Corolyn Faville Ober.

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

. (page 7 of 12)
Online LibraryCorolyn Faville OberManhattan: historic and artistic; a six day tour of New York city; → online text (page 7 of 12)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

one of the many villages that were situated on
the northern part of the Island before the city
absorbed them all. The names of some of
these little towns, — Manhattan ville, Carmans-
ville, and Harlem, — still remain to designate
their old localities.

The Sheltering ARxMS, at Tenth Avenue


and 129th Street, takes charge of homeless
children for whom no provision is made in
other institutions.

The Convent of the Sacred Heart is
situated in beautiful grounds above 130th
Street and east of Tenth Avenue.

The Hebrew Orphan Asylum is at 136th

The Grange, the former home of Alexan-
der Hamilton, still stands in Convent Avenue,
between i42d and 143d Streets. The house,
which was named from Hamilton's ancestral
home in Scotland, is well preserved, as is also
the grove of thirteen trees that the proprietor
set out as symbols of the thirteen original
States. This planting was done with much
pomp and ceremony in 1802, after a banquet
given for the occasion, and with the speech-
making, and solemnity of prayer, customary to
the olden-time festivities.

Each tree is named for a State, and what is
most peculiar, each tree has kept pace in its
growth with the State which it represents.
New York is the most majestic of the group,
Pennsylvania is the next, and Rhode Island is
a mere sapling as compared with the larger
trees. The "crooked tree," South Carolina,
at one time turned abruptly out of the grove,
and then just as abruptly returned and grew


straight The State for which it was named, —
the first to secede from the Union, — has been
one of the most thrifty and flourishing since
the restoration of peace.

" The Grange" was the residence of the
statesman, at the time of his duel with Aaron
Burr in Weehawken.

Trinity Cemetery. — The burial-ground for
Trinity Church parishioners, since suburban
interments were demanded, has been on either
side of the Boulevard, above 153d Street. A
wooden bridge over the roadway connects the
eastern with the western portion. The Astor
and the Audubon vaults are in this cemetery,
also the vault of Madame Jumel.

The death of Colonel Thomas Knowlton is
said to have occurred in this vicinity, in 1776,
when, having been sent by Washington, (who
was in the Morris House at i6ist Street), to
learn the position of the enemy, he met the
advance guard and fell in the battle which fol-

To the right is "' Breakneck Hill," so named
by Thomas Jones, — the " fighting Quaker" of
Lafayette's army, — who had helped to drive
the British down its declivity.

The former home of Audubon, the great
ornithologist, was directly north of Trinity
Cemetery. Handsome residences are now at-



tached to the original mansion, but the grounds
are not divided by fences, and the place is very
properly named Audubon Park.

The Morris House. — This is one of the
very few colonial residences extant. It is
frame, painted white, and with the traditional
pillars of its time adding dignity to its ripe old
age. Overlooking the city and the quiet wa-
ters of the Harlem, it stands on a bluff at the
corner of St. Nicholas Avenue and i6ist Street.


At first the property of Colonel Roger Morris,
whose wife in her maiden days had been Wash-
ington's sweetheart, it afterward became the


home of Madame Jumel, who was married to
x\aron Burr in its drawing-room after the
downfall of that distinguished individual.
The most interesting memoirs connected with
the history of this mansion are of course the
events that occurred during the time when
Washington made it his headquarters, while
Howe occupied the Apthorpe residence, three
and a half miles distant.

Washington Bridge was opened for travel
in 1889. This magnificent structure, in which
sections of steel are combined and keyed into
the central arches instead of stone, is two
thousand and four hundred feet in length,
eighty feet in width, and one hundred and
thirty-five feet in height. Its cost of con-
struction was about two million, and seven
hundred thousand dollars. From the bridge
a beautiful view of the valley of the Har-
lem is obtained. Elegant residences and
terraced grounds border the shores of the
river, which is but a tidal channel connected
with the Hudson by Spuyten Duyvil Creek, at
the north of Manhattan Island. Through this
section of the country legends innumerable
abound, many of them having been immortal-
ized by Irving. The queer name of the little
creek recalls one of these, when Antony Cor-
lear, on a stormy night, attempted to swim



through the water from the island to the main-
land, declaring that he would cross the current
"in spyt den Duyvil" (in spite of the devil.)
Improvements are eventually to be made at
this point, in order to connect the East River
with the Hudson by a ship-canal.

