborate ceremony.

The Japanese Embassy visited the city.

1 86 1. — Central Park was opened to the public.

The banks, having loaned enormous sums
of money to the Government, suspended specie
payments, after the attack upon Fort Sumter.

1863. — A draft in progress in the Ninth District,
caused a riot among foreign laborers, who
attacked the recruiting office, destroyed the
wheel, scattered the lists, and set the building
on fire. As the militia had been sent to Phil-
adelphia to resist a Confederate invasion, the
police were unaided, and could not suppress
the demonstration for several days. One
hundred persons were killed, and a large
amount of property was destroyed.

1865. — News of the surrender of General Lee and
the Confederate Army caused great rejoicing.
Banners streamed in the wind, the national
colors were displayed in great profusion,
sweet bells chimed the airs of peace, the
sound of cannon rolled over the water of the
rivers and the bay, and the atmosphere was
filled with the general gladness and mirth of
the people.

One week from the time when peace was
restored to the country, the body of President
Lincoln was laid in state in the City Hall, the
"Saviour of his Country" having been shot
by an assassin, while in his box at the theatre
in Washington. The tri-colored decorations


of the city were at once exchanged for the
sombre hues of woe.

1867. — In January, five thousand persons crossed
over a bridge of ice that had formed in the
East River between New York and Brooklyn.
A short experimental section of the Ninth
Avenue Elevated Railroad was opened for

1869. — .The American Museum of Natural History
was incorporated.

The Telegraph Messenger Service was or-

1870. — The Metropolitan Museum of Art received
its charter.

1872. — A committee of seventy was appointed to
investigate the extent of the depredations
made by Tweed and his *' Ring," and to bring
those criminals to justice.

1873. — The business interests of the city were
paralyzed by a panic of unusual severity.

Morrisania, West Farms and Kingsbridge,
three villages that covered an area nearly
doubling that of the city, were annexed.

The city charter was amended, and many
important modifications were made on prev-
ious enactments.

1875. — 'Fourth Avenue was improved at a cost of
six millions of dollars, an expense shared
equally by the city and the New York Central
Railroad Company.

1876. — The one hundredth anniversary of the
signing of the Declaration of Independence,
celebrated by a World's Fair at Philadelphia,
brought many visitors to the city. Exhi-
bitions of loaned paintings, held in the Acad-
emy of Design and the Metropolitan Museum
of Art 4iU'ing the summer season, made the


year a memorable one to the lovers of fine

Hell Gate channel was opened.

1878. — The streets were lighted by electric arc-

1879. — The Central-Station Telephone service was
put in operation.

1880. — Four elevated railroad lines were com-
pleted, and in operation.

1 88 1. — The city, with the nation, was called to
mourn the death of President Garfield, who
was assassinated in Washington by an insane

The current was first turned on for the In-
candescent Lamp Service.

Four hundred and forty-four newspapers
and periodicals were published.

1883. — East River Bridge was opened to the pub-

The statue of Washington, now standing
upon the steps of the Sub-Treasury Building
in Wall Street, was presented to the United
States Government by the New York Chamber
of Commerce, on the occasion of the one hun-
dredth anniversary of the British evacuation
of New York.

1888. — The city was visited by a storm of wind
and snow that for several days shut off almost
all communication with the surrounding
country, and resulted in much suffering and
many deaths.

1889. — An elaborate pageant, commemorating the
first inauguration of a President of the
United States, arrayed New York in holiday
attire, and provided for its citizens three days
of patriotic display and memorable pleasure.
The programme included civil and relig-


ious ceremonies, a naval, a military, and a
civil parade, and terminated with a great
ball at the Metropolitan Opera House. It is
estimated that three million strangers visited
the city during the time of this celebration.
1890. — The population of the city, as reported in
the United States census, has been as follows :

1790 zz.-^z^

1800 60,489

1810 96,373

1820 123,706

1830 197,112

1840 312,710

1850 515,547

i860 813,669

1870 942,292

1880. 1,206,299

1890 1,515,301

An enumeration made by the police, under
the unanimous resolution of the Common
Council, showed the population of 1890 to
have been 1,710,715.

The credit obtained by the city was illus-
trated by an achievement never before
reached in the history of municipal finance,
bonds bearing interest at two and one-half
per cent, having been sold in the open market
at a premium of one and one-eighth per cent.

A " strike" by the engineers of the New York
Central Railroad closed transportation over
that route for several days.
1 89 1. — A Cable Railroad was laid from the Bat-
tery to Central Park.




The appearance, customs, and manners, of the
people who occupied Manhattan Island before the
coming of the white settlers, were so distinct from
those of other nations known to the civilized
world, and their individual character had so little
in common with the more restrained and law-abid-
ing Europeans, that they were classed among
those wild and lawless races who, it was supposed,
had few of the affections and higher emotions of
humanity. Later experience, however, has shown
that under the advantages of education and moral
culture, the American Indian is capable of high
attainments in all that distinguishes the best traits
of human character.

The huts or wigwams of these Aborigines
w^ere made of two rows of upright saplings, with
the branches brought together at the top. Upon
this frame- work a lathing of boughs was fastened,
and the inside was nicely covered by strips of bark
that afforded a good protection from wind and
rain. The ground was the only flooring these
habitations contained, and on this fires were
kindled, the smoke escaping through an aperture
in the roof. The width of the wigwams was al-
ways twenty feet, the length varied according to
the number of persons that they were designed to
accommodate. Sometimes twenty or thirty fam.
ilies occupied the same apartment, each retain.



ing an allotted space. In time of war a fence or
stockade, from ten to fifteen feet in height, pro-
tected the villages.

The Manhattan Indians are described as having
been tall, small at the waist, with black or dark-
brown eyes, snow-white teeth and cinnamon-
colored skins. They were active and sprightly,
though probably of less average strength than
Europeans of the same size. While eating they
sat upon the ground, taking the food with their
fingers. In their dress they were fond of display,
both sexes indulging in this taste to an extrava-
gant degree. Some of the highly ornamented
petticoats of the women were sold to the early
settlers for eighty dollars. The men wore upon
their shoulders a mantle of deer-skin, with the fur
next to their bodies, the outside of the garment ex-
hibiting a variety of painted designs. Sometimes
these queer people decorated themselves with many
colors and patterns. In "full paint" they were
both grotesque and frightful. The procurement
of food, which consisted of nuts, fruit, fish, and
game, was the usual employment in time of peace.
The bow and arrow were the implements used in
hunting. It is said that the Indian boys attained
great skill with these weapons, being able to hit a
shilling at a distance of fifty feet. This singular
expertness was a wonder to the white settlers, who
sometimes excited emulation among them by toss-
ing up a purse of money to be claimed by whoever
could hit it in the air.

After death the Indians were placed sitting, in
graves lined with boughs, and covered with stones
and earth. By their side were deposited cooking
utensils, money, and food, in order that the spirit
might want for nothing on its journey to the
" Happ5^ Hunting Grounds."


The original name for the Island was Monaton,
a word descriptive of the whirlpool at Hell Gate, —
the most striking geographical feature of the re-
gion, — and the appellation by which the earliest
inhabitants designated themselves was " Mon-a-
tuns, " or " People of the Whirlpool." Manhattan
is the Anglicized term.

FROM 1613 TO 1664.

Some of the early settlers adopted the bark cab-
ins of the savages, while others dwelt tempor-
arily in roofed cellars. After a saw-mill was built
near a stream that emptied into the East River op-
posite Blackwell's Island, these pioneers construct-
ed one-story log dwellings, the roofs of which
were thatched with straw, and the chimneys made


of wood. The windows admitted light through
oiled paper.

As the little town of New Amsterdam increased
in size, its habitations assumed a more substantial
and comfortable aspect, tiles, shingles, and even
brick, having been used for the most elaborate res-

2 2 2 MA NHA T TA N.

idences. The houses were built in the Low
Dutch style, with the gable ends toward the street,
the tops indented like stairs, the roofs surmounted
by a weathercock, and the walls clamped with iron
designed in the form of letters, (usually the in-
itials of the proprietor's name), and in figures in-
dicating the year when the building was erected.
Every house was surrounded with a garden in
which both flowers and vegetables were cultivated.
Cows and swine were abundant, but horses were
very rare. Inside, the floors were strewn with clean
sand. Cupboards and chests that held the pewter
plate, or household linen, were the main orna-
ments of the best room, and as wealth increased,
some of these displayed china tea-sets, and pieces
of solid silver.

According to Lossing: "Clocks and watches
were almost unknown, and time was measured by
sun-dials and hour-glasses. The habits of the
people were so regular that they did not need
clocks and watches. At nine o'clock they all said
their prayers and went to bed. They arose at
cock-crowing, and breakfasted before sunrise.
Dinner-parties were unknown, but tea-parties
were frequent. These ended, the participants
went home in time to attend to the milking of the
cows. In every house were spinning-wheels, and
it was the pride of every family to have an ample
supply of home-made linen and woollen cloth.
The women spun and wove, and were steadily em-
ployed. Nobody was idle. Nobody was anxious
to get rich, while all practised thrift and frugality.
Books were rare luxuries, and in most houses the
bible and prayer-book constituted the stock of lit-
erature. The weekly discourses of the clergyman
satisfied their intellectual wants, while their own
hands, industriously employed, furnished all their




physical necessities. Knitting and spinning- held
the place of whist and music in these " degenerate
days/' and utility was as plainly stamped upon all
their labors and pleasures as is the maker's name
on our silver spoons. These were the " good old
days" of simplicity, comparative innocence, and
positive ignorance, when the "commonalty" no
more suspected the earth of the caper of turning
over like a ball of yarn every day than Stuyvesant
did the Puritans of candor and honesty."

Most of the streets were paved to the width of
ten feet from the fronts of the houses, the middle
space containing pablic wells, and being left with-
out pavement, for the more easy absorption of
water. Brick pathways, called "strookes," were
laid in place of sidewalks. Public markets were
quite numerous, the supply having been received
from the fertile section of country on the northern
portion of the Island, where the farmers located a
village called New Harlem. The road to this
settlement was little more than an Indian trail
leading through the woods, and becoming impass-
able in many seasons.

As to the character of these founders of the city
of New York, they were deliberate, but deter-
mined. Much time was spent in examining every
project before it was ventured upon, but when
once undertaken it was carried out with a spirit of
force and persistence to which later generations
are deeply indebted.

With regard to the people of Holland, Mrs.
Martha Lamb, in her " History of New York," as-
serts : " In no country were the domestic and social
ties of life discharged with greater precision. It
matters not that chroniclers have made the Dutch
subjects of unmerited depreciation. It has been
stated that they were characterized only by slow-


ness ; and that the land was barren of invention,
progress or ideas. The seeds of error and pre-
judice thus sown bear little fruit after the read-
ing- of a few chapters of genuine contemporar}^
personal description. As a rule the Hollanders
were not inclined to take the initiative in trade or
politics, and were distinguished for solidity rather
than brilliancy ; but it is absurd to say they were
unequal to the origination of any new thing. We
find among them many of the most illustrious men
of modern Europe, — politicians, warriors, scholars,
artists, and divines. Wealth was widely diffused ;
learning was held in high respect ; and eloquence,
courage and public spirit were characteristic of the
race. For nearly a century after the Dutch Re-
public took its place among independent nations,
it swayed the balance of European politics ; and
the acumen and culture of the leading statesmen
elicited universal deference and admiration. For
an index to the private life of the upper classes,
we need to take a peep into the richly furnished
apartments of their stately mansions, or walk
through their summer-houses and choice conserva-
tories and famous picture galleries. As for the
peasantry, they were neat to a fault and indus-
trious, as well as frugal."

It will not be amiss in this connection to quote
from the historian Broadhead, who says about the
women of Holland ; " The purity of morals and de-
corum of manners for which the Dutch have ever
been conspicuous, may be most justly ascribed to
the happy influence of their women, who mingled
in all the active affairs of life, and were consulted
with deferential respect. They loved their homes
and their firesides, but they loved their country
more. Through all their toils and struggles, the
calm fortitude of the men of Holland was nobly


encouraged and sustained by the earnest and un-
daunted spirit of their mothers and wives. And
the empire which the female sex obtained was no
greater than that which their beauty, good sense,
virtue, and devotion entitled them to hold."

FROM 1664 TO 1776.

The advent of the British brought about many
beneficial changes in the social life of the Island.
Not only were English habits incorporated into the
less ambitious character of the Dutch inhabitants,
but the settlement of many Huguenot families of
distinction aided materially to produce an atmos-
phere of culture. Irrepressible social, political,
and religious, forces were sweeping over the great
nations of Europe and imbuing the immigrants who
sought our shores, with a spirit which was to work
out undreamed of results. Founded upon Dutch
stubbornness, integrity, and practicality, — supple-
mented by English inflexibility, sagacity, and
commercial prosperity, and adorned by French
refinement and vivacity, — it is no wonder that
later generations arose to prominence, acquired
the independence of character that could success-
fully resist oppression, and developed the ability
to aid in founding and maintaining a new and
marvellously prosperous nation.

As early as 1668 a social club composed of the
best Dutch, English, and French families, was es-
tablished. Meetings were held twice every week
at the different houses, the members coming to-
gether about six, and separating at nine o'clock in
the evening. The English governors and their
suites held elaborate court, observing on all occa-
sions the strictest etiquette sanctioned by foreign

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Online LibraryCorolyn Faville OberManhattan: historic and artistic; a six day tour of New York city; → online text (page 11 of 12)