1836. In this year the "burned district,"
as the area of the great fire of the year preceding was termed,
was improved in some of its street lines. Also Cherry, from Catherine
Street to Franklin Square; Grove Street; Stone, from William to
Broad; Maiden Lane at the corner of Nassau; John, from Broadway
to Pearl Street; and Pine, from Nassau to William Street, were
The area bounded by the Bowery, Art and Eighth streets,
and Lafayette Place was made a public place. The statue of Samuel
S. Cox is now in its centre.
Monroe Market, on Grand, Monroe, and Corlears streets,
was constructed to replace the one in Grand Street, which was
held to be too much of an obstruction to travel, and was removed.
The Screw Docks, incorrectly so termed, fronting
on South Street between Market and Pike streets, first located
in 1828 between Front and South streets, were necessarily removed
in this year in order to open South Street.
An ordinance was passed for the opening of Eleventh
Street from the Bowery (now known as Fourth Avenue) to Broadway,
but Mr. Brevoort, who owned contiguous property, delayed and resisted
its operation. In 1849 a second ordinance like to that of 1836
was passed, and it was met by Mr. Brevoort with equal and successful
In this year the building was begun of the new Custom
House (now the SubTreasury).
The Union Theological Seminary was established, next
to the University, at Washington Parade Ground.
This was a time of rapid growth for the press. For
many years a new newspaper appeared almost annually, The New York
Daily and Daily Advertiser, edited by James and Erastus
Brooks, first appeared in June of this year, from its office in
the Tontine Building. The Herald was enlarged, and its
price raised to two cents. James Gordon Bennett, editor of the
Herald, erroneously published in a list of failures the
name of John Haggerty, the leading auctioneer at the time of package
goods. Haggerty sued him and obtained a verdict, after which Bennett
frequently referred to him as John O'Haggerty, alleging that he
was of Irish descent. On January 19, James Watson Webb, of the
Courier and Enquirer, retaliated for an attack upon himself
published in the Herald, by assaulting Bennett in Wall
Street, where he knocked him down and beat him.
In January the "Bowery" Theatre produced
Miss Medina's drama founded on Theodore S. Fay's novel of "Norman
Leslie," which was elaborately furnished by the management
and had a long run. Fay and myself were classmates at Nelson's.
In evidence of the severity of the winter, on the
night of the great fire the thermometer indicated 10° minus,
and in the latter part of this month a Long Island news paper
records that two gentlemen crossed the sound on the ice, from
the Island to Rye, and returned-a distance of fifteen miles. On
the 4th of February both the North and East rivers were crossed
February, Maria Monk, a nun in a monastery in Montreal,
escaped and published her experience there, making severe charges
against practices, which, being denied by Roman Catholics and
sustained by others, involved a very severe and protracted dispute,
which was continued with so much virulence and referred to by
clergymen of all sects, that a mob gathered one evening for the
purpose of burning St. Patrick's Church in Mott Street. The purpose
having been communicated to the Catholics, they not only filled
the church with armed men, but the walls were in some places crenellated.
As a result the church was too well protected to allow a storm,
and the mob dispersed.
March 16. The rivalry between the two medical colleges,
"Barclay" and "Rutgers," led to many disputations
among the members of the faculty and students, and on this day
a personal rencontre occurred in the American Hotel, corner
of Broadway and Barclay Street, in which several of the professors
of the two colleges were participants.
March 21, at Cato's, on Boston Road and Fiftysecond
Street, two wellknown gentlemen met, and offense being taken
at the act of one of them, a knockdown occurred, followed
by a challenge to meet at Montreal; both parties forthwith proceeded
there, one of them with a friend, and the other alone, depending
upon an acquaintance there, who was absent; and as the officers
of the garrison then had agreed not to act as the friends of any
person coming there from the States, he was unable to obtain a
party to meet that of his antagonist, who, after waiting a day,
returned to the city, where the action of both parties was very
freely commented and dwelt upon by the friends of both: one party
being censured for leaving without communication with the other,
the other for leaving here without a friend; and on the 2d of
May, the one who was unable to obtain a friend in Montreal, being
accompanied by a friend here, met two of the adverse party in
Washington Hall, and a fracas occurred, in which one of
the former party was slightly wounded with a sword cane.
