Old Wreck Brook flowed just south of Roosevelt Street (east of Baxter) from the Collect on Centre Street. The brook once entered the East River at the foot of James Street (just south of Catherine) and was also called Ould Kill and Versch water. This brook had the freshest water and was tapped at the Tea Water Pump on Park Row and Baxter. The Manhattan Company doomed the tea water pumps and any attempt to construct a more reliable supply.
Dog carts once pulled water from clean wells and pumps and took away garbage, and they were prohibited from NYC streets in 1870.
Kissing Bridge - NYC's first Kissing Bridge crossed the Old Wreck Brook (also called Tamkill Creek, Ould Kill and Versch Water) just south of the old Roosevelt Street (east of Baxter). This old bridge was used to get from Park Row to the Bowery. The brook had the freshest water and was tapped at the Tea Water Pump on Park Row and Baxter. The Kissing Bridge was an early NYC bridge crossing the high area on Park Row between Collect Pond and Beekman's swamp. It was the first NYC bridge to be called the Kissing Bridge, the second was the Stone Broadway bridge over Canal Street (also called the Stone bridge), and the third, at 77th Street and 3rd Avenue, became NYC's most famous Kissing Bridge.
The old brook that led up Roosevelt Street to the old Collect Pond still discharges in spurts into the East River during part of the day. The old NYC shoreline came up to Cherry Street, and the largest cove in lower NYC was close to NYC's first kissing bridge.
The name Old Wreck Brook could have originated with Adrian Block’s boat, the Tiger, after it caught fire at night while docked in a cove off lower Manhattan. This supposedly happened right off the Hudson River coast next to what much later became the World Trade Center site, but I believe his boat caught fire off the East River by the Collect Pond stream, its burned-out wreck of a hull remaining to suggest the name. He could have camped for the winter at the old ruins of Norumbega with access to plenty of fresh water from the Collect Pond and fish, foot-long oysters, clams, and lobsters galore.
The area around Collect Pond was so low that during spring floods, Indians could paddle across NYC from the Hudson River through the stream where Canal Street is now to the the Pond.
Tamkill Creek flowed under the kissing bridge that flowed from the Collect Pond by Park Row and Roosevelt Street.
Slumming -The theaters and taverns on the Bowery attracted many tourists to the Five Points neighborhood, and many upper-class people popularized “slumming.” Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, Davy Crockett and Charles Dickens ventured into the neighborhood to observe depravity and soak in the slang and fashions of the many gang members. Sometimes they peeked in with police escorts, other times they brought friends. Dickens liked to go to Pete Williams Place, an African American dance hall originally called Almacks Dance Hall. Here at 67 Orange Street (now named Baxter), just south of Bayard Street, Dickens observed a dance called a break-down that blended Irish jigs and reels with African shuffle. The masters of this dance, which grew into tap dancing, included William Henry Lane and Master Juba. This music hall venue led to the blues, jazz, and eventually rock and roll. Dickens wrote about this dance hall and neighborhood in his 1842 work, “American Notes.”
John Kenzie - Starting in 1765, Ranelagh Gardens was a NYC summer garden named after a famous London resort sitting on a 40-acre hill once called Kalckhook Hill. To attract British soldiers during the American Revolution, John Kenzie advertised the Ranelagh Gardens as a rival of the New York version of the Vauxhall Gardens, also named for a famous London resort. It worked; British officers used Ranelagh Gardens as their headquarters, where they entertained some of the 3,000 prostitutes sent overseas to entertain the troops.
For 20 years this pleasure resort called Ranelagh Gardens was leased by John Jones, who used Colonel Rutgers’ 1730 mansion and garden near the west side of Broadway and Thomas Street (between Duane and Worth Streets). The original Vauxhill Gardens folded because of the classier, more elegant Ranelagh Gardens, which was also more accessible. These flowery resorts served afternoon tea and other refreshments, had dancing platforms, and offered vocal and instrumental band concerts and fireworks. Tickets to enter Ranelagh Gardens cost about 2 shillings each.
Before the gardens, the area was a swampy wetland leased by Anthony Rutgers, who a year later got the title to the land and built his mansion in 1730. In addition to roadhouses and pleasure resorts such as Vauxhall Gardens and Ranelagh Gardens, this one-time aristocratic neighborhood, formerly part of Lispenard's Meadows, became overrun with taverns, also known as mead gardens.
The Ranelagh Gardens closed in 1793 to become the site of the New York Hospital.
Chambers Street Wall - In 1653, Wall Street actually had a wall that followed a fence to keep animals from the crops outside the city limits. The wall was erected to address the threat of New England attacks on the old city that was packed together south of Wall Street (they never anticipated attack from British ships).
This famous Wall Street wall was not the only wall in NYC's history; the city was actually walled twice. A few years after the military started using City Hall Park for a parade ground in the 1730s, NYC created its second wall in 1745, a year after the French declared war on the British. This palisade of 14-foot cedar logs zigzagged across NYC from the foot of Chambers at the Hudson River (still called the North River at that point) to just north of Mr. Desbrosses’ house at 57 Cherry Street by the East River. The Desbrosses house was the northern-most home in NYC limits at the time (before the Kips Bay homes). The wall went westerly from the Desbrosses house to Katy Munz's home by Catimut's Hill, and then just north of Chambers Street to the North River (Hudson). Katy Munz was known as Aunt Katy and had a tea garden between Pearl and Chatham (Park Row) Streets, just east of Gallows Hill.
Besides a barricade against the French, this second wall also protected the town from angry Indians who didn't take slaughter lightly. Thanks to blunders by governors such as Willem Kieft's February 25th, 1643, slaughter of Native Americans at Corlear's Hook and Pavonia (Jersey City), NYC was only too aware of the hostility in the air.
One of the Chambers Street wall’s six blockhouses was on the site of A.T Stewart's Marble Palace on the NE corner of Broadway and Chambers. The gate at this main blockhouse allowed entry to Broadway by City Hall from the wilderness on the other side. The six blockhouses had portholes for cannons. There were four strong gates on the Chambers Street Wall, Broadway, Greenwich Street, Pearl Street and the Post Road (Park Row, then called Chatham Street). Other blockhouses were situated at Pearl Street by Madison Street (then called Bancker), and by Chambers between Church and Chapel Streets (West Broadway). Within the wall was a four-foot high by four-foot wide platform where soldiers could shoot their muskets through perforated holes to defend the city.
Hall of Records -A Beaux Arts-styled building built between 1899 and 1907 at the NW corner of Centre Street, 31 Chambers Street was the old Hall of Records, and the structure since 1962 has been called Surrogate's Court. Construction cost $7 million and has housed the Municipal Archives since 1950. The archive’s collections of over two million pictures and photographic items date back to the early 17th century and take up 160,000 cubic feet of space. It is America’s main source for family history. Since 1984, its master records, drawings, manuscripts, negatives, certificates, books and photos have been copied onto silver-halide microfilm and taken off-site to a secure, climate-controlled facility. These second generation research tools are used for public access in the Municipal Archives Reference Room and for interlibrary loaning. These records would one day also make many great city-based apps.
The Rotunda -Built in 1816, to the west of the City Dispensary and east of the second Almshouse, the Rotunda opened in City Hall Park's NE corner in 1817. The Rotunda’s circular building housed NYC's first Art Museum, and it was often referred to as the Round House. Artist John Vanderlyn could use the Rotunda for nine or ten years rent free after it was built for his own personal showroom, but after that the building would become the property of NYC. It was paid for with the help of $6,000 contributed by 112 of his supporters. A protégé of Aaron Burr, Vanderlyn painted panoramas of Geneva, Paris, Athens, Mexico, Versailles Palace and Gardens, and even a few battle scenes for NYC's first art museum. He was the first American painter trained in Paris, where he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts. John Vanderlyn died in Kingston, NY, Sept. 23, 1852.
After the Fire of 1835, NYC used the Rotunda as a post office for 10 years. The New York Gallery of Fine Arts used it until July 24th, 1848, when they were told to vacate, and the building was turned into public offices. The Rotunda was enlarged and squared off, lasting until demolition in May 1870. By the time it was razed, the Rotunda was flush against the Tweed Courthouse to its west and an alleyway between the firehouse to its east. One of the last tenants was the Croton Aqueduct Board, which had offices in the Rotunda for 20 years.
Bixby's Hotel - Bixby's Hotel at 1 Park Place at Broadway became famous in the 1850s for the writers who would gather to discuss the topics of the day. Nathaniel Hawthorne would huddle around Daniel Bixby's stove on his infrequent visits to NYC. Bixby was a publisher who set himself up as a hotelkeeper to cater to journalists. Naval officers also frequented his hotel. On May 4th, 1852, Edward B. Crane hung himself from the bed post at a 4th story room at Bixby's. According to his suicide note, Crane a resident of Millville, Massachusetts didn't get the courage to jump overboard from his boat so he took the hotel room and his life. Crane's note claimed that it took more courage to live than to die.
William Mooney -Barden's Tavern - After owning his first inn in Jamaica, Long Island, Edward Barden, a veteran, opened a tavern on lower Broadway in Manhattan that may have the birthplace of Tammany. In late 1786, the Tammany Society (also called the Columbian Order and the Independent Order of Liberty) was founded by upholsterer William Mooney, who had been active as one of NYC's Sons of Liberty. The society most likely started at Talmage Hall because later meetings were advertised at that usual location.
At Barden's Tavern, on the corner of Broadway and Murray Street in 1770, a club of lawyers called the Moot met on the first Friday night of each month. And here on May 12th, 1789, the Secret Society of St. Tammany was founded as a political and social organization under a constitution and laws. Also the first Grand Sachem of Tammany, Mooney and some of his craftsmen companions wanted the Tammany Society to provide the common soldier a club as nice as officers’ clubs. In 1788, Barden took charge of the old City Arms on Broadway and Thames Street, so the Tammany meetings at Barden's were held not at Murray Street but further downtown on the west side of Broadway This makes sense as one of the known gathering spots of Tammany Society at that time was on the banks of the Hudson. Tammany called Barden's Tavern their wigwam, and members wore Indian costumes to the meetings until 1813. Tammany was regularly incorporated as a fraternal aid association in 1805.
Talmage Hall at 49 Cortlandt Street was believed to be the site of St. Tammany Society’s earliest known annual wigwam, May 1st, 1787, to honor the society’s saint, the legendary immortal Tammend, a Delaware chief, “great in the field and foremost in the chase.” The event was written up in the press making May 1st, St. Tammany's Day, and likely the initial function. Society that became a political machine that became the Democratic Party. It controlled NYC politics while helping millions of voting immigrants (especially the Irish). Members’ ranks in the club were named using Indian titles ranging from Braves to the highest level Sachems. At one time, only male property owners were allowed to vote in political elections until Tammany opened voting to all men. Their other progressive ideas ended debtors prisons.
The first meeting of the directors of the Manhattan Company, Aaron Burr’s water utility concern, was held at Edward Barden's Tavern on April 11th, 1799.
James Fenimore Cooper -Bread and Cheese Club - Born September 15th, 1789, in Burlington, NJ, James Fenimore Cooper became one of the most popular American novelists. Besides his famous "The Last of the Mohicans," Cooper’s novels include "Precaution," "The Pioneers," "Lionel Lincoln," "The Prairie," and “The Pilot." In 1822, Cooper created an informal social and cultural conclave called the Bread and Cheese Club (also called "The Lunch" and the "Lunch Club" by its intimates). It grew out of impromptu gatherings of Cooper's intellectual network of friends. Membership consisted of American writers, editors and artists as well as scholars, educators, art patrons, merchants, professionals, lawyers and politicians who dabbled in the arts. The chief shared aim of their forum was to enhance America's cultural independence. The club was organized around the notion of an electoral system in which prospective new members were voted in with bread, or rejected with cheese.
The Bread and Cheese Club first met in the back room of Wiley's New Street bookstore on the corner of Wall and New Streets. Before moving to New Street, Wiley opened his first print shop in 1807 at 6 Reade Street. John Wiley was the publisher who made Cooper a national celebrity when he published his second novel, “The Spy,” in 1821. The Bread and Cheese Club was first called “Cooper's Lunch," which was an outgrowth of the back room at Wiley's called "The Literary Den.”
The Bread and Cheese Club would hold most of its meetings at Washington Hall, which stood on the SE corner of Broadway and Reade Street. The members would generally meet every fortnight (14 days) on Thursday afternoons until the evenings after dinner. Food for the suppers were supplied by members on an alternating basic and usually cooked by Abigail Jones, an artist of color. Members took turns catering or hosting the meetings, assisted by daughters of members. Of the members’ total of 73 daughters, Cooper had five. He also had two sons with Susan Augusta DeLancey (1792-1852), whom he married January 1st, 1811, in Mamaroneck, NY. After living in New Rochelle, NY, the Coopers moved and built a home in Scarsdale.
Besides Cooper and his publisher John Wiley, the club’s membership of just 35 included poets William Cullen Bryant, Fitz-Greene Halleck, J.A. Hillhouse, and Robert Charles Sands; writers Washington Irving, James Kirke Paulding, J.G. Percival, Major Jack Downing, and Gulian C. Verplanck (also an editor and lawyer); painters Thomas Cole, William Dunlap, Asher Brown Duand, Henry Inman, John Wesley Jarvi, John Vanderlyn, Robert Weir, and Samuel Finley Breeze Morse (also an inventor); artist R.S.A. Durand; merchants Charles Augustus Davis, Jacob Harvey, and Philip Hone; businessman James DePeyster Ogden; judges William Alexander Duer, John Duer, and Chancellor James Kent; naturalist James Ellsworth De Kay; physician John Wakefield Francis; editor and educator Charles King; philosopher James Renwick, and author-lawyer Henry Dwight Sedgwick. Another author, Edward John Trelawny, only visited the club, and there were another two members whom history books have deleted.
In 1824, when he was living abroad, Washington Irving was made the Bread and Cheese Club’s honorary chairman in absentia. Also that year, another member, painter (and inventor) Samuel F. B. Morse entered NYC's competition to commemorate the Marquis de Lafayette's tour of the U.S. Morse's official portrait of the Marquis won the prize. The Marquis de Lafayette was greeted by Cooper's Bread and Cheese Club in 1824 before traveling with General Swift to West Point.
The Bread and Cheese Club lasted while Cooper lived in New York City until 1826, when it branched off into the Sketch Club and the Literary Club in 1827. Cooper died in 1851.
Bridewell Debtors Prison -On March 17th, 1775, the Common Council approved plans for the new city prison, the Bridewell. The main building of the Bridewell and its workhouse was finished in April 1776 and stood between the site of the first Almshouse and Broadway until 1838. With just bars in the windows and nothing to stop cold winds, the dark grey stone Bridewell building had a middle structure three stories high and wings that were only two stories. Besides vagrants, the mentally ill were also locked up in because mental illness was seen as a social problem at the time.
