1816, Continued-JACOB RADCLIFFE,
OF hotels there were at this period the City Hotel, opened in 1805 by John Lovett on the site of the present Boreel Building in Broadway; the Franklin House, corner of Broadway and Dey Street; the Park Place Hotel, corner of Broadway and Park Place; Congress Hall, Broadway near John Street;
Washington Hall, on the site of the Stewart Building; the Northern Hotel, foot of Cortlandt Street; the Bull's Head on site of the Bowery, now the Thalia Theatre; the Steamboat Hotel, Beekman Street, and Hankin's steamboat barroom at foot of Catharine Street. On the east side of Broadway, between Twentyfirst and Twentysecond streets, there was an old and wellknown hostelry, known as the Buck's Horn; which name was conspicuously painted under a representation of a buck's head and horns, elevated on a post which was set in a line with the present curb, the dwelling being set back for many feet, on ground rising fully ten feet above the present grade of Broadway (see p. 247).
This scant array of hotels in New York, at a time within
the memory of living men, may almost more sharply than any thing else reveal
to the NewYorkers of to-day the difference between the town then and
now, when it is so filled with these houses that even an expert, taking
time and pains, will scarcely succeed in numbering the hotels even of the
higher grade-many of them veritable palaces.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons, originally the King's College, built in 1767, and located in Barclay Street, near Broadway, was the only institution of the kind. The New York Hospital stood in the centre of the block included by Broadway, Church, Anthony, and Duane streets. In front a lawn extended to Broadway, and thereupon various societies, as the Fireman's, were permitted to assemble on occasion of annual parades, etc.
The Tontine Building, known as The Coffee House, at the
corner of Wall and Water streets, was then comparatively new, having been
erected in 1794 by an Association of a number of merchants and founded
for the purpose of providing an Exchange, as such assemblages are termed,
for the daily meeting and interchange of views, purchases, sales, etc.
The fund for its construction raised by life annuities; the whole to revert
to the survivor, on what is known as the Tontine plan. In this case the
plan provided for distribution of the property among seven survivors of
a company of two hundred and three persons named by the original subscribers,
one person for each share. In 1876 the division was made, the seven surviving
nominees being William Bayard, Gouverneur Kemble, Robert Benson, Jr., Daniel
Hoffman, Horatio G. Stevens, Mrs. John A. King, and Mrs. William P. Campbell.
In the strait known and termed as the East River, though it is in nowise a river, there was off
Point, in Hell Gate, a sunken rock of a peculiar form, which gave rise
to a whirlpool known as The Pot, which at half flows of the tide was of
an area and volume to render navigation in small vessels hazardous. Modern
engineering has divested this strait of its terrors. Blackwell's Island
was at this time still in private hands. More than two centuries ago it
was owned and occupied by John Manning, an exsheriff of New York,
who was in command of the city and surrendered it to the Dutch on their
attack in 1673; for which feat he was promptly cashiered by the English
when they had renewed their possession. Manning left the island to his
daughter, the wife of Robert Blackwell. The City bought it in 1828 for
fifty thousand dollars. The islands now called Ward's and Randall's were
then known as Great and Little Barn Islands, "Barn" being apparently
a corruption of Barent, an earlier name. Even "Randall's" seems
an incorrect title, since the city bought this property in 1835 (also for
fifty thousand dollars) from the executors of Jonathan Randall, who had
given twentyfour pounds for it about seventy years earlier. This island,
then held by British troops, was the scene of a sharp action in September,
1776, when the assaulting column of Americans suffered a repulse with the
loss of twentytwo killed, and failed to gain the British ammunition
and stores which were the cause of the attempted surprise. Coney Island
was known only as a favorable though remote place for seabathing,
with abundant clams in its creek.
The Postoffice at this date was at the corner of
Garden (Exchange Place) and William streets, on the first floor of a threestory
house, in a single room forty feet in length, above which resided the Postmaster,
Theodorus Bailey. The entire Southern Mail, enclosed in two bags, was transported
from Paulus Hook (Jersey City) in a rowboat. One of the basement rooms
of the City Hall, a house in Eldridge Street, and one in Christopher Street,
were occupied by the city watchmen, a small band of Arguseyed guardians
of the peace, who were mustered at 6.30 P. M. in
the winter and 9 in summer, and left for their homes soon after daylight.