May 4. Whilst a very extensive fire was raging in
Houston and First streets it was communicated to the firemen that
their chief engineer, James Gulick, had been removed by the Board
of Aldermen then in session, and John Ryker, Jr., appointed in
his place. Gulick was very popular with the firemen, and his abrupt
removal elicited such a feeling of resentment that a great majority
of them turned the front of their caps behind, and arrested operation.
Such condition being communicated to the Mayor, he appeared on
the ground and succeeded in controlling the indignation of the
firemen, so that they returned to their duty, and the further
extension of the fire was stopped.
Gulick was elected Register in November of the year
by a majority in every ward in the city. The next spring his successor,
John Ryker, Jr., was removed, and Cornelius V. Anderson was appointed
in his place. It was said that ninetenths of the firemen
had resigned previous to this, and perhaps this was true of full
onequarter of them, but they returned upon Anderson's appointment.
The manner of Ryker's appointment was objected to. Anderson was
a singularly good chief, and much improved the apparatus of the
Department, which the authorities had been slow to do. In his
day, buildings were said to be "running up to the height
of four and five stories" in New York.
May 23, Webb of the New York Enquirer published
an article charging Wood, the actor, with offensive actions toward
a favorite actress, whereupon the audience on the evening of the
day of the publication hissed Wood, who advanced to the footlights
and denied that there was any just foundation for the charge;
his denial was accepted so far as to arrest any further demonstration.
On the following morning Webb, in his peculiar and persistent
manner, republished the charge. Wood challenged him, the audience
renewed their hissing in the evening, and Webb the morning after,
the 28th addressed an article to the public, calling upon it to
assemble at the theatre and drive Wood off the stage. Such a call
was sure to be responded to, in attracting great numbers to the
theatre, which it did, and as a result Mr. Simpson was compelled
to come forward and announce the withdrawal of the Woods anti
the annulment of their engagement. 1 was present the first night,
but avoided the second and last, having been present at the Anderson
riot in 1831.
May 30 The Astor House, on Broadway between Vesey
and Barclay streets, was opened in this year by Boyden of the
Tremont, Boston, and deeded by John Jacob Astor to his son William
B. for one dollar, and was the wonder of the time. The interior
of the quadrangle, now containing the bar, lunchcounters,
etc., was then a garden, affording a pleasant view from the windows
of the inner rooms. Flower beds extended along the sides, next
to the building, inclosing an expanse of turf with walks, and
a pretty fountain in the centre. The smoking room of the hotel
commanded this view from the east. These conditions remained unchanged
for many years.
It was in this year that the dicta of tradesunions
came into such conflict with the rights of individuals that the
criminal law was referred to and exercised in their behalf.
A number of Union journeymen tailors stood out-"struck"
is the word of a later day-for an increase of pay, and assaulted
some nonunion men who preferred to work at the pay they
were receiving rather than to try to increase it by refusing to
work at all. The assailants were arrested and convicted, when
a diabolical and inflammatory handbill was posted in which
freemen were called upon to go to the Park and witness the sentencing
of their fellows to servitude; but, notwithstanding this, Judge
Edwards sentenced them.
The Board of Aldermen were summarily convened, and
adopted an ordinance authorizing the Mayor to offer a reward for
the discoverer of the printer, author, or poster of the bills.
Following this the men employed in the loading and
unloading of vessels-stevedores and laborers-decided to demand
an increase of pay, which being denied, they proceeded to prevent
those from working who were willing to continue for the existing
wages. So formidable was the number of "strikers" as
they were termed, that some captains of vessels in progress of
being discharged or loaded armed their crews to defend their work.
Whereupon Jacob Hays, the High Constable, proceeded to where the
strikers had assembled and addressed them literally as follows:
" Gentlemen and Blackguards-go home or go along
with me. Taint no way this to raise wages. If your employers won't
give you your price, don't work; keep home and lay quiet-make
no riots here, I don't allow them things. Come, march home with
you; your wives and children want you-no way this to raise wages."