During the British occupation from 1776-1783, American POWs were housed in the Gaol and Bridewell, starting with Colonel Robert Magaw's captured garrison of 1,200 men from the badly planned Battle of Fort Washington (November 16th, 1776). The Battle of Fort Washington was known as the Alamo of the American Revolution. Only 59 Americans died in the British attacks from the south, east, and north. George Washington thought to abandon the fort and move the men to the safety of New Jersey, but General Nathanael Greene convinced him to defend it. Magaw walked away in a prisoner exchangd for another high ranking British officer, but most of his men died in the prison ships in Wallabout Bay. After surrendering to the British, 2,837 Americans walked downtown to their death or imprisonment for the duration of the American Revolution. On January 4th, 1777, 800 men filled up the Bridewell Prison, which led British doctors to administer some kind of poison powder to keep the prisoner numbers down.
Forgiveness of debt came to NYC thanks to Tammany Hall and reformer Joseph D. Fay, who led a crusade with the message that debtors don’t suffer from moral failure but are just victims of downward business cycles. In 1831, jail sentences for insolvency finally became forbidden in the State of New York. (In England, Parliament didn't end debtors prisons until 1869.) This law ended the 55-year-run of the Bridewell Debtors Prison and established the word “bankruptcy.” Almost two out of three immigrants who arrived in America were debtors on arrival.
When the Bridewell was demolished in 1838, some of its stones were reused to build the original Tombs Prison, under construction the same year. The first Tombs Prison held 150 men and 50 women in its poorly land-filled, sinking structure. The land the Bridewell would sit on was owned by John Lamb and the Sons of Liberty, who bought the land in 1770 to erect a Liberty Pole that was inscribed “Liberty and Property.“ After the Battle of Golden Hill, other Liberty Poles went up on this spot across from 252 Broadway.
Brom Martling's Tavern - Tammany members back in the day would dress in Indian garb for some of their ceremonial events and meetings, where they smoked the calumet, or peace pipe. The first wigwams they rented consisted of the long room at Brom Martling's Tavern, the City Tavern, and Fraunces Tavern (NE corner of Pearl and Broad). Before, their usual spots included Talmage Hall and Barden's Tavern.
From 1798 until 1812, Tammany Hall organizers (frequently called Martlingmen) met at Abraham Martling's one story tavern (SE corner of Nassau and Spruce Streets), before moving to their own building (the first Tammany Hall) on the west side of Broadway between Thames and Cedar, by City Hall. This rundown building that was known as the first real Tammany Hall was called the Pig Pen by many citizens. Tammany managed to gain power by keeping a finger on the pulse of the people in taverns. Despite attacks from moralists and crusaders, Tammany survived because its political machine protected the common man and gave him an identity. Many working class immigrants were attracted to Tammany's opposition to nativism and anti-Catholicism. Tammany was founded on the true principles of patriotism guided by motives of charity and brotherly love. Its purpose was to afford relief to the indigent and distressed, but as history has uncovered its evolving corruption, Tammanys must have been guided by the notion that charity begins at their own home.
Tammany was named after Tamanend, the leader of the Delaware Lenape Indians who lived on the banks of the Schuylkill River. Brave chief Tamanend loved freedom and was the subject of widespread folklore. Tammany Society started as an offshoot of a Pennsylvanian club that began in the 1770s. After George Washington's inauguration, the New York chapter of Tammany was started in May 1789 as a patriotic fraternity similar to the Elks or Moose Clubs. Tammany started as a social drinking club for guys devoted to the rights of people to live free in a country without radical or fanatical principles.
Byram’s Garden / Mount Vernon Garden - Before 1796, William Byram ran a public garden and pleasure resort on Kalckhook Hill (just west of Broadway and Leonard Street) known as Byram’s Garden. In 1796, the establishment became Corre's Garden, which was run by French cook Monsignor William Corre. Formerly a chef for a British officer, Corre sold mead and cakes at a stand on the Battery that was decorated with colored lamps. When Broadway was created, the garden towered high above street level and had to be reached by a long flight of steps.
On July 19th, 1800, Corre renamed his garden the Mount Vernon Garden, and a few years later he called it the Mount Vernon Gardens Theatre. As the Park Theatre was closed in the summer, the public was hungry for theatrical representation so Corre's gardens offered cheap concerts, nighttime theatre presentations, and his renowned flying horses, an early cross between a flying swing and a merry-go-round. The flying horses were similar to an eight-person ride Phineas Parker created in the summer of 1800 for Joseph Delacroix's New York City Garden. Parker called the 20 mph rides the Patent Federal Balloon or the Vertical Aerial Coachee.
In October 1800, Corre invited Richard Crosby to lecture on the science of aerostation, and after two weeks he filled a giant silk hot air balloon with inflammable air at the Mount Vernon Garden. Its launching at 4 p.m. on a Monday drew a huge crowd to the garden. Dubbed the beautiful varnished Silk Balloon and Aeronautic Carriage, the balloon rose 400 feet and headed southward until it disappeared from sight.
P.J. Hodges- Carlton House -In 1850, P.J. Hodges ran the Carlton House, a respectable hotel that stood at 350 and 352 Broadway by Leonard Street. Charles Dickens stayed there, enabling him to witness the gritty Five Points district nearby. The Carlton House was just a few hundred feet away from the entrance to the Points at Broadway and Anthony Street (now called Worth Street). On Friday night March 4th, 1842, Dickens and his guides left the Carlton House to go slumming. The Carlton House was originally the home of Stephen Price, who was a joint lessee of the Park Theater, and Thomas Cooper, the tragedian. Another Carlton House was off Frankfort Street by William Street under the Brooklyn Bridge.
City Hall Park - Unlike the Tweed Courthouse costing over $16 million, the third City Hall only cost only $500,000. City Hall was built on a hill looking over the huge harbor that made NYC what it is today. The Commons (City Hall Park) was first used as a park in 1686 by the few hundred people who lived in NYC at the time, a far cry from the 100,000 that occupied NYC by the time the third City Hall was finished in 1811.
Joseph F Mangin (French) and John McComb Jr. (Scottish) designed the third City Hall using a French Renaissance Georgian style. When this City Hall was built, the side that faced north was simply done in brownstone unlike the rest of the expensive Massachusetts marble structure. The reasoning for not using marble on the northern side was that no one of importance lived that far north. In 1831, the first illuminated public clock in NYC was added atop City Hall’s cupola where a fire tower was also built. Huge City Hall celebrations were held for Lafayette, Charles Lindbergh, the Atlantic Cable (whose 1858 fireworks caused City Hall's biggest fire), and the opening of the Erie Canal. On April 24th and April 25th in 1865, Abe Lincoln's body was put in City Hall’s colonnaded Rotunda.
Outside City Hall in 1776, George Washington and his troops listened to the reading of the Declaration of Independence in front of the citizens of NYC.
Abraham De La Montagne-Abraham De La Montagne's Tavern / Montagne Garden and Public House - Headquarters of the Liberty Boys. Located at 253 Broadway on the west side, just north of Murray Street. On January 13th, 1770, British soldiers from the 16th Regiment attempted to blow up the Liberty Pole with black powder. Failing that, they attacked Montagne's breaking its windows and wrecking furniture. A few nights later, on the 17th, the British succeeded in sawing down the Liberty Pole, and it was found in pieces outside the front door of Montagne's. After the Revolutionary War, Montagne changed the tavern’s name to the United States Garden. By 1772, NYC had 22,000 citizens, doubling in size since 1742. There was a tavern for every 55 citizens. Montagne's Inn was taken over by the famous purveyor of ice cream, John H. Contoit, who ran it from 1802-1805. Contoit renamed Montagne's the New York Garden. Augustus Parise then took over the famous site, and after that a new building called the Parthenon was built there.
By the first anniversary of the Battle of Golden Hill on March 19th 1771, the British celebrated at Montagne's Tavern. Abe Montagne must have switched loyalties from all the business from the British soldiers living at the expanded upper barracks across Broadway.
Before all that, Peter Stuyvesant wrote "for want of a proper place, no school has been open for three months, and the youth were running wild," in a bid to inquire about funds for a Latin school. Stuyvesant got his way On April 4th, 1652, when the Directors in Holland agreed to pay Dr. Johannes (Jan) Momie de la Montagne, 200 to 250 guilders a year to start an elementary Latin school at the City Tavern (which became the Stad Huys).
Dugdale and Searle's Rope Walk -In 1719, Dugdale and Searle's long rope-walk stretched along Broadway from Ann Street up to Chambers Street. Thanks to permission from the Trinity Church Corporation, the rope walk lasted for about 20 years at that location in front of City Hall Park. At one point on Broadway, the rope walk ran about 40 feet from an associated small building in City Hall Park across from Murray Street from 1728-1775. This rope walk building I call “hemp headquarters” was removed to make room for the Bridewell in 1775.
First NYC Sidewalks - The first NYC sidewalk was three blocks long on the west side of Broadway between Vesey and Murray Streets. Set in 1787, the narrow sidewalk could fit only two at a time. The first sidewalk on the east side of Broadway was also added in 1787 along the Bridewell fence in City Hall Park.
D.D. Howard - Irving House Hotel -In 1850, the Irving House was a fashionable hotel run by D.D. Howard. It was located at 281 Broadway at the NW corner of Chambers Street, where Nedick's once had a hot dog. After 1856, Delmonicos moved from their first location at 19 Broadway into the ground floor of the Irving House Hotel.
The Irving House Hotel was replaced by the Broadway-Chambers Building (277 Broadway), which was the first NYC project of Cass Gilbert (Woolworth Tower). A Renaissance revival building made of brick ornamented with brightly glazed terra-cotta, the Broadway-Chambers Building was finished in 1900. Its facade is done in a traditional three-part classical composition (tripartite skyscraper construction).
Before it became the Irving House Hotel, John C. Colt, brother of the inventor of the revolver, Samuel Colt, had a second floor office in this building. On September 17th, 1941, John Colt killed a printer named Samuel Adams with a hatchet. Adams had come over from his place at Ann and Gold Streets to Colt's office to collect a $50 debt. Colt packed Adams’ body in a crate, which was taken to the Maiden Lane dock and stashed aboard a ship called Kalamazoo, heading for New Orleans (or South America). Colt was to be hanged at the Tombs Prison at 4 p.m. on November 18th, 1941, but on that morning he got married to his mistress, Caroline Henshaw. A diversionary fire was started in the wooden cupola on the Tombs’ roof, and a burnt body was found in Colt's cell with a knife in its heart. The power of his brother’s wealth and community standing may have made John Colt the first person to escape the Tombs. Rumor had it that John and Caroline Colt made it to France and hid out there the rest of their lives.
Jan de Wit and Denys Hartogveldt's Windmill - Jan de Wit and Denys Hartogveldt built a windmill to grind wheat just south of where City Hall currently stands. The first structure in the Commons, the windmill was followed in 1728 by a small structure built to accompany the rope walk that ran down Broadway from Park Row to Chambers Street. Also on the current City Hall site, NYC's first Almshouse was built by the Common Council in 1734-1736. This first almshouse was frequented by vagabonds, rogues, disorderly persons, parents of bastard children, trespassers, runaway servants and beggars. Just beyond the workhouse fence, it had a cemetery to its east that was uncovered in 1999.
Liberty Tree / Liberty Pole -The first Liberty Pole was put up in Boston on Orange Street by Hanover Square on August 14th, 1765, at which time it was actually a Liberty Tree. Deacon Jacob Elliott's large elm tree was used to hang in effigy Andrew Oliver, a merchant who agreed to collect the stamp tax. Placed next to the tree was a green-soled boot (green being the color of liberty since Robin Hood), which represented the Earl of Bute (who started the idea of the tax). This Boston elm was the first Tree of Liberty, where Quakers were hanged and Tories tarred and feathered. On a flagpole next to it, a red flag was hung to secretly signal a meeting of the Liberty Boys. The name Liberty Boys was coined by a British Lieutenant Colonel Barre to refer to the demonstrators against the Colonial Stamp Act. Sir Isaac started as an Irish soldier and became a Member of Parliament. Barre, VT, and Wilkes Barre, PA, were named after him.
In NYC, when the Stamp Act was repealed on March 18th, 1766, Whigs hatched a plan to erect a Liberty Tree in the Commons (City Hall Park) between Warren and Chambers Streets. This first NYC Liberty Tree was a white pine post, and it was also called the Tree of Liberty. Disturbed as they were by the green symbol of Liberty, the British really got ticked off when the Liberty Tree was cut from white pine, prohibited in general and reserved exclusively for the English Navy’s ship masts.
The first Liberty Tree was put up in City Hall Park on May 21st, 1766, shortly before a banquet on June 6th, 1766, to celebrate the anniversary of the King of England's birth. This tree/pole/mast/flagpole was decorated in the King’s colors. The British wanted to create statues of the King and William Pitt for the anniversary, but the Liberty Boys (by then a group of merchants, seamen, artisans, mechanics and self-made men) objected. British soldiers tore down the first NYC Liberty Tree on August 10th, 1766, causing thousands of patriotic Americans to gather in protest.
After the Liberty Tree, the NYC Liberty Boys erected a Liberty Pole on August 12th (or 14th), 1766, which was torn down September 23rd, 1766. Within a day or two, another Liberty Pole was erected, but this, like all other Liberty Poles, was cut down by the British. Another time was on the night of March 18th, 1767, after being angered by an anniversary celebration of the repeal of the Stamp Act.
On March 19, 1767, less than a year after the first Liberty Tree, 2,000 New Yorkers erected the fourth Liberty Pole, and this one was armored. Heavy iron plates protected the base that was set so deep in the ground the soldiers couldn't topple it. The 1767 Liberty Pole was in response to the Townshend Duty Act (which taxed paint, paper, glass, lead, and tea imports). The Quartering Act made the Whigs wig out, and they began to assault British soldiers as they came out of their barracks. These assaults made the winter of 1769-1770 a very nervous time for the British soldiers.
On January 13th, 1770, the British tried to use black powder to blow up Liberty Pole #4. When this attempt failed, the British attacked Montagnie's Tavern, often used as the Liberty Boys’ Clubhouse as well as Burn's ]]could that name be Burns? If yes, then it’s Burns’ Tavern, wrecking the building and its furniture. British soldiers came back January 17th and sawed down the armored Liberty Pole and left the pieces stacked neatly outside Abraham Montagnie's Tavern at 252 Broadway.
Responding to a Sons of Liberty broadside calling for a meeting on the Commons, 3,000 patriots rallied on January 18th and 19th, 1770. A handbill titled "To the Betrayed Inhabitants of the City and Colony of New York" was written and printed by Alexander McDougall (the leader of the NYC Liberty Boys). The patriots were armed with clubs, brickbats and sharpened sleigh rungs, while the British soldiers had bayonets and cutlasses. For two days NYC was an urban battleground until the military and town fathers restored order.
The whole incident seemed to snowball on January 19th when British handbills titled "God and a Soldier" were put up. Sea captain and privateer Isaac Sears and other Sons of Liberty members tried to stop these postings, and a group of patriots started forming. When they kept a few British troops captive, other British soldiers came to their rescue. The mob of patriots retreated to a nearby wheat field on Golden Hill (between Cliff, John and William Streets). After proclaiming "Where are your Sons of Liberty now," about 40 soldiers from the 28th Regiment charged the mostly Whig crowd with fixed bayonets. Although no deaths resulted from this first significant encounter of the Revolutionary War to come, the injuries made first blood flow and this battle -- the Battle of Golden Hill or Gouden Bergh (Dutch) -- noteworthy.