High Bridge, which crosses the Harlem a
little further south, supports an aqueduct for


the waters of the Croton River. This stone
structure is built with thirteen arches that rest
on solid granite piers. The length of the
bridge is one thousand four hundred and sixty
feet, and the crown of the highest arch is one
hundred and sixteen feet above the river's
surface. Pedestrians only can cross the bridge.
McComb's Dam, or Central Bridge, is
located near the plain where the last general


tion of turfmen were accustomed to speed their

Riverside Park consists mainly of a three-
mile drive following the brow of the Hudson
River bluff, from the meadows at 127th Street,
formerly known as '' Matje Davits* Fly," to
72 d Street. Elegant residences adorn the
eastern side of Riverside Avenue, and a good
deal already has been done to beautify the
park. At the right of the drive, where the
ground slopes gently to the water's edge,
grassplots and groves of shade-trees afford
pleasant opportunities for a ramble. A mas-
sive retaining-wall supports the bank, whereon
thousands of chattering birds build their nests,
undismayed by the screaming locomotives that
fly past them, bearing trains of cars over the
New York Central Road. But the glory of this
pleasure-ground consists in its extended vista
of the Hudson. At the west repose in grand-
eur the Palisades, — a massive perpendicular
wall of rock extending far toward the north ; —
at the north the wooded shores of the promon-
tory, Fort Washington ; at the south the towns
of New Jersey ; and in all of these directions
the majestic river, with its sailing crafts and
steamers, its endless combinations of light and
3hade, and its ever-changing hues of color.

Claremont, — At the beginning of River-

MA Nil A T TA iV. 133

side Drive, a restaurant now stands on the
height which once was crowned by a stately
private residence known as Claremont, and
occupied successively by Lord Churchill, Vis-
count Courtenay, (afterward Earl of Devon),
and Joseph Bonaparte, known as Comte de

The Tomb of General Grant. — In the
midst of this daily pageant of Nature, lie the
remains of the great commander, General
Ulysses S. Grant. After impressive ceremo-
nies, and amidst a vast concourse of people,
the body of this hero was laid to rest, August
8th, 1885, in the unpretentious vault which is
placed at the east of the drive, in that portion
of the park called Claremont Heights. A
stately monumental structure soon is to be
completed, which will add a dignity to this
spot in keeping with its national and historical

The Statue of Washington, a copy of
Houdon's work, — the one ornament of the kind
yet placed in the park, — was a gift from the
children of the public schools.

The residence of the late General Sherman
was in West 73d Street, at No. 6y,



Central Park, now the pride of the city,
was a region of rock and swamp, but a compar-
atively short time ago, over which roamed at
pleasure, the pigs, goats, and chickens, that
belonged to the "squatters," whose shanties


were perched on the hillsides, or clustered in
the hollows.

The establishment of the park, which was
effected in 1855, was greatly due to the untir-

Jl/A Nil A T TA N, 135

ing efforts of the Honorable De Witt C. Little-
john, then speaker at Albany, now living in
Oswego. This gentleman says, when the park
is mentioned ; *' Yes, I fought hard for it, and
thought the day we passed the bill the bright-
est in my life ; but as I pass through it now,
the trees that I planted thirty-five years ago
do not know me, nor do the thousands of peo-
ple who jostle me aside as they throng the
beautiful roadways, heed me."

The value of the land appropriated to this
purpose was estimated by the commissioners
to be about five million, and two hundred
thousand dollars ; this amount to be paid partly
by assessments on adjoining property bene-
fited, and partly by the creation of a city-stock,
called "The Central Park Fund," for the pay-
ment of which stock, the lands of the park
should be pledged.

The cost of improving the grounds was pro-
vided for in the year 1857, by placing the
management and control of the property
under a Board of Commissioners, and requiring
the corporation to create a public stock to be
denominated " The Central Park Improvement
Fund," in such sums as should be required by
the commissioners, — the interest on the stock
to be paid by a general tax, which was not to
exceed one hundred thousand dollars annually.

1 3 6 MA NHA T TA N.