The stand taken by the stevedores was followed by
that of the laborers at work upon the ruins of the late fire in
the removal of bricks, etc., and so formidable was their attack
upon those who were willing to work that it became necessary to
resort to military power to control them.
During this year the uptown movement made great
advances, the dwellings below Chambers Street commanding so high
prices for purposes of constantly expanding business that the
occupants could scarce afford to retain them for domestic use.
Thereupon, uptown property increased greatly in selling
value, and rents rose enormously; in fact this was a period of
high prices for every thing, with all the marks of a speculative
Miss Harriet Martineau visited New York in April
and was well received, attracting the attention which, among us
in those simpler days, was the sure perquisite of any European
author of tolerable reputation.
Up to this time, and for many years afterward, or
until the number of social clubs had much increased, the side
rooms of our principal hotels were essentially clubrooms for many
persons. Numbers of bachelors and young men were in the habit
of resorting to each hotel, confident of making there a social,
and even a convivial party. The City Hotel and Washington Hall
had each a set of evening visitors, as well defined and almost
as exclusive as if they were members of a club. Colonel Nicholas
(Nick) Saltus, at the City Hotel, assumed and was conceded the
prerogatives of the presiding officer of a club. But on June 17
of this year was founded the Union Club, earliest of all in New
York, using the word in its modern sense. The meeting for its
organization was attended by many of the most eminent citizens.
June I of the following year the clubhouse, then at 343
Broadway, was first opened to members. In the spring of 1842,
the growing need of larger accommodations compelled the first
of the club's northward journeys, and it removed to 376 Broadway.
In the autumn of 1850 it yielded further to the uptown tendency,
and settled itself at 691 Broadway, remaining there until the
occupancy of its present house at Fifth Avenue and Twentyfirst
Street, in 1854.
February 18, the Methodist Book Concern, occupying
a fivestory building on Mulberry Street in which two hundred
persons were employed, was burned. The weather was extremely cold
and the hydrants were frozen, so that the destruction was complete.
Some of the burned books, carried by the wind from this fire,
were found in adjacent parts of Long Island, and among them, it
was said, a charred leaf of a Bible on which the only words legible
were the verse, Isaiah lxiv. II: "Our holy and our beautiful
house, where our fathers praised thee, is burned up with fire;
and all our pleasant things are laid waste." I think it was
in the spring of this year that the beautiful Mrs. Shaw first
appeared in America, at the Park Theatre. She had many charms
and was greatly popular. In 1839 she joined the "Bowery"
company which, though a successful engagement, did not tend to
increase her artistic reputation, and as her attractions declined
she lost in some degree her hold on public favor. She married
Hamblin, the "Bowery" manager, in I 849.
The Richmond Hill Theatre was opened in midJune
by Mrs. Hamblin, well supported for a time. Here appeared Caroline
Fox, at seven years, afterward Mrs. G. C. Howard, the famous Topsy.
April 11, Helen Jewett, a boarder in a house in Thomes
Street kept by Rosina Townsend, was murdered; the bedclothes
being ignited with a view to conceal the murder by the destruction
of the body. A young man, Richard P. Robinson, who was at the
time a clerk with Joseph Hoxie, was arrested, charged with the
crime, tried, and although the evidence against him was so convincing
that scarcely a doubt of his guilt was entertained, yet, in consequence
of a man at the close of the trial being found who swore to meeting
Robinson at the time that the murder was committed, the accused
was acquitted. It was charged and credited that a juror had been
bribed so as to secure a disagreement. I knew the man who swore
to the alibi, and knew him to be unworthy of credence,
not from venality or other influence, but from mental weakness.
This was a very celebrated case, and will be remembered by every
New Yorker who was at that time capable of observation and memory
of events. Ogden Hoffman, who defended Robinson, delivered an
address to the jury that for eloquence was equal to any like essay;
his delivery of "That poor boy!" by those who witnessed
it will never be forgotten.
It was currently charged soon after, and even published
later, that a person who had lately embarked in an enterprise
requiring money to advance it, became aware of the fact that a
wellknown citizen of wealth and position was in the house
at the time of the murder; and that from time to time he levied
blackmail upon him to the amount of thirty thousand dollars.