After the Battle of Golden Hill, privateer Isaac Sears, wine importer John Lamb, African American Joseph Allicocke, and Sea Captain and Liberty Boy leader Alexander McDougall asked the Mayor and the Common Council to erect another Liberty Pole (#5). When they refused, Sears, Lamb, McDougall, and some of the other Liberty Boys bought a plot of land across from 252 Broadway (where the Bridewell would stand), very close to the British Barracks in City Hall Park. This privately owned plot in City Hall Park (then called the Commons) was 11 feet wide and 100 feet deep and was purchased on February 3rd, 1770. Amazingly, this plot was situated near the site of the former Liberty Poles.
On this narrow plot of land on February 6th, 1770, a giant 90-foot pole was erected by the Liberty Boys, 12 feet deep into the City Hall Park ground. This Liberty Pole was the biggest structure in NYC, and it stood for six years, eight months and 22 days. Six horses were needed to pull the 68-foot long lower end (a former ship's mainmast), thousands of armed patriots carried the 22-foot topmast into place. A gilded vane with the word "Liberty" (and maybe "Property" on its other side) was put on top of Liberty Pole #5, and a large flag that said "Liberty" was raised. Inscribed on the pole was "Liberty and Property." Wooden caps, Liberty vanes or Liberty flags were placed on top of most Liberty Poles.
By the first anniversary of Golden Hill on March 19th, 1771, the British held their celebration at Montagnie Tavern (Montagnie must have switched loyalties because of all the British business from the big upper barracks across Broadway). The Liberty Boys bought a building in the Spring Garden on the east side of Broadway at Ann Street (where P.T. Barnum would build his first museum). This new Liberty Boy clubhouse was named Hampden Hall to honor a great English patriot. Somebody tried to topple the pole on March 29th, 1771, but the alarm rallied enough patriots to save Hampden Hall from possible burning and the fifth Liberty Pole survived.
During the March 18th, 1775, celebration of the Stamp Act repeal, patriots gathered at the Liberty Pole were assaulted by a Sergeant William Cunningham (Provost-Marshall during the British takeover of NYC), but this attack failed and Cunningham was punished with a humiliating public whipping. Some of the 11,000 patriots who died under Cunningham's vengeful hands (starving and rotting in converted jails and prison ships in Wallabout Bay) remembered his failed Liberty Pole attack and related this to his harsh actions against them.
Even though the 5th Liberty pole was extra-reinforced with nail-studded iron bars and bound with metal hoops, the British reportedly took it down on October 28th, 1776, under order of Governor Tryon. And it couldn’t have been the first thing that came down when the British first took over NYC after the Battle of Long Island on September 6th, 1776
On Flag Day June 14th, 1921, NYC threw a ticker-tape celebration and put up a new Liberty Pole on the site of the last Liberty Pole of 1776. The exact site was just west of what would later be the Mayor's room in City Hall, in the middle of City Hall’s west side, and Broadway, according to a survey J. Bankers on June 22nd, 1774. Created in two sections just as the last original pole (#5) was, Liberty Pole #6 measured 66 feet tall. A 40-foot lower portion was created from an Oregon Douglas fir tree, a gift from the Lumberman's Association in Portland. The top was made from a Maine pine tree. An exact replica of the old Liberty weather vane was added to the top, and iron bands surround the protected base.
The 1921 Liberty Pole was a joint gift from the Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York and the New York Historical Society. In 1940, a replacement pole was erected (#7), but around 12 years later August 29th, 1952, they had to saw it down because of extensive decay. This revolutionary symbol of collective action should always stand in City Hall Park as a reminder of the strength of people power. Standing in City Hall Park today: Liberty Pole #8.
Soldier's Upper Barracks - In 1757, the Upper Barracks (the Lower Barracks were downtown at the Battery) were built at the north end of City Hall Park, near the site of the Tweed Courthouse, by the Chambers Street palisades. The two-story, 420-by-21-ft. barracks building contained twenty 21-sq.-ft. rooms on each floor. During the American Revolution, two more long buildings were constructed for soldiers. In 1784, after the British left NYC, all the barracks were leased for residences and then sold off in 1790.
City Hall Park -City Hall Park is a nine-acre park that once was a free pasture anyone in town could use. It had public bonfires and celebrations five times a year. When it was a livestock grazing area, it was variously called the Flat, the Fields, the Green, the Square, and between 1653 and 1699. it was called the Commons. Hundreds of years before the white man came, an Indian village called Werpoes (werpoe means “hare”) sat just north of City Hall Park. Before the hills of NYC were leveled, City Hall Park was on one of the highest grounds in lower NYC so it had views of the Hudson and East Rivers. The government’s first executions in the Commons took place in May 1691 when Jacob Leisler and his son-in-law Jacob Milborne were hung or beheaded for alleged treason. Leisler led NYC's militia and seized control of Fort James on May 31st, 1689, in the name of William of Orange. Nicholas Bayard got a drunken Governor Henry Slaughter to sign the papers convicting them to death. Before he was executed in the Commons, Jacob Leisler forgave his enemies.
On the site of the current City Hall, NYC's first almshouse was built by the Common Council between 1734 and 1736. The almshouse, which became Bellevue, was a six-bed infirmary used by vagabonds, rogues, disorderly persons, parents of bastard children, trespassers, runaway servants and beggars. The Almshouse, also called the Public Work House and Home of Correction, had a cemetery to its east just beyond the workhouse fence; the cemetery was uncovered in 1999. Also in the 1730s, City Hall Park was used as a military parade ground.
In 1764, the Stamp Act led to the airing of public grievances on the Commons. On November 1st, 1765, the Sons of Liberty’s first activist event took place, and Lt. Governor Cadwallader Colden's carriages and the home of Major Thomas James (Fort George's Commander) were destroyed in rioting that lasted on and off through May 1766 when the patriotic mob destroyed a fancy new theater.
On January 4th, 1770, the Liberty Boys put up their first Liberty Pole opposite the British barracks in the northern area of City Hall Park. All told, seven Liberty Poles (and one Liberty Tree) have been erected by patriots and destroyed by British on the grounds of City Hall Park; the eighth Liberty Pole still stands there.
On July 9, 1776, at 6 p.m., the newly ratified Declaration of Independence was read in City Hall Park to a public that included George Washington and his troops. After hearing the Declaration, the inspired crowd marched on Bowling Green and toppled the 4,000-pound, gold-plated statue of King George III.
Many souls were freed at City Hall Park when it became the place for executions. The British hanged 250 American soldiers in the park, whose northwestern strip was also part of the African American cemetery. The northeast corner of City Hall Park supposedly still has 15 mostly intact skeletons, most likely dead folks from the old almshouse or jail, buried under a flower bed.
Nathan Hale, America's first spy, was a 21-year-old graduate of Yale who was captured September 21st, 1776, and executed the next day, after his famous last words, "I only regret I only have one life to give my country." He may have been hanged at the north end of City Hall Park by Chambers Street where Jacob Leisler was executed. In 1893 at City Hall, Nathan Hale was immortalized with his first statue; CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, also has a statue of Hale. Frederick MacMonnies sculpted the City Hall statue, giving Hale’s face the knowing look of impending execution.
In 1803, Mayor Edward Livingston laid the cornerstone of NYC's third City Hall, designed by architects Joseph-Francois Mangin (also responsible for the Old St Patrick's Cathedral, still standing) and John McComb Jr. McComb was influenced by the Adams Brothers, who built the 1774 Edinburgh Register Office. The City Hall stairway also pays homage to the Adams Brothers’ staircase at the Glasgow Assembly Rooms. The front and both sides of City Hall were built of white Stockbridge marble, but cheaper brownstone covered the rear section. At the time of its construction, City Hall was so far north of town that its back wouldn't have been really seen by anyone important. The third City Hall was 215 feet long by 105 feet deep and cost just over $500,000. NYC officials began using it on July 4th, 1810, and it was finally finished in 1812.
Fire watch in the City Hall cupola started around 1830. A fireworks display celebrating the laying of the Atlantic Cable destroyed the cupola in August 1856. The 1878 statue called Justice is the third statue situated on the cupola; the first two were made of wood and rotted away.
Tiffany & Young - Tiffany & Young opened on Broadway September 18th, 1837, 10 years after Charles Tiffany ran a country store for his father. The store was in a wood and brick building on the west side of Broadway across from City Hall Park, and its first week’s profits totaled 33 cents. Launched with $1,000 borrowed from Charles Lewis, Tiffany's father, the store first sold stationery and various decorative arts and fancy goods. Unlike other stores in that era that relied on haggling, all the items at Tiffany & Young had clearly marked prices, and Tiffany and his partner John F. Young also had a strictly cash policy; no credit and no bartering. Luckily on January 1st, 1839, the owners took all the cash home with them for the holidays because someone broke into the store and carted away $4,000 of merchandise.
In 1839, the popularity of tasteless baubles spurred the store owners to add crudely made cheap costume jewelry for the first and only time. In 1841, J.L. Ellis became a partner and the Broadway store became Tiffany, Young and Ellis. Four years later, costume jewelry was dropped and real gold jewelry was added because of its escalating popularity. By 1847 silverware and Swiss jeweled watches were also sold. Like his neighbor, P.T Barnum, Tiffany was a publicity genius. He crafted a tiny silver horse and carriage for the wedding of Barnum's little people, General Tom Thumb and Lavinia. In 1853, Charles Lewis Tiffany bought out his partners and renamed the store Tiffany & Company.
In 1870, Tiffany opened the largest jewelry store in the world in a new iron store on Union Square. Much like a museum with all its exhibits for sale, Tiffany’s featured the $18,000 Tiffany Diamond, which was found in 1877 in the new Kimberly mines in South Africa. Now worth over $2 million, the diamond remains the largest flawless canary diamond ever mined. By 1887, Tiffany was called the King of Diamonds when he displayed the French crown jewels. In 1940, Tiffany moved to 727 Fifth Avenue by 57th Street, and 21 years later Audrey Hepburn was immortalized on film as the store’s famously obsessed fan. Charles Lewis Tiffany died in 1902 at the age of 90.
Conrad Vanderbeck - White Conduit House -In the 1700s, Conrad Vanderbeck owned one of NYC's earliest public gardens, and it was located on what would become the NW corner of Broadway and Duane Street. Just south of this old garden was the White Conduit House, built just before or during the American Revolution before Broadway was cut through the area. The White Conduit House tavern had one of NYC's oldest suburban pleasure gardens. The tavern was built on the west side of Broadway (then called Great George Street) between Leonard and Anthony (now Worth) Streets on top of the old Kalckhook Hill. Often used as a meeting house, the White Conduit House was located at the site of today’s 353-357 Broadway until 1800.
Chambers Street Savings Bank - In 1859, the Chambers Street Savings Bank moved across the street to 41 Chambers, where they installed Gayler's great iron chest, then the biggest safe (10 ft. high, 21 ft. wide) in the U.S. In 1843, the Chambers Street Savings Bank was located at another part of Chambers Street, on the old Unitarian Church site, and moved to 67 Bleecker Street in 1856.
Hudson Terminal - Hudson Terminal, the southernmost station on the IND 8th Avenue line, was located at Church Street between Chambers and Vesey Streets. It was situated at the northern edge of the World Trade Center site, under 5 World Trade Center. Under Fulton Street, the IND train would make its turn to continue to Brooklyn.
IND stood for the Independent Subway System, formerly Independent City Owned Rapid Transit Railroad (“ICOS”). The line was always owned and operated by the municipal government unlike the privately operated and jointly funded IRT and BMT. In 1940, the IND merged with the BMT (Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation) and IRT (Interborough Rapid Transit Company). The IND Eighth Avenue line opened September 10th, 1932, running from 207th Street to Chambers Street. In February 1933, the IND expanded to Jay Street with the opening of the Cranberry Street Tunnel.
The IND mass transit train lines were the A through G lines. The BMT R train now runs on IND tracks. The V train also runs on the IND F line, and the Rockaway Park Shuttle runs on the A train line.
Lorenzo Da Ponte - Italian Opera House / National Theatre - The National Theatre on the NW corner of Leonard and Church was the home of the Italian Opera House, the first opera house in America. Lorenzo Da Ponte helped open the opera house in 1833. A fire in September 1839 destroyed the National Theatre as well as the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, which was across Leonard Street at the SW corner of Church Street.
Tom Riley's Liberty Pole -Tom Riley's Liberty Pole stood in front of Tom Riley's Hotel at the SW corner of Franklin Street and West Broadway. The 137-ft. pole was erected on Washington’s birthday in 1834 and taken down 24 years later on June 4th, 1858, after decay made it unsafe. The year after it was put up, the Liberty Pole was struck by lightening and had to be replaced by the Democrats.
Many tavern-keepers during the Revolutionary era went out to find pine trees to fashion into Liberty Poles for the front of their establishments. Displaying these signs of liberty was good for business, especially from the local firemen. The taverns and beer gardens near firehouses were sure to have Liberty Poles. Riley's Liberty Pole garnered more notoriety because of the fire department than any other hotel or tavern’s Liberty Pole. Another reason for the attention stemmed from the competitions among the rival engine companies, and the public came to root for different “teams” in these days before organized sports.
Volunteer firemen would compete in a sport called water throwing where, using their pressurized hoses, they would try to throw up a stream of water higher than any other fire squad to decide whose engine had the strongest pumping power. When a fire company would get a new engine, they would come to Tom Riley's Hotel to test its pumping power against the height of the famous Liberty Pole. Jealous of each others’ equipment, the volunteer firemen put their reputation on the line at every friendly competition as well the real emergencies.
Tom Riley's Hotel raised its Liberty Pole the year Boss Tweed became foreman of the Big Six, the nickname of Engine Company #6 that Tweed had long run with. One water throwing tournament on a Saturday at Tom Riley's Tavern was held to see what engine company could send a stream of water over the top of the new pole. Riley would not adorn the Liberty Pole with its usual Phrygian cap until a fireman's stream of water was thrown over the top. No fire company was up to the task, but the Big Six came the closest, just 3 feet short. In 1865, the era of the volunteer fireman came to an end when the Metropolitan Fire District replaced them with paid uniformed firemen.
Unitarian Church -What is now the All Souls Church was first called the Unitarian Universalist Society, founded on April 25th, 1819, in the drawing room of a Mrs. Russel during a service conducted by Dr. Channing from Boston. The Unitarians’ first church was called the First Congregational Church in the City of New York. The cornerstone was set on April 29th, 1820, on Chambers Street between Broadway and Church Street, and when finished, the small white marble church could hold 500 to 600 people. The Rev. William Ware was named pastor on December 18th, 1821.
After outgrowing the crowded old church, the second Unitarian Church was built in 1825 on the corner of Prince and Mercer Streets. It was destroyed by fire in November 1837. In 1839, the Rev. Henry W. Bellows succeeded Rev. Ware (on January 4th), and the congregation dedicated the New Church of the Messiah on Broadway across from Waverly Place. In 1845, Rev. Bellows and the congregation moved to a new church on Broadway between Spring and Prince Streets with a new name, the Church of Divine Unity. During construction of the new church, the congregation met at the Apollo Saloon on the east side of Broadway between Walker and Canal Streets (where the Broadway Theatre would be built). When it became All Souls Church, Herman Melville and Peter Cooper were among its members.
