1827 WILLIAM PAULDING, MAYOR
THE city's expenditure for the year amounted to $1,179,634.65;
the receipts to $1,149,631.39; and the debt remained at $1,483,800. In
the three city watch districts there were 468 men, 6 captains, and 12 assistants.
Washington Square was opened, great part of which had
been occupied as the Potter's Field, the remainder, about 31/2 acres,
being purchased for $78,000. As bearing on the value of city real estate
at this time I quote the following passage from a letter with which Mr.
Edmund Hendricks has obliged me. Mr. Hendricks writes: "I find an
entry on the Ledger of my Grandfather, Mr. Harmon Hendricks, under date
of June 4, 1827, 'Paid J.C. Hamilton, McEvers and S. Ward, Executors of
Estate of J.C. Vandenheuvel for 66 full lots, and a number of strips adjoining
my farm up to the centre of 78th Street, and half the front on 11th Avenue,
$8,361.15.' " At a later date, in or about 1833, Burnham removed his
noted hostelry from Broadway and Seventieth Street to this Vandenheuvel
mansion at Seventyeighth Street, becoming the tenant of Mr. Harmon
Hendricks at a rent of $600 per annum. I cannot now give the period when
Burnham first opened his hostelry, but it was anterior to 1825.
It was now seriously urged by many that the city could
be supplied with sufficient pure and wholesome water from the Bronx River,
since it was computed that it would furnish above four million gallons
per diem; and by the lowering of Rye Pond and the aid of dams, etc., nearly
nine million gallons could be obtained.
Hack fares at this date were twentyfive cents a single
passage for any distance not exceeding one mile; for more than a mile,
fifty cents; additional passengers twentyfive cents each.
Evan Jones of 53 White Street commenced running a line
of stages from Broadway and Houston Street to Wall Street. Abraham Brower
of 661 Broadway also put on a line from the corner of Houston Street and
Broadway to Wall Street, corner of William. In a few years after he replaced
his early stages with new, larger, and more convenient ones, drawn by four
horses. When the streets were sufficiently covered with snow, the stages
were replaced with large sleighs drawn by four or six horses, and the frolics
of a country sleighride were moderately indulged in. For full thirty
years these great sleighs were a striking winter characteristic of Broadway.
January 15 Mme. Malibran appeared at the "Bowery"
Theatre in English opera, again exciting the liveliest interest and attracting
February 1 a ball was given at the "Bowery"
Theatre in aid of the Greek Fund, and on the 22d another at the Park Theatre;
they were well and fashionably attended, equalled in character and brilliancy
only by the fete to Lafayette at Castle Garden in 1824.
The Common Council considered the construction of a market
at the foot of Canal Street and one (the Clinton) was finally located there;
it also proposed to close the sewer in Maiden Lane and lead the surface
water to the side gutters.
February 8 Mme. Hutin, a celebrated danseuse from
Paris, appeared at the New York ("Bowery") Theatre in "The
Roaming Shepherds." Although, when compared with the dress of balletgirls
and nymphs of the stage of the present day, her dress might be held to
be unexceptionable, and even be approved by a prude of 1896, yet its style
was so different from that to which we were accustomed in this country
as to cause a furor to see her. The novelty of her manner of dancing and
the character of her dress were not only the theme of talk and discussion
for a long while, but they led to a very general discussion in the newspapers.
In fact, if she had appeared as some female characters do now (as early
as 1880), the scene that was exhibited at the Drury Lane Theatre, London,
a century ago, upon the first appearance of "The Beggars' Opera"
would in all probability have been enacted here. The theatre at this date
opened at halfpast six.
March 5 an Arcade, which had been in course of construction
for some months, was opened from Maiden Lane to John Street, in the block
about one hundred feet east of Broadway; it had not the success that had
been anticipated and survived but a few years.
March 12 Jacob Barker was tried for libel, and convicted
on the 10th of the following month.
Andrew Colvin, who had operated a stage from Wall Street
to the upper part of Broadway, was constrained to abandon the enterprise.
March 18 the "Greek Committee," as it was termed,
that is, the association of citizens who were selected to solicit and receive
donations for the benefit of the Greeks in their resistance to the Turks,
despatched the ship Chancellor to Greece with provisions, etc.
March 23 the steamhoat Oliver Ellsworth, from Saybrook,
Conn., to this city, collapsed a flue of her boiler and scalded several
persons. When the boiler was repaired, her owner had a piece of the copper
plate of which the furnaces were constructed heated and doubled, and displayed
it in the captain's office as a sample of the copper of her boiler, leading
to the natural inference with laymen that it was of the exceptional thickness
shown, and consequently comparatively safe.
Whereas, the thinner the metal plates of a boiler, consistent
with their resistance to a normal stress, the safer they are, as they then
more readily transmit the heat of the furnace, and consequently are less
liable than thick ones to be injured by the burning of the metal.
Third, Seventh, Tenth, and Twentyfirst streets were
ordered to be opened on May 1.
In April Levi Disbrow, who had been employed to bore for
water for factories in neighboring towns, began a series of borings here,
with a view to convince our citizens of the practicability of obtaining
a sufficiency of water for their wants by such an operation, and a pipe
was sunk in Broadway, opposite Bond Street.
April 2 the steamboat Washington, Captain E. S. Bunker,
made the run from Providence here in eighteen hours, whereby Boston newspapers
were received here in twentytwo hours; the performance was held to
be worthy of public notice. A ferryboat from Christopher
Street to Hoboken, the Fairy Queen, commenced running about this
time, but the exact period has escaped me; probably a year earlier, but
May 1 the Merchants' Exchange building in Wall Street
was opened. July 4 the Post office was installed in part of the basement
of this building; rent of letter boxes four dollars per annum. Following
the completion of the Exchange the marine telegraph previously communicating
from Staten Island to the Battery was extended from Wall Street to Sandy
Hook via Staten Island. My readers will of course understand not the modern
telegraph familiar to them, but the oldfashioned instruments for signalling
to the eye aided by a telescope.
May 8 Captain John B. Nicholson, U.S.N., presented the
city with four granite balls which were alleged to have been taken from
the ruins of Troy; they were set upon the four granite columns at the gates
leading to the southern entrance to the Park.
The Legislature constructed the Thirteenth ,and fourteenth
May 24, in consequence of the unusual number of strangers
visiting the city, from the somewhat diverse causes of the yearly meetings
of the Quakers and the coming races at the Union Course, the papers of
the day published a list of the places of interest to visitors. To illustrate
the difference in the number and character of these between that time and
the present I recite those that were given; viz., American Academy of Arts,
Brouwer's Gallery of Busts, Scudder's and Peale's Museums, Spectaculum
in Chatham Street, Athenaeum, City Library, Automatic Chess Players, Sea
Serpent, Dwarf, and Wonderful Ox. There were two museums in full operation
at this time; viz., Scudder's in the City Almshouse, before referred to,
and Peale's in Broadway. Each sported a band of music with which to beguile
visitors, and each vied with the other in the effectiveness and supremacy
of their bands. When one opened with "The Star Spangled Banner,"
the other was sure to follow with "Yankee Doodle." Probably in
musical quality these bands may not have been superior to the later one
of Barnum, which daily blew with great persistency from the gallery of
the American Museum at Broadway and Ann Street. Of the quality of that
one, my readers who do not know it may judge from the following story,
which is ben trovato, if not true. An ambitious young cornetplayer
applied to Barnum for an engagement and was agreeably surprised at finding
little difficulty made by the great showman, and ready employment on liberal
terms. The young musician played steadily for more than a week, when, receiving
no hint of salary, he inquired of Barnum concerning that subject. "Pay!"
said Barnum, "I pay you! Nothing of the sort. You are to pay me. You
seem not to understand, my young friend, that my band is made up of men
who are learning their instruments, and want a good outdoor place for practice
and to get the hang of playing together. They are glad enough to pay, and
of course they ought to be, for there is no such chance in America for
an industrious musician to advance in his art as in the band of Barnum's
great American Museum."
May 31 the circus in Broadway was converted to a Theatre
and termed the Broadway, and subsequently converted to a stable and horse
market and named Tattersall's (see illustration, page 217).
June 27 Mlle. Celeste,, a danseuse and actress
from Paris, made her debut at the "Bowery" Theatre. The
high reputation she acquired here was confirmed on her return to Europe,
though she was then very young. She married an American gentleman, and
was again at the " Bowery" late in 1834. In 1838 she was again
here, and in the autumn of 1851, when she was at the Broadway Theatre.
Street gaslamps were first lighted in this month
July 4 the "Bowery" Theatre was opened for a
day performance for the first time, and this was the first theatrical matinee
ever given in this country. On this day negro slavery in the State
August 27 Cliff Street was opened from Ferry into Skinner,
and both were known as Cliff Street thenceforth. Cheapside was changed
to Hamilton Street.
Miss Suydam, daughter of John Suydam of this city, while
on a tour to Trenton Falls, in passing around the amphitheatre fell into
the basin below, receiving fatal injury. The youth of the lady, added to
her social position and accomplishments, evoked regret and a very general
sympathy for the parents.
September 11 Clara Fisher, afterward Mrs. Maeder, appeared
at the Park Theatre as a "youthful prodigy," in the character
of Albina Mandeville, in which she exhibited unwonted precocity
and became a great favorite. Of her it was written:
"A charming young Fisher afishing has come
From the land of our fathers, her seacircled home;
She uses no line and she uses no hook,
But she catches her prey with a smile and a look."
Clara Fisher became the fashion, and for several years
enjoyed popularity without measure, and most justly. In the lighter characters
of opera and comedy, and in boys' parts, she was unsurpassed. She was last
at the Park in the season of 184041, but late in 1844 appeared there
as Lydia Languish at the benefit of her sister Mrs. Vernon. Later
Mrs. Maeder returned to the stage, and was seen during the fifties, or
perhaps even later.
September 12 another mainstay of our stage-George Holland-made
his first appearance at the "Bowery," and became a chief attraction
at Mitchell's Olympic Theatre.
Boston Road from One Hundred and Twentyfifth Street
to Harlem River, was closed in this year. Henry Street was widened. The
Manhattan Market at Goerck, Rivington, Stanton, and Mangin streets was
built. This market was named after the neighboring Manhattan Island, and
I may explain here to the young gentlemen from the country who furnish
the "city news" for most of our newspapers, and in doing it betray
no knowledge of the town earlier than that acquired the year before, that
Manhattan island and the Island of Manhattan are very different things.
The former title was given to a knoll of land lying nearly within the lines
of the present Houston, Third, and Lewis streets, which at very high tides
was insulated. For many years the name was by extension applied also to
the nearby territory; that part of the city lying adjacent to the
knoll being familiarly termed Manhattan Island.
The editorial staff of the New York Mirror and Ladies'
Literary Gazette before referred to (1823), being added to by Gulian
C. Verplanck, Charles Fenno Hoffman, and James Fenimore Cooper, the paper
was popular and well patronized.
September 13. The Law Committee of the Board of Aldermen
recommended the erection of an additional or Superior Court and the appointment
of a Vicechancellor. It was also proposed by the board to authorize
a new ferry to Brooklyn from the foot of Whitehall Street to be known as
the South Ferry, but it was so violently opposed by Stephen Whitney, Jacob
Nevius, and many other residents of the lower part of the city, that the
project was delayed for some years. The arguments or objections submitted
were, first, that it was wholly unnecessary, and secondly, that in the
winter season the slip would be so blocked with ice as to render it impracticable
for the boats to enter. There was a force in this position that persons
of the present day whose recollection does not include a period of fifty
years cannot recognize, from the circumstance I have already mentioned,
that at that time there were but few ferryboats and fewer steamboats running
in the winter season, and no towboats; hence the icefields in
the river were not broken up as they were even a few years later, and are
still more at the present time.
September 29. The Lafayette Theatre was entirely rebuilt
during this summer, with an imposing granite front and a stage 120 feet
deep and 100 feet wide, the largest then existing in either England or
America. The renewed house, thought to be the finest in this country, was
October 3 Miss Kelly from London appeared at the Park
At a meeting of citizens a committee of fourteen was appointed
to select a delegation from its number to proceed to New Orleans on the
8th of January ensuing (the anniversary of the battle of New Orleans),
and present its congratulations to General Andrew Jackson; and Messrs.
Saul Alley, Thaddeus Phelps, and James A. Hamilton were selected.
October 9 Mme. Malibran began a brief final engagement
here, at the "Bowery" Theatre. Mr. Malibran's financial distress
had compelled her to resort again to her art as a means of livelihood,
and for some time she had sung in the choir of Grace Church. Her last appearance
here was the 28th, at her benefit. The few remaining who knew this artist
will agree that not only her voice and grand style of singing, but also
her face, form, and gesture produced an impression that will remain while
October 28 a duel was fought under the bluff at Weehawken
Heights on a spot then and for some time afterward well known as the duellingground;
it was there General Alexander Hamilton fell in his duel with Aaron Burr,
Richard Riker was wounded by Robert Swartwout, and General Swartwout and
Wm Maxwell and others had fought. The parties were Wm G. Graham, associate
editor with M. M. Noah in the New York Enquirer, seconded by Louis
Atterbury, and a Mr. Barton of Philadelphia, seconded by Wm. F. McLeod.
Mr. Graham falling at the second fire, his body was ferried across the
river to about Fortysecond Street, or the French tan-yards, as the
locality was termed.
November 8 a new version of "Der Freischutz"
was produced at the Park, with Charles F. Horn as Caspar,, a capital
performance. Horn was long admired here, while his voice lasted.
In December Mr. Youle, the proprietor of the shot-tower
at East Fiftyfourth Street, advertised the sale of some lots in its
immediate vicinity, and in order to advise probable purchasers of the locality
and how to reach it he published that it was the Spring Valley property
on the Old Post Road near the fourmile stone, and that conveyances
would be furnished.
December 11 Timothy B. Redmond, proprietor of the United
States Hotel in Pearl Street (not the present hotel in Fulton Street),
who had been arrested on an indictment for robbery, was arraigned, and
his trial postponed. This is mentioned from the circumstance that on his
trial at a later date (January 17) it appeared that his arrest, imprisonment,
and trial were solely due to his resemblance to a noted thief. From the
time of his arrest to that of his acquittal the case was the cause of much
discussion and speculation, as there was a large number of our citizens
who were disposed to believe him guilty. He was honorably acquitted, however,
in the January following.
Some hotelkeepers and friends subscribed and gave
him a dinner, and some time afterward "Old Hays," as he was known,
arrested a man who proved to be the one who had forged and presented the
checks. On examination he proved to resemble Redmond in a very decided
manner. In the interval between his incarceration and trial many stories
were related of acts of Redmond, which were all construed as evidence of
a previous course of criminality, and he was socially and financially ruined.
William C. Bryant, who came to the city in 1826, became
a partner and associate editor in the Evening Post.
December 18 Henry Eckford, considering himself aggrieved
by the manner in which the District Attorney, Hugh Maxwell, had conducted
the prosecution against him and others (before referred to), and some subsequent
offensive declarations as alleged, caused a challenge to be delivered to
him, which was declined.
The widening of Nassau and Liberty streets was proposed
by the Common Council.
The Journal of Commerce on September 1 was established
by Arthur Tappan as a great moral and abolition paper, and it was announced
that lottery and like notices and advertisements would be excluded. In
1828 it was purchased and edited by Hale & Hallock, absorbing The
Times, which had been published for a brief period before. The publication
office was at No. 2 Merchants' Exchange, and work was not permitted in
it between 12 P.M., Saturday, and 12 P.M., Sunday. The Journal of Commerce
and the Enquirer, in their competitive efforts to publish the
first news of arrivals by sea, employed small sailing vessels to cruise
off Sandy Hook, carrying reporters to board the incoming ships.
The principal hotels at this period were the Adelphi,
corner Broadway and Beaver Street; Mansion House, at 39 Broadway (see page
394), by W. I. Bunker; City Hotel, site of Boreel Building, in Broadway,
by Chester Jennings; National Hotel, 112 Broadway; Franklin House, corner
Broadway and Dey Street, by McNeil Seymour; American Hotel, corner Broadway
and Barclay Street; Washington Hall on Broadway, corner Reade Street; Park
Place House, corner Broadway and Park Place; Pearl Street House, 8688
Pearl Street; Niblo's Bank Coffee House, Pine, corner William Street; New
York Coffee House, William Street, near Beaver; Tontine Coffee House, in
Wall Street, corner Water Street; New York Hotel, Greenwich Street, between
Dey and Cortlandt streets; Northern Hotel, West, corner of Cortlandt Street;
Walton House, in Pearl Street, near Peck Slip; Tammany Hall, corner Nassau
and Frankfort streets; New England Hotel, Water Street, between Fulton
Street and Peck Slip; United States Hotel, Pearl Street, near Maiden Lane.
The schism in the Quakers between "Orthodox"
and "Hicksites" resulted in the former building a house in Henry
Street; the latter party retaining possession of the existing houses, which
were subsequently sold and the present buildings erected on Rutherford
Place and Sixteenth Street, and East Twentieth Street and Gramercy Park.
When the Exchange was completed, Exchange Street to Broad
was named Exchange Place.
An association of ladies, members of the Wall Street Church,
organized a Sundayschool some years previous to this; but it was in
this year absorbed by the American Sundayschool Union.
In this year died Thomas Addis Emmet, the Irish orator.
The secretary of an insurance company in this city, who was afflicted with the gambling mania, lost in one evening a sum said to have exceeded fifty thousand dollars; soon after it was discovered he was deficient fully three times that amount; the directors caused him to be arrested and imprisoned and soon after he committed suicide.