The park, which now comprises about nine
hundred acres, is situated very nearly in the.
geographical centre of the Island, and is in all
respects well adapted to the recreative wants
of both the rich and the poor. Pedestrians
roam at pleasure over thirty miles of walks,
— some fashionable and much frequented,
others retired and quiet. Riders on horseback
join the throng on the carriage roads, or con-
fine their peregrinations to bridle-paths, on
which no vehicle will be admitted. For car-
riages there are over nine miles of broad,
well-made roadway, affording in its course a
view of nearly every object of interest, but no-
where crossing on the same level, a footpath of
importance, or any portion of the bridle-road.

In the improvement of the grounds the di-
rections of the Board of Commissioners found
expression through their executive officer, Mr.
Frederic Law Olmsted, who made the designs,
on which the arrangements were based, thus
transforming the barren waste into a field of
natural and artistic beauty, that rivals any sim-
ilar pleasure-ground in the world. Incessant
vigilance now maintains the park in perfect
order, while the addition of trees, shrubs, and
vines, continually increases the picturesque
effect, and justifies the following of the wise
counsel of the Laird of Dumbiedikes, whom


Mrs. Lamb quotes: "When ye hae naethin;^
else to do ye may aye be stieking in a tree ; it
will be growing- when ye are sleeping."

The Main Entrance to the park is at the
corner of Fifth Avenue and 59th Street.

The Zoological Gardens. — In and about
the old arsenal, a castellated gray brick build-
ing, situated at the 64th Street and Fifth Ave-
nue entrance, is located the menagerie, or by
many now called the Zoological Garden.

During the summer months, the collection
of birds and animals is small as compared with
it when augmented by the travelling shows,
that go into winter quarters here. The Mon-
key House, a building filled with tropical
specimens of the monkey race, usually is the
most attractive feature of the menagerie
to the children. Here, of late, Mr. Garner,
with the assistance of a phonograph, has pur-
sued his scientific investigations concerning
the speech of lower animals. In the meteoro-
logical observatory, also located in the arsenal,
the self-recording instruments may be in-

The Statues of Thomas Moore anij
Alexander von Humboldt are on the banks
of the pond, not far from the main entrance.
The former was modelled by Dennis B. Shee-
han, and given to the city by the Moore


Memorial Committee ; the latter was modelled
by Gustave Blaeser, and presented to the city
by German residents, on the one hundredth
anniversary of the birth of the distinguished
savant, September 14th, 1869. At the unveil-
ing of this statue, Professor Louis Agassiz
made a memorable address.

The Children's Shelter, with a dairy,
and an abundance of benches, seats, tables,
and swings, is passed on the way to

The Mall. — This prominent feature of the
park is reached from the Zoological Garden
by passing under the marble archway, a
structure noted for the beauty of its architect-
ural design. The mall itself is a broad prom-
enade, one-third of a mile in length, ornament-
ed on either side by rows of stately American
elms, and terminating at the north in a richly
decorated water-terrace and fountain.

The two exceedingly fine pieces of statuary,
— Shakespeare, and the "Indian Hunter," —
that stand on the vestibule lawn at the southern
approach to the mall, were executed by J. Q.
A. Ward. A bronze casting of " Eagles and
Goat," by Fratin,stands a little to the east. The
other pieces, placed at either side of the prom-
enade, are; Sir Walter Scott, — a copy of the
original statue in Edinburgh, ^ — by John Steele,
Robert Burns, by the same artist, Fitz-Greene


Halleck, by Wilson MacDonald, and a bust of
Beethoven on a granite pedestal near the music
stand. Concerts, that are listened to by vast
numbers of people, are here provided for
Saturday afternoons in the summer.

The Terrace and Esplanade, that border
the lake at the north of the mall, form the
principal architectural feature of the park.
Three stairways lead to the esplanade, the
central one being under the road, and termi-
nating in an arched hall decorated with tiles.
The railing and stairways are constructed of
light brown sandstone, with panels elaborately
sculptured in great variety of intricate design.
Especially rich, in pattern and execution, are
the carvings of birds and animals, flowers and
fruit, with which the noble ramps of the side
stairways are decorated.

Bethesda Fountain. — Hovering above the
upper basin, with wings outstretched, as if just
alighting on the massive rock at her feet, the
figure of an angel appears to be in the act of
blessing the waters of the fountain, which
stands in the esplanade between the terrace
and the lake. Four smaller figures, emble-
matic of the blessings of temperance, purity,
health, and peace, support the upper basin, and
are slightly veiled by the water which falls
from above into the ample pond at their feet.

