STEPHEN ALLEN, 1823, and
WILLIAM PAULDING, 18231824,
1823. UNDER the new constitution the Mayor was appointed
by the Common Council, and Stephen Allen was thus appointed.
Centre Market was opened in this year. The lower part
of Fly Market, at foot of Maiden Lane, was taken down, from Pearl to South
Street. In July, the widening of Maiden Lane was ordered. The Merchants'
Exchange was incorporated by the Legislature. The area of the Battery was
much enlarged by filling out to a riprap enceinte, which was
surmounted by a coursed stone wall and a balustrade. The Potter's Field
(Washington Parade, now Washington Square) was levelled; the use of it
as a place of interment being abandoned in favor of a new plot of ground
bought for the purpose, bounded by Fortieth and Fortysecond Streets,
Fifth and Sixth avenues-now occupied by the Reservoir and Bryant Park.
This plot, containing 128 building lots, was purchased for $8449. In the
matter of public grounds, the necessities of the poor have greatly ministered
to the advantage of their more fortunate brethren; Washington Square, Union
Square, Madison Square, and Bryant Park, all owing their existence as pleasuregrounds
to prior use as pauper burialplaces. About this time an ordinance
was enacted prohibiting the interment of human bodies below Grand Street,
under a penalty of $250.
The New York Gas Light Co. was incorporated, Samuel Leggett,
President, this being the first introduction of illuminating gas in the
country. The company was given the exclusive privilege for thirty years
of laying gaspipes south of Grand Street. The first introduction of
the gas in a house was in that of the President at 7 Cherry Street. I went
to witness it.
A line of packets hence to London, sailing on the 1st
of every month, was organized by John Griswold and Fish and Grinnell; followed
by a line to Liverpool, sailing on the 16th of every month. Passengers
between this port and Europe were so scarce that the packet ships were
fitted only for a few, and on one occasion, within my knowledge, a lady
desiring to meet her husband in England, applying for passage in one of
the old or Black Ball line of Liverpool packets, was refused, as, she being
the only woman, her presence would be inconvenient to the male passengers.
Persons who venture now to encounter the gales and seas of the Northern
Atlantic in steamers of ten or fifteen thousand tons' burthen, will probably
be surprised to learn that the tonnage of the Liverpool and Havre packets
did not reach four hundred. The Edward Quesnel was but 325, and
the Queen Mab and Don Quixote were much less; I am of the
conviction the tonnage was in both cases under 250.
In this year a stage ran from the Bull's Head, in the
Bowery, to Manhattanville.
Samuel Woodworth founded the Weekly Mirror in 1822,,
and in this year joined George P. Morris and published the New York
Mirror and Ladies' Literary Gazette at 163 William
Street, removed in 1825 to No.
9 Nassau Street. Subsequently Woodworth retired, and Nathaniel P. Willis
F. Marquand, at No. 166 Broadway,
opened the leading jewelry store in the city. There were reported in this
year in the entire city, eightythree churches, chapels, etc.; at this
time (1894) the number given in the City Directory is 522. This is not
a favorable proportion of increase, the churches having increased little
more than sixfold, for a population fifteen times as great. No doubt,
however, the modern churches may be somewhat larger than those of that
period. Christ Church (Episcopal), in Anthony Street near Broadway, was
completed and consecrated in this year.
March 28 occurred a great gale, from the severity of which
fiftyfour vessels were stranded on the shores of Staten Island between
the Kills and South Amboy. On the 30th, David Dunham, a prominent merchant
and resident of this city, in company with Alderman Philip Brasher, was
knocked overboard by the jibing of the boom of a sloop in which they were
passengers on their way from Albany; the latter was rescued, but the former
April 28,, the steamboat James Rent of the North
River Steamboat Co., destined for the route to Albany, was launched, and
it was confidently announced that she would make the passage hence to Albany
between sunrise and sunset.
A company was organized to recover the treasure sunk in
the Hussar frigate above Hell Gate, and so confident were its officers
that I have seen, at the home of one of the company, a number of the small
cotton cloth bags that were made to put the treasure in.
In consequence of the question of deciding upon some method
by which the city could be furnished with an ample supply of pure water,
the Manhattan Co. was called upon to
report its capacity, which was officially notified
as amounting to 691,200 gallons of water per day, involving a period of
sixteen hours' pumping. The pumping power was given as that of two engines
of eighteen horses each. The capacity of the reservoir was 132,690 gallons,
connected with twentyfive miles of log pipes.