For day service there were a High Constable (Jacob Hays) and but twelve
police officers; office, No. I, Basement of City Hall. The courts were
all held in the City Hall. Between the area of the park, fronting on Chambers
Street, and on the site of the present building of the Court of Sessions,
was a circular building known as
which was used for the setting and exhibition of large paintings, statuary,
etc., erected by subscription at the instance of John Vanderlyn, an artist;
the Corporation having granted the ground free for a period of ten years,
with the condition that the building was to become the property of the
city at the termination of the grant. In it, panoramic views of the Battle
of Waterloo, the Palace and Garden of Versailles, the City of Mexico, and
others were exhibited. This building was occupied as a Postoffice
after the great fire in 1835, and
subsequently by the Croton Aqueduct Department.
The salary of the Chancellor of the State and the Judges
of the Superior Courts was but two thousand dollars, and that of the Circuit
Judges twelve hundred and fifty dollars. The Court of Sessions was presided
over by the Recorder and two Aldermen; the Recorder, who sat as a member
of the Board of Aldermen, over which the Mayor presided, was Richard Riker
(famous as "Dicky" Riker). In case of fires, the watchmen in
their vicinity gave the alarm to members of the Common Council, who attended
the fire, bearing wands as insignia of their authority.
The public officers at this period, and for many years
afterward, were, as a class, and with some very notable exceptions, of
a different stamp from those of a much later and the present day. The Mayor
was elected by the Board of Aldermen; Judges, Sheriffs, Coroners, and Recorders
were appointed by the Governor of the State; primary elections were unknown,
and meetings composed of business men and taxpaying citizens, for
the nomination of State and City officers, were usually held in the 'public
hall or parlors of some of the principal hotels.
Notably, a convention for the nomination of a candidate for Alderman of the Fifth Ward, in this year, was called under the signatures of the leading citizens of the ward and the place of meeting was the Washington Hall (Broadway, between Chambers and Reade streets), which would correspond to the Windsor or Murray Hill Hotel at this time. Candidates for an elective office did not then expend in the canvass twice, or, as in some eases of a later date, ten times the amount of pay attached to the office sought for. Candidates also did not seek support by the organization of and tribute to target companies, associations, balls, pique niques, etc.; to have done so would have ensured their decided defeat. Inspectors of election were appointed by the Common Council. The alehouse at Frankfort Street near the old site of
Hall (the present Sun newspaper office), known as the "Pewter Mug,",
kept by Mrs. Lynch up to 184748, when it was leased by Thomas Dunlap,
was for many years before and after this period the resort of the leading
Democratic politicians of the time; and it was here that the claims of
their candidates were discussed and decided upon.
The fences around the Park and Battery were wooden pickets;
flagged stone street crossings were
unknown, and sidewalks were ordinarily paved with bricks. Snow remained
upon the streets until removed by a melting change of temperature, and
as there was a total absence of streetcar rails, carts and wheeled vehicles
were replaced by sleds and sleighs, even to carriage and hackbodies
being set upon runners, as is still the case in Boston, for example, when
they were termed booby hacks; the sleighing was thus maintained in good
condition, and often it continued for weeks. The front walls of houses,
and even of public buildings, were constructed wholly of brick with freestone
or trimmings, and it was not until many years afterward that even marble
trimmings were introduced, and not until some time in the thirties that
freestone was adopted for the fronts. In a very large majority of cases,
merchants, shopkeepers, lawyers, etc., resided over their stores or
offices. Venders of oysters, clams, fish, buns, yeast, hot spiced gingerbread,
tearusk, and hot corn, yelped their wares through the streets. The
"clam man," with a cart drawn by a blind, lame, or venerable
derelict from the Horse Market, regaled one with his,
"Here's clams, here's clams, here's clams today,
They lately came from Rockaway;
They're good to roast, they're good to fry,
They're good to make a clam potpie.
Here they go !"