Jacob Finck - Bear Market -Why did butcher Jacob Finck display a bear in his store window in 1771? Well, Finck and his pals killed it after it swam the Hudson from New Jersey. He cut up the bear, and his customers declared it good meat to eat at a time when usually only Indians, hunters and slaves would partake of it. New Yorkers developed a taste for bear meat, and this downtown market would sell any that was brought into the city. Thus, the market became known as Bear Market.
Located on the west side of Greenwich Street between Fulton and Vesey Streets, the market used land donated by Trinity Church (by the former World Trade Center site). It was in business before the Washington Market took over the location around Vesey and Washington Streets.
After the American Revolution, early NYC handbooks joked that Bear Market should be called Bare Market because of its lack of business, few supplies, and the general desolation of this western neighborhood. But traffic increased dramatically after the Erie Canal opened in 1825. The markets off the Hudson expanded up to the meat-packing district, which still retains the old market look. Hundreds of vendors sold hay, wild game (bear included), livestock, fruits, vegetables, and other specialty foods. A million people a day ate meals prepared from the supplies NYC's hotel and restaurants obtained at this expanded market.
Canvas Town / Topsail Town / Fire of 1776 - West Side from the Battery to Barclay Street -During the Revolutionary War, Bear Market was deserted with no business but for some hay sales, so the British cavalry used it as barracks for low-ranking soldiers, who were seen as the troops’ vilest dregs. The Fire of September 21st, 1776, burnt a quarter of the entire area of NYC over two days, creating a whole district west of Broad Street with a neighborhood rising nearly overnight from the smoldering ashes. First called Canvas Town and then dubbed Topsail Town by the resident vagrants and prostitutes, the settlement began with tent huts and shanties created from ships, old canvases securing the remaining parts of burnt walls and old chimneys. Mainly, the British Army and Tory refugees used Canvas Town as the countryside was full of patriots so the British sympathizing Torys fled into the city. Not until 1784 when the British left town, did NYC's grand jury start to battle the problem of the ragtag settlement.
The Fire of 1776 was mostly likely set by unknown early American patriots. George Washington said, “Providence, or some good honest fellow, has done more for us than we were disposed to do for ourselves.” The fire of 1776 made the British occupation rather uncomfortable.
On Whitehall Street, five days into the seizure of NYC by the British, three resin-soaked logs were set on fire in three buildings. This act of arson at a sailor's brothel, an inn, and the Fighting Cocks Tavern proceeded to destroy almost 500 buildings, including the Trinity and the Old Lutheran Church. Parishioners threw water on the blazes and saved St. Paul's Church but the fire spread further northwest and ended at Barclay Street just before the open land of Kings College.
Most if not all of the town firemen became soldiers who followed Washington into Harlem Heights so unfortunately for the British Navy, they had to act as firemen. Too bad the American Revolution interrupted the municipally owned reservoir started in 1774 according to Christopher Colles’ plans. They might have been able to use the water from the project on White Street that would have spanned water from Collect Pond down the east side of Broadway using hollow pine logs. Some town cisterns were emptied, and many fire buckets' handles were cut, probably a deliberate act on the side of the patriots. And no one heard warnings of the 1776 fire were because all the bells were melted for ammo.
Gerardus Comfort -Gerardus Comfort was a cooper, a carpenter specializing in wooden casks or tubs , and Comfort's dock was by Hughson's Tavern on the Hudson. Comfort's Tea Water came from a spring off Greenwich between Thames and Cedar Streets. Comfort's water was considered far superior to any local public well at the time.
Delacroix -2nd Vauxhall Garden -In 1765, the first Vauxhall Garden in NYC sat on a hill overlooking the Hudson River at Greenwich Street between Chambers and Warren Streets. That year, this former aristocratic neighborhood, at one time a part of Lispenard's Meadows, was invaded by taverns, also known as mead gardens, roadhouses and pleasure resorts. Vauxhall Gardens and Ranelagh Gardens were two of them.
In this garden on June 11th, 1785, the first Catholic church in NYC was incorporated. When they couldn’t get the old Exchange Building at the lower end of Broad Street, the church founders obtained a site at Barclay and Church Streets, and this original St. Peter's Church conducted its first Mass on November 4th, 1786. This, the first Catholic church in NYC, was a simple brick building measuring 48-by-81 ft. In 1806, an anti-immigrant mob attacked St. Peter's on Christmas Eve. This first Nativist American attack on the Irish Catholics was followed by the burning of St. Mary's Church in 1831 and an attack on St. Patrick's original Church (north of Prince Street) in 1835. By the following year, the small decaying church was razed and the current St. Peter's was built at double the size.
Taken over by a Frenchman named Delacroix, the second Vauxhall Garden opened in 1798 between Grand and Broome Streets and Mulberry and Lafayette Streets on the former site of Bayards Mound (Centre, Broome, Mott and Grand Streets). Vauxhall Gardens featured flying horses (a precursor to the carousel and the merry-go-round), mead booths, concerts and fireworks at night.
NYC's third version of Vauxhall Gardens, built in 1804-1805, used the Sperry's Gardens site, across from the La Grange Terrace (Colonnade Row). This garden stretched north to Astor Place on the east side of Lafayette Street. Broadway and Bowery, from 4th Street to Astor Place, was actually given the name Vauxhall because of the Gardens there. Delacroix leased the land for the third garden from John Jacob Astor, who bought Sperry's Gardens in 1804. He bought it from Swiss physician Jacob Sperry, who had created NYC’s first botanical garden at Lafayette and Astor Place.
John Jacob Astor bought his first tract of NYC land in 1789. In 1805, Astor and partner John Beekman bought the Park Theatre. In 1828, Astor paid $101,000 for the City Hotel, and then he built the Astor Hotel in 1836. Astor died in 1848, the richest man in America who made $20 million from furs, opium, shipping as well as real estate.
Greenwich Street got the first elevated train track in 1868, thus launching America’s rapid transit system. Running on tracks constructed 30 feet over the street, noisy trains powered by steam engines would shake buildings and spew oil, cinders and ashes. Soon, elevated tracks cast more shadows over Third, Sixth and finally Second Avenues. The last el in Manhattan, the Third Avenue line, was demolished in 1955.
Washington Market - Washington Market at the foot of Fulton Street, the most famous market in NYC's history, opened in an indoor facility with a city-built facade on December 16th, 1832, by the old site of the Bear Market. The original Washington Market was an open-air bazaar full of fish and country market goods, which opened in 1813 between Washington and West Streets on one side and Vesey and Fulton Streets on the other. It was first called the Country Market, then the Fish Market, and the Exterior Market. The market also had a bell tower for fire warnings on the high ground at Vesey and Washington Streets.
The indoor Washington Market had over 800 vendors for wild game, livestock, fruits, vegetables, hay and specialty foods. A million people a day in NYC ate meals prepared from the footstuffs the hotels and restaurants acquired from the market. For many years, it was the largest wholesale produce market in the U.S. The world famous Washington Market was removed to make room for the World Trade Center in 1967.
West Washington Market, an subsidiary of the Washington Market, was first erected by NYC on the bulkheads and wharves opposite the original market by Dey and Barclay Streets. In 1889, West Washington Market moved to ten two-story brick buildings at the present day meatpacking district by 13th Street between Washington and West Streets, and between Gansevoort and West 12th Streets. This area got hot when the Erie Canal opened in 1825, and the southerly markets off the Hudson expanded up into it. NYC set up this second West Washington Market as ten two-story brick buildings that had the piers to their back and West Street in the front (the Sanitation Department is there today). The West Washington Market specialized in meat and poultry but also dealt great quantities of fruits and vegetables. It was demolished in 1950, and the site was taken over by trash barges of the Gansevoort Garbage Terminal until 1981.
The West Street Building -The West Street Building, a 23-story, Gothic Revival-style building at 90 West Street (1905–07), originally had lavish plans for the lobbies that architect Cass Gilbert was told to simplify. The building was topped by the Garret Restaurant, which promoted itself as the highest restaurant in New York. The building still stand at the southwest corner of Ground Zero, and two people died in the elevators during 9-11.
Battery Park City / World Financial Center - The 92-acre Battery Park City was created from 25 acres of landfill dug out to make room for the former World Trade Center Towers and from sand dredged out of New York Harbor off Staten Island. The 8-million-sq.-ft. World Financial Center took six years to build. The four granite and glass towers are topped by copper domes. Built on a landfill where the famous free version of the No Nukes Concert took place, it now offers live music in its Winter Garden complete with palm trees. The World Financial Center is the world headquarters of Merrill Lynch and American Express.
Gateway Plaza - The six apartment houses that make up Gateway Plaza (the only building in Battery Park City not designed under the Master Plan) was the first building and first 1,712 units built there. Created by Jack Brown and Irving E. Gershon, Gateway Plaza was begun in 1982 and finished in 1983 -- and fully occupied by the end of the year. The first person living in these three 34-story buildings was Brian Babbit, who moved to Staten Island by Sals my favorite Pizza Place. Gateway Plaza was badly damaged during 9-11, and the complex was closed for many months.
Brian Tolle - The Irish Hunger Memorial -The Irish Hunger Memorial commemorating and raising awareness of the Great Irish Famine (1845-1852) was dedicated July 16th, 2002. Sculptor Brian Tolle built the memorial to a million victims to look like a fieldstone cottage on a hilly Irish farm, bringing it over in pieces from Ireland. Each stone on the slope is from one of Ireland's 32 counties. Landscape architect Gail Wittwer-Laird added grasses, plants and wildflowers to the project, located on a quarter-acre site at the NW corner of Vesey Street and North End Avenue in Battery Park City. This historic sculpture was completed for $5 million.
Ah Ken's Cigar Stand -In 1858, Cantonese tobacconist Ah Ken set up his small cigar stand on Park Row by the City Hall fence while living in a house on Mott Street. His cigars sold for 3 cents each. This businessman was the first Chinese immigrant to permanently stay in NYC (well, besides the murderer Quimbo Appo, a China-born sailor turned tea merchant, who came to NYC in the 1840s, and was famous for his interracial marriage and called the Chinese devil man). Ah Ken also became landlord to many Chinese immigrants who came afterwards. William Longford, John Occoo and John Ava were cigar makers who formed a monopoly after Ah Ken started the cigar craze in Chinatown.
The first Chinese gangster who came to NYC was Cantonese businessman Wah Kee. Wah Kee came from San Francisco in 1866, and sold fruits, vegetables and curios until he realized he could make more money above his store with gambling and opium. Wah Kee's sucess, by 1880, led many more Chinese immigrants (especially Cantonese) to NYC's Chinatown. Many of the Chinese who worked on the transcontinental railroad found themselves unwelcome on the West Coast so they settled in NYC. The first freight cars from the West Coast arrived in New York in 1870. By 1900, more than 6,300 Chinese residents were living in Chinatown, which consisted of Mott, Pell and Doyers Streets. In 1899, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion acts, which banned their naturalization into America.
Thanks to Wah Kee, the Chinese Tongs made Chinatown the opium center of NYC.
John Roebling - Brooklyn Bridge - The East River was one of the craziest stretches of saltwater navigable on earth. NYC's large harbor made this island surrounded by docks the greatest city in the New World. Technically not a river, the East River is a turbulent tidal strait. Bad weather always stopped passage across; people and parcels were often delayed, and goods spoiled. Brooklyn had 400,000 residents when the idea of a bridge was first proposed to the State Legislature in 1802.
John Roebling, owner of a wire-rope company in Trenton, was famous for his bridge designs over the Delaware (1848), Niagara (1855), and Ohio (1867) rivers. While impatiently waiting for the Fulton Ferry, Roebling worked out the plan for a suspension bridge with four steel cables and giant granite towers. In 1855, when he proposed building the first bridge over the East River, he envisioned it an artistic national monument as well. Roebling and Wilhelm Hildenbrand completed plans for the bridge in a remarkable three months.
The cold reaction from NYC officials led Roebling in 1867, to The Brooklyn Eagle, whose publisher William C. Kingsley had political connections. New York State Senator Henry Murphy, also a former mayor of Brooklyn, drafted a bill to allow the bridge to be built by a private company. In 1866, the construction bill passed the New York State Legislature.
The New York Bridge Company was formed and incorporated in 1867, with $4.5 million in funds available. The money was raised from an enabling act that Brooklyn contributed $3 million, while Manhattan added its $1.5 million. Roebling’s design was finally approved in June 1869 when the City Council got the thumbs up from the Army Corps of Engineers. Congress passed a construction bill and it was signed by President Ulysses S. Grant (the eighteenth president of the United States). The last legal hurdle was overcome on June 21st, 1869, when the War Department approved the Brooklyn Bridge project.
On July 6th, 1869, the Fulton ferry crushed John Roebling's foot, while he was standing on a cluster of piles at the outboard end of the Brooklyn's Fulton Street slip, where he was trying to determine the location of the Brooklyn tower. His foot was caught between the collapsing piles and the fender rack, and the injury infected John's toes to the point of amputation. Toeless John Roebling refused further medical treatment except for water therapy (where water was continuously poured over the wound). The accident gave the 63-year-old Roebling incurable tetanus (“lockjaw”), and his blood was poisoned with gangrene, so in just a few weeks after his injury became fatal on July 22nd, 1869.
His oldest son (out of nine children) Washington A. Roebling took over the project as chief engineer. The first $3.8 million was spent just purchasing the land for both approaches to the bridge. The ground for the Brooklyn Bridge was broken on January 3rd, 1870, but the foundations took three years to dig. Workers had to endure being placed into airtight pneumatic caissons sealed with pine tar and almost a half-block wide. The caissons were sunk into the East River by putting stones on top of them, which eventually created the foundations. To anchor each of the four cables, four 16-by-17-ft. cast-iron anchor plates (21 ft. thick) were constructed, each weighing 46,000 pounds (23 tons). Workers using shovels and buckets cleared away layers of silt under the East River until they hit bedrock. It was the first time dynamite was used to construct a bridge.
Workers paid $2.25 a day had to dig 44˝ feet below the river on the Brooklyn side before they hit bedrock. More agonizing was the fact that they had to dig twice as deep below the Manhattan side, 78 feet below the silt and quicksand. On October 12th, 1872, the first worker died from caisson illness. Soon over a hundred workers were unable to work. Finally, when two more of the sandhogs died, Washington Roebling decided to stop digging; compacted sand was good enough. History proved him right, and recent tests show he was still 30 feet away from bedrock on the Manhattan side.
Caisson disease killed 20 workers and left 35-year-old Washington Roebling paralyzed. It’s caused by the altered nitrogen levels in the blood from the changing air pressure. Washington's wife Emily made daily visits to the bridge to oversee the operation, helping Washington direct the construction of the bridge from their new Brooklyn Heights home overlooking the site. Emily studied mathematics, calculated the curve of the wires, checked the strength of materials and supervised the project for the next 11 years. Roebling used field glasses and a telescope to watch the progress.
Once the foundations were done in 1873, it took four years to construct the anchorages, and have the four massive steel cables supported by the two 273-ft. Gothic granite towers. Only Trinity Church was higher than these twin towers, which held the weight of the cables downward pressure.