MANHATTA^r. 14 1

This work of art was designed and executed
by Miss Emma vStebbins, of New York.

The Lake, a handsome, irregular pond, con-
taining nearly twenty acres of water, is seen
to the best advantage from the terrace. In
the summer time gondolas, and pleasure boats
of every description, sail its waters, while the
winter months bring to it the gaiety which
skating occasions. For a row about the lake
the fare is ten cents, but by the hour, the
charge is thirty cents for one, and ten cents
for each additional person.

The Casino. — Close by the carriage con-
course, at the northern end of the mall, and
east of the terrace, is a pretty stone cottage,
containing an excellent restaurant.

The Ramble, a rocky hill rising from the
northern side of the lake, has been transformed
into country freshness and beauty, by trees, of
which there are; the ash, the elm, the lime,
and the beech, with almost all of the coniferae,
— pines, firs, spruces, and hemlocks, — and by
common wild flowers that blossom here abun-
dantly. Wild birds build and breed freely,
while swans, ducks, and cranes swim the
streams of this sequestered grove, which bears
within its solitudes the charms of wildness
and unmolested freedom,

Schiller. — On a sandstone pedestal, amid


all this beauty, stands a bronze bust of the
poet, a work of art modelled by C. L. Richter,
and presented to the city by German residents,
in 1859.

The Park Phaeton. — At the terrace, it will
be desirable to enter one of the carriages pro-
vided by the commissioners for the purpose of
conveying passengers over the entire park, for
the moderate fee of twenty-five cents each.
Three times during the route an opportunity
will be given to stop and examine places of
special interest; the Museum of Natural His-
tory, McGowan's Pass Tavern, and the Metro-
politan Museum of Art. By retaining the
tickets provided at starting, passengers may
remain at their leisure in any of these places,
as the phaetons are passing and will stop on

''The Tigress and Young." — At the right
of the road, just west of the terrace, stands this
fine group in bronze, modelled by Augustus
Caine, "The Falconer," a figure of exquisite
grace, executed by George Simonds, stands on
a bluff at the left, near the 72d Street entrance.

The Statue of Daniel Webster, by
Thomas Ball, stands on a high pedestal at the
junction of the west drive and the 72d Street
entrance. Handsome hotels and flats line the
street at the left of the park Within the last


few years, apartment houses have multiplied to
such a remarkable extent, that this mode of
living seems destined to become as common
in New York City, as it is in Paris or Vienna.

Tme American Museum of Natural
History, which was incorporated by the Leg-
islature in 1869, held its first exhibition in the
arsenal, when the Verreaux collection of nat-
ural history specimens, the Elliot collection of
North American birds, and the entire museum
of Prince Maximilian of Neuwied, were dis-

It was not until June, 1874, that the corner-
stone of the present building, — situated in
Manhattan Square, between Eighth and Ninth
Avenues, and 77th and 8ist Streets, and con-
nected with the park by a bridge, — was laid by
General Grant. A new portion recently has
been added, which is so rich in material as
greatly to strengthen the effect of the archi-
tectural design, — a not very pronounced ten-
dency to the Romanesque. These buildings
form only two of many that are to be erected
as the collections require them, and the liberal-
ity of the State allows.

The current expenses of this institution are
paid by the city, the Board of Trustees, and
private subscriptions. The Park Department,
as the representative of the city and State,


provides the grounds and buildings and keeps
them in repair, the trustees in return furnish-
ing the exhibits, and opening the Museum to
the public, free of charge, on Wednesday,
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, of each week,
from 9 A.M. until 5 p.m., and on Wednesday
and Saturday evenings until ten o'clock. A
bill recently passed by the Legislature, pro-
vides that the Museum be opened Sundays

The Hall of Marbles and Ornamental
Building Stones is on the first floor, the
approach to which, is under the archway that
divides the two flights of circular steps leading
to the main entrance.