The baker's boy, in the afternoon, took a basket with
freshbaked tea rusk, and cried, "Tea ruk, ruk, ruk, tea ruk";
and the negro woman, in the summer and fall of the year, with a simple
bandanna kerchief on her head, toted a pail, and shouted, "Hot corn,
hot corn, here's your lily white hot corn; hot corn, all hot; just come
out of the boiling pot!" And then another of a like type, also toted
and shouted, "Baked pears, baked pears, fresh baked, baked pears!"
Roller skating was not known here until 1838,
when the Ravels introduced it in their "Patineurs,"
and so novel was it that it caused much comment as to how it could be effected.
Chimneysweeps, rendered necessary by the general
use of wood or bituminous coal, saluted the early morning with "Sweep
O! Sweep O!"
The City Directory for the year contained but 19,939 names.
The water supply at this period and for many years afterward, until introduction of the Croton, was largely derived from wooden
pumps set commonly at street corners, at intervals of about four blocks. In Chatham Street, at the corner of Roosevelt, stood the celebrated Tea Water Pump, of which it was alleged by the housekeepers who drew from it, that it made better tea than any other water; it was supplied by a spring from the hill of sand leading up to the junction of Harman Street (East Broadway) and the Bowery. Near Bethune, (West Fourth Street), also was a spring of exceptionally pure water, owned by a Mr. Knapp, who distributed its product from carts at two cents per pail. Further supply was obtained from the Manhattan Company (familiar now only as the Manhattan Bank). The water furnished by this company was raised from a well in Reade, near Centre Street, by a sun and planet wheel steamengine, constructed in England, and thence was driven into a
reservoir on Chambers Street, and distributed in some streets through log
pipes. In the yards of all houses and stores cisterns were placed to receive
the rear water from the rain roofs (roofs were pitched in those times),
and from them water was drawn by a bucket and pole for laundry purposes
and by the suction hose of fireengines.
The facilities for local travel in that year will appear to readers of the present time even more restricted than were the boundaries of New York. Thus, within the city proper one had to go on foot or take a "hack". The public passenger conveyance to Harlem was by a stage leaving Harlem, at One Hundred and Twentyfifth Street and Third Avenue, early in the morning, arriving in Park Row and leaving there in the afternoon. Fare, twenty five cents. The Greenwich neighborhood was served by Asa Hall, who had a stable in Hudson Street, corner of Charles Street, and ran a stage, five round trips per day, to the southwest corner of Pine and Nassau Streets, leaving Greenwich at the even hour and returning at the odd. Fare, twentyfive cents. But seven regular ferries were in operation, employing among them but two boats that were propelled by steam, one to Brooklyn and one to Paulus Hook (JerseyCity); all others were horseboats or sailboats. The ferries were the Fulton, to Brooklyn, and the Cortlandt Street, to Jersey City, each having one double (or a twin) steamboat, and Fulton Ferry a horse-boat and two sailboats besides; the Catherine Street, also to Brooklyn, and the Grand Street, to Williamsburg, had each two horseboats; the
Staten Island the Hoboken, and the Bull's Ferry, from
foot of Vesey Street, to Bull's Ferry, New Jersey, were operated by means
of periaguas (small decked vessels with two masts and boom sails), termed
"perryaugers," and, with the exceptions of the Brooklyn
and Paulus Hook ferries, at places after the hours in the evening for the
running of the boats, these periaguas were resorted to. They have wholly
disappeared. The fare for a passage on the ferryboats to Brooklyn
was four cents; on those to Hoboken, twelve and a half cents. The boat
to Paulus Hook was unable to make the trip in presence of a severe wind
from the northwest. In winter, the floating ice from the Hudson River above
would be blown by the northwest winds against the piers on the North River
side of the city and, freezing firm, would so completely arrest the requirements
of navigation that it was quite customary for seagoing vessels in
the winter season to remove to the East River to avoid this embargo,
and the Paulus Hook, and even the Hoboken, ferryboats would frequently
be compelled to land and receive passengers at Whitehall, that is, at the
foot of Broadway.