The Brooklyn tower was finished in May 1875; two months later, the Manhattan side was completed. The neo-Gothic towers are made of limestone, granite and Rosendake cement. In August 1876, when the two anchorages were linked, a mechanic named Farrington crossed the East River on a chair tied to the rope. Until the Brooklyn Bridge project, weaker iron wire was used for suspension cables in bridge construction, Roebling introduced the use of steel for his four cables. Roebling's invention and manufacturing of steel wire cable changed the suspension bridge business and made this longer bridge possible.
By February 1877, a temporary footbridge 135 feet over the East River was finished, and work started on spinning the four cables. Over 14,400 miles of wire were used to spin these four 15˝-inch cables consisting of 19 strands each, which added up to 21,432 steel wires in each cable. When finished, the strength of each cable could now hold 11,200 tons.
At 6,016 feet (including approaches), Brooklyn Bridge (known at the time as the Great East River Bridge, or Great Bridge) was not only NYC's first bridge over the East River but also the longest suspension bridge in the world. It opened on Queen Victoria's birthday May 24, 1883, in front of 14,000 invited guests. Emily Roebling was given the first ride over the bridge with a rooster (a symbol of victory) in her lap. Governor Grover Cleveland, Mayor Franklin Edison, and President Chester Arthur met Brooklyn Mayor Seth Low at the Brooklyn side tower. President Arthur continued on to Washington Roebling's home after the event.
The bridge opened to the public (150,300 people on the first day) at 2 p.m. May 24th, 1883, bringing in the Brooklyn Bridge’s first $1,503. The bridge was opened to vehicles at 5 p.m the same day, 1,800 vehicles crossed on the first day at 5 cents a car ($90 more)
Getting across the Brooklyn Bridge was just a penny toll for pedestrians until 1910 when it was made free, Soon the bridge had elevated trains (September 1883), trolley lines, horse-drawn vehicles and livestock stomping across it. On Memorial Day, May 30th, 1883, one week after the Brooklyn Bridge opened, a woman on the Manhattan steps fell after a large gust of wind, and a scream started a rumor that the bridge was collapsing. Panic crushed 12 people to death, while three dozen more were seriously injured. The following year citizens’ fears that the bridge was not strong enough were squashed when P.T. Barnum took 21 elephants across the bridge (led by the famous Jumbo).
The BRT elevated trains on the bridge were stopped in 1948, and the streetcars took over their tracks before they too were removed in 1950. Poets and artists had a new inspiration, but 27 people died during its 14 year construction; its creator John Roebling included.
The one-mile Brooklyn Bridge was finished in 1883, which helped made Brooklyn part of NYC by 1898. With Tweed as one of the six executives of the Brooklyn Bridge company, it was amazing it only cost $15 million to build. Contractor J. Lloyd Haigh switched the wires used over its stone towers leading to a $9 million renovation in 1948.
Monkey Hill was on William Street by the second Printing House Square on Park Row, which was once called Newspaper Row. Monkey Hill is now under and just north of Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Alfred Bult Mullett - The City Hall Post office (Mullet’s Monstrosity) - The City Hall Post office (Mullet’s Monstrosity) opened in 1878. It was an elaborately colonnaded, French Second Empire baroque structure with a mansard-roof that looked like a wedding cake. No one seemed to like Alfred Bult Mullett’s post office at the triangular tip of City Hall Park, and as early as 1920 the city tried to demolish it. Mullet’s Monstrosity was finally torn down in 1938 to make the park nicer and beautify City Hall for the 1939 World’s Fair visitors.
The first letter from America was postmarked August 8th, 1628, from Manhattan in New Netherland to Hoorn by North Holland, in the Netherlands. In 1633, Richard Fairbanks' tavern in Boston became the first official site of mail delivery, 40 years before a mail run started between NYC and Boston. Boston set up the first organized postal system in the American colonies in 1677.
Before the public mail service started, before any post offices were opened, Dutch schoolmasters delivered invitations to funerals, and Indians were used to send messages into the interior of the New World. These Indians traveled on foot and canoe, and were paid only when they returned with a response letter. After 1672, trusted Indians carried the mail to Albany in winter. Under English rule, Vlieboat skippers took mail up the Hudson during the summer months, up to Albany (where Fort Orange was). These NYC's Dutch vlieboats (the English called them flyboats) took 10 days to three weeks for the one-way trip. The foot post workers were used in the winter to deliver mail north from NYC to Albany, when the river froze over they skated most of the way.
In good weather, the first regular NYC horseback mail to Boston (which started in 1672) took almost a week on this once-monthly trip. Riders had to stop to sleep and eat so if conditions were good they could do the whole 230 miles in a week. Governor Francis Lovelace announced the NYC to Boston horseback mail run on Dec 10th 1672, it was called monthly but went over three weeks, the first mail was delivered by January 22nd, 1673. It took the post rider two weeks to do the run from NYC to Boston. Old Boston Post Road is part of today's Route 1.
Jacob Wrey Mould -Mould Fountain - Southern triangle of City Hall Park by Broadway and Park Row - In 1871 the old Croton Fountain was replaced by the ornate granite Victorian Mould Fountain designed by Jacob Wrey Mould. Installed in front of the old Post Office, it was referred to as Mullet's monstrosity. When they were first planning to tear down the post office in 1920 (it didn't happen until 1938), they moved the Jacob Wrey Mould fountain to Crotona Park in the Bronx. The Delacorte Fountain replaced it, until Rudy Giuliani brought it back in 1999. Now lit by four gas candelabras and underwater lighting, it makes a night time trip to City Hall Park worthwhile. The homeless Jack London, who once slept in City Hall Park, would have enjoyed its waters.
The 1873 Bethesda Fountain (also called the Angel of the Waters) in Central Park was created by Emma Stebbins and co-designed by Jacob Wrey Mould. Stebbins was the first woman allowed to create a major NYC public work. Its four cherubs represent Peace, Health, Purity, and Temperance. The late 1960s brought so many peaceniks to its waters that Newsweek in the late 1960s called it Freak Fountain. It was constructed in Central Park to celebrate the completion of the Croton Aqueduct in 1842.
Major William W. Leland - The Clinton Hotel - The Clinton Hotel at 5 Beekman by Nassau Street was named after George W. Clinton, but it was made famous by the Leland family. The first Leland who worked at the Clinton was Major William W. Leland, but he died on August 9th, 1879 from eating unripe cherries when he was 59. Major Leland was best known for being an earlier proprietor of the Metropolitan Hotel next to Niblo's Theatre on Broadway and Prince Street. William's dad Simeon Leland Senior was the Donald Trump of his time. Simeon in 1820, first opened a store in Landgrove Hollow, Vermont, a few years later he also opened the Leland Coffee House in the same town. Simeon Leland Senior started the family hotel business during the Revolutionary War by building and managing a hotel in Vermont, which was the headquarters of Ethan Allen's Green Mountain Boys.
Preston Henry Hodges got his father Preston Hodges to buy the Clinton Hotel in 1832, they remained business partners until 1839. Preston Henry Hodges then took over the Carlton House and ran that hotel until 1857.
Simeon Leland Junior became proprietor of the Clinton Hotel, but he sold it to his brothers Charles and Warren. Brothers Charles and Warren Leland controlled the Clinton Hotel for more than 20 years. Simeon Junior's son, Warren F. Leland was 16 years old when he started working for his uncles at the Metropolitan Hotel, which was also owned (since 1852) by his father Simeon Jr. and his brothers (Charles, William and Warren Leland).
Simeon Senior's nephew, Lewis Leland, son of Simeon's brother Aaron, also worked at the Clinton Hotel in 1847 and the Metropolitan Hotel in 1852. Lewis Leland was good friends with Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain). Lewis Leland died on May 8th, 1889 and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Brooklyn.
Warren Leland's wife, Isabella Cobb, and daughter died in a fire at the Windsor Hotel, another hotel Warren managed, on March 17th, 1899. As the hotel was at 575 5th Avenue (corner of East 47th Street) and it was St. Patrick's Day, the crowds watching the parade hampered the firemen's rescue efforts and about 90 people died. After his nervous collapse from the tragedy, Leland was found to have had appendicitis and died April 4th, 1899. The unidentified dead from the Windsor Hotel fire were buried in Kensico Cemetery in Flushing Queens.
Two Delmonico restaurants also operated on Beekman Street, one at Nassau and the other at Pearl Street.
Hampden Hall -The Liberty Boys bought a building in the Spring Garden on the east side of Broadway at Ann, where Barnum would build his first museum. This new Liberty Boy clubhouse was named Hampden Hall in honor of a great English patriot. An attempt to topple the fifth Liberty Pole was made on March 29th, 1771, but the alarm rallied enough patriots to save Hampden Hall from being burned down, and the fifth Liberty Pole survived.
Horace Greeley Statue - Horace Greeley (1811-1872) founded and edited The Tribune newspaper for 30 years in his fight for social justice. Greeley was a social reformer who was for labor unions and women's rights but against railroad monopolies and slavery. Greeley ran for President in 1872. In 1890, John Quincy Adams Ward’s bronze Horace Greeley statue (with a base by Richard Morris Hunt) was first placed up in front of the old Tribune Building on Park Row, but a 1915 ordinance deemed it too large for that site so it was moved to the east side of City Hall Park in 1916 (behind the east side of the Tweed Courthouse). Ward is well known for the 1882, George Washington statue on the steps of Federal Hall (now the Subtreasury) on Wall Street. Greeley's successor at the Tribune, Whitelaw Reid, commissioned the statue (cast by Henri & Bonnard Bronze Company) which was dedicated on May 31st, 1894. A different Horace Greeley statue created by Alexander Doyle in 1892, sits by 6th Avenue and Broadway just south of 33rd Street in a triangular park called Greeley Square.
Greeley was famous for saying “Go West, young man,” in his promotion of westward expansion in a July 13, 1865 editorial. This quote popularized by Greeley may have really been written by John Babson Lane Soule, a newspaper writer from Indiana in 1851. Some claim that Soule first used this famous line in an editorial in the Terra Haute, Indiana, Daily Express newspaper. But it seems like the famous quote was paraphrased from a statement in the Aug. 25, 1838, issue of the New Yorker newspaper where Greeley was first quoted as saying "If any young man is about to commence the world, we say to him, publicly and privately, Go to the West".
During the Draft Riots, Greeley ate at Windust's restaurant while hiding under a table after the mobs chased him and his assistant. Greeley was the only presidential candidate who died during the electoral process (which ended with his loss in a landslide on November 5th, 1872, to Ulysses S. Grant). Greeley is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.
John Nicolas Genin - Loew's Bridge - Loew's Bridge was a $14,002 lacy Gothic pedestrian overpass built over Broadway by St. Paul's Church, just south of City Hall by Fulton Street. Proposed by Alderman Charles E. Loew and opened on April 15th, 1867, this elaborate iron bridge was placed at the city’s busiest, most dangerous spot. John Nicolas Genin, owner of a hat shop on the sunny SW corner of Broadway and Fulton Street, petitioned the Common Council to give his shop more and safer access. Stoplights and traffic cops were still decades away, and Broadway was crazy busy with mounted horsemen, carts, and wagons.
Genin ran for NYC mayor as an Independent candidate in 1854. He first received fame for bidding $225 for a ticket to Jenny Lind's first American concert, which was promoted by P.T. Barnum.
On July 21st, 1868, Loew's Bridge was deemed a street obstacle and a failure to public convenience. It also cast a dark shadow on the business of Knox the Hatter at 212 Broadway (NE corner of Fulton). At the time the oldest hatter in NYC, Charles Knox's hat store was rebuilt after it was destroyed in Barnum's Museum fire of 1865. Knox didn't like the loiterers, and he claimed the Loew's Bridge blocked the air into his store that was already on the shady side of Broadway. Knox sued the city for $25,000 in damages, and with the support of other mad hatters on Broadway's shady east side of the iron structure, he had the bridge closed in December 1868 and dismantled. Knox was later known as Arnold Hatters until they went out of business recently.
Edgar Allan Poe - The Mercantile Library - The Mercantile Library at 135 Nassau Street, at the SW corner of Beekman, was founded in 1820 to help merchant-clerks educate themselves. The Mercantile Library Association opened in 1821 with 700 books, and by 1839 it had 18,000 volumes. By 1871, it was the fourth largest library in America after the Library of Congress, Boston Public Library, and NYC’s Astor Library.
In 1855, the Mercantile Library took over the Astor Place Opera House and remained there until the building was razed in 1890. Edgar Allan Poe rented space here to write, and Emerson, Thackeray and Twain gave speeches.
Members could pre-pay for a service to get home delivery of books. They used adhesive delivery stamps that were put onto the book request forms, and library messengers first delivered the books by horse and wagon. The initial cost for delivery was a 6 cents stamp, then it started using a 5 cent stamp. By 1870, the Mercantile Library used post office boxes to collect delivery request forms, and it cost 7 cents (or 20 for $1) to get the post office wrapper and stamp. By 1874, the delivery rate was raised to 10 cents, and home delivery continued until the 1930s. After that the books began shipping by regular mail through the Post Office.
The Center for Fiction was founded in 1820 as a result of the Mercantile Library’s dedication to the art of fiction books before public libraries were created. This nonprofit institution was classified as a public charity by the IRS. In 1932, when this cultural institution was the nation's largest lending library, it moved up to 17 East 47th Street, its home ever since then.
John Pintard - Tammany Museum - NYC's first museum, the Tammany Museum opened in a rented upper room in NYC's second City Hall (located at Wall and Broad Streets) after New York became America’s capital in 1790. The Tammany Museum, the second museum in America, was first run by the Tammany Society, also known as the Columbian Order. It celebrated the early history of America, featuring Indian artifacts like belts, tomahawks, wampum beads, pots, earthen jars and hieroglyphic writings on bark, skins and stones. The museum also contained art prints, farming equipment, and also exhibited a live lion.
John Pintard was the Tammany member who first organized the museum. He was also known for personally organizing the New York Historical Society in 1804. Pintard started promoting the museum on August 10th, 1789, and the Tammany Museum was officially established in June 1790. By May 21st, 1791, public visiting days at the Tammany Museum were on Tuesdays and Fridays.
In 1794, the collection outgrew the City Hall space so it was moved south down Broad Street to a brick building called the old Exchange Building. On June 25th, 1795, the museum was presented to its director and keeper, Gardiner Baker, because the Tammany Society lost interest in maintaining the museum. By the end of 1795, Baker's Tammany Museum (also called the American Museum) had over 500 American history books in their library room covering the development of America from economic, religious and political perspectives. Other exhibits included waxwork displays, paintings, Native American artifacts, fossils, coins, insects and live animals.
When Baker died of yellow fever on September 30th, 1798, the Tammany Museum ended up in the hands of W.J. Waldron in 1800. Waldron auctioned off the museum collections, and many were bought by Edward Savage for his museum. In the 1820s John Scudder bought these old Tammany Museum items for his American Museum.
In 1810, the museum moved to 39 Park Row (the old 21 Chatham Street) when it became the Chatham Museum, a.k.a. Scudder’s Museum. On certain days Scudder opened the museum free to NYC's poor. The Scudder’s American Museum then moved to the north side of City Hall Park in 1817 (until 1830), taking over the yellow two-story Almshouse (also called New York Institution) building, before moving to the NE corner of Broadway and Ann Streets. The Scudder’s Museum featured stuffed animals, a live anaconda, and an alligator.
