WILLIAM PAULDING, 1828-1829, AND
WALTER BOWNE, 1829,
1828. JANUARY 2 Mrs. Austin of London appeared at the
Park Theatre in "Love in a Village." She was a charming vocalist
as well as actress, and became very popular, and remained in this country
At this time the nomination of General Andrew Jackson
for the Presidency at the coming convention was so well assured that unusual
interest was manifested in the customary annual dinner at Tammany Hall,
on the 8th of January, in commemoration of the battle of New Orleans. It
was attended by the magnates of the Republican (Democratic) party, presided
over by Benjamin Bailey.
In the month of February there were thirtyfour packetships
trading between this port and London, Liverpool, and Havre.
A faction of the Democratic party who were in the habit
of meeting at the "Pewter Mug" in Frankfort Street, combined
with the Administration or Adams men and some antiMasons, defeated
some of the Tammany candidates for office. Hence the term "Pewter
March 31,West Street extended to the Great Kill Road (Greenwich
A.M. Bailey in Hudson Street advertised a grate, designed
for the combustion of anthracite coal, which was the first construction
of one suited for this new fuel, then gradually being introduced into domestic
use. In December of this year the first product of the Delaware and Hudson
mines was received in New York. January 16 a meeting of the Common Council
convened in consequence of the death of Governor Clinton, a resolution
was passed inviting Bishop Hobart of the Episcopal Church to deliver an
eulogium on the deceased, which he declined to do, as he held that such
and like deliveries were "a prostitution of religion to the purpose
of secular policy." It is very questionable if a bishop or clergyman
at the present day would decline such an opportunity to signalize himself.
Dr. Hosack delivered the enlogium.
Game of all kinds was more plentiful at this time than
since the multiplying of railroads and steamboats has afforded facility
for visiting neighboring districts. Thus, a party of two, in one of the
ponds on the south side of Long Island, in two days fishing, killed 111
trout, weighing 60 pounds, one of which weighed l0 pounds 6 ounces.
Roasted chestnuts were first sold in the streets by a
Frenchman who made his appearance in or about this year, and established
himself on the sidewalk, corner of Duane Street and Broadway, selling at
first only the large chestnuts of the Spanish or French variety. He became
so well identified as the originator of this street industry that, upon
his death, which occurred not many years since, it was noticed in several
of the daily papers.
Asa Hall extended his enterprise of one stage, from Exchange
Coffee House, site of the Duncan building, corner Pine and Nassau streets,
to Greenwich, corner of Hudson and Amos streets, to a line of stages, of
the omnibus type, 121/2 cents.
The tax levy in this year was approved at $450,000.
The City Hotel and lots, now occupied by the Boreel Building,
were sold at public auction for $123,000,
March 28 first appeared in New York, in the character
of Little Pickle, Miss Louisa Lane, now known and admired as Mrs.
Arundel, north of Division Street, was changed to Chrystie.
Reason, from Bedford to Fifth Street, toward Sixth Avenue, was changed
to Barrow. Collect, from Pearl to Hester and from Rynder to Orange, was
charged to Centre Street, April 7. In 1817 it had not been opened beyond
Pearl; but was subsequently extended to Chambers Street.
The name and address of Delmonico and Brothers first appeared
in this year, when they opened a coffee, cake, and confectionery room at
23 William Street in a single room, in which they and the female members
of their families dispensed bonbons, coffee, liquors, pate's,
and confections. In 1831 they opened a fully appointed restaurant,
whence they removed after the fire of 1835 to 76 Broad Street until their
erection of the building, in 1837, at intersection of Beaver, William,
and South William streets, removed in 1890 and reconstructed. Their subsequent
course and the status of their representatives are too well known for a
May 15 occupants of the State Prison in Greenwich Street
were removed to the newly constructed building at Sing Sing, the construction
of which had been commenced in 1825
May 20 the "Bowery" Theatre burned, taking fire
from a neighboring livery stable, whence the winds drove the flames to
the theatre, beginning with the roof. This occurred about 6 o'clock P.M.
The postponed benefit of Mrs. Gilfert was set for that evening. The house
was rebuilt better than before within the space of ninety days, being opened
late in August, on which occasion Forrest delivered the address, written
by William Leggett, the editor and critic.
July 4 William Niblo removed from the Bank Coffee House,
corner William and Pine streets, and opened a hotel, garden, and theatre
at the northeast corner of Broadway and Prince Street, site of the Metropolitan
Hotel, and termed it the Sans Souci. The theatre was opened by Charles
Gilfert, the "Bowery" manager, for a brief season, while his
house was rebuilding. Many famous performances have taken place at this
spot; notably here the Ravels long delighted town and country alike. At
this time "Niblo's Garden" was an actual garden, with walks,
flowers, trees, summerhouses, etc., and was considered somewhat remote
from town. The theatre or entertainment saloon was in the centre. This
subsequently gave place to a complete, permanent theatre, and the garden
August 30 M. and Mme. Vestris appeared at the "Bowery";
they were excellent dancers. Forrest and Booth, and many other attractions,
were offered after the reopening of this house, but the season was
disastrous until its close in midsummer of 1829; soon after which the manager,
Gilfert, died from worry and care.
Late in the season a full and effective French opera company
opened at the Park, and continued at intervals until the close of 1829.
The city stages (omnibuses) had so increased at this time
(twenty in number) that there were five routes in operation, viz.: Greenwich,
Broadway, Manhattanville, Grand, and Dry Dock (via Water and Cherry streets,
September 18 a traveller from Cincinnati reached here
in the unprecedented time of seven days; so remarkable was this considered
that it was noticed and commented upon in the papers.
The canvass for the Presidency at this time was very warmly
contested. The Republicans (democrats), having nominated General Andrew
Jackson, designated the headquarters of their election districts by planting
hickorytrees as emblematic of his decided victory over the Seminole
Indians in Florida at the Hickory Swamp, and gave him the title of "Old
Hickory." In 1844, when James K. Polk was a candidate of the same
party, he was known as "Young Hickory," and small hickorytrees
were in like manner planted.
The male prisoners in the State Prison were transferred
to the new prison at Sing Sing, and in the year following the females were
transferred. It was proposed in 1827 by an association of citizens, after
some preliminary motions a year earlier, to cause a canal sixty feet in
width to be cut from the foot of East One Hundred and Eighth Street through
the island, to terminate at the west side of Macomb's Dam in the Harlem
River. It was to be known as the Harlem Canal. The stock of the company
was filled by this time, and on September 17 of this year ground was broken.
The excavation proceeded about as far as Fourth Avenue, after which the
enterprise was abandoned, having become a source of annoyance as well as
of loss to all concerned. Until within a few years (1895) some remains
of the entrance lock were still to be seen.
The New York Screw Dock Company, at 415 Water Street,
was organized in this year, and the first dock (as it was erroneously termed,
it being strictly an elevator) was located in South Street, since extended
out, when South Street was opened at that point between Market and Pike
slips. Zebedee Ring and associates constructed and operated it.
Miss Emma Wheatly, at the age of six, was engaged at the
Park Theatre this season as a danseuse, and was in the habit of
executing with her sister a pas de deux between the acts. Fanny
Kemble in 1832 admired her and aided her with instruction, and at the age
of thirteen she made her regular debut at the Park as Prince
Arthur in "King John." This appearance was successful, and
she subsequently appeared as Desdemona, Julia, Mrs. Haller, etc.,
and gave promise of a very decided talent. She remained at the Park until
the autumn of 1837, when she became leading lady of Wallack's company at
the new National Theatre, while not yet sixteen. In 1837 she married James
Mason, son of the president of the Chemical Bank, and retired from the
stage in the spring of 1838. Her adieu at the National Theatre (corner
of Leonard and Church streets) was in the character of Desdemora, supported
by Edwin Forrest, Booth, James W. Wallack, William Wheatly, and Mrs. Sefton;
and Mr. Dayton, in his happy reminiscences, declares the house to have
been "electrified by the effects of this galaxy of talent." Compelled
by pecuniary need, Mrs. Mason returned to the Park Theatre in 1847. She
died in 1854, much lamented, for she had been beloved and admired on the
stage and in society.
Blackwell's Island was purchased by the city in this year
for thirtytwo thousand dollars.
Joseph Bonfanti, before mentioned as the proprietor of
a store for varieties of things both "of use and sport," was
in the annual habit of detailing in verse the character and extent of the
articles he offered, much to the amusement of all. As an example I furnish
a specimen verse for this year, being a parody on the recitals of the stories
of Major Longbow by Mr. Hackett, which then were popular:
" I came in an air balloon,
It rose from the Champ de Mars;
And I called on the man in the moon
To purchase the seven stars.
He said the stars were dim,
Bonfanti's store was nigh:
I'd better go down to him.
What will you lay it's a lie?"
In December a market (Tompkins) was ordered to be constructed
in Third Avenue and the Bowery, and Liberty Street to be widened in the
following May. If this street at its present width is the result of widening,
what could it have been in its original width? would be a natural question
of the day.
There was a social feature of the day, the annual ball
given by the bachelors, known as the Bachelors' Ball, that has lapsed for
many years, and it was one that should have been maintained. It was a distinguished
affair and in the van of all essays of that character, being far more select
in the character of its patrons than would be practicable at this time.
All the managers wore kneebreeches, silk stockings, and pumps.
In this year appeared the Merchants' Telegraph, published
and edited by John I. Mumford. The daily issue of all the papers published
in the city was given as fifteen thousand.
August 2 the Mount Pitt circus was burned.
Kipp & Brown, at 431433 Hudson Street, commenced
running a line of stages from Charles to Pine Street.
Peter M. Bayard occupied 11 and 13 State Street as a hotel
and restaurant. In consequence of the location, giving an unrestricted
view of the Bay, open to the south and west breezes in the summer, and
the sun in winter, it became a favorite resort, and especially of a clique
of idlers who assembled there in the forenoon, and repaired to their evening
resorts at the close of the day. Here turtle soup was dispensed which was
worthy of the animal of which it was made; not the puree of this
time, which is served at some of our leading restaurants and clubs; not
a thin consomme of that which might be calves' head or veal, but
bona fee turtle, with callipash, callipee, and forcedmeat balls.
William Leggett (heretofore mentioned), formerly a midshipman
in the Navy, who had resigned in 1826, began editing and publishing a paper
termed the Critic; but as his forcible arguments and caustic articles
could not sustain it, it soon expired. After this he was associated with
William C. Bryant in the Evening Post, at l0 Pine Street. An article
of his, published some years later (I think in about 1832), in condemnation
of the Governor's appointing a day of Thanksgiving, which he held to be
the loss of a day's wages to the workingman, was written with a degree
of vigor and emphasis for which he was without a superior.
The first known mention of a Protestant Episcopal cathedral
was in this year. Phillip Hone in his "Diary" records that in
November Bishop Hobart called upon him and opened the project of building
a cathedral on Washington Square. Mr. Hone approved this, as a "glorious
project," and adventurously considered the site proposed to be "the
best in the city" for the purpose. How he would have marvelled at
the present site, chosen by conservative judgment as being the best, though
five and a half miles above Washington Square !
About this year "The Finish," at the southwest
corner of Broadway and Anthony (Worth) Street, was opened, as what would
much later have been termed a "saloon," but at that time it was
familiarly known as a "gin mill," and one of a high order in
its fittings and equipments. It was well termed, for it was the finish
of many of its habitues, and were it not that it is not my purpose
or province to exhume painful reminiscences, I could recite many mournful
cases, alike to those of some of the inmates of the poorhouse on Blackwell's
Island, where youth, health, social position, and wealth were thrown away,
under the baneful attractions of this and similar places, in pursuit of
In the canvass for the Presidency in this year (John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson), party lines were very stringently drawn. The party in power, the whilom Federalists, recognized the popularity of General Jackson, and in view to weaken it, every act of his, public or private, that could be brought to his disadvantage, was published and disseminated; notably his duel with Dickinson*,
* His duel was so exceptional in
condition and result that it is worthy of notice: pistols at eight paces.
and toss for fire. Dickinson won it, his ball wounding Jackson in the breast,
from which he never fully recovered, but he did not flinch, as he was unwilling
that his adversary should know he was wounded; whereupon Dickinson exclaimed,
"Great God have I missed him?" Jackson then fired and wounded
him so that he died soon after.
his hanging of Arbuthnot and Ambrister, two subjects of
Great Britain, who furnished the Indians with whom we were at war with
arms and supplies, and even the sanctity of his domestic relations was
invaded; hut the crowning charge against him was his shooting six militiamen
for offences, and in order to give this the better effect, handbills were
printed representing a coffin, skull, and crossbones, with a recital
to the effect that General Jackson in his campaign had unlawfully caused
six militiamen to be shot, which charge was made more effective by setting
it forth in the following verse:
All six militiamen were shot,
And, oh! it seems to me
A bloody act, a bloody deed,
Of merciless cruelty.
These were published and widely scattered by a well-known
politician in Philadelphia, and known as his "Coffin Handbills."
Jackson's hanging of Arbuthnot and Ambrister was also set forth as a heinous
offence, although the British Government did not make any protest regarding
the matter. A Democratic paper in this city on the occasion of Adams, who
was then President, passing through here to his home in Massachusetts,
semiseriously published that, in paying his passage on board the Sound
steamer, he offered some of these bills in part payment.
A wellknown figure in society was William E. McLeod
an exofficer in a British regiment of Highlanders, whose father fell
at Waterloo. He was the second of Barton in his duel with Graham.
K. Paulding, a popular author, published "The New Pilgrim's Progress,"
a burlesque on the guidebooks and writings of English travellers,
and a satire on fashionable life in this city. In 1826 appeared his "Merry
Tales of Three Wise Men of Gotham who went to sea in a bowl," a satire
upon the writings of Robert Dale Owen, an Englishman, who was notorious
for the publication of his peculiar proposals for a change in our social
relations, and in this year for his publication of "The Free Enquirer."
In 1807 Paulding was associated with Washington Irving in the publication
of their inimitable "Salmagundi," or the "Whimwhams
and Opinions of Launcelot Langstaff, Esq., and others."
In evidence of the decadence of shipbuilding in this
city in late years, there were at this time, of my personal knowledge,
ten shipyards where vessels of all descriptions were built ; viz.:
David Brown's, Jacob Bell's, Christian Bergh's, Fickett & Thomes's,
Lawrence & Sneden's, Smith & Dimon's, Jabez Williams's, Jacob A.
Westervelt's (since Mayor of this city), Webb & Allen's, and S. &
F. Fickett's; added to which there were several shipcarpenters without
yards, that repaired vessels; as Henry Steers, Cornelius Poillon, etc.,
The American Institute was chartered.
1829. January 26 Pump Street, running from Division to
Collect Street, was changed to Walker Street; this was before Canal Street,
in name, was continued to East Broadway. Reason, from Macdougal Street
to where it crossed Asylum, was changed to Barrow Street. In April Beaver
Lane was changed to Morris Street, and Herring, from Carmine to Bank Street,
became Bleecker Street. In May Barrow was changed to Grove Street. Clinton
Market, on Washington, Spring, Canal, and West streets, was opened in April.
Arden, from Bleecker to Bedford, was changed to Morton; David, from Broadway
to Herring, changed to Bleecker Street.
In February canvasback ducks were sold for fifty
cents a brace, and venison brought the price of beef.
Early in this year a steam locomotive, built in England
by the celebrated George Stephenson, was exhibited in the ironyard
of E. Dunscomb in Water near Frankfort Street.
There was an elite private fancy ball given in
January of this year by two residents of Bowling Green, an opening between
their houses having been made for the occasion, and the affair was one
of great interest in society. Two mask and fancy balls given at the Park
Theatre were so fully and fashionably attended that proprietors of other
theatres and halls essayed similar enterprises; and as the patronage under
less stringent requirements and observances, and in different locations,
became less and less select, these affairs grew offensive to propriety,
and the Press, in behalf of the citizens, asked of the Legislature an Act
designed to suppress the growing evil. It was enacted that all like assemblies
should be subject to a fine of one thousand dollars, onehalf to be
paid to the informer of the violation of law.
The Sabbatarians of the period, having obtained a great
number of petitions to (Congress asking for the arrest of the running and
delivery of the mails on Sundays, a public meeting was called by the merchants,
and others, to protest against such action by the National Legislature.
In evidence of the value of real estate at this time,
the twostory house and lot, No. 17 Broadway, adjoining the present
Stevens House, 44 feet 9-1/2 inches front, and 118 feet in depth, sold
at public sale in April for nineteen thousand dollars.
Andrew J. Davis and Ithiel Town & Thompson, architects,
had offices in the Merchants' Exchange, and they were the only parties
known exclusively as architects in the city.
1829, James Thompson opened his first confectionery at
8 Arcade and also at 32 Liberty Street. In 1832 he removed to 176 Broadway,
in 1835 to 172 and 235 Broadway, and in 1851 to 359 Broadway, near Franklin
Street, where, in the character of his patrons and of his entertainment,
he was a worthy follower of Guerin, before referred to.
There were two lines, the Despatch and Union, of steamboats
and stages combined, running between this city and Philadelphia. In the
summer season the stages ran only to Bordentown or Bristol, and thence
steamboats were taken to Philadelphia. The opposition between them was
very warm; so much so that the arrival of each line in this city was noticed
in the papers of the next day; the time usually half or threequarters
past three P.M.
In April, at the Park Theatre, first appeared Charles
R. Thorne, afterward well known to our public as actor and manager.
April 11 the Lafayette Theatre was entirely destroyed
by fire; it was not rebuilt.
In May Ogden Hoffman, a brilliant and popular orator,
was appointed District Attorney. On the 25th of the month the Morning
Courier and New York Enquirer, edited by James Watson Webb and M. M.
The first operating locomotive introduced into this country
was one which had been procured in England by Horatio Allen, and it was
put in operation at the West Point Foundry Shop in Beach Street, in this
month. Its power was estimated at nine horses, pressure of steam sixty
pounds per square inch, and its capacity five miles per hour with a train
of from sixty to eighty tons.
James H. Hackett, who had become lessee of the Chatham
Garden Theatre, renamed it with the ambitious title of American Opera House
and opened it late in May. September 1, he abandoned the enterprise.
In June James G. Bennett, an associate editor of the late
New York Enquirer, issued a proposal for a paper to be called the
New York State Enquirer.
June 4 the magazine of the steam frigate Fulton (the
Flogobombos of Dr. Samuel L. Mitchell), in service at the Navy Yard,
Brooklyn, as receivingship, exploded and killed one lieutenant and
twentythree marines, wounding seventytwo of the crew, with six
missing. I was at the time on board of the steamboat Citizen,, then
in process of construction at the head of Water Street, witnessed the explosion,
and visited the wreck immediately afterward. The Citizen was the
second steamboat Captain Vanderbilt owned (the Bellona, built in
1816, a gift from William Gibbons, being the first), and the first that
he built. The first he commanded was the Stoughtenger (in derision
she was called "The Mouse out of the Mountain"), seventyfive
feet in length, propelled by what were termed paddles, but they were strictly
palmipedes, in order to evade the Fulton claim for sidewheels.
This attempt was a signal failure. The Bellona was fitted with like
propulsion, but it being condemned as useless, she was fitted with sidewheels,
and from this arose the litigation between William Gibbons and Gouverneur
Ogden, in which Daniel Webster was engaged, as to the exclusive right of
Fulton and his associate Livingston to steam navigation on the waters of
the Hudson, a claim which the United States Supreme Court declared to be
August 1 the fare of foot passengers over the Hoboken
ferries was reduced from 121/2 to 61/4 cents.
Henry Placide of the Park Theatre was without an equal
as a general actor of this period; always correct and often brilliant;
a universal favorite, whether as Sir Peter Teazle, Baron Pompolino,
or the schoolboy with an apron eating gingerbread, on the stage, or
as a genial gentleman off it.
September 5 James G. Bennett announced his editorial connection
with the Morning Courier and New York Enquirer, and that he would
support strict Republican (Democratic) usages and principles.
This autumn the Park Theatre occupied the field virtually
alone. The Lafayette had been burned, and the Chatham was given over to
negro burlettas and the like, before vulgar audiences. At Forrest's benefit
in December John A. Stone's "Metamora" was produced, for the
first time on any stage. Early in the next year was given, with success,
a new farce by Charles P. Clinch, entitled "The First of May in New
The firing of buildings at this time and for some weeks
previous was of so frequent occurrence that citizens were called upon to
organize a night patrol.
This was the year of the "burking" excitement,
beginning with reports that several persons had disappeared unaccountably.
The public mind was already full of the atrocious murders committed in
Edinburgh by Burke and Hare and their accomplices, who decoyed poor people
and stragglers into secluded places and there murdered them, merely to
get bodies to sell to the anatomists; thus making, as Sir Walter Scott
said, "an end of the Cantabit vacuus*
* "Cantabit vacuus coram latrone viator." JUVENAL
the last prerogative of beggary, which entitled him to
laugh at the risk of robbery." With Burke's deeds fresh in memory,
it was easy to connect horrid imaginings with the stories, either true
or false, of unexplained disappearances in New York, and thus a great excitement
and widespread terror were engendered. Women and children never ventured
forth alone after nightfall, and citizens generally were armed during their
evening walks, though only with heavy sticks. The delusion was specially
prevalent among the negroes, who almost universally kept close within doors
during the dark hours. It was a considerable time before public feeling
on this subject abated and there was any cessation of the wild tales that
had agitated the community, though having very little if any serious foundation.
Charles Henry Hall, who had been bookkeeper for Thomas H. Smith &
Son, the great India merchants in South, near Roosevelt Street, occupied
from 1823 the house and grounds on Broadway and Prince Street employed
by William Niblo as a garden and theatre in 1829, where the Metropolitan
Hotel and Theatre lately stood. Hall in this year (1829) removed to Harlem,
occupying extensive grounds near Sixth Avenue and One hundred and Twentyfifth
Street, having purchased them of John Adriance June 27, 1825.