Regarding the blockading of the river fronts and piers
at this point and for many years afterward, it is to be borne in mind that
there were less than ten steamboats in service, even in the summer, and
not five in the winter. The transportation of the harbor, in consequence
of the total absence of steam towboats, or tugs, as they are now termed,
was actual navigation. Thus, vessels sailed up to their wharves or piers,
and when leaving, if the wind was adverse, a kedge was carried out to windward
and the vessel warped out to it, from whence sail was set, and as a consequence
the floating ice was not broken up as it was at a later period, and is
at the present time, by the constant passage of steamers, steamboats, and
tugs. The blockades of ice in severe weather would extend over half the
way across the North River, furnishing skating for men and boys, while
the open water bordering it would be studded with wildfowl, some of
which-the divers-after the ice had disappeared would remain late, and come
close to the Battery walls, so that boys amused themselves with throwing
stones at them. In January of this year, in consequence of the continued
prevalence of extreme cold, and the closing of the rivers and bays, firewood
became so scarce that hickory sold at twentythree dollars per cord,
and oak at ten dollars.
Travelling to other places was a serious undertaking,
compared with the ease and comfort of modern methods. It was exclusively
by stage, excepting to points which could be reached by water in the season
when navigation was open. Stage offices existed in different parts of the
city-as the Philadelphia, Eastern, Albany, Paterson, Monmouth, Elizabethtown,
Newark, etc.-for arrival and departure, at stated hours, of stages bearing
passengers and mails. At such hours there were scenes of bustle and activity.
Hence to Boston was accomplished by a steamboat, the Fulton, from
the foot of Fulton Street, East River, leaving at 5 A.
M., reaching New Haven at 7 P.
M., whence passengers and mails were transferred to
the Connecticut, reaching New London very early in the following
morning, and thence by stage via Providence; time thirtyeight
hours. Returning, the time was lengthened, as there were two nights upon
the route, one at New London and one from New Haven to New York; time fiftytwo
hours. Boston by mailcoaches via New Haven and Hartford thirtyeight
hours,and to Philadelphia in winter the route was by steamboat and stage
six times per week, leaving New York at 7.30 A. M.
and arriving in Philadelphia at 11
A. M. the following day; and in the summer via
steamboat to New Brunswick and steamboat from Bordentown, a trip of
fifteen hours. To reach Washington, advertised as " expeditious travelling,"
in a stage seating six persons, three days' time was expended. To Albany
in the winter, two days and one night were very painfully disposed of for
a fare of eight dollars, while in the summer the Albany boat, running three
times per week, on one fortuitous occasion accomplished the distance in
191/2 hours, for which feat
the performer of this ofttold triumph, the Chancellor Livingston
enjoyed the then enviable reputation of "the skimmer of the river."
To Albany by sloop was a common method, though most uncertain in point
of time; one of my old acquaintances well remembered that in 1802
he was nine days going from New York to Albany in
a sloop. There were no less than twentysix vessels plying to Albany
at this date, and two hundred and six in regular service on the Hudson,
to the different towns on its banks.
This year a New York and
line of packets was first established-the Black Ball, Isaac Wright &
Son, Benjamin Marshall, Jeremiah and Francis Thompson; and afterward Chas.
H. Marshall & Goodhue & Co.; sailing on the 1st of each month,
and in six months after, on the 16th also; four hundred to five hundred
tons' burthen; average time up to 1825, outer
passage twentythree days, inner forty days. European travel, however,
was almost wholly confined to purposes of business, and even this was of
rare occurrence. The arrival of a vessel in this year is heralded as bringing
news "forty days later from Europe." Prior to the organization
of a line of vessels from this port to Europe, the mail service was performed
by British packets of less than two hundred tons, hence to Falmouth via
Halifax and Quebec, sailing on the first Wednesday in each month. In
the winter season the service from Halifax to Quebec was suspended.