The museum merged with the Grand Museum in 1820. Dr. Scudder died in August of 1821 or 1822 (although some historical sources claim he died in 1832), and the museum was taken over by his son and widow. Scudder's widow and heirs priced the museum’s holdings at $15,000.
After moving out of the New York Institution in 1830, the museum finally moved to the upper portion of the new building at the NE corner of Broadway and Ann Street, 13 years before Barnum took it over. The new building was owned by Francis W. Olmstead. A year later, in 1831, Schuyler's Exchange Lottery moved into the store floor of the museum. Other owners like Pearle's Museum became involved with the American Museum until P.T. Barnum acquired it on December 27th, 1841, and merged it with his Museum of Wonders.
America’s first museum opened in Philadelphia in 1784 on Arch Street by Pierre Eugene Du Simitiere. Also called the American Museum, it charged admission of 50 cents to view American Indian artifacts and antiquities and browse through books and prints. In 1785, when Du Simitiere died, artist Charles Willson Peale started his famous Philadelphia museum, which featured a lecture room.
Irving Bacheller - The Lantern Club - The Lantern Club of writers and journalists started their first clubhouse in 1893 on the top of Monkey Hill, over an old William Street ironmonger's shop. Monkey Hill was located behind the Municipal Building by the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge, not far from Newspaper Row. William Randolph Hearst bought Monkey Hill around 1898, which led to the Lantern Club moving to Captain Kidd's old home at 126 William Street. (Kidd reportedly also lived at 56 Wall Street, and 119-121 Pearl.)
Irving Bacheller was the president of the Lantern Club. Stephen Crane contributed almost half its publication, the Lanthorn Book, with his story, “The Wise Men.” The Lanthorn Book (limited to 125 signed copies) was written after the move to William Street, and was alternately called “Being a Small Collection of Tales and Verses Read at the Sign o' the Lanthorn.” Mark Twain and Theodore Roosevelt would visit the Lantern Club occasionally.
Edward Windust - Windust's Restaurant - The entrance was at 5 Ann Street, but Edward Windust's restaurant (1824-1865) extended down to Park Row (5-11 Chatham Street). Customers included Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper, Robert E. Lee, Miles O'Reilly, Horace Greeley and many actors and actresses from the nearby Park Theatre. Windust's first restaurant was on 149 Water Street, but he didn’t find business there to his liking so he moved next to the famous Park Theatre. Windust lived next door at 11 Ann Street, and in 1865 opened the Athenaeum Hotel at 347 Broadway by Leonard Street. During the Draft Riots, Horace Greeley ate at Windust's Restaurant while hiding under a table after he and his assistant were chased by the mobs.
F.W. Woolworth - Woolworth Building - The 60-floor Woolworth Building, built between 1911 and 1913 at 233 Broadway, was the world’s tallest (792 feet) for 16 years, from 1913 to 1929, before 40 Wall Street and the Chrysler Building were built. F.W. Woolworth didn’t like buying anything on credit so he paid for construction in cash (dollars, not in 5 and 10-cent pieces). The Woolworth Building was built for $13,500,000-$15,500,000, and that’s a lot of nickels and dimes. It was known as the Cathedral of Commerce, but ironically it was constructed on the site of The New York Call, a Socialist newspaper once located at 6 Park Place.
Cass Gilbert had this Gothic Revival structure clad in lightweight, fire-resistant terra-cotta. Over the Woolworth Building's 27-story base is a white terra-cotta tower with a Gothic top and spire, complete with gargoyles. The Woolworth Building’s inside was built to fit the design of the outside terra-cotta panels. The marble-lined executive offices were located on the 24th floor. A dark half floor built on the 26th floor was accessible only through a small door. Still preserved is F.W. Woolworth's private office, which is coated in marble in French Empire style. In 1945, the famous Woolworth Building 58th floor observation deck closed. The building became a National Historic Landmark in 1966.
The Woolworth Building's vaulted mosaic-covered ceilings, arched entryways, gargoyles, turrets, and pinnacles are Gothic Revival at its finest. Other Gothic Revival buildings in NYC include Trinity Church (1846), Grace Church (1846), St. Patrick's Cathedral (built 1858-1878), St. Ignatius of Antioch Episcopal Church (1902), and one of the spookiest, the Smallpox Hospital on Roosevelt Island (1856).
The Woolworth Building was the company's headquarters all the way up until Woolworth's bankruptcy in 1997.
William Beekman - Beekman's Swamp - Leather production required tanneries to create tan pits where the hides were soaked and treated with lime. These tan pits that were by Wall Street were moved to the Collect Pond and Beekman’s Swamp in 1720. Beekman's Swamp was bought by Jacobus Roosevelt in 1732 or 1734 for 200 pounds. This swamp on the site of Beekman's farm was also called the Kripple Bush (tangled briars) and the Old Man's Swamp. Beekman's swamp was used as a garbage dump by 1780.
William Beekman (born Wilhelmus Hendrickse Beekman) came from the lower Rhine region (Niederrhein) of Germany, sailing to the U.S. from Holland in 1647 on the same boat as Peter Stuyvesant. He married and moved to Corlaer's Hook. Stuyvesant made him resident treasurer of the Dutch West India Company. Beekman bought land in 1670 from Thomas Hall, whose house was at the corner of Pearl and Beekman. Beekman joined the militia and rose to lieutenant by 1673. Between 1681 and 1683, he served as deputy mayor of NYC. On July 28th, 1686, he bought land along the Hudson (now called Rhinebeck) from the Esopus Indians. In 1700 a hotel opened in Rhinebeck called the Beekman Arms Hotel. It’s still operating today, making it the oldest continuously operating hotel in the U.S.
The high-profile loyalist William Walton had his house about 100 yards away from the old swamp. He was the nephew of Cornelia Beekman.
Isaac Wright - Black Ball Line Pier - The Black Ball Line Pier on the East River was at the foot of Beekman Street. Overall, in its first year of operation after opening October 5th, 1817, the Black Ball Line packet ship averaged 43 days westbound (to Liverpool, England) and 25 days eastbound (to South Street, NYC). The Black Ball Line sailed on the first day of each month.
New York Quakers Isaac Wright, Francis Thompson, Benjamin Marshall, Jeremiah Thompson, and Wright’s son began the Black Ball Line, which flew a flag with a black ball on a red background. They began with four ships, the Amity, the James Cropper, the Pacific, and the William Thompson. In 1821 the Black Ball Line added four more ships to sail on the 16th of each month. The Red Star line started in 1821 with four ships that sailed the same route on the 24th of each month.
Sixteen large ships participated in the company’s weekly schedule of ocean crossings from NYC to England. The Black Ball line lasted until 1881.
Cornelius Dircksen - Cornelius Dircksen's Ferry - The closest Manhattan land to Brooklyn was at Peck's Slip. The farm of Cornelis Dircksen (Cornelis Dircksen Hoagland or Hoochlandt) started just north of the Water Gate at Pearl and Wall Streets and went up to Peck's Slip. Landowner, farmer and inn owner, Dircksen ran the first ferry service across the East River. He rowed his canoe or small rowboat from Peck’s Slip at Pearl and Dover Streets to a landing by the Wallabout settlement in Brooklyn. In 1637 or 1638 (one or two years after the Dutch settled in Brooklyn), Dircksen’s small skiff could be summoned by a toot from a horn. Dircksen employed another ferryman on the Brooklyn side to respond to a horn hung there. Dircksen's Manhattan horn hung against one of his trees by NYC's old waterfront at Pearl and Dover Streets. The trip across the river first cost settlers 3 stuyvers in wampum (about 6 cents). For some reason Dircksen charged Native American Indians double.
In 1642, Cornelius Dircksen expanded and started a real ferry service from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. His business outgrew the rowboat and canoe so he upgraded to sailboats, which ran from Peck's Slip in Manhattan to what was to become Fulton's Landing in Brooklyn (Breuckelen). He doubled the per-person fare for a one-way voyage to 6 beads of wampum; 12 beads for the Indians. The director, city council members, and other NYC officials rode free. When city officials started drafting rules and regulations, the fares were raised to 15 cents and 30 cents for Indians.
Dircksen's Inn on the Manhattan side was a ferry house run like a tavern. Dircksen owned 33 acres of land in Brooklyn by Fulton's landing, which he sold to Willem Thomassen in 1643 for 2,300 guilders. When a tavern on the Brooklyn side became extremely popular, Dircksen was angry that he was left with just his inn on the Manhattan side. Dircksen would cancel ferry runs during big storms with strong winds, and in winter he would continue service until big cakes of ice blocked the river. A NYC law went into effect that called for Dircksen's ferry to remain docked whenever the sails on the Battery windmill were brought inside.
In 1655, ferryman Egbert Van Borsum leased the ferry (for three years, then renewed it until at least June 15th, 1663) from Governor Stuyvesant for 300 guilders per year and opened the first ferry house tavern inside a wooden building by the road to the ferry. Egbert died shortly before the British took over NYC on September 6th, 1664. By 1664 Harmanus Van Borsum (the son of Egbert) became the ferryman who responded to the sound of the long metal ferry horn. By 1700, a stone ferry house and tavern was built by the New York Corporation to replace the Borsums’ old wooden one. The Brooklyn Stone Ferry House and tavern was burned down in 1748 by those protesting New York Corporation's ownership of Brooklyn property and shoreline.
For 20 years the Brooklyn Ferry used rowboats, pirogues (types of canoes), and barges. Horse boats (horses on treadmills between two twin boats) were used between 1814 and 1824, until steamboats returned the horses on solid ground.
Richard Sackett - Cow Foots Hill - Cow Foots Hill, by the old intersection of Pearl and Cherry Streets, was under the southern side of the Brooklyn Bridge, a few blocks north of Golden Hill where Frankfort met Pearl, just west of Cherry Street. A pleasure garden from 1670 was established by Englishman Richard Sackett at the top of this or another hill on Cherry Street. At Sacket's the English customers liked to drink West India Rum and toast Queen Anne. Its main attraction was an orchard of cherry trees locals called the Cherry Garden.
James and John Harper - Harper and Brothers - Franklin Square (Pearl and Cherry by Dover) was the location of book publishers Harper and Brothers between 1854 and 1920. The Harper and Brothers building was built in 1854 by James Bogardus. James and John Harper were brothers from Brooklyn who started their printing business in 1817 as J & J Harper. In 1825, their brothers Wesley and Fletcher joined in to create Harper and Brothers. Their first publishing success came in 1836 with an anti-Catholic book, “Maria Monk's Awful Disclosures.” By 1844, James Harper’s anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic stance got him elected mayor of NYC.
The Harper and Brothers book and magazine publishing firm founded Harper's New Monthly Magazine (1850), Harper's Weekly (1857) Harper's Bazaar (1867), and Harper's Magazine.
In 1962, the publishing company became Harper & Row after they merged with Row, Peterson & Company. Then they merged with William Collins publishers in 1990, forming Harper Collins. It’s been owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation since 1987.
Samuel Leggett's House - The first gas-lit house in Manhattan, the three-story brick home of Con Edison founder and president Samuel Leggett was once at 7 Cherry Street (now under the Brooklyn Bridge just east of Pearl Street). It was serviced by a gas pipe from the Pearl Street headquarters of the New York Gas Light Company, NYC’s first gas company. The company that would become Con Edison would light 17,000 homes. Gas pioneer Leggett was only 41 when his home got gas, and before then New Yorkers used oil lamps. On March 26th, 1823, the New York Gas Light Company was chartered and obtained the right to make, manufacture and sell gas made out of coal, oil, tar, peat, pitch, or turpentine.
Leggett, who was a Quaker born October 4th, 1782, also headed the Franklin Bank, which opened in 1817 on nearby Franklin Square (Pearl and Dover Streets). Leggett died January 5th, 1847, and is buried in the Flushing Quaker Meeting House in Flushing, Queens. He left his fortune to his six sons and seven daughters.
Alexander Hamilton - Walton House / The Bank of New York - It could be said that the elegant three-story Walton House led to the Stamp Act and in turn the American Revolution. British officials who were entertained at the residence surmised that a colony so rich it could build such a fancy place could also afford to pay a stamp tax. This Franklin Square area was the most aristocratic part of NYC so it was also the ideal place to open the Bank of New York.
The yellow-brick and brown-trimmed Walton House at 67 St. George Square (326 Pearl Street) was the location of NYC's (and America’s) first bank. The Bank of New York was founded in March 1784 and opened to the public on June 9th, 1784, a few months before the British left NYC (November 25th, 1784, celebrated as Evacuation Day for decades). It was a private bank without a charter, but it had a constitution written by Alexander Hamilton. The Bank of New York (founded in March 1784) was the first bank in NYC and the country until 1792, when the Federalists also opened a branch of the First Bank of the United States (whose headquarters in Philadelphia opened December 12th, 1791). From June 9th, 1784 to 1799, no other political party member could get access to funds like the Federalists could.
The Bank of New York was first located in the Walton House, just south of the Brooklyn Bridge and north of Dover Street. It moved to Hanover Square three years later, and then to the NE corner of William and Wall Streets in 1791.
On December 10th, 1853, a fire destroyed the Franklin Square Hotel at 328 Pearl Street as well as the magnificent Walton House.
George Washington - Washington's 1st Presidential Mansion - Cherry Street once started just north of the NE side of Dover and Pearl Streets at Franklin Square, and 1 Cherry Street was the address of George Washington's first Presidential Mansion (that New Yorkers call The Palace). Congress rented the Franklin mansion for Washington’s Executive Mansion (for 900 pounds a year) from April 23rd, 1789, to February 23rd, 1790. Franklin Square was named after Quaker Walter Franklin, and after Washington slept there, it was named St. George Square.
The white colonial home where Washington resided was built in 1770 for wealthy merchant Walter Franklin, who made his fortune being an importer. Upon his death on June 8th, 1780, the three-story mansion was taken over by Samuel Osgood when he married Franklin's widow. Osgood, who later became the first Postmaster General of the United States, stayed elsewhere in NYC when Washington came to town. The Franklin Mansion was torn down in 1856 to widen Pearl Street, and some of the land was used for a coal yard. Some of the timber from the Franklin Mansion was made into a chair for the president of the New York Historical Society.
The site of 1 Cherry Street (right under the south side of the Brooklyn Bridge) is just north of the east side of Pearl and Dover Streets. On April 30th, 1899, the Mary Washington Colonial Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution placed a plaque commemorating George Washington's first Presidential Mansion, on an anchorage supporting one of the big stone arches on the south side of the Brooklyn Bridge (opened in 1883). The plaque is basically not visible to the public these days, both because of steelwork attached to support the bridge and a metal fence that the Department of Transportation put up after 9-11 for security reasons.
DeWitt Clinton would later reside in the former Franklin house at 1 Cherry Street. In 1786, Washington's neighbor at 5 Cherry Street was John Hancock, who became president of the Continental Congress. In 1818, years after Hancock moved out, Boss Tweed's parents lived at 5 Cherry Street and then moved to 13 Cherry Street for several years, next to Samuel Legget's house (the first home in NYC to have gas). Boss Tweed was born on Cherry Street April 3rd, 1823.