This collection, containing about fifteen
hundred blocks, principally four-inch cubes,
polished on the face, and variously dressed on
the other sides, represents nearly every State
in the Union, and includes samples of all
grades of granite, limestone, marble, slate,
and rocks, used for building or ornamental
purposes. Foreign stones also are exhibited
in this department, and it is gratifying to dis-
cover that the Idaho marble is scarcely second
in quality to the best that is found in Italy;
and that the State of Washington excels almost
any area of similar extent in the world, in its
capacity to produce the raw materials necessary


to the upbuilding of improvement enterprises.
This entire collection was donated by the pres-
ident of the institution, Mr. Morris K. Jesup.

A Lecture Hall, which opens from the
hall of marbles, has a seating capacity of eleven
hundred. During the spring and fall seasons,
free public lectures are delivered two evenings
in each week. A course of lectures also is
given to the teachers of the city and State, and
another popular course is provided for mem-
bers of the institution and their friends.
Public holidays also afford an opportunity for
this same kind of instruction. For all of
these discourses, specially prepared stereopti-
con plates illustrate the subjects presented.

The Jesup Collection of Woods. — On
the same floor with the exhibit just mentioned,
another hall displays over five hundred speci-
micns of wood, arranged in botanical order,
with the diameter of each tree announced by
plain figures. The cuttings are transverse,
oblique, and longitudinal, — one side of the
specimen being polished and varnished, while
the remaining portion is left in its natural
state. Water-color paintings represent the
foliage, flower, and fruit, of the different trees,
and their native place is indicated by green
spots on the map.

Among the more ordinary woods are speci-

146 MA NHA T TA N.

mens of spruce, maple, ash, oak, and the red
and white cedar. The Alaskan cedar, — a wood
much soug-ht for ship-building purposes, as it
resists the action of salt water, — also is found
in this collection, recalling to mind the coun-
try from whence it cam_e, where a tree occa-
sionally is hewn down which is worth as much
as two hundred acres of the government land
on which it grew. " Here are monarchs to
whom all worshipful men inevitably lift their
hats ; to vSee one fall under the blows of steel,
or under the embrace of fire, is to experience
a pang of sorrow," said the eloquent Samuel

Two transverse sections of redwood trees,
now on their way from California, measure ten
and twenty feet in diameter, and will extend
from the floor to the ceiling, when mounted on
platforms. These will make the collection of
American woods complete. The Douglas pine,
or red fir, which attains a height of three hun-
dred feet, is as straight as an arrow, with trunk
often nine feet in diameter. By many ship-
builders, this wood is pronounced the very best
for masts and spars, as it possesses a remarka-
ble flexibility and tenacity of fibre.

Of the trees in California, Mr. Julius Starre
writes ; " In no place is an artist or artisan
more freely rewarded than in California for-


ests. The grace of foliag-e and the character-
istic contour of the trees g-low on many a
painter's canvas, but few recognize the fact
that the woody fibre of the roots and trunks,
when manipulated by a skilful workman, pre-
sents as charming lines and lovely colors as
the most delicate flower which grows by their

A specimen of larch, which thrived over five
centuries ago, another of hemlock, more than
half as old as its predecessor, and a piece of
the "Charter Oak," exhibited in a case near
the door, are the greatest curiosities in this
collection. An economic entomological series,
illustrative of the destructive effect of insect
life on vegetation, is a recent addition to this

The Higher Forms of Animal Life are
represented by specimens exhibited on the
second floor near the main entrance.

Here are the skeletons of Jumbo and Sam-
son, the former the largest specimen of the
African species of elephant ever seen in con-
finement, and the latter an importation from
India. The essential external differences con-
sist in the shape of the head and the size of
the ears.

The Seal Collection, the best in the
country, is provided from the seal islands of


Alaska, the North Atlantic, and the West

The Buffalo Case contains seven fine
specimens surrounded by the pear cactus, the
yucca, the old-man weed, and the prairie -grass.

Cats, foxes, and bears, also are in this apart-
ment, and in the western wing are specimens
of the deer, the antelope, and the camel.

Students of zoology find their progress
greatly facilitated by the skeletons of the ani-
mals that are placed by the side of their
mounted skins.

The Hall of Birds, also on the second
floor, is one of the most attractive departments
in the building. The collection, which is one
of the finest in America, contains twelve
thousand mounted specimens, besides forty
thousand arranged for study.

The Collection of Monkeys is located

1 2 3 4 5 7 9 10 11 12

Online LibraryCorolyn Faville OberManhattan: historic and artistic; a six day tour of New York city; → online text (page 7 of 12)