Corolyn Faville Ober.

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

. (page 2 of 12)
Online LibraryCorolyn Faville OberManhattan: historic and artistic; a six day tour of New York city; → online text (page 2 of 12)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

thirty blocks in the immediate vicinity. Be-
cause the clergy persisted in reading the
prayer for the king, the church was closed at
the outbreak of the Revolution, and it was
destroyed by fire soon afterward. In 1790 a
new structure was erected, in which a richly
ornamented and canopied pew was dedicated
to the President of the United States, and an-
other was reserved for the Governor of New
York. The second edifice was pulled down in
1839, when the present handsome specimen of
Gothic architecture was erected on its site.

The church doors always stand invitingly
open. Chimes in the belfry chant the hours.
Inside, carved Gothic columns support a
groined roof. The reredos, which is a me-
morial to William B. Astor, erected by his
sons, is a perfect flower-garden of architect-
ural art, composed of marbles, Caen stones,
and mosaics of glass and precious stones. The
middle panel of the altar is made up of a Mal-
tese cross, in the four arms of which are cut
cameos representing symbols of the Evangel-


ists. while at the intersection of the arms is a
delicately outlined bust of the Saviour. A
ring of lapis lazuli encircles the cross, in which
are set chrysoprase and carbuncles. Rays are
formed of red and white tufa, with gold as an
enrichment, and the whole is framed with a
rich carving of passion flowers. At each side
are kneeling angels, carved in white marble,
framed by red Lisbon marble shafts, with
white marble carved capitals and divisional
bands. The side panels are very beautiful, but
somewhat less elaborate. The carved panels
above the altar line represent scenes in the
life of Christ, the middle one being a fine ren-
dering of Leonardo da Vinci's " Last Supper."
Statuettes of the Apostles, separated by red
granite columns, occupy the next line, with a
large triangular carving of the Crucifixion.
An elaborately carved course of natural foli-
age, with birds and flowers, forms the cor-
nice, which is broken in the middle by a gable
completed by a plain cross. The four but-
tresses are surmounted w^ith pinnacles of rich
carving that support angels with uplifted
wings, the treatment being similar to Fra
Angelico. The wdiole design is in keeping
-with the characteristics of the church, the style
being the perpendicular Gothic of the four-
teenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries.


The last record of many names illustrious in
history may be found in the graveyard sur-
rounding the church. Near the left entrance
is the monument to Captain Lawrence. The
tomb of Alexander Hamilton is near the Rector
Street railing. Just west of it is the vault of
Robert Livingston, in which also reposes the
body of Robert Fulton. In the northeastern
corner is a monument which was erected by
Trinity Corporation in honor of the heroes
who died in the British prisons. Near by are
graves that date back to the first church, and
in close proximity to the railing is a flat stone
marked "Charlotte Temple," the unfortunate
woman whose sad history is told in the novel
which bears her name.

Trinity Corporation supports six chapels and
numerous parochial schools and charities. It
always has been munificent in its liberality to
public and private interests. Its property is
very valuable, the income derived from it be-
ing about half a million dollars per annum.

Wall Street. — Directly opposite Trinity
Ch-urch is a street which contains almost as
many associations as the localities previously
described, even its name having been derived
from the fact that a protecting wall, which de-
fined the northern boundary of the city, once
followed its course. Elegant residences lined


the street in later days, that subsequently gave
place to government buildings and the financial
institutions that, since the civil war, have be-
come world-famous through the extent of their

The massive and imposing buildings that
now stand at the south side of the street are
the United Bank Building, at the corner of
Broadway, No. 13, the visitors' entrance to
the Stock Exchange, — one of the chief places
of interest to strangers, — open from nine to
three o'clock daily, the Drexel Building, at
the corner of Nassau Street, the Mills Build-
ing, adjoining the Drexel Building in Broad
Street, several very ornate buildings that be-
long to banking concerns, and the United
States Custom House, — a granite structure
with a portico containing eighteen Ionic col-
umns thirty-eight feet in height. The ro-
tunda of this building is eighty feet high, the
dome of which is supported by eight pilasters
of fine variegated Italian marble. The de-
partments connected with the Custom House
are those of the Collector, the Naval Officer, the
Surveyor, and the Deputy Surveyor, — who is in
charge of the Barge Office at the Battery.