That whole area was torn down in the 1880s to make room for the Brooklyn Bridge. By then, the neighborhood was far from the most aristocratic part of Manhattan, and actually quite the opposite. The area now called Cherry Hill became part of the notorious Fourth Ward, replete with brothels, taverns and boardinghouses. Charley Monell’s Hole in the Wall was one of the more insane locations of that district. It employed 6-foot-tall Englishwoman Gallus Mag as a bouncer who bit off the ears of troublemakers with her filed teeth. Charley Monell had only one arm, but with Gallus and his other helper, Kate Flannery, he was in good hands.
In 1869, Sadie the Goat joined the Charlton Street Gang, whose headquarters were at a low gin mill on the Hudson off Charlton Street. She was a Fourth Ward character for years until a fight with Gallus Mag ended with one of Sadie’s ears bit off and added to Gallus Mag's pickled collection behind the bar at the Hole in the Wall. Sadie got her severed ear back and wore it in a locket around her neck. Slobbery Jim and Patsy the Barber, both members of the Daybreak Boys, also had a big fight at the Hole in the Wall bar over the 12 cents they killed a German over. The approximate site of the old Hole in the Wall bar is now the Bridge Cafe.
After George Washington moved from this first Presidential Mansion, he stayed at the 1786 Macomb Mansion at 39-41 Broadway from February 23rd, 1790, until he left for Philadelphia, in late August 1790. Alexander Macomb's Mansion later became a fine hotel. The site at 39-41 Broadway could have been the site where Adrian Block built four small huts for his crew in 1613-1614. Block's ship supposedly caught fire right off a bay in the Hudson River by the World Trade Center site. A bigger and more easily navigable bay where his docked boat probably caught fire was off the East River by the Collect Pond stream, which ended up being named Old Wreck Brook.
From Boston, Washington returned to NYC on April 14th, 1776, and moved into Richmond Hill on the corner of Varick and Charlton Streets. The house on the hill was built by Major Martier, an English officer, in 1766. It was also the home of Vice President Adams and then Aaron Burr (until his duel with Alexander Hamilton). Burr sold it to John Jacob Astor.
Washington used the Roger Morris house in Harlem as his headquarters after the Battle of Brooklyn Heights. The Morris house became the Morris-Jumel Mansion after it was forfeited because of Morris's ties to the British crown. It was then bought as well by John Jacob Astor and sold to Stephen Jumel. After Jumel died, his widow who wiped him out financially married Aaron Burr for an extremely short time until he tried wiping her out her fortune.
Blindman's Alley - Blindman's Alley was a half a stone's throw away from Gotham Court at the rear of 26 Cherry Street. Daniel Murphy was the blind landlord of tenements around an alley just south of Cherry Street's Gotham Court. It was home to a colony of blind beggars. The superintendent of Out-door Poor gave out $20,000 a year to the poor blind city dwellers, that day the money was doled out was the loudest night each year in Blindman's Alley (due to the celebration). Murphy protested, but the New York Board of Health ordered him to clean up the tenements surrounding Blindman's Alley, but the improvements ruined the homey feeling of the old alley, and many of the blind tenants moved out.
Gotham Court - After the Old Brewery at Five Points was demolished, Gotham Court in the Fourth Ward became the worst tenement complex in NYC. Located near George Washington’s first presidential mansion, Gotham Court (Sweeney's Shambles) was a single huge boxlike building that packed together a complex of 16 back-to-back tenements under one roof. A Quaker named Silas Wood built Gotham Court in 1850-1851 to rescue the poor who were living in cellar holes in the neighborhood. Its two rows of five-story tenements were designed for 140 families but actually held over 240 families by 1879. Most of the original families were Italian or Irish with a handful of African Americans and Germans, who would battle each other at all hours. By the end of Gotham Court’s 40-year existence, about a third of the tenants were Greek. Gotham Court was located just south of James Street, between Franklin Square (Pearl and Cherry Streets) and Roosevelt Street. It opened onto alleys off 36 and 38 Cherry Street. Each tenement had two 10-by-14-ft. dwellings subdivided into two rooms with no cross-ventilation. The eight buildings on each side of Gotham Court were connected to the 6-ft.-wide Single Alley on one side and the 9-ft.-wide Double Alley (also known at Paradise Alley) on the other.
These alleys served as the roofs on giant underground sewer tunnels. A 4-foot wide alley at the western side of Gotham Court connected to the middle of the block on Roosevelt Street. This narrow alley was a favorite for thieves and gangs such as the Swamp Angels, who could escape through the nearby sewer lines. The Swamp Angels gang used Gotham Court as their headquarters and the sewer system as their way to raid the East River dockyards. The main large vaulted sewer in that part of NYC ran right under Gotham Court, and many criminals cut holes into the basements of Gotham Court to aid their escape. Toxic odors and vapors seeped into the residential building, making it one of the unhealthiest locations in NYC. The cholera epidemic of the 1860s hit Gotham Court hard, magnifying its problems to NYC reformers. Out of 183 children born in Gotham Court in three years, 61 died after a few weeks of tenement life. Many children were also killed by the big rats invading through all the holes cut by the gang of Einsteins.
When Gotham Court was condemned in July 1871, all its tenants were evicted until this huge building could be properly renovated. On July 20th, 1871, the fat Irishman Sweeney who ran the shambles for 21 years told the Board of Health that his tenants didn’t pay rent for two months so they had funds to seek other accommodations. The city repaired the tenements but made sure they were unoccupied during the hottest months of the summer.
Gotham Court, the second biggest tenement in NYC after Big Flats, was considered the worst building in NYC, ravaged by crime, disease, disorder and drunkenness. Thanks to reformers like Jacob Riis and the 1985 1885 ]]]right?[ Tenement House Law, Gotham Court was demolished in 1895. The largest tenement complex, Big Flats was located at 98 Mott Street.
Most tenements in the 1850s charged only $2 to $3 per month rent, and 75 people would share one bathroom. In 1879, a NYC tenement design competition in Plumbing and Sanitation Engineer magazine was held and the winner (James Ware) came up with the dumbbell plan (based on the shape of the buildings footprint) to bring air to the cramped living spaces through small air shafts between sections of the back-to-back and side-to-side tenement floor plans. It turned out to be a dumbbell idea because it caused more sanitation problems when tenement dwellers tossed garbage, dirty water and other waste into these air shafts. These smelly air shafts also acted as a duct which spread fire between apartments.
Another notorious tenement was called the Ship, and it was occupied mostly by poor Italians and Russians. It was located at the head of Hamilton Street at Cherry Hill where the Old Ship Saloon once stood. The janitor of the ship was named Mickey the Pilot.
Old Wreck Brook - The old brook that led up Roosevelt Street to the old Collect Pond still discharges in spurts at some point during the day. The old shoreline came up to Cherry Street, and this was the largest cove in lower NYC. Old Wreck Brook flowed just south of Roosevelt Street (east of Baxter) from the Collect Pond on Centre Street. The brook that once entered the East River at the foot of James Street was also called Ould Kill and Versch water. This brook had the freshest water, which was tapped at the Tea Water Pump on Park Row and Baxter.
During spring floods the area around Collect Pond was so low, Indians could paddle across NYC from the East River to the Hudson River through the Collect Pond. Tamkill Creek flowed under the kissing bridge that went from the Collect Pond by Park Row and Roosevelt Street.
Searching for the fast and easy passage to the Orient was the first reason so that wasn’t what kept them coming back to America. Colonization wasn’t motivating Dutch explorers to keep coming to the New World. The English in Jamestown, Virginia, were the ones who came to colonize. The English colonists in Jamestown were the ones hyped up about the gold the Spanish found in Mexico. The Dutch traded simple items like beads and tools for valuable furs, and that is what kept bringing the Dutch explorers to NYC.
The name Old Wreck Brook could have come from the wreckage of Adrian Block’s boat, The Tiger, which supposedly caught fire at night while it was docked in a cove off lower Manhattan, right off a Hudson River by the eventual site of the World Trade Center or Battery Park. Most historians insist that the plot of the former Trade Towers was the location of the Tiger’s burning, and that the shipmates built huts by 39-41 Broadway, but probably not. A bigger and more easily navigable bay where his boat was probably docked was off the quieter East River, up the Collect Pond stream. He could have camped for the winter at the old ruins of Norumbega, with plenty of fresh water from the Collect Pond and fish, foot long oysters, clams and lobsters galore.
This large bay off the East River between Dover and James Streets existed before NYC's widening of the coast through landfill. Block’s boat caught fire when it was anchored in a bay, and the bay by the outlet of the Collect Pond was the largest downtown bay, close to the freshwater pond, which would have been the perfect place to survive. Adrian Block's boat was shipwrecked in 1613 and he stayed the winter. (He was not the first non-native; Juan (Jan) Rodriguese was.)
The Werpoes befriended and saved Block and his crew from a long winter after the boat fire, and they helped them get timbers for their huts and oak and hickory trees for constructing their escape boat they called Restless.
Martin Hildebrandt - 1st American Tattoo Studio - Ancient Germany had a form of tattooing, but Polynesia elevated it into an art form. Here on Oak Street (Monroe Street) between Oliver and James Streets, Martin Hildebrandt operated and worked at the first American tattoo studio from 1870 through 1890. Starting in 1846, this German immigrant became the first professional tattoo artist in America, moving from military camp to camp, finding fame by decorating sailors and other military types from both sides of the Civil War with sweethearts’ names and military insignias.
In 1882, Hildebrandt's 22-year-old daughter (and practice canvas), Nora Hildebrandt, became America’s first tattooed lady. Sporting 365 designs, she traveled with the Barnum & Bailey Circus in the 1890s, telling the same fabricated story of a pioneer woman’s captivity by Indians that carnie acts have told to amuse spectators for generations. Nora claimed to be tied to a tree for a year by natives and forcibly tattooed daily, claiming that even Sitting Bull took part in the savage ink rape. This same victimized-by-Indians story was told by Prince Constantine, who toured with Barnum's Great Traveling Exposition in 1873. Her fame was reduced by another tattooed woman named Irene Woodward, who used an incest theme revolving around her father to arouse and shock audiences.
Isaac Lucas - Oliver Street Baptist Meeting House / Baptist Mariner's Temple - In 1803, the Oliver Street Baptist Church was one of the first churches to denounce slavery and consider it a sin. The 1795 Oliver Street Baptist Meeting House was on the NW corner of Henry and Oliver Streets. It merged with the Madison Baptist Church and also picked up the former Delancey Church congregation. I was rebuilt in 1800, 1819 and 1843 after burning down earlier in 1843.
The Baptist Mariner's Temple was built by architect Isaac Lucas in 1843 on the site of the Oliver Street Baptist Church. It is the oldest Baptist church in NYC. The original Baptist Mariner's Temple was on Cherry Street between 1795 and 1842. The Baptist Mariner's Temple attracted sailors from ships docked on the East River. Several National Baptist Conventions and meetings have been held here. This old Irish neighborhood turned into a Greek neighborhood, and the Baptist Mariner's Temple was built in a Greek Revival style with fluted Ionic columns. It was designated a NYC landmark in 1966 by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
Henry Sands Brooks - Brooks Brothers - Founded April 7th, 1818, by Henry Sands Brooks, Brooks Brothers (then named H.& D.H Brooks & Company) is the oldest men's clothier in America. When Henry Sands Brooks died in 1833, Henry Jr. took over the business, his sons (the brothers) were named Elisha, Edward, Daniel and John took over the family business in 1850. After the Catherine and Cherry store, Brooks Brothers moved to their second location at 466-468 Broadway (NE corner of Grand Street) and remained from 1857 to 1869 or 1874. It had a very fancy setup with Tiffany chandeliers and gas fixtures.
Brooks Brothers supplied uniforms to the Union Army and tailored special uniforms for Union Generals Ulysses S. Grant, Joseph Hooker, Phillip H. Sheridan and William Sherman. Brooks Brothers also were known to sell clothing to government war contractors and the upper classes (whom the rioters called $300 men because they could buy themselves out of serving in the Civil War for $300). All this attracted mobs of angry protesters to the original flagship store during the Irish Draft Riots (July 13th to July 16th, 1863).
The rioters turned on the store lights so they could find the most expensive goods. The 1st Precinct at 29 Broad Street sent 30 policemen through the front door of Brooks Brothers. Police from the 3rd and 4th Precincts then helped drive the escaping rioters down Cherry Street. The 1st Precinct then went to tenement houses by Cherry and Market Streets where they recovered several wagon loads of stolen Brooks Brothers inventories (approximately worth $10,000).
The Draft Riot mobs started their attacks at the draft offices and then moved to the Colored Orphan Asylum. Also on this first day of the riots, they besieged the house of Mayor George Opdyke (who had by federal troop protection) and other wealthy Republicans homes. On both the first and second days, rioters converged on the offices of The Tribune on Newspaper Row. The Tribune was the most outspoken Republican newspaper in NYC. Its editor Horace Greeley was one of the founding members of the Republican Party (and unsuccessfully ran for President in 1872). About 150 policemen scattered the rioters, who were smashing the lower portions of the Tribune building. Many African Americans hid in police stations to escape the savage rioters hunting for them. Unluckier blacks were beaten and left hanging by their necks from NYC trees.
Black neighborhoods, such as Little Africa on Sullivan and Carmine Streets between Houston and Bleecker Streets, and Roosevelt Street east of Chatham Square, were also attacked on the second day of the Draft Riots. Rioters also trashed mansions on Fifth Avenue and Lexington Avenue and chopped down telegraph poles to sabotage police communication.
By the third day, July 15th, a Wednesday, African American homes on the lower west side and off 6th Avenue were burned and looted. The mobs also were continuing to attack prominent Republican homes and Protestant missions. The exhausted police managed to protect a musket stockpile at a store on Broadway by 33rd Street, but an arms factory on 22nd Street called the Union Steam Works was captured by the mob.
That evening, rioters were massing on First Avenue between 18th and 19th Streets and the police and military started firing grapeshot into the crowds. The streets were cleared, but the rioters started shooting down NYC's protectors from the surrounding buildings, and the police and military retreated. A second wave of soldiers attacked the rioters around 11 p.m., and stopped the mobs within and hour and a half. Trainloads of militia, five regiments fresh from Gettysburg, hit NYC by dawn and started battling the mob, almost 70,000 strong. By Thursday night the largest working class rebellion in NYC history was over.
In 1869, Brooks Brothers moved for a few years to Union Square, then in 1874, Brooks Brothers opened their fourth location at 670 Broadway and Bond Street, their fifth at Broadway and 22nd Street in 1884. The sixth location, which became their flagship store was a ten-story building at 346 Madison Avenue off 44th Street, which opened in 1915. Besides the Madison Avenue store a second store was launched in 1931, at 111 Broadway at Wall Street. Another store opened after Word War II, at 67 Liberty Street. It then moved to One Liberty Plaza in 1976, which is still open (along with the flagship store at 346 Madison Avenue).
Factoids: Lincoln was wearing a Brooks Brothers suit when he was assassinated, so was McKinley & J F Kennedy. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Franklin Roosevelt and Clark Gable were also Brooks Brothers customers.