May 27 the great challenge horserace, made the year
preceding, between Mr. Van Ranst's famous horse "American Eclipse"
and one to be named at the post by Colonel Johnson, occurred on the Union
Course, Long Island. It was at fourmile heats, for twenty thousand
dollars a side. Colonel Johnson named "Sir Henry," and he won
the first heat, "hard held," at the termination of which the
betting was three to one on "Sir Henry" for the second heat,
and the wellknown and eccentric John Randolph of Roanoke, Va., who
was present and who had backed the Southern horse for a very considerable
sum, tauntingly and repeatedly, in his peculiar voice, queried, "Where's
Purdy ?" Purdy had ridden "Eclipse" on nearly all, if not
all, of his previous races, but did not ride him now. This was the first
time "Eclipse" had ever lost a heat, and his backers expressed
much dissatisfaction that Purdy had not ridden. The result of Randolph's
taunts and the advice of the friends of Mr. Van Ranst and the party associated
with him, resulted in Purdy's mounting for the second heat, and, to the
delight of the North and the dismay of the South, he won it. Colonel Johnson
was confined by illness in a house adjoining the course; he was appealed
to, but his directions, and putting up the great trainer, Arthur Taylor,
in place of the boy who rode the first two heats, were of no avail, the
staying power of "Eclipse" was too much for his threeyearold
competitor, and he won also the third heat and race. Time: first heat,
7 m. 37 s.; second heat, 7 m. 49 s.; third heat, 8 m. 24 s.; twelve miles
from the score in 23 m. 50 s.
The interest in this race had been extending and accumulating
for many months, heightened by the prestige of Colonel Johnson, who was
called "the Napoleon of the Turf," and, notwithstanding that
travel to the course, in default of railroads, was restricted to vehicles,
horseback, and foot, and as the population of that day, compared with that
of the present, was but onefifteenth, the attendance was nearly if
not fully equal to that at any of the great racing events of the past year.
It was estimated at fifty thousand. The city was filled with visitors from
all parts of the Union, so that the hotels were unable to accommodate
Horseracing at this period was conducted very differently,
both on the track and outside of it, from that which was introduced upon
the advent of the Jerome Park Association. There was but one race a day
(a meeting being restricted to four days), at one, two, three, and four
mile heats. The horses that were to contend were not run around the course
just previous to starting, or "warmed up," as it is termed, and
brought up to the post immediately after, but were simply walked or cantered
for a short distance, not a quarter of a mile, and when at the post and
in line were started by the tap of a drum in the hands of the president
or a judge; starting was immediate, false starting seldom occurring. There
were no mutuel or auction
pools, or professional bookmakers. All bets were made between individuals,
the money placed in the hands of a common friend or acquaintance.
I fix here a few particulars of the wondrous "Eclipse,"
a chestnut with a star, and white near hind foot; bred by General Nathaniel
Coles, and foaled at Dosoris, Queens County, L.I., May 25, 1814; sold to
Mr. Van Ranst in 1819. In 1820 and 1821 "Eclipse" stood as a
common stallion, at $12.50 the season. When put in training in the fall
of 1821 there was much question of the policy of running him, from the
opinion long entertained by sportsmen that service as a stallion unfits
a horse for racing; but the event proved that, at least so far as "Eclipse"
was concerned, the opinion was unfounded. The match with "Sir Henry"
closed his racing career, as, in spite of further challenge from Colonel
Johnson, he was withdrawn from the turf and put to service. "Eclipse"
had "Duroc" for sire and for dam a "Messenger" mare.
In his veins was the blood of the celebrated English "Eclipse "
and the Godolphin Arabian. Some years after this race (1833) Colonel Johnson
became half owner of "Eclipse," and employed him for improvement
of Southern racing stock.
June 14. A fire broke out in Noah Brown's shipyard
on the East River, afterward Brown & Bell's, by which several frames
of ships on their stocks, and fireengine No. 44, were destroyed. This
fire, from its extent, was long remembered as "the shipyard fire."
I was present at it.