In 1709 a slave-market was instituted at the
foot of Wall Street, at which time Africans
were brought to the city in large numbers.


No. 46, at the north side of the street, is
the spot identified with the office where Pro-
fessor Morse's telegraphic instrument and one
operator long remained idle while waiting for
the recognition of the commercial world. The
handsome block of granite near by is utilized
entirely for business offices.

The United States Assay Office, where
visitors may see the preparation of gold and
silver bullion daily, between the hours of 10
A.M. and 2 P.M., is easily identified, being
the oldest building in the vicinity.

The United States Sub-Treasury, at the
corner of Nassau Street, is a building associ-
ated with so much of our history that a short
digression becomes necessary.

During the administration of the third Dutch
Governor, Kieft, a clumsy stone house was
erected in Pearl Street for the purpose of ac-
commodating travellers, public meetings, and
later, a public school. Afterward, when the
house was remodelled, and a pillory, cage,
whipping-post and ducking-stool were added
to its accommodations, it was called the " Stadt-
Huys," or City Hall, and remained in active
use until 1 700, when a new City Hall was built
upon the site of the present Sub-Treasury, —
the ground having been a gift to the city from
Colonel Abraham De Peyster, who was mayor


in 1 69 1 . Besides the rooms necessarily devoted
to public business in this later edifice, one
afterward contained the Corporation Library,
a gift to the city of one thousand six hundred
and twenty two volumes ; another was used as
a fire-engine house, while the entire upper
story became converted into a Debtor's Prison.
From the balcony w^as read the Declaration of
Independence, July i8th, 1776, amidst the

rapturous applause of citizens who understood
the fierce struggle it inaugurated. After the
war, when Congress appropriated the building,


it was remodeled by private subscription into
the Federal Hall, where Washington was
•unanimously elected President of the new Re-
public, where he was inaugurated, April 30th,
1789, and where Congress met while New
York was the Capital of the Nation.

The subsequent rapid growth of the city
necessitating a new City Hall as early as 18 12,
the Government purchased Federal Hall and
erected the present structure on its site, in-
tending it originally for a Custom House.
This granite edifice is of Doric design, having
a portico containing marble columns thirty-
two feet in height. Through holes in the
ceiling of the portico balls may be dropped
should the building be attacked by a mob.

The Colossal Statue of '* Washington
Taking the Oath of Office," by J. Q. A.
Ward, which stands at the entrance, is an ad-
mirable work of art, erected by the New York
Chamber of Commerce and presented to the
United States Government in 1883, President
Arthur accepting the gift in behalf of the Gov-
ernment just one hundred years after Wash •
ington's triumphal entry into New York.
Near the base of the statue lies the identical
stone upon which Washington stood during
the ceremony of the first inauguration.

Within the building, to which visitors are


admitted from. 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., are many
vaults for the storage of coins and notes.
Desks of the different divisions surround the
rotunda, the dome of which is supported by
sixteen Corinthian columns cut from solid
blocks of marble.

The last object of prominence in the street
is the Astor Building, at No. 10.

Lower Broadway and Vicinity from
Wall Street to the Post-Office. — At
the west side of Broadway, one block north of
Trinity Church, stands a building which was
erected by, and bears the nam,e of, Francis
Boreel, a Dutch nobleman who married the
granddaughter of John Jacob Astor. The spot
on which this building stands originally was
occupied by the elegant home of Lieutenant-
Governor James De Lancey, after whose death
the property was converted into a public house,
known by a great variety of names, the most
famous of which Avas ''Burns' Coffee House."
In this hotel the celebrated '' Non-Impor-
tation Agreement" was signed. Later, the
house became a favorite resort of the British
officers, on account of its proximity to " The
Mall," — a fashionable promenade in front of
Trinity Church, — and after the Revolution its
"great room" was the scene of Washington's
inauguration ball ; also of many public dinners,


concerts, and assemblies. In 1 793 a syndicate
of New York merchants pulled down the old
building and erected a new one, called the City
Hotel, which furnished accommodations for the
entertainment of magnates, as well as for public
assemblies of every description.