Samuel Lord - Samuel Lord's Store (before Taylor) - Samuel Lord's first store was located in the basement of 47 Catherine Street in 1826. The company became Lord and Taylor right before they opened their second store at 255-261 Grand Street. Lord was a native of Saddleworth, England, and George W. Taylor was from New York. They kept both stores open until the original Catherine Street store closed in 1868. For over the next 30 years immigrants making clothing represented NYC's quickest growing industry.
From 1854 until March 8th, 1902, Lord & Taylor was located at 255-261 Grand Street (by Chrystie Street), its second location. It was one of the first buildings to turn their facades into arcades (early skyscraper thinking from its architect Frederick Diaper). The Grand Street store ended up holding most of Lord & Taylor's carpets and oilcloths. During the NYC draft riots (July 13th to July 16th, 1863), Lord and Taylor was surrounded by menacing crowds, but they were dispersed by the police. Overall, five Union Army regiments had to be called from Gettysburg to stop the beating, lynching and burning of NYC's blacks and their property. Between 119 and 125 blacks died in the draft riots while hundreds were badly injured and mutilated by harsh beatings.
The NYC draft lottery started on July 11th, 1863, and the first anti-draft riot started on Monday, July 13th by firemen from Engine Company 33 who thought they should be exempt from the draft. When the firemen called the Black Joke realized they wouldn’t be exempt, they attacked the Ninth District Provost Marshal's office on 47th Street and Third Avenue where the draft lottery was being held. The Black Joke firemen set the building on fire, triggering angry citizens who saw the smoke to start citywide riots. Orchestrated by the poor Irish working class, the riots stemmed from their anger knowing that the rich could buy their way out of the war for $300 apiece. Irish looters attacked bars and brothels to steal the liquor, and after the booze was consumed, they headed to the Colored Orphan Asylum and lynched black children.
The NW corner of Grand Street and Broadway, the third location of Lord and Taylor from 1860-1872, became Lord & Taylor’s headquarters of their wholesale trade (which closed in 1903). The next store (1906) was at 115 5th Avenue, and a later location opened on Great Jones and Lafayette Streets. The Broadway and 20th Street store opened around 1870, and Lord & Taylor's last move in 1914 took them to the current 424 5th Avenue (between 38th and 39th Streets).
Catherine Market - The NYC-owned market that the poor favored opened in 1786 as the Catherine Market, featuring about 80 vendors; 58 covered booths and about 25 open-air vendors. Jewish, Irish and Chinese merchants offered residents of the surrounding tenements the lowest prices in NYC. The poorest folks always waited until after midnight to get the best deals for the leftovers. The Catherine Market was known for its meats, fish, clams and mostly oysters. While they eat little all week, the poor feasted on Sunday so Saturday nights and Sunday mornings were busy.
Like the Oswego and Fly Markets, the Catherine Street Market had butchers and sold meat. To get fresh meat otherwise, citizens had to go beyond Chambers Street to the east side of Roosevelt Street where the municipally licensed slaughterhouses were allowed to operate. Nicholas Bayard's family ran a slaughterhouse polluting the eastern banks of the Collect Pond during the later half of the 18th century. Bayard owned property north and east of the Collect Pond and used the slaughterhouse to somehow increase his property value.
Hendrick (Harman) Rutgers named Catherine Street and Catherine Slip after his wife Catherine (1711-1779), whom he married in 1732. Catherine was the daughter of NYC's 1698 Mayor Johannes De Peyster (1666–1711) and the niece of Abraham DePeyster, who donated the Wall Street land for the second City Hall. Henry Street, named after Catherine's son, Henry Rutgers, runs parallel to East Broadway (named in the 1820s) and was once called Harman Street, named after Harman Rutgers. Catherine Rutgers had seven children; four of them died young.
Market Street, a former red light district, was named after the Catherine Street Market in 1813, after being known (since 1795) as George Street. About eight streets in colonial NYC had the name “George,” not for George Washington but for British monarch George III. In 1845, the oyster boats moved from where the East River ends at Coenties Slip upriver off the Catherine Market.
The Catherine Market was first vested in NYC between 1686 and 1730. In the late 19th century it was a public market run by the Manhattan Borough President. Catherine Street Market became part of the Lower Monroe Street Market, which ran from Monroe and Catherine Streets to Cherry Streets, and on Oak Street from Catherine to Oliver Streets. In 1939, the site was reconstructed as a central mall space with benches.
Robert Moses - Knickerbocker Village - Robert Moses. busily clearing the Lower East Side slums in the 1930s, had Knickerbocker Village built 1933-1934. Realtor Fred F. French picked the worst block in his slum real estate holdings for this government housing project. Knickerbocker Village was built on Lung Block, named for its high tuberculosis death rate. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company worked with the government to create Knickerbocker Village's 1,573 apartments in the block between Market, Cherry, Catherine and Monroe Streets, just south of the Manhattan Bridge. It was the first federally funded apartment development in NYC and the first such housing development in the country. It was also the first project of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. (“RFC”), authorized by Congress to extend loans to private developers to build low-income housing in slum areas.
African Americans were banned throughout the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s from renting in Knickerbocker Village. Many Knickerbocker Village residents were active in the social demonstrations of the time. In the center of the two Knickerbocker Village complexes, residents exclusively used a large enclosed park where social (and many socialist) tenant clubs met. This park was the meeting place for the Hadassah, the Pioneer Women, and the American Labor Party. Ethel and Julius Rosenberg lived on the 11th floor of 10 Monroe Street in Knickerbocker Village from 1942 to 1950, when they were arrested for selling atomic bomb secrets to the Soviets. The Rosenbergs were executed June 19th, 1953.
Colonel Henry Rutgers - Church of Sea and Land - The second oldest church building in NYC is the Market Street (Northern) Reformed Church, also known as the Northeast Dutch Reformed Church or the Northeast Reformed Dutch Church. This church of Manhattan schist, brick, wood and sandstone was built in the Georgian style in 1817-1819 on land donated by Colonel Henry Rutgers. It was commonly called the Kirk on Rutgers Farm.
In 1864, the Dutch Reformed Church disbanded, and two years later the Georgian-Gothic Revival church was transferred to the Trustees of New York Presbytery by its new owner Hanson K. Corning. Presbyterian seamen from the multitudes of ships in nearby NYC harbors were guided spiritually by the new tenant of the 61 Henry Street Church, the Presbyterian Church of Sea and Land.
The Church of Sea and Land was nearly sold for $50,000 to help pay off the mortgage for the Presbyterian's New York Church in Harlem (run by Dr. Robinson) on 7th Avenue and 128th Street. The Rev. Dr. Parkhurst of the Madison Avenue Church stopped the sale, declaring it unjust and unkind and that the church’s good work should not be interfered with.
Chinese workers immigrated into NYC in the 1870s and 1880s. The Rev Huie Kin had his first mission on University Place. In 1910, Kin was named pastor of the new First Chinese Presbyterian Church, which in 1951 began sharing the Church of Sea and Land. In June 1972, the Church of Sea and Land was dissolved, and in 1974, the Presbytery gifted the church to the First Chinese Presbyterian Church. The First Chinese Presbyterian Church and its Erben organ became a NYC landmark in 1966.
Mechanics Alley - Mechanics Alley is one of the skinniest streets in NYC, still running east to west between Cherry and Henry Streets, and north to south between Pike and Market Streets. The section of the alley between Henry and Madison Streets was known as Birmingham Alley. The original Mechanics Alley ran only between Cherry and Monroe Streets directly under the Manhattan Bridge, not just south of it (as it is today, on the path of the old Birmingham Alley). The original Mechanics Alley disappeared after 1905 when the Manhattan Bridge was constructed. There was a Mechanics Place behind 359 Rivington Street between Lewis and Goerck Streets.
Builders who worked as artisans, artificers, craftsmen and tradesmen were once called mechanics. Because they had the skills to build new settlements, mechanics who immigrated to the New World in the 17th century were promised free ship passage, free land, and exemptions from taxes and military service. Carpenters, bricklayers, masons, glaziers, painters and plasterers came to NYC and received great wages as they built and rebuilt the constantly growing city.
Billy the Kid's Home - Before being shot to death in 1881 by Sheriff Pat Garrett, Billy the Kid led a Western gang of cattle thieves. William Bonney left his Allen Street apartment (No. 70 by Grand Street) where he was born in 1859 to escape out West after killing a man in a street fight. This poor Irish neighborhood where he was raised lost a whole strip of buildings when Allen Street was widened, including Bonney’s birthplace.
Pike Street / Allen Street - Previously called Charlotte Street, Pike Street was re-named after Lamberton, New Jersey-born Zebulon Montgomery Pike Jr. in the 1810s. Pike became famous for his 1806 Pike expedition (similar to the Lewis and Clark Expedition) to the south and west parts of the Louisiana Purchase property. The 14,110-foot Pike's Peak in Colorado was named after Pike, who oddly never set foot on the peak named for him. An 1818 map based on the work of explorer Stephen Long calls the mountain Pike’s Peak, and John C. Fremont popularized the name Pike’s Peak after 1844, but the appellation was not based Pike ever being there. Pike actually climbed either the 11,409-foot Mount Rosa (to the southeast) or the 9,000-foot Cheyenne Peak in Colorado. Pike gave up the climb when he ended up in waist-deep snow for two days without food.
Pike grew to adulthood in frontier posts and married Clarissa Harlow Brown in 1801. In 1805, the governor of the Upper Louisiana Territory, General James Wilkinson, ordered Pike to find the source of the Mississippi River, Arkansas River and Red River. Spanish authorities captured Pike, and his documents were confiscated on February 26th, 1807, in northern New Mexico, now part of Colorado. While in custody Pike had access to various maps of the southwest before he was released on July 1st, 1807, at the Louisiana border. "The Expeditions of Zebulon Montgomery Pike to Headwaters of the Mississippi River" was published in 1810. Pike's account of his expedition became famous to all the 19th century American explorers who came after him to explore the southwest and follow the Santa Fe Trail.
Pike was promoted to colonel in 1812 and brigadier general in 1813. On his last military campaign, on April 27th, 1813, Pike commanded a successful attack on York (Toronto). The British garrison blew up its ammunition while retreating, and Pike was killed by debris. He was buried in Sackets Harbor, New York.
Captain William Henry Allen, the youngest skipper in the Navy during the War of 1812, was a hero who commanded the brig Argus and captured 20 British ships. Allen brought the captured British ship Macedonian into NYC harbor on New Year’s Day, 1813, and received a hero’s welcome. Allen was killed by cannon fire at the age of 29 while roaming the English Channel for enemy ships. After capturing 20 British vessels in a month, the crew celebrated a bit too hard. A wine ship named Pelican caught up and attacked on August 14th, 1813. A cannonball took off his leg, and Captain William Henry Allen died a day later on August 15th.
Allen Street’s notorious red light district was the area’s biggest industry, featuring NYC's largest strip of prostitutes who regularly paid off the police and Tammany Hall to exist. The other sections of the red light district were on Chrystie and Forsyth Streets. Fifty feet on the west side of Allen Street was part of the original Allen Street. The Second Avenue elevated railway that began in Chatham Square once ran above it from 1878 until it was taken down in 1942 in an unsuccessful attempt to fix its urban blight. The 138 feet on the east side of Allen Street was added in 1932 at a cost of $8 million, and almost all of it went into the pockets of the real estate interests that owned the destroyed tenements and businesses. The neighborhood was populated by Romanian and Sephardic Jews from Syria, Egypt, Greece, and Turkey. One of the old powerhouses from the Second Avenue El still stands on the NW corner of Allen and Division Streets; its old letters still attached to the building now used as a Chinese food warehouse for Tay Shing Corp.
The middle malls of Allen Street and Pike Street are now in the midst of an artistic renovation by the Art Commission. A 6-foot wide path will soon go past historic references identifying famous people who came from the area. The path will also go past colored concrete, glass pavers, giant stones, and plants on both sides. It was going to have 1939 World’s Fair benches, but plans changed to newly designed benches instead.
Eddie Cantor - Sons of Israel - The old Congregation Sons of Israel (B'nai Israel Kalwarie) at 13-15 Pike Street, just south of East Broadway was built in 1903-1904. This Classic Revival-styled landmark synagogue designed by Alfred E Badt is where Eddie Cantor had his Bar Mitzvah in 1905. Its religious orientation since 1994 as the Sung Tak Buddist Temple has changed like the neighborhood. No longer home to rabbis and cantors (and Eddie Cantor), it has been replaced by the Cantonese.
Chinatown was built on what used to be a Canarsie Indian hunting and fishing village they called Werpoes (Algonquin for hares). Except during winter, the Canarsies lived seasonally at Werpoes for hundreds of years. Lying east of Broadway up to the Bowery from the south end of City Hall Park to Canal Street, the Werpoes village overlooked the Fresh Water Pond. The natives shared the area with a rabbit village (hence the name). The Indians cleared the more level land along the Bowery to grow corn and tobacco (maybe the “three sisters”: corn, beans and squash). The land of the Werpoes became part of the Out Ward.
The semi-nomadic Indians always burned their fields and moved on, rotating and refreshing the planting sites. In 1600, these Manhattan Indians had a castle or village stronghold to use as a lookout on top of Catiemuts Hill, just south of Werpoes Hill where Chatham Square stands today. When the Dutch moved into lower Manhattan in 1624, the 5,000 to 10,000 Werpoes abandoned the thousand-year-old village and planting grounds. The Bayard farm took over the old Indian planting grounds.
The Werpoes saved and befriended Adrian Block and his crew from a long winter after his boat, The Tiger, caught fire off the East River by the outlet of the Old Wreck Brook (which drained the Collect Pond). The Werpoes helped Block and his crew get timbers for their huts and oak and hickory trees to build the escape boat they named Restless.
The Sachem of the Canarsies, a tribe that lived seasonally in the Werpoes village by the Collect Pond, was named Meijeterma, and another local regional leader was Seyseys. The story of Manhattan’s sale by the Indians for $24 of merchandise could have happened as written at Bowling Green in 1626 with these two Indian leaders present. Bowling Green was the location of the Canarsies Council fires, so it was the perfect place to conduct a deal and smoke the peace pipe. The Sachem of the Rechewanis (from “little sand stream”), who occupied the mid-east side of NYC, was named Rechewac.
The third group of American Indian “landowners,” the Weckquaesgeeks, who lived by in upper NYC’s Inwood, were seemingly cut out of the deal when the Canarsies sold Manhattan. This land fraud was corrected with a separate second purchase commemorated with a bronze plaque in Inwood Park. As late as 1670, the Weckquaesgeeks would still claim parts of Harlem no matter what deed was signed.
As far as the Indians’ compensation, they valued the iron items greatly, spurring them to cast away their stone tools, knives, axes, kettles, and hoes. In return for their valuable land, they also received blankets, hats, jackets, and porcelain beads (possibly resembling the wampum currency). Rum and guns also worked their way into some of the land deals.
Situated between two fresh water ponds, Norumbega's fort would have been part of the thousand-year-old Indian village of the Werpoes. Werpoes in Canarsie meant beautiful field by the thicket; other interpretations refer to Warpoes as a small hill or for its rabbit population. A hill of oyster shells marked the western shore of the Collect Pond, and the neighborhood was then called Shell Point Hill.
Before the hills of NYC were scraped away and flattened, most of lower Broadway ran along a ridge lined by a series of hills. Broadway was an old Lