New York (N.Y.). Common Council.

Minutes of the Common Council of the City of New York, 1784-1831 (Volume 2) online

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others whatsoever And in cases where there are more than one lot of
ground affected by such regulations and filling up, that five freeholders
be appointed to assess upon each of such lots, such proportion of the
said expense as equity and good conscience may dictate to them.


There is good reason to conclude that the unfinished state of the
water lots upon the front of the city, contribute to produce disease:
The Corporation ought therefore to have full power to cause all such
water lots to be filled up with wholesome earth or other solid materials,
to the outermost permanent line, as soon as possible. And in cases
where the Corporation find it improper to improve to the said perma-
nent line immediately, they ought to have the power of compelling
proprietors to make sufficient bulkheads, and to raise and fill up the
same with wholesome earth or other solid materials, so high as to
cast the water collecting thereon, over the surface into the streets or
river; and if the proprietor or proprietors of such lot or lots, refuse or
delay complying with any ordinances that the Corporation may pass
relative to either of the above cases ; then and in that case, the Cor-
poration ought to have the power of causing the same to be done in the
manner that improvements are now made in the streets by assessment.


The quantity of noxious air arising from foul slips, and the annoy-
ance thereby experienced among the inhabitants in their vicinity, makes
it necessary that some measures should be taken to correct this increas-
ing evil. The Corporation therefore ought to have full power to cause
to^be filled up, altered and amended, all public slips, at such times and
in such manner as they may think proper ; one third of the expense
attending the same to be paid by themselves, and two thirds to be

496 CITY OF NEW YORK 21 Jan. 1799

assessed by five freeholders appointed for that purpose, upon the prop-
erty in the neighbourhood of such slip or slips, in proportion to the
benefits the respective proprietors thereof may receive.


The noxious exhalations arising from sinks and privies in this city,
have afforded just cause of complaint, and require that the Corpora-
tion should have power to correct this growing evil, by directing the
filling up, altering or amending of those now in use, and the mode of
constructing them in future; and causing subterraneous drains to be
made from them in all cases where they may think it necessary ; the
expense thereof to be paid by assessment upon the proprietors in the
manner that assessments are made for improving streets.


The interment of dead bodies in the compact part of the city,
between the first of May and the first of November, should be pro-
hibited ; and all graves should in future be dug at least six feet deep.


It is found that new streets are frequently laid out in various parts
of this city and its suburbs, so narrow as to prevent the free circula-
tion of air: and that the borders of such streets are generally crouded
with small wooden houses, with very small, and in some cases, no
yards. It is therefore desirable, that in future, no street should be
laid out within the city of New York or its suburbs, but such as shall
be first approved of by the Corporation. Experience has shewn, that
during the prevalence of pestilence in this city, it has proved particu-
larly fatal in such streets.



These are the resort of sailors and the lower class of emigrants,
and other disorderly persons ; where drunkeness and debaucheries of
every kind are committed, which often produce diseases of the most
serious nature, especially during the summer months. Every necessary
power to correct this evil, ought to be lodged in the Corporation.


The ground gained out into the river being composed in a great
measure, of materials collected from the streets, is found, if dug up
between the first of June and the twentieth of October, to produce


noxious exhalations: It is therefore recommended that no such
ground be permitted to be dug up, during the above period, without
permission first obtained from the Corporation, under heavy penalties.


Whether Animal or Vegetable.

The practice of re-packing and storing salted provisions in the city
of New York, very much annoys the inhabitants in the vicinity of
yards and store-houses where such re-packing and storing is done ; and
there is no doubt that the pickle necessarily collected upon, and
absorbed into all grounds where provisions are repacked, together with
provisions themselves very often becoming putrid in the course of the
hot season, have furnished exhalations not only calculated to spread
diseases, but from the most unequivocal evidence, did produce it in the
course of the last season. Dried and pickled fish, hides and skins, are
articles that produce similar injury; for although these, as well as
pickled provisions, may be in a sound state at the time of landing
here, (which very often is not the case) yet, in the course of the hot
season, they frequently become putrid, the first baneful evidence of
which, is the sickly state of the inhabitants in their vicinity. THERE-
FORE, all salted beef and pork in casks, all dried and pickled fish, and
imported hides and skins, now in the city, ought to be removed to the
northward of a line drawn from Corlaer's Hook to the North River,
before the first day of May next: and no barrels of beef or pork, no
[s]alted or pickled fish, nor imported hides and skins, should be stored
to the southward of the said line after that time, except that any
person be allowed to keep in a proper store, five barrels of beef and
pork, three barrels of pickled fish, and four hundred weight of dried
fish at any time, and no more under the penalty of for every