June 23, the first trip from New York to Albany by
a vessel using anthracite coal was made by the Novelty,, in
twelve hours. She bore a considerable company of gentlemen interested
in the experiment, among them the managers of the Delaware &
Hudson Company, the Collector of the Port, and Dr. Eliphalet Nott,
whose invention it was that was in course of trial and proved
September 14, Aaron Burr died. It was charged and
entertained that, prior to his challenge to Alexander Hamilton,
he daily practiced with a pistol.at his residence in the Richmond
December 9, Miss Ellen Tree made her first appearance
at the Park Theatre as Rosalind in "As You Like It,"
achieving a prodigious success, well deserved by this charming
actress. She was a greater favorite than any woman ever seen on
the Park stage, save Fanny Kemble. She remained for two years
in this country; in 1842 she married Charles Kean, and in 1845
they were both here.
Fernando Wood left the employ of Mr. Secor, then
Fras. Secor & Co., and opened a threecent liquor store
at the corner of Rector and Washington streets. The Secors, Peter
Seeley (a stevedore), and some other employers of laborers, were
in the habit of paying their men off in Wood's store, and in connection
with this it is not amiss to note that the custom of employers
on the river fronts paying their men in a grocery store was of
general practice. It was charged against Wood, and never responded
to, that when a man presented himself to receive his wages, he
was surprised at being told that there was such and such an account
charged to him for drinks. There was no appeal. It was a standing
charge of the enemies of Wood, and he had many, that on one occasion
Joseph Bunce, a man who had suffered by this onesided way
of keeping accounts, resolutely refrained from drink at Wood's
bar for the entire week. When paynight came and he presented
himself, he was given the amount of his wages less seventyfive
cents, deducted for drinks which were charged to him. There were
many other and exceptionally severe charges made against Wood,
but being ignorant as to their authenticity, I omit reference
to them here.
Thomas E. Davis purchased vacant lots in St. Mark's
Place and vicinity, essaying to make it a fashionable quarter
of the city, and at one time it appeared that he had succeeded.
He then originated and with the aid of I. L. and S. Josephs, Geo.
Griffin, and others, formed an association for the purchase and
improvement of the northeast end of Staten Island, at the junction
of the Bay and the Kills, obtained a loan of four hundred and
seventy thousand dollars from a bank, and termed the locality
New Brighton. A large hotel and houses were built, but the association
came to grief, and the property was sold out under a decree of
foreclosure, and bought in by Mr. Davis for two hundred thousand
Two notables of this period merit mention, the "gingerbread
man" and the " imekiln man," both famous in New
York. The former was an erratic of a very pronounced type, or
a mild lunatic; clerically, though shabbily dressed; who promenaded
Broadway at a rapid gait, and apparently took his entire nourishment
at a street pump, eating gingerbread and washing it down with
water from the spout of the pump. He kept his supply of the bread
in a coat pocket. The latter was another mental derelict of the
human species, evidently a foreigner, who received his sobriquet
from the circumstance of his usually sleeping in or upon a
lime kiln East Fourteenth Street, and although his raiment and
mien indicated extreme poverty, he was not known ever to have
solicited alms. One morning his dead body was discovered on a
Such was the enterprise of New York that it was observed
this year, on the anniversary of the great fire of 1835, that
the whole burned district had been rebuilt in handsomer style
Chas. H. Marshall bought of Goodhue & Co. their
interest in the Black Ball Line, and added new vessels of increased
tonnage. Soon after, the Swallow Tail Line of Thaddeus Phelps
& Co., and the Dramatic Line of E. K. Collins & Co., were
organized and entered for the Liverpool trade.
In this year the New York Society Library sold its
building in Nassau, between Cedar and Liberty streets, and removed
temporarily to Chambers Street.
The house, corner of Church and Leonard streets,
was leased to Thomas Flynn, an English comedian, who for ten years
had been engaged here as actor or manager. He opened the house
(thereafter known as the National Theatre) for a fall season,
with William Mitchell, who now first appeared in New York, afterward
to become famous, especially at his own Olympic Theatre, where
the excellence of his burlesques and travesties brought him for
a considerable time to the height of prosperity. Later, Mitchell
failed somewhat, and he retired in 1850. He died a few years after
this date, in poverty, though he had made much money. In October
"La Bayadere" was produced under Flynn's management
with Mme. Celeste, and had immense success.