In this year, following the example of the boys of the
period, I became a warm partisan of a fireengine, and, following the
very natural custom, it was the engine that was located the nearest to
my residence. What the Fire Department, with 47 engines and 1200 men was
then, and for many years afterward, even down to 1835, it will be difficult
for me to convince those who knew it only from that period until it was
reorganized in 1865 as the paid department of the present day. In illustration
of the estimate in which its personnel was held by our citizens,
it was their general custom, when a fire occurred at night, for such as
dwelt contiguous thereto to invite the members of the company on duty near
to their residence to enter it and partake of hot coffee and other refreshments;
and no one instance can I now call to mind in which the confidence of the
host was abused. In fact, I have witnessed more decorum shown on such an
occasion than frequently is manifested in social entertainments. In illustration
of this I give the following notice which appeared in a daily paper, after
a fire in Broome Street: "The unexceptional deportment of these worthy
recipients [firemen who had been invited to her home to partake of some
refreshments] was an ample compensation to her who patiently waited upon
them." The department, during the period above noted, was as a body
composed of wellknown solid citizens, notably a great proportion of
Quakers, and but that I decline to introduce the names of private persons,
I could give a list of those of old firemen that would do honor to any
institution, commercial, financial, or eleemosynary.
In illustration of the wide difference of the customs
and means of the men and machines of this day, and that of the present,
the engine and laddertruck houses were locked, and, in some instances,
the key was given to the custody of a neighbor; in others, each member
had a key. In consequence of the infrequency of fires it was customary,
up to about the year 1830, for
the companies to assemble once a month for the purpose of exercising the
engines, to prevent the valves becoming too dry and rigid from disuse for
effective operation. This meeting was termed the "washing," and
delinquents in attendance were fined twentyfive cents. Upon arrival
at the enginehouse on an alarm of fire, if in the night, a light was
first to be obtained by the aid of a tinderbox, the signal lantern
and torches lighted, and then the engine or truck was drawn by the members
and such private citizens as volunteered to aid them; and, as the city
was not districted, it was taken to the fire, however distant.
As wood was the general fuel, varied only by use of bituminous
coal in some parlor grates, chimney fires were very frequent, the fine
for which to a householder was five dollars; and as the amount collected
was given to a fund for the relief of the widows and orphans of deceased
firemen, the Fire Department had registers placed at several locations
in the city where the occasion of a fire could be noted, and there was
an official collector of the fines.
August 6. A bullbait occurred at Paulus Hook (Jersey
City), the animal being baited by bulldogs. It was the first exhibition
of the kind, and a very tame affair compared with one where bandilleros
and picadores attack,
and an espado displays his courage and skill in subduing the animal, and
a matador, if he is not dead, gives the coup de
grace to the dying animal.
On the 15th of this month the first floating light was
towed to its station off Sandy Hook. September 1:
Thomas Hilson, a comedian from London, made his first
appearance at the theatre to which he became afterward attached, and for
many years was a popular member of its corps. About the same date occurred
the first appearance on this stage of Henry Placide, who became one of
the very first of public favorites and remains, in reputation, among the
foremost of native comedians. At this time also first appeared in New York
the admirable actress Mrs. Duff, sister of the first wife of Thomas Moore,
the poet. She became eminent in her profession and was called "the
queen of tragedy." She married a lawyer of New Orleans and retired
from the stage. The theatre was not yet so well attended as theatres are
now, although the price of admission was much less and ticket speculators
were unknown. Hence, it became necessary for the manager to essay an awakening
of the public by expedients, and in February of this year it was announced
that a curtain of lookingglass was being constructed which was to
replace the one of canvas; and soon after, a curtain of veritable looking-glass
plates was constructed and fitted in place. Prices of admission, boxes,
one dollar; pit (parquet), fifty cents, and gallery twentyfive cents.
In the winter of this year a party of gentlemen was invited
one evening to the house of a wellknown and publicspirited citizen,
to witness the burning of anthracite coal in a parlor grate, and wonderful
were the recitals of its success on the following day. It was said
that not only it burned without making a flame, but created a mass of redhot
coals-so hot that when a sheetiron cap (blower) was put before the
grate there was a great roar, the draft was so strong.
were about this time first essayed as edibles, for they had been grown
in gardens only for the beauty of their fruit, termed "Love apples,"
or tomatoe figs, universally held to be poisonous It was not until 1826
that I overcame the fear of being poisoned should I have the temerity to
eat of them; and for a long period after they were only served stewed,
and not canned until very many years after.