The Eastern mail to Boston, three times weekly via
New London and three times via Hartford, Springfield, and Worcester,
left at 6 A. M., and arrived
at the same hour of the third day. The Southern mail to Philadelphia left
at 12.30 P. M., and arrived at
6 A. M. The postage of a single
letter, which was required to be on a single sheet, hence to Philadelphia,
was 121/2 cents; to Albany, Boston, and Washington, 183/4
cents, and to any place, however short the distance,
as hence to Harlem, 61/4 cents. In determining the rate it was doubled,
tripled, etc., for every additional piece of detached paper. Envelopes,
except for Government documents, were unknown. Foreign postal arrangements
were very different from those of this time. Instead of depositing letters
in the Postoffice, letterbags in general were furnished by the
agents or consigners of vessels and kept at their offices, and in these
the letters were deposited; but the bags for the European vessels were
kept in the Tontine Coffee House (Merchants'
Exchange), where subscribers to the Exchange, or members thereof, had
the privilege of depositing their letters, but non-subscribers were charged
twentyfive cents per letter. The name of a vessel arriving off the
port was known by distinguishing letters painted on her foretopsail, which
were observed from a lookout station at the Narrows, and indicated to the
observer at the Battery, in clear weather, by the operation of the ancient
The daily morning and evening papers were the New York
Gazette, established in 1725 as
a weekly and in 1809 as a daily,
at 116 Pearl Street, by Lang
& Turner, now in Hanover Square; Mercantile Advertiser, by Butler
& Heyer, in 1807, at 159
Pearl Street, and in this year at 83 Pine Street;
The Advocate, by M. M. Noah, in 1813 at 73 Pine Street; New York
Evening Post, established November 16, 1801, by William Coleman, 106
and 108 Pine Street, then by Michael Burnham, a printer at 42 Pine Street;
New York Courier, established the year previous at 87 Pearl Street;
Commercial Advertiser, first published in 1793 by Noah Webster,
and known as The Spectator, then changed as above; the weekly edition
being termed The New York Spectator, in 180506, at 69 Pine
Street, and in this year at 60 Wall Street, by William L. Stone, and later,
1820, with Francis Hall. Sunday editions of a newspaper were unknown, and
all papers were delivered by the publishers at the offices or dwellings
of the subscribers. Advertising at this period, and for fully fifty years
after, was practiced on a very different basis from that of the present
time. Merchants, packet agents, etc., then advertised by the year for forty
dollars, and they could have as many advertisements as they thought proper.
They did not occupy the space that is required by many at this time, as
they did not resort to ad captandum and " displayed', headings
and matter. Printing was executed by hand, the form, instead of being inked
by a roller as was later practiced, was inked by a boy wielding a pad and
a ball, who was known as the printer's devil. The contrast between the
newspapers of that time and of the present-not always and altogether in
favor of the modern production-is perhaps as great as any contrast of the
two periods that can be pointed out.
In the absence of sewer discharge into the slips on our
river front, the water was so clear that fish were readily taken in the
river, and porgies so plentiful that they were hawked about the streets
for one cent apiece; the average price at this time (1894) being twelve
cents per pound. Off the bridge to Castle Garden, afterward (1823) removed
and the entire space between the fort and the shore filled in, there was
excellent fishing for striped bass, weakfish, drum, etc., in their seasons.
The house of Peter G. Stuyvesant was remotely out of the town,
being east of the First Avenue and between Eighth and Ninth streets, and
that of Nicholas W. Stuyvesant was between Thirteenth and Sixteenth streets
and Avenue A and First Avenue. (See pp. 76 and 318.)
The banks of deposit and discount at this period were
the Bank of New York, 1784, No. 125 Pearl Street, 1798, No. 32 Wall, corner
William Street, its present location; Manhattan, 1800, 23 Wall Street;
Bank of America, 1812, corner of Wall and William streets; City, 1812,
38 Wall Street; America, 1814, 17 Wall Street; Merchants', 25, Mechanics,,
16, Pheonix (N. Y. Manufacturing Co.) at 24, Union at 17, and Exchange,
29 Wall Street and Branch Bank of the United States at 65 Broadway; and
fourteen Insurance Companies-Fire and Marine.
The numbers of Wall Street differed from those of the
The combined number of Roman Catholics in the States of
New York and New Jersey was estimated at thirteen thousand; this would
give not to exceed four thousand for the city of New York.