Many events of interest in the theatrical world occurred
during this autumn, not least of which was Charlotte
Cushman's first appearance in New York at the "Bowery"
Theatre, as Lady Macbeth Miss Cushman had proposed to be
a public singer. She appeared first in concert, at the age of
fifteen. Happening to sing with the Woods, they suggested that
she should attempt the lyric stage, but after studyingand
essaying, her voice failed, and she abandoned the attempt.
September 26, the "Bowery" Theatre was
burned again; the fire arising, as was supposed, from burning
wadding discharged among the scenery in progress of the play,
"Lafitte, the Pirate of the Gulf," then just beginning
a promising run. It was said that Hamblin, the manager, lost sixty
thousand dollars by this fire.
Philip Hone recites that in this year he sold his
house, 235 Broadway, lot 37 x 120 feet (next to the corner of
Park Place), for sixty thousand dollars, having bought it fifteen
years before (1821) for twentyfive thousand dollars. This
is now given as an index to the variation of prices in real estate
on Broadway. The house was a threestory high stoop brick,
with slant roof and dormer windows front and rear; a perfect type
of a firstclass house of the period, internally arranged
as follows: Vault under sidewalk for fuel and cool storage; basement
floor, front room? closets and kitchen without cellar; first floor,
hall store, front and back parlors with closets and sliding doors
between, stairway thrown well back and lighted by a rear window,
doors of mahogany; second floor, essentially the counterpart of
the first, doors of white pine; third floor, front, middle, and
rear bedrooms, with one in hall; garret, two or three servants'
rooms and a storeroom. A cistern in the yard to receive rain water
from the roof, which was drawn out by a bucket and pole. Total
absence of waterclosets, bathroom, a vestibule door, and
furnaces. In 1819 a relation of mine was offered this house for
thirty thousand dollars; it was then occupied by Jotham Smith,
not Jonathan, as given by Hone.
Some time previous to this a Mr. Benjamin Brandreth
advertised very extensively his "Brandreth's Pills,"
and this was the first exhibition or demonstration of a kind of
advertising that has become general. It was so novel to the public
that he and his nostrum became notorious. "Brandreth's Pills"
became a byword. Later a man was charged with selling these pills
under a counterfeit label, and the interest involved was held
of such importance that Charles O'Conor and Majorgeneral
Sandford were employed to plead for an injunction. In support
of the alleged value of the proprietary right of these pills,
it was claimed that they were effective in fully fifty diseases.
1837, Orange (now Baxter) Street was extended from
Grand to Broome Street. Fourth Avenue was widened forty feet to
accommodate the tunnel for the Harlem Railroad, and to give air
openings to it in the middle of the avenue.
There was at this period one Chief of Police, Jacob
Hays, at a salary of five hundred dollars per annum, with twenty
officers. Ogden Hoffman, when District Attorney, related that
on occasion of an extensive robbery of money, Mr. Hays, who justly
enjoyed the reputation of keen observation and exceptional shrewdness,
while engaged in seeking the perpetrators, entered the readingroom
of the Northern Hotel; corner of Washington Street and Battery
Place, and noticed among the occupants one who was reading a newspaper,
but from the moment Hays entered, he did not remove his eyes from
one part of it; from which Hays inferred that the man knew him,
and was too much embarrassed at his presence to read. Whereupon
he arrested him, and he proved to be the person sought for.
January 2. The " Bowery " Theatre, rebuilt
upon a lease of the ground from Hamblin, was opened shortly after
this. "Sandie" Welsh, of the "Washington Lunch"
(before mentioned), appeared here for the first and last time,
it was said, on a wager, with an oration in Low Dutch (the vernacular
of Northern New Jersey), in the character of the Flying Dutchman.
The year opened with unfavorable business conditions,
money being very scarce and tight. High prices for the necessaries
of life prevailed; flour was $12 to $15 per barrel, and wheat
imported from abroad $2.25 per bushel. What the prices of meats
were I do not now recollect; but I well remember that upon inquiring
the price of a head of cabbage, I was told two and six pence (31.25
cents). A public meeting was held to devise some remedy for the
distressful cost of living, but the effect of natural laws remained
unchanged by this device. On February 10, a meeting of workmen
and laborers out of work convened in the City Hall Park, and as
it was asserted that provisiondealers were holding back
supplies for higher prices, and it was publicly known that Eli
Hart & Co., 175 Washington Street, had in their possession
large quantities of both wheat and flour, the fact was so deprecatingly
referred to by the speakers that the passions of the crowd became
aroused, and at the close of the meeting it proceeded to the store
of the Messrs. Hart, broke open the doors, which had been closed,
and threw wheat and rolled flour out of the doors and windows.
Later in the day the crowd was dispersed by the police. After
this, they proceeded to the store of S. H. Herrick & Co.,
5 Coenties Slip, where they in like manner broke in and commenced
destruction, with a view to produce abundance, but were driven
out by the police. This was known as the Flour Riot.
March 15 Daniel Webster made what might be called
a State visit to New York. Throngs greeted his arrival at the
Battery and accompanied him to his hotel. A great meeting gathered
to hear his oration at Niblo's Saloon in the evening, and Mr.
Webster held a reception the next day in the Governor's room in
the City Hall.
A famous dinner was given on March 30, at the City
Hotel, by booksellers to authors and other persons of fame.
In this year August Belmont arrived here as the agent
of the Messrs. Rothschilds and established a banking house here;
he filling the vacancy consequent upon the failure of the Messrs.
L. and S. Josephs.
Meantime the business outlook was growing more and
more dark. Failures were multiplying. On March 28, a meeting merchants
invoked the support of the United State Bank of Philadelphia.
On April 26, a similar meeting, "to devise suitable measures
of relief," was held at Masonic Hall, which appointed a committee
to visit Washington and secure action by the Government. The panic
and consequent financial distress that prevailed bore upon our
savings banks, as evidenced in the circumstance that the Greenwich
and Bowery banks were so drawn upon that they were compelled to
dispose of some of their invested securities at a loss, and in
addition to appeal to the Bank for Savings (later the Bleecker
Street) for assistance, which in its own defence it was compelled
to give, to protect itself from a run in the event of the others
closing their doors. Runs on the savings banks began; failures
increased beyond count; on May 8, the Dry Dock Bank, and on the
10th all the New York banks, suspended specie payments. At this
time these banks numbered twentythree, having twenty millions
of capital. The suspension, in which all the banks of the country
followed, was a relief from the long continued stringency and
strain of affairs. Under the new conditions, however, great shrinkage
in the value of New York real estate had occurred; sales of "speculative"
lots being made in April at scarce more than one fifth of their
cost in the preceding September.
This very general and prolonged depression in finance,
commerce, manufactures, and trade, originated as far back as 1832
in the closing of the United States Bank in Philadelphia and its
branches throughout the Union, and the transfer of the Government
deposits to State banks, while the increase and extension of our
population required additional banks as well as the filling of
the voids caused by the withdrawal of the United States Bank and
its branches. In consequence of this, a great number of small
banks with smaller capital were chartered, and even in remote
places; which, from the insufficiency of their capital and the
amount of notes they put in circulation at points distant from
their location, were termed end known as "wild cats."
Such a system of finance involved the inevitable consequence,
and in the interval from 1832 to this year the result of the system
was developed, and a general crash in trade, credit, securities,
real estate, and manufactures ensued.
June 12, Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, who had spent
some time in New York, sailed for Europe in consequence of the
(ultimately fatal) illness of his mother.
July 31, Dominick Lynch died abroad, a man much given
to the arts and refinements of life, and long a general favorite
in New York society.
Late in August the Broadway Theatre on the east side
of Broadway, near Walker Street, was opened-the building formerly
known as the Euterpean Hall, and the Apollo Saloon. The enterprise
was soon abandoned.
September 13, another new theatre was added, which
was destined ultimately to success, though at first it was unfortunate.