offence And all beef and pork found by the Inspectors in a tainted or
corrupted state, and unfit for use or exportation, ought to be destroyed
by starting it out of the cask into the stream of the river, at a suitable
distance from shore: and the stores or houses of inspection ought not
to be permitted on the south side of a line drawn from the East River
along Grand Street and Bayard's Lane, North River, except on the
margin of the Rivers, and then not on the south of Rhinelander's
wharf, north of Reed street, nor of Rutger's slip on the East River.


In suggesting the means of removing the causes of pestilential
diseases, we consider a plentiful supply of fresh water as one of the

: - CITY OF NEW YORK '21 Jan. 1799

most powerful, and earnestly recommend that some plan for its ir.: . -
duction into this city, be carried into execv.tion as soon as possible.


Considering the many lives of the poor class of citizens, which
might in all probability have been saved in the summer past, i: an
adequate number of Tents had been provided and pitched in the neigh-
borhood of this city as an asylum for them, and that, for want of this.
or some other shelter, they were obliged to remain in the seat of
disease, and meet the fate with which they were threatened : the Com-
mittee are of opinion, that the providing of a number of Tents, suf-

nt for the ac. 'dation of five thousand persons, and pin; g

them in a situation from which they n i had on the shortest IK
is a measure dictated by the soundest policy and prudence. The first
apparent expense of this object may be very much lessened by con-
! :ting it with the establishment contemplated for an army.

The : Committee think proper to submit this report to the
Corporation of the city, with an expression of their regret, that the
reforms contemplated in it. must necessarily be productive of much
.ice to many of their fellow citizens. On this subject, how-
ever. they do not hesitate to declare, that while they have been earn-
estly and anxiously employed in sugc - g measures, in their opinion
calculated to promote the public good, they have, as far as was con-
sistent with the nature of their researches, been extremely cautious of
interfering with the interests of individuals. \Yith these impressions
they express their hopes, that if the Corporation does not already
ssess sufficient authority to earn- into effect the regulations enumer-
ated. they will make an early application to the legislature for such
additional powers as may be required for the purpose, and to afford a
very summary mode of proceeding for any offences against their
Bye Laws.

They further state, that in this report they have confined them-
selves entirely to such objects as respect the health of the present and
future inhabitants of this populous and growing city : not having per-
mitted the pleasures and conveniences of life to influence this report.
if they had it would have been much enlarged.

They are aware that they have recommended great and strong
power to be vested in the Corporation : but they do not believe any
thing short of it will restore this city to its former healthy state. The
sources of the afflicting pestilence with which we have been visited,
are of too local a nature, to expect their removal without a strong


discretionary power being somewhere lodged by the State Legislature ;
and we know not where it can be so properly placed, as in the hands
of the immediate representatives of the city, who already have the
police of it committed to them, and with which the proposed reform
is very intimately connected.

New York, 2\st Jan, 1799.

Commissioners of Healtli.


Committee of the Medical Society.

Committee of the Chamber of Commerce.

Committee of the Corporation.