White handkerchiefs were worn by men only on special occasions,
as when in full dress; at other times red silk was the prevailing material.
It was not until this year that false collars to shirts were worn, and
only by a few.
There were some other articles of men's wear that are
worthy of record. Thus: instead of the single neckcloths, stiffeners, termed
"puddings," were introduced; and soon after an article termed
a "stock," composed of stiff, woven horsehair, fully three inches
in width, buckled behind; and leather straps from the legs of pantaloons,
buttoned at the sides, were worn under the boots.
James Murray, from Boston, on his way South put up at
a sailors' boardinghouse of a man named Johnson, who, ascertaining
that the former had a bag containing several hundred dollars in specie,
murdered him in his bed, and two days after dragged the body to Cuyler's
Alley, leading from Water Street to the river between Coenties and Old
slips, and left it there. He was soon after arrested, and on December 4
A second line to Havre was established, with Boyd &
Grinnell, Minturn & Co. commenced a line to London
with vessels of four hundred tons, leaving on the 1st of each month.
Classical schools at this time were Joseph Nelson's, Franklin
Street, on the east side, near Broadway, one half of the building now (1895)
standing; John Borland's in Broadway, corner of Dey Street; in 1822, Borland
and Forrest, at 45 Warren Street, and John C. Slack, in Water Street; in
1823 at 223 Duane
The school term, both in the country and city, was four
quarters of twelve weeks each, with holidays in the former of two weeks
each in spring and autumn, to enable boys to go home and procure changes
of clothes suitable to the season. In the city, in lieu
of the spring and fall vacations, the entire month
of August was given, and in both cases the Fourth of July, Evacuation Day
(November 25), and Christmas to New Year's Day were the only additional
In November was given for the first time, at the Park
Theatre, John Howard Payne's "Home, Sweet Home." Payne had appeared
on the New York stage in February, 1809, when he was but sixteen years
old, and a pupil of the venerable Dr. Nott's academy at Schenectady.
In this, or the following year, "Der Freischutz,"
in English, was given at the Park Theatre; the first opera, strictly so
termed, that we had, as distinguished from English ballad operas. Up to
this time our public knew only the English models.
Considerable increase of musical interest began to display
itself, and in this year both the New York Choral Society and the New York
Sacred Musical Society were formed. The first concerts of these societies
were given in the following spring.
On an irregular plot, formed by Chambers, Collect, and
Tryon Row, were located fireengines 8 and
25, and a hookandladder company. On Broadway, opposite Warren
Street, there was located an engine and also a hosecart No. 1
January 8, the anniversary of the battle of New Orleans,
there was a great military ball given at the Park Theatre, which was long
known and referred to as the "Greek Ball," it being given in
aid of the Greek fund. The design was that it should be as exclusive an
affair as was practicable. It occurred, however, that a Mr. Oliver, a wellknown
barber, who plied his avocation at 27 Nassau Street (before referred to),
became the happy possessor of a ticket-how it was not known, as the member
of the Committee from whom it was procured did not acknowledge the delivery:
and when the fact was made public, Oliver was offered various sums in excess
of the cost of the ticket, but he resolutely refused to part with it. The
papers of the city referred to the matter, public curiosity became interested,
and on the evening of the ball, every man who was set down from a carriage
in front of the Theatre, and was not recognized by some one or more present,
was hailed as "That's him!", "There he goes!", etc.
Mr. Oliver in the meanwhile quietly and unobservedly walked in from the
rear of the Theatre.
It was proposed by some enterprising citizens to remove
the Bridewell and Jail to the North River and to construct twostory
houses in the park fronting Chatham Street, as a source of revenue to the
city. A petition was circulated asking that the "Jail liberties"
should be extended over the whole county; they were then restricted to
an area of 160 acres.
The use of anthracite coal was beginning to be generally
introduced. Up to this period heavy merchandise had been bought and sold
by the ton, hundredweight, quarter, and pound; but in this year the Chamber
of Commerce and merchants decided to sell by the pound; the old and lumbering
double platform scales were abandoned, and the single platform or lever
The New York Dry Dock Co. was organized about this time,
and constructed two marine railways between Tenth and Eleventh streets,
Avenue D, and the river. These were the first and only constructions in
this city, if not in the United States, by which a vessel could be raised
from the water, for up to this time, in order to calk the bottom of a vessel
or to copper it, it was necessary to "heave her down"; that is,
to secure the top of her lower masts to the pier at low water, then heave
them down by a crab and falls, and when the tide rose one side of her bottom
would be raised out of the water.