This was the wellremembered Olympic, at 444 Broadway, built
originally for W. R. Blake and Henry E. Willard, and first opened
under their control. This was a "drawingroom"
theatre, in the best taste; presenting light and sparkling plays
accordingly, with a company which counted the Blakes, G. Barrett,
Mrs. Maeder, etc.; yet, with every apparent element of success,
the house was "ahead of the times," and in October the
prices were reduced to fifty cents for the boxes and twentyfive
cents for the pit. Shortly after this Blake abandoned the enterprise.
September 4, Wallack opened the National Theatre
(formerly the Italian Opera House) with "The Rivals,"
in which a strong stock company appeared, Wallack playing Captain
Absolute. Henry Wallack was stage manager. It was noted in
the newspapers that, for the first time in New York history, eight
theatres were open simultaneously. The consecutive performance
of pieces at that time and for many years was rarely attained,
the population of the city and the presence of strangers not being
equal to the occasion.
James W. Wallack was again at the Park Theatre in
the years 1832 and 1834, and in this year he was manager of the
National Theatre at Church and Leonard streets, which was burned
in 1839. He appeared at the Park Theatre in 184344. In 1852
he assumed the management of Brougham's Lyceum in Broadway (the
old Wallack's Theatre) and at this house ended his career as actor.
He removed to the " new Wallack's " (now the Star Theatre)
in the autumn of 1861, and there made his last appearance before
the curtain with a speech of thanks at the close of the season
of 1862. He died on Christmas Day, 1864.
The election of this year resulted in a Whig triumph
in New York, and a great jubilee occurred on November 22. November
29, one of the greatest of political dinners was given at the
Astor House to John Bell of Tennessee, at which Daniel Webster
made a speech, beginning at two in the morning.
The first steamlaunch was designed by and constructed
under the direction of the writer in this year, at the New York
Navy Yard, and named the Sweetheart. On her trial trip
and several succeeding, she was hailed and saluted by the bells
of passing steamboats, and by cheers from people who rushed to
the ends of the piers to witness the novel sight. She attained
a speed at the rate of 8.5 miles per hour. The engine was subsequently
transferred to the first U. S. Naval School, then at Philadelphia.
November 27, meeting of delegates from banks of several
States, called to discuss the question of bank resumption, began
its sessions. It was largely attended, and on November 30 resolved
to resume on July 1, 1838, or earlier. December 2, the convention
adjourned to April, 1838; then to take further and decisive action.
The nucleus of the now immense railroad and steamboat
and steamer expresses appeared in the enterprise of William F.
Harnden, who under the suggestion, assistance, and auspices of
James W. Hale, this year commenced the personal bearing of parcels
and executing commissions between this city and Boston, and from
this modest enterprise arose the Harnden Express; to be followed
by the American, Adams, United States, etc.
It was in this year that Consul Gliddon came here
from Egypt, wearing a moustache, when the practice was first looked
upon with any favor, and then only by a few. A gentleman from
whom Mr. Gliddon procured some machinery for the Pacha of Egypt
remarked to me, "What a fine fellow he is! but what a pity
he should wear a moustache! "
E. E. Morgan & Son's Line to Liverpool, which
they had established about 1823, was increased to twelve ships,
one of which, the Philadelphia, built by Christian Bergh
in 1832, was described by the Commercial Advertiser as
having a piano on board and a physician.
It was about this period that the German families
had so increased in number that their custom of dressing a "Christmas
Tree" was observed. So novel was the exhibition that it evoked
much comment. I have a vivid remembrance of my going over to Brooklyn
of a very stormy and wet night to witness the novelty.
The New York Historical Society was this year removed
from Remsen's Building, in Broadway, to the Stuyvesant Institute.
From this time the Park Theatre began to lose its
supremacy, and never regained it. The younger public fancied new
scenes and methods, and indeed those who now remember that time
may be pardoned for thinking that Wallack had then the best stock
company ever gathered in this city.
September 11. The elder Vanderhoff appeared for the
first time under Wallack's management, and continued playing tragedy
against Forrest at the Park. Vanderhoff was counted second only
to Macready, in the dignified, grand, heroic style of acting;
he retired from the stage in 1859 and died in 1861.