Published by order of the

Common Council,


A Petition for regulating Lombard S l was read & referred to the
Street Commiss r

Ordered that M r Mayor issue his Warr ts on the Treas r to pay

issd Nichs Lawrence for City Watch....

issd James Culbertson for the like

issd Hugh Gobell for the like

issd Magnus Beekman for the like

Theophs Beekman & Jacob DeLa Montagnie Police

issd Justices each $187 5 %oo

iss d Office of Mercantile Advertizer

issd Goodeve & Brown for 1 Box Candles..

issd Bogert & Blauvelt for Repairs to public Pumps..

issd Archibald Dunlap for the like

Rob* Valentine for an additional Building at Belle Vue
* Hospital

500 CITY or NEW YORK 28 Jan. 1799

[431] City of ] At a Common Council held on Monday

New York^ 88 ' the 28 th day of Jany 1799

Present/ Richard Varick Esq r Mayor

Richard Harison Esq r Recorder

Gabriel Furman ""I -iir-n-

_ -.. William Bayard

Jotham Post -, , ,,. .,

, , _ , Mangle Mmthorn

John B Coles _ ,... , , . . ,

T , ~ T ,, . ^EsqAldn Nichs Carmer ^ Assist^

Jacob De LaMontagme

X,. , D . George Lindsay

Theoph 5 Beekman e

Anthony Brown J

John Bogert J

The Committee to whom was referred the Letter from Elias
Nexsen & read at the last Meeting of the B d reported a Letter to be
written by M r Mayor in answer thereto which was read & approved
by the Board.

Ordered that John Wheeler of the 2 d Ward Cooper be appointed
a fire Man to Hook & Ladder Compy N 1 vice John Thomson

Ordered that a Recommendation from this Board to the Inhabi-
tants of this City be published for the observance of Tuesday the 5 th
day of february next as a Day of [432] Thanksgiving, Humiliation
and Prayer as recommended by the Clergy of this City.

The following additional Report was received & read & ordered to
be published (vide annexed printed Paper).


Tuesday, February 12, 1799. No. 19.

The following additional REPORT has been received by the
COMMON COUNCIL since the publication of the last, and ordered to be

WE the subscribers, a joint Committee from the Common Council,
from the Chamber of Commerce, and from the Medical Society, with
the Commissioners of the Health Office being appointed to investigate
the causes of the PESTILENTIAL DISEASE which has lately pre-
vailed in this city, and to suggest the best means to prevent its return
respectfully submit the following


That the sources producing it are filthy sunken yards, where the
offals of the house and wash of kitchens be until the earth absorbs or

* Through the courtesy of the New York Historical Society, which has a
copy of this Supplement among its possessions, this report is printed here.
The clerk included the Supplement in the manuscript volume, but that copy has
become mutilated. ED.

28 Jan. 1799 COMMON COUNCIL MlNUTES .501

the sun exhales them lengthy sewers without floors, and of little
descent foul slips exposed to the sun great part of the tides decayed
docks out of repair vacant water lots ground under stores and
houses built on piles or timber, and running bare part of the tides ;
these are generally receptacles of every description of impurity and

They suggest as the most likely means under the blessing of a
Beneficient Providence, to prevent the annual return of so dreadful
a calamity


Strong energetic laws, compelling delinquents to pay their fines
for omissions or transgressions, immediately on the evidence of the
Inspectors, who ought to be discreet men, at a reasonable pay, and
removeable for inattention or malpractice at pleasure. Experience
has sufficiently taught, that the tedious formalities of ordinary law-
suits will by no means answer even the purposes of cleansing the
streets and gutters inconveniences which have been severely felt and
strongly represented.


Accumulations of the filth of winter, ought by all means to be
removed as soon as the frost will admit ; first to prevent substances
from penetrating as the ground opens and secondly, for the spring
winds to pass over a clean instead of a filthy surface ; and to be con-
tinued every succeeding Tuesday and Friday before eight o'clock in
the morning, during the season ; for which purpose it appears most
adviseable to employ, at the public expense, a sufficient number of
carts and craft to remove the surplusage above the quantity imme-
diately sold and carried to the country to such places of deposit as can
be procured, remote from settled neighborhoods and that a sufficient
number of bell-carts be employed in each ward to ring for notice at
ever y yards distance, on every day of the week, except on Sun-
day, and to receive and carry away all the filth, offals and garbage of


And house-keepers neglecting to deliver their refuse matter shall
be fined forty shillings, and the cartmen refusing to receive it, shall
be fined ten shillings for every offence.


As a number of cellars in different parts of the town, and particu-
larly along the East River, are used for sailor's boarding place?, and
during the last summer proved as so many graves ; that the Common

502 CITY OF NEW YORK 28 Jan. 1799

Council be authorized and required to cause such cellars, and all
yards in a sunken and exceptionable condition to be so filled and raised
as to render them as healthy as possible and to cause all sunken and
unfinished lots in the city to be so regulated as to cast the water into
the streets, and where houses are not furnished with drains or gutters
for this purpose, that the proprietors be compelled to provide suitable
ones without delay


Descents in streets ought by all means to be made where it is pos-
sible, with a view of getting them thoroughly washed by every fall of
rain. The dead level between the Coffee house and Fly market in
Water street, where the water remains in the kennel, which in twelve
hours corrupts and produces poisonous exhalations, may be remedied
by raising at Mr. Waddington's store, so much as will give it a run,
east to the Fly market, west to Wall street, and south to the end of
Pine street. By this single improvement, five streets, including Pearl,
get a descent ; and many other such evils of stagnant water may be
removed with equal ease. Without descents, water instead of con-
tributing to cleanse and purify, will only increase the present evil by
stagnating in greater quantities.


That common sewers in every part of the city ought to be projected
on such an inclined plain, as shall more readily allow the fluids they
convey, to run off, and that they be floored with pitch pine plank, or
other smooth materials, and that their openings be kept as nearly closed
as circumstances allow, to prevent the rise of noxious exhalations
And that a decent person be appointed to inspect and cleanse those
sewers, at least once in every ten days, between the first day of April,
and first of November, in every year, at a reasonable pay for his ser-
vices, and to be responsible for their cleanliness.


All slips ought to be filled, except such as the Corporation shall
deem indispensibly necessary for the accommodation of market and
produce craft [and for the protection and shelter of vessels in winter.]
The docks in front of such ought to be altered, repaired and made,
from time to time as occasion shall require, with large square timber
substantially strong, and in the manner of the work of the Battery
And that each slip retained for those purposes, shall, in the lowest ebb-
tides, contain not less than two feet water in the shallowest part and


that all deepenings or digging out, shall cease by the 15th of May, and
not commence before the 1st November And, if the machines in use
be insufficient, the number of proper vessels ought to be so increased
as to perform this service in that time. When the proprietors of
houses and lots fronting or adjoining, refuse or neglect to make or
repair them, the Corporation ought to have it done without delay, the
expense to be a lien on such estates, and an immediate recovery had
against it by sale or otherwise. And such slips as shall remain when
the permanent front of the city wharves and piers is completed, ought
then to be filled with wholesome earth one third of the expense to be
paid by the Corporation, and the remaining two thirds, by the pro-
prietors of adjacent houses and the monies levied and collected in
the manner now practised for digging out and levelling streets, by


Heavy fines should be imposed on boatmen and all other water-
men, for casting the rubbish of their cargoes into any of the slips or
docks, and on every inhabitant for similar offences.


All water lots, ought to be filled up with wholesome earth and
other solid materials to the outermost permanent line, before the
of next; and if the proprietor neglect or refuse to do it,

persons ought to be employed for the purpose by the Corporation, and
the expense arising to be a lien on the property of each individual in a
just proportion. And where the Corporation find it improper to im-
prove to the said line immediately, they ought to have the power of
compelling proprietors to make sufficient bulkheads in front of the lots,
and to raise and fill such part with wholesome earth or other solid
materials, so high as to cast the water over the surface into the streets
or river ; and in case of refusal or neglect, to appoint a suitable person
to carry the improvement deemed necessary into immediate effect, at
the expense of the proprietors, and have a remedy against them re-
spectively for the amount of the expense and interest, by sale or other-
wise, within six months.