At the opposite side of the street is the
Guernsey Building, No. 164. The Equitable
Life Insurance Building, on the same side of
the way, between Pine and Cedar Streets, is
an excellent specimen of modern French Re-
naissance. The interior contains a magnificent
court, filled with offices and stalls. In the w^all
near the stairway is a fine mosaic. The story
occupied by the Equitable Life Insurance
Company is magnificently decorated with
marble. A Signal Service Station may be
investigated at the top of the building, and
the Safe Deposit Vaults in the basement are
open to inspection.



The court of the Equitable Building leads to
Nassau Street, where stands a splendid granite
structure, erected by the Mutual Life Insurance
Company, in modern French Renaissance style.

The Historic Middle Dutch Church,
of quaint Holland architecture, which formerly
occupied the site of the last mentioned build-
ing, was erected in 1729. Here twelve elders
with stereotyped countenances sat in solemn
state around the high pulpit, and listened to
the Dutch dominies whose learned discourses
were delivered in their native tongue until
1764. It was in the wooden steeple of this
church that Franklin experimented with the
lightning. The bell, a gift from Colonel
Abraham De Peyster, was cast in Amsterdam,
where many citizens are said to have thrown
silver coins into the metal while it was in fu-
sion. During the Revolution the church was
used by the English for a prison, three thou-
sand Federal troops having endured incredible
sufferings within its walls, while almost as




many more were confined in an old sugar-
house near by. In 1844 the property was sold
to the Government, w^hen for a number of


years it was used as a post-office. The old
bell is now placed in front of the church at the
corner of Fifth Avenue and 29th Street.

A fine building-, owned by the Library Cor-
poration, and containing the earliest loan-
library in America, — since removed to the
corner of Leonard Street and Broadway, — once
stood at the corner of Nassau and Cedar

Nassau, one of the oldest streets in New


York, still retains the narrow irregularity of
the foot-path which gave it its direction.
Maiden Lane, which crosses Nassau Street
one block north of the Insurance Building, is
now a trade-centre for manufacturing jewellers,
but was once a favorite resort for laundresses,
on account of the little stream which flowed
through it, — hence its name, " Maagde paetze,"
or " Virgin's path." In John Street, one block
further north, was a small wooden theatre,
called the Theatre Royal, in which British
officers often were amateur performers, and
where Major Andre was both amateur actor
aud scene-painter. In 1786 the first Methodist
church was erected in this street.

"The Russian Wedding Feast," a cele-
brated painting by Makoffsky, is exhibited at
No. 24 John Street. In this picture the artist
has portrayed the moment when a young hus-
band is about to salute his blushing bride, —
for the first time unveiled before him, — while
the guests are waiting until this part of the
ceremony shall have been performed before
they drink to the health of the young couple.
The figures are animated, the faces expres-
sive, and the costumes and decorations superb.
The grouping of endless varieties of color into
a perfectly harmonious whole is the most no-
ticeable feature of this painting. An entrance


fee of twenty-five cents, which is appropriated
to some charitable institution, is charged.

At the corner of Broadway and Dey Street,
directly opposite John Street, is the Western
Union Telegraph Company Building, the de-
sign of which is sometimes called Neo-Grec.
The Coal and Iron Exchange is one block south,
at No. 19 Cortland Street.

Fulton, the first street north of Dey and
John Streets, is known by the same name from
one river to the other. Washington Market
is at the Hudson River terminus, and Fulton
Market is in the same street, near the East
River. The region of the last named place of
merchandise was once called "Golden Hill."
A skirmish at Cliff and Fulton Streets in Jan-
uary 1770, — caused by the indignation which
the British soldiers aroused by repeatedly de-
molishing the liberty poles erected by citizens,
— has been termed the first battle of the Revo-
lution. In this first, as in the last conflict, the
British were worsted.

The southeastern corner of Fulton Street
and Broadway is occupied by the Evening
Post Building.

St. Paul's Chapel, the next attraction in
Broadway, was built in 1 766 by Trinity Corpora-
tion, and is the oldest church edifice in the city.
Trinity Congregation has occupied this chapel


several times while its own edifice was in pro-
cess of reconstruction. Here divine service
was conducted in 1789, immediately after the
inauguration of Washington, and also in 1889,
at the centennial celebration of that event.
During the early part of his administration
the first President worshipped in the pew which
is situated under the gallery at the northern
side of the chapel, about half-way between the
chancel and the vestry, and adorned by a fresco
of the American Eagle. Governor George
Clinton occupied the pew directly opposite.

The churchyard adds to the venerable ap-
pearance of the chapel. Under the portico,
at the Broadway side, lie the remains of Gen-
eral Richard Montgomery, who was killed in
1775 while storming Quebec, and on the wall
above is a tablet erected to his memory by
order of Congress. At the left stands a mon-
ument to Thomas Addis Emmet, — the brilliant
Irish patriot who came to America soon after
his release from imprisonment in Ireland, and
established himself here in the practice of law.
Dr. Mac Nevin, Emmet's compatriot and fel-
low-sufferer, has a monument at the right.
The actor, George Frederick Cooke, is also bur-
ied in these grounds. The rector and vestry
of Trinity Church occupy offices in the build-
ing at the rear of the cemetery.


The block at the north of the chapel is occu-
pied by the Astor House. The New York
Herald Building is at the southeastern corner
of Broadway and Ann Street, where, in
former years, P. T. Barnum drew large crowds
to visit his American Museum.

The Post-Office. — The triangular build-
ing opposite the Astor House is the city Post-
Office, completed in 1877. The material is
of light-colored granite, and the architecture
is a mixture of Doric and Renaissance, the
domes having been patterned after those of the
Louvre in Paris. The third and fourth floors
are occupied by the Law Institute and Library,
and by the United States Courts and their
offices, but the remainder of the building is
used entirely by the Post-Office Department.
Eight hundred million letters, newspapers,
etc., are delivered annually. From twelve to
twenty collections are daily made from sixteen
hundred lamp-post boxes, and over two thou-
sand men are employed in the main office and
the seventeen sub-stations under its control.
Although the postal facilities of the present
office are admirable, its capacity is not suffi-
cient for the constantly increasing business of
our rapidly growing city. The question of a
larger building, to be located very much fur-
ther north, is now agitating the public mind.


In former years, before the Middle Dutch
Church was used as a post-office, a rotunda in
the park north of the present building, was
changed from a cyclorama to a station for the
distribution of Uncle Sam's mail. The indig-
nation of the merchants was at this time
aroused because the post-office was located so
far up- town.

In 1 71 8 the first rope-walk appeared in
Broadway, between Barclay Street and Park

Columbia College, originally called King's
College, formerly stood west of Broadway, in
Park Place.

City Hall Park. — The park at the north
of the Post Office was called "The Fields," or
" The Commons," in the early days, the ground
now occupied by the Post-Office having been
included. At a public meeting in this place
Alexander Hamilton delivered his maiden

The white marble building designed in the
Italian style of architecture is the City Hall.
At the time of its completion in 18 12, it was
unsurpassed by any edifice in the country;
indeed it was the only chaste and classic speci-
men of architecture which New York possessed
until the pure Gothic of Trinity and Grace
Churches inspired a desire for something bet-



ter than the feeble imitations of Greek temples
that previously had abounded. The head-
quarters of the city government are in this
building; also the city library. The "Gov-
ernors' Room" contains portraits of national
celebrities, the chairs used by the first Con-


*-^- X


gress, the desk on which Washington penned
his first message to Congress, and his inaugu-
ral chair. Here the remains of President
Lincoln were laid in state, while for twenty-
four hours a sad procession, which even during
the night did not diminish in volume, surged
by him.


The County Court House stands at the
northern end of the park, a white marble
building of Corinthian design, which perpetu-
ates the memory of the gigantic frauds that
occurred during the Tweed regime. Different
authorities estimate the cost of this edifice to
the city to have been from eight to thirty mil-
lions of dollars. It now accommodates the
State Courts and several of the city depart-
ments. The city almshouse formerly stood
on this site.

A jail, called "The Provost," which previous
to the Revolution had been erected near the
eastern border of the park, was used during
the British occupation for the confinement of
notable American prisoners, the marshal mak-
ing himself conspicuous for his criminal treat-
ment of the captives. This relic of Revolu-
tionary times still stands. After the war it
was used as a debtors' prison,* common felons
having been confined in the "Bridewell,"
which stood between the City Hall and Broad-
way. A gallows frowned between the two
buildings. In 1830 " Provost" was remodelled
to imitate the Temple of Diana at Ephesus,
and has since been used for the offices of the
Register, except when during the cholera
scourge of 1832 it was converted temporarily
into a hospital.