The raising of the supposed treasure in the British frigate
Hussar, before referred to, was held to be an enterprise so promising
of success that a second company was organized for the purpose; but as
neither company would allow the divers of the other to descend without
being accompanied by one of their own, their operations were held in abeyance.
New York Chemical Works, with banking privileges, was
chartered through the labors of John C. Morrison, a druggist at 183 Greenwich
Street, under cover of being a factory for drugs and chemicals It was located
on a point of land at foot of Thirtysecond Street, and Fitzroy Road,
Hudson River; which point for many years after was one of the landmarks
of the river, and known as "the Chemical Works," in like manner
to "the Glass House Point" near to it, where there was a glass
It was from this that the Chemical Bank was organized,
and commenced operations in Broadway near to corner of Ann Street, afterward
the site of the Herald Building.
It was in this year that a passenger from Liverpool, landing
at Fire Island, and staging to the city, in consequence of a great rise
in the price of cotton from fifteen to thirty cents per pound, conveyed
the news to certain parties, who bought it here, and despatched pilotboats
and expresses to the Southern parts to buy more. Reaction came, however,
and the ruin of several firms was the result.
Johnson, who had been indicted for murder on the 4th of
December preceding, was found guilty on the 17th of March, and as there
were not any members of the legal profession in those days known as Tombs
lawyers, vulgo Shysters, the verdict was accepted without appeal
and he was hanged on the 2nd of April. The proceedings connected with his
execution were so widely different from those of a later, and the present
day, that a reference to them may be of interest. The culprit, dressed
in white, trimmed with black, and seated on his coffin in an open wagon,
was transported from the Bridewell (City Hall Park) through Broadway to
an open field at the junction of Second Avenue and about Thirteenth Street,
where his execution was witnessed by many thousands of persons; his body
was then taken to the Hall of the Physicians and Surgeons in Barclay Street,
where it was subjected to a number of experiments with galvanism.
An Egyptian mummy, the first ever brought to this country,
was exhibited in one of the basement rooms of the Almshouse; an ordinary
building, alike to a row of six threestory dwellinghouses, occupying
the site of the present new Court House.
May 16. The
steamboat Etna, plying in the Raritan River and hence to New Brunswick,
justified her ill omened name by bursting both of her boilers, involving
a great loss of life. As her engines were of the type known as high pressure,
and this was the first instance of this type in Northern or Eastern waters,
loud expressions were to be heard of the danger to be apprehended from
this class of boats.
In June the Chancellor decided the longmooted vexed
question as to the exclusive right of some parties to the navigation of
certain rivers; and thus the Hudson River, for example, was decided to
be open to general navigation by steamboats. The steamboat Olive Branch,
on the route to Albany, which had been compelled (in order to evade
the act giving to certain parties the exclusive right to navigate hence
to Albany by steam) to start from Paulus Hook, touching here en route,
was, in common with all others, permitted henceforth to run directly
from here to Albany.
August 15 General
Marquis de Lafayette, the friend of Washington, who had given to this country
his generous aid in the dark days of the Revolution, arrived here in the
packetship Cadmus. On the 16th he landed at Castle Garden,
the guest of the nation, being received by the entire military force of
the city and an enormous concourse of citizens. He was greeted by many
of his former companions in arms, notably, Generals Van Cortlandt and Clarkson,
and Colonels Marinus Willett, Varick, Platt, and Trumbull; General Morgan
Lewis and Colonel Nicholas Fish were necessarily absent. In order to
add to the assemblage of citizens upon the reception of General Lafayette,
the committee of arrangements provided that upon his arrival mounted buglers
should ride through the city, and at certain intervals, at the corners
of streets, proclaim his arrival by blasts from their instruments. The
incidents of this most interesting visit have been related in sufficient
detail by other chroniclers. I shall here merely refer to the reception
at the mansion (before mentioned) of Colonel Rutgers, on Monroe, Cherry,
Clinton, and Jefferson streets, then at its height of elegant comfort;
and to the great fete of
September 14 at Castle Garden,
enclosed for the occasion in canvas; an entertainment which, for brilliancy
and success at every point, was far in advance of any that ever before
had been essayed in the city, and was equalled only by the reception at
a later day of the Prince of Wales. Castle Garden (Castle Clinton), originally
a small fortified island off the Battery, known as Fort George, had been
leased by the city to a Mr. Marsh, who converted it into a day and evening
resort. The entire portion facing the bay and river at the top of the parapet
wall was floored for a very convenient width, with seats at the sides,
and being protected by awnings in the day, it was, in connection with the
character of the citizens that patronized it both day and evening, without
parallel, and the most enjoyable spot, of a warm day, that the city had
from a party of young men who were in the habit of meeting at Castle Garden
that the "Toe Club" was formed, one of the first social clubs
that was organized in New York, the members of which were designated "Toes,"
and their place of meeting was termed their "Shoe." Subsequently
they met at Stoneall's, corner Fulton and Nassau streets.
Le Roy, Bayard & Co. were asked by the Greek deputies
in London representing the Greek Government, to furnish an estimate of
the cost of a fiftygun frigate, to be built in this city. They gave
a detailed estimate summing up a little less than two hundred and fifty
thousand dollars. As a result of such an unlookedfor low estimate,
orders were received by Le Roy, Bayard & Co. to proceed, and they contracted
with Henry Eckford for one vessel, and G.G. & S.S. Howland with Smith
& Dimon for another. The reported cruelties practiced upon the Greeks
by the Turks, with whom they were at war, aroused such a feeling of indignation
here that a fund was raised to aid in the construction of these frigates.
The vessels were not only not completed within the period
specified in the contract, but not for twice that period. Their cost, enhanced
by charges for commission, premiums of exchange, brokerage, etc., exceeded
the amount of the estimate furnished even for the cost of one.
When the vessels were completed, named Hope and
Liberator, at a cost of a little less than nine hundred thousand
dollars, there was a balance due on them, and they were not allowed to
depart. But so pressing was the need of the Greeks that it was proposed
by them to leave one in security for the balance, provided the other was
allowed to depart, which was refused. A committee of three merchants was
appointed as arbitrators of the case; and the United States Government
bought the Hope for two hundred and twentysix thousand dollars,
named her Hudson, and removed her to the Navy Yard, where she remained
as a receiving ship; but, having been built hurriedly of green timber,
she soon rotted and was never put in active service, and in 1825 was offered
by the Government at a public auction, and retained by it at a bid of five
Soon after charges of corruption, overcharges, etc.,
were so publicly and persistently made that cards requesting suspension
of public opinion were published in the papers, followed by pamphlets in
explanation and defense. The whole affair, from beginning to end. was a
reflection upon the character of many of the parties concerned to such
an extent that the recital of it in Walter Barrett's book is painful to
read, and especially so when it is borne in mind that the citizens of the
United States at large were zealously appealed to, to contribute to the
fund in aid of the struggling Greeks, and that funds were contributed not
only by individual contribution, but by societies, colleges, firemen, schools,
It so occurred that I was personally advised of some of
the proceedings in the construction of these vessels. The bookkeeper and
only clerk with the constructors of the Liberator (Smith & Dimon),
after the exposure of the great cost of these vessels, was taken into partnership;
and it was a common remark in the neighborhood of their yard that they
built several vessels after the Liberator, and were not known to
buy much material.
The Advocate, a leading paper, in its columns of
the 21st of September, published the fact, accompanied with expressions
of its disapprobation, that a young man had been seen smoking in the streets
so early as nine o'clock in the morning.
In boring for water in Jacob Street during this year a
moderately effervescing spring was struck, which, upon being submitted
to chemical analysis by Dr. Chilton, was reported to possess medicinal
elements. The owner of the property forthwith furnished the first floor
of the building with the instruments of a spa, and a stock company
was organized. The water was sold at sixpence a glass, and for some weeks
the receipts were very remunerative; but upon some
one suggesting that, as the locality was surrounded by tanpits, which
had retained tanbark, lime, and animal skins for halfacentury
or more, the ground might have received and imparted to the spring water
such a variety of elements as to give it effervescing or sparkling qualities,
the business ceased, the siphons were removed, and the building was occupied
for the purpose of other trade.
Piracy in the West Indies, which I have before mentioned,
was continued to such an extent that a public meeting of the citizens was
called to urge upon the Government more effective action in its suppression.
A meeting of citizens was called to consider the matter of the erection
of a statue to General Washington.
November 24 the sloop Neptune, hence to Albany,
was capsized off West Point, and twentythree of her passengers were
December 9 Captain Harris of H.B.M. frigate Hussar,
challenged the Whitehall boatmen of this city to a race with a crew
from his ship, in a raceboat of his that had won a prize at Halifax,
the Dart, for a thousand dollars a side. The interest in the race
was very great; it was estimated that there were full twenty thousand spectators.
It occurred off the Battery, over a triangular course; the weather and
the water were rough, and the Whitehall boat, the American Star, was
victorious by a lead of about three hundred yards.
The daily publication of newspapers at this time was but
14,266. The Advocate, a
leading paper, both political and social, had three thousand subscribers.
In this year James P. Allaire, the proprietor of the largest
steamengine manufactory in the United States, located on Cherry and
Monroe between Walnut (Jackson) and Corlears streets, designed and constructed
the engines of the steamboat Henry Eckford, which were of the compound
type, being the first of the kind built in this country or applied to marine
purposes in any country; subsequently, 1825 to 1828, he constructed those
of the Sun, Post Boy, Commerce, Swiftsure, and Pilot Boy. It
was not until more than thirty years after (1860) that the English engineers
revived this type of engine; introducing it in all their steamers and land
engines with the improvement of a receiver intermediate between the cylinders,
and operating with a much higher pressure of steam.
A considerable movement in the theatrical world took place
in the year 1824. The Lafayette Theatre in Laurens Street near Canal, owned
by Majorgeneral Charles W. Sandford, was built by him.
May 10. the
Chatham Street Garden, built in 1822, and designed for a resort in summer,
as it was covered only by an awning, was reconstructed as a theatre, at
which Joseph Jefferson, Jr., afterward appeared, and also William R. Blake
for the first time in New York.
The American Museum (Scudder's), originally at 20Chatham
Street, and now in New York Institution (see page 83), was the only one
in the city. In evenings of favorable weather a band of musicians from
over the portico enlivened the grounds in front, which became a very popular
resort. Subsequently it removed to the building on the corner of Broadway
and Ann Street, the site of the late Herald building and here were transferred
the curiosities of the Museum, afterward owned by Phineas T. Barnum, the
worldrenowned showman. It was here that Barnum opened a theatre under
the style of "Lecture Room," of which that close observer, the
late "Artemus Ward," remarked that you could see Barnum's actors
before seven o'clock in the morning going to work with their tin dinnerpails.
Here Barnum produced his Mermaid, manufactured by a Swede in Washington;
his "Woolly" horse, Wild Woman of Borneo, Joice Heth, the "Whatisit?"
etc., and generally rejoiced in humbug. The premises were destroyed by
fire, July 4,1865.
September 23, in some of the principal streets, the laying
of gaspipes for public service was begun, and on the 30th Samuel Leggett,
the President of the Gas Company (New York), gave a reception at his house,
in commemoration of the event.
I remark a circumstance that even now appears in memory
as a matter of importance in the social life of old New York. Edward Windust,
who had occupied 149 Water Street, opened his famous restaurant in the
cellar of No. 11 Chatham (Park Row), where for very many years he remained
unrivalled as a caterer. Moreover, his premises were a centre of animated
life, the home of the theatrical profession, and the resort of the brightest
minds in society. For theatre parties the place was without rival. Between
the acts at the Park Theatre the rooms were filled with men of fashion
and wit, and at all times with the gourmets. The walls were richly
adorned with illustrations of the stage. It had an entrance also in Ann
Street, which was not generally known (it was not a "side door"),
and young men would frequently employ a hack and direct it to Windust's,
leaving it standing in front, and they would then pass out through the
Ann Street door, leaving the hack to await them until the driver, becoming
alarmed for his fare, would enquire and discover his loss. It was in this
place that William Sykes, in 1833, who either was employed by or, in partnership
with Windust, was accidentally shot one evening by a young man exhibiting
his pistol. Later (1837) Windust withdrew and leased a building, 347 Broadway,
opening it as the Atheneum Hotel, where he failed of the success he anticipated.
motto, Numquam Non Paratus, was no vain boast. Some distorted memory
of it must have brought about an amusing incident just related to me by
an eminent citizen of New York. He was walking on Sixth Avenue when he
remarked, within an oystershop, an imposing sign bearing the legend,
Nunquam Paratus. Entering the place, he said to the proprietor that
he wanted some oysters, but saw that he could get none there. "What
d'ye mean?" said the man gruffly. "Why, you have a sign hung
out to say you are not prepared with them." "No sich thing. Where
is any sich sign?" "Why, here; this Nunquam Paratus."
" Humph!" said the oyster man, " I guess you don't know-that's
Latin, that sign is. It means 'always prepared.'" "My friend,"
was the visitor's reply, "I guess somebody has been humbugging you;
if you want to have 'always prepared,' in Latin, you must say, Nunquam
Non Paratus; the sign you now have up means 'never prepared.'"
My informant added that he did not know if other scholars had been consulted
or not, but on passing the shop a few days afterward, he observed that
the Nunquam Paratus had disappeared.
In Marion, near Houston Street, there was a theatre in
which the performers were colored.
Fenimore Cooper conceived and originated the formation of a club which
was designated the Bread and Cheese Club, which met semimonthly at
the Washington Hall in Broadway, now the northern part of the site of the
Stewart Building. Amongst its members were eminent scholars and professional
men of the period. In balloting for membership, "bread" was an
affirmative vote, and "cheese" a negative.
Accompanying an enthusiastic disciple of Isaac Walton
to Patchogue, L.I., we reached Roe's tavern in the regular course of stage
and wagon in twentysix hours; the same distance is now (1895) accomplished
in less than three hours.
The offices of a leading broker in Wall Street, between
Broad and William, rented for five hundred dollars per annum.
At this period the public promenades in the city were
restricted to the Battery and to the bridge leading to the Red Fort, foot
of Hubert Street, simple breathing-places, without even seats or refectories
of any description. The general public went to Hoboken, where there was
a large publichouse on an elevation of the ground, sloping down to
the river immediately at the ferry landing, which was known as the "Green,"
and from thence there was a wide shaded walk up to the boundary of the
Stevens Mansion. In this walk of a weekday, young people from the
city would flock, and spruce beer, mead, gingerbread, and fruits could
be had. On Sundays the visitors were of a different type, young men, clerks,
shopmen, and young merchants, would fill the benches on the "Green,"
smoke, and drink lemonade and portwine sangarees. American whiskey was
then wholly unknown north of Baltimore, and as for lager beer, it did not
appear until many years after. So generally was the "Green" patronized
on a Sunday, that it was publicly reported that Arthur Tappan offered one
million dollars for the ground in order to close it up on that day.
On the opening of the "Elysian Fields" (1831)
the walk was extended on the river shore to them, and then the green in
front of the house of entertainment there was occupied in the manner that
the "Green" had been.
The Rev. Prince Hohenlohe, near Olmutz (Moravia, was reported
to have performed miracles, and a lady of Washington, who had been many
years afflicted, communicated with him, and, at a preconcerted time, prayed
with him, whereupon it was proclaimed she was immediately cured. I recollect
the report of the case and the extended discussion it involved at the time.
About this period nightlatches for the outer doors
of residences were introduced, and in order that the great convenience
they effected may be fully appreciated, one must understand that prior
to this these doors were secured only by a large iron lock, the iron key
of which varied from six to eight inches in length, and was of a proportionate
weight thereto; hence, if a member of a family purposed to remain out late
at night, he had either to agree with some member of it to remain up for
him, to lock the door and take the key with him, or awake the family by
the knocker on the door. Doorbells were then very rarely, if at all,
in use. The old story of a man, in default of a knocker at his door, having
used that of a neighbor to awake his family is not a fiction; a case did
occur in Warren Street, in this city.
The New York Bible Society organized. Occupied a room
corner of Cedar and Nassau streets, then one in Cliff Street, then one
in Hanover Street, then erected a building on Nassau between Beekman and
Ann streets; 1830 enlarged; 1852, at its present site, occupying the square
bounded by Third and Fourth avenues, Astor Place, and Ninth Street; cost,
$304,000. Supplies Bibles to families and emigrants as they arrive, to
vessels, public institutions, Sundayschools, hotels, and city missionary