All salted beef and pork in casks, all dried and pickled fish, and all
imported hides and skins, now in the city, ought to be removed to the
northward of a line drawn from above Corlaer's hook to the North
River, before the first day of May next; and no barrels of beef or
pork, no salted or pickled fish, nor imported hides, and skins, should

504 CITY OF NEW YORK 28 Jan. 1799

be stored to the southward of the said line, after that time; except
that any person be allowed to keep in a proper store, five barrels of
beef and pork, three barrels of pickled fish, and four hundred weight
of dried fish, at any one time, and no more, under the penalty
of for every offence. And all beef and pork found by the

inspectors in a tainted or corrupted state, and unfit for use or exporta-
tion, ought to be destroyed by starting it out of the cask into the
stream of the river, at a suitable distance from shore. And the stores
or houses of inspection ought not to be permitted on the south side
of a line drawn from the East river along Grand-street and Bayard's
Lane to the North river, except on the margin of the rivers, and then
not on the south of Rhinelander's wharf north of Reed-street, nor of
Rutger's slip on the East river.


Between the first of June, and first of October, no fresh meats or
dead fish of any kind, ought to be offered for sale, nor permitted to
remain in the public markets after ten o'clock in the morning, except
on Saturdays, and that no undressed sheep's heads, or trotters nor
hides be brot to market at any time of the year.


The Common Council ought also to have the power to prohibit all
slaughter-houses, and killing of cattle or sheep or calves, on the south
side of a line, to be drawn across from the East river along Grand-
street and Bayard's lane to the North river, and also to assign stations
for all fishing vessels and smacks remote from the foul water, where
the living fish may be kept healthy, and the dead ones thrown into the
stream, without annoyance to the public.


No crude or rough butcher's fat ought to be tried in town. No
glue manufactured no sheep, lamb, or deer skins, brot or manu-
factured no blubber stored no hatter's dye stuff cast into the street
at any time whatever nor any oysters brot or opened in town from
the first of May to the first of October.


Pitching, leveling and repairing the streets and side-walks to be
performed by commissioners specially appointed in Common Council
for these objects, who shall cause the same to be done without delay:
and if the owner or proprietor refuses payment of the expense, it shall

28 Jan. 1799 COMMON COUNCIL MlNUTES 50.5

be a lien on his property, and sold within six months at vendue the
cost or sum assessed with interest and charges to be deducted out of
the proceeds, and the remainder, if any, to be paid to the owner or


No old wharves shall be broken up, nor any cellars, cisterns or
sinks dug out, for making or repairing either, on the south side of the
town, south of the north side of Water street, between the first of
June and twentieth of October, under the penalty of 20 for each
offence And all dirt, rubbish, or decayed materials, taken out before
and after the respective times mentioned, and put in the streets, &c.
shall be removed on the same day ; and where the proprietor or occu-
pant shall refuse or neglect, it shall be the duty of the street inspectors
to cause it forthwith to be removed at his or her expense, and be
allowed an immediate recovery for such expense in addition to the
ordinary fine. And that no sand, brick, lime, clay or other materials
for building or repairing, shall be brot or deposited in any of the
streets, without permission in writing is first obtained from the alder-
man of the ward, under the penalty of ten pounds for each offence;
and the commissioners of the Health Office, shall, on the same day, be
notified of the grant of such permission, and at the expiration of the
time limited, the owner shall be as amenable to the laws respecting
streets, as other citizens.


All empty carts, hackney coaches, or sleds for hire, standing in any
of the streets, squares, or on wharves, south of Pearl and Cherry
streets, or west of Greenwich street, shall, after the law is published,
be arranged one behind another, five feet distant from the kennels on
each side, and take up towards the respective mentioned streets, so as
to make foot passengers on the side-walks safe from vicious horses,
leaving the middle part of such street, and the kennels free and open
for cleansing. And if any cart, coach or sled is found to stand across
such street, &c. the owner or driver shall pay as a fine, the sum of ten
shillings for each offence.

Online LibraryNew York (N.Y.). Common CouncilMinutes of the Common Council of the City of New York, 1784-1831 (Volume 2) → online text (page 44 of 64)