Charlotte Cushman in the fall of this year was leading
lady at the Park. Miss Cushman's later history, and the wellwon
admiration and respect she ever enjoyed, need not be recounted
Mme. Caradori Allan appeared at the Park during this
season in English opera, or opera in English. Her first appearance
was as Rosina and was a great triumph.
In October the Fourth Avenue railway tunnel above
Thirtysecond Street was opened to travel. Subsequently the
line was extended down the Bowery, from Prince Street to its present
terminus at City Hall Park.
Bennett, in the Herald, in referring to Coney
Island, proclaimed it as an objectionable resort, being sandy,
clammy, and fishy, and that Bath was a much preferable resort.
He also proclaimed Gilbert Davis as the Governor of the Island,
and later was in the habit of referring to Governor Seward as
his "small potato highness," and Horace Greeley as "a
galvanized squash." With many of his readers the designation
of Seward and Greeley were held to be temerity, with others independence.
In October, 1833, James P. Allaire had constructed
in Water Street' a short distance east of Jackson Street (site
now included in the Corlears Park), by Thompson Price, a builder,
a fourstory house designed for many tenants. It was the
first house constructed proper or exclusively for tenants in this
city. It is what is now termed a "singledecker,"
that is, but one suite of rooms on a floor.
Houses then occupied by two or more families were
those of the ordinary construction.
As the vote of this State was held by the Whigs to
be essential to the success of Mr. Harrison, every opportunity
that offered to attack Mr. Van Buren, and even some that did not,
was availed of or published to discredit him and his administration
with the people, as evidenced in the following:
A representative in Congress from Pennsylvania, after
dining with the President (Van Buren), attacked him and the administration
for its extravagance as evidenced in The display of gold spoons
(silver gilt) he had seen at the President's table. So widely
spread was the charge that it proved a very damaging element in
the approaching election, and the member was universally known
as "gold spoon Ogle." The result of this was far in
excess of what those who first spread the recital and charges
anticipated, and when one reflects upon the wonderment of the
people of the extreme border States and the comparison they daily
drew between their own iron or pewter spoons and gold, coupled
with the ceaseless repetition by the political papers of charges
of uniform extravagance which they were taxed to meet, one should
not be surprised on being informed that the cry of "gold
spoons" was a controlling element in the result of the canvass.
The opposition to President Van Buren was manifested
in a like manner as it had been to President Jackson in the issue
of tokens representing the "Treasury of the United States"
being maintained on the back of a tortoise, representing the "Fiscal
Agent," and on the obverse, a jackass and the legend, "I
follow in the steps of my Illustrious Predecessor " (see
The manner of lighting dwellings of all kinds, public
halls, and theatres, previous to about 1832, was so different
and attended with so many difficulties and inconveniences, compared
with the facilities we now avail ourselves of, that it is worthy
of record. Thus: the instruments of illumination were oil lamps
and spermaceti or tallow candles. The lamps required attention
to the trimming of their wicks and to guard them from smoking,
and the candles required repeated snuffing and would occasionally
run or drip, as it was termed, frequently involving damage thereby,
as in ballrooms, dancing parties in dwellings, etc.; as such places
were illuminated by chandeliers with a great number of candles
therein, some one or more of which would drip, and fortunate were
the parties who did not receive drops of spermaceti upon their
dresses. I have a very vivid recollection of this.
In theatres, when it was required to darken the stage,
the footlights were lowered below it, and when, as in the representation
of " The Phantom Ship," the greatest practicable obscurity
of illumination was required, opaque hemispheres were lowered
over the chandeliers pendent from the sides of the upper boxes,
and then closed.
The Macomb's dam was authorized by an Act of the
Legislature in 1813 for a term of forty years, and completed in
1816 (see pp. 7879115) and although it was provided
in the act that the dam should be so constructed as to admit of
the passage of boats and vessels, yet it was not, and a suit was
instituted by a Mr. Renwick to have the obstructions to a free
passage removed, and a dam constructed to admit of the passage
of vessels with masts. His suit was successful, and the defendant
removed one abutment and the dam between three others.