Park Row. — Because the group of lofty
buildings that face the park from the east and
south are mostly newspaper offices, the place
has received the name of '* Printing House
Square." The huge structures that stand a
little to the south of the park are provided
with law and business offices. Temple Court,
at the southwestern corner of Nassau and
Beekman Streets, is one hundred and sixty
feet in height. The Morse Building, at the
northeastern corner of the same streets, is
one hundred and sixty-five feet in height.
The Potter Building, opposite, at the north-
western corner, is one hundred and eighty-five
feet, and the Times Building, just north of this,
is two hundred and thirteen feet The mate-
rial of this last named edifice is light granite,
and its style is a beautiful adaptation of the
Gothic. The Tribiuie Building, which was
the first lofty edifice in this vicinity, stands
at the corner of Spruce Street and Park Row,
with a bronze statue of its founder, Horace
Greeley, on the sidewalk in front of one of its
windows. The Siui Building is next to the
Tribune Building, while at the north, tower-
ing over all, is the Pulitzer Building, a colos-
sus of the colossi, of Scotch sandstone and
terra-cotta, three hundred and seventy-five feet
in height. Visitors are freely admitted to the


dome of this building- (from whence the vis-
ion extends over forty-five miles of country),
and to the World offices and press-room. The
twelfth floor contains the best appointed com-
posing-room in the world. On the numerous
floors above are the editorial, reportorial, and
photo-engraving rooms. The distributing-
room is in the basement, and the press-room
occupies the cellar. In this latter apartment
are eight cylinder presses connected with ma-
chines that cut and fold the papers ready for
delivery. To watch these mighty servants of
civilization at their work is most entertaining.
The design of this majestic edifice is a free
treatment of the Romanesque.

On the site of these gigantic structures for-
merly were the " Brick Church" (Presbyte-
rian), of which the popular Dr. Spring was
pastor, and the Park Theatre, a play-house
where the best society witnessed histrionic
exhibitions by Matthews, Cooper, Cooke, Kean,
Macready, and Junius Brutus Booth.

The Statue of America's Philosopher
AND Patriot, Benjamin Franklin, by Plass-
man, which stands in the Square, was given to
the city by a private citizen in 1872.

Franklin Square. — A short walk in Frank-
fort Street, an unattractive thoroughfare south
of the Pulitzer Building, affords an opportunity


for inspecting the supporting-towers of Brook-
lyn Bridge, the arches under the bridge-
approach, etc. The elevated-railroad station,
which crosses the street at Franklin Square,
marks a spot once celebrated for its aristocratic
residences. The first presidential mansion
was in Cherry Street, near Pearl, but proved
to be inconvenient because so far out of town.
Walton House, the palace of the city, was at
No. 326 Pearl Street, the grounds extending
eastward to the river. Harpers' Publishing
House is the only object of interest in the vicin-
ity now, business and tenement houses having
obliterated all traces of former grandeur.

The Model Tenement Houses erected
by a company composed of members of the
Society for Ethical Culture, are some distance
beyond, at No. 306 Cherry Street. The
houses are kept in excellent repair, and
yield four and one-half per cent, on the in-
vestment, the object of the company being
to realize a fair profit and not an exor-
bitant one. From Franklin Square to South
Street is but a step ; there the Belt Line cars
run northeast to Montgomery Street, near
which, in Cherry Street, these houses are sit-
uated. Returning, the cars at the corner of
East Broadway and Essex Street will convey
passengers to Broadway at Ann Street.


Brooklyn Bridge. — East of City Hall Park
is Brooklyn Suspension Bridge, over which
about ninety-eight thousand persons daily pass.
The entire length of the bridge is five thou-
sand, nine hundred and and eighty-nine feet,
and its width is eighty-five feet, including
a promenade for foot-passengers, two rail-
road tracks — on which run passenger cars pro-
pelled by a stationary engine on the Brook-

2 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Online LibraryCorolyn Faville OberManhattan: historic and artistic; a six day tour of New York city; → online text (page 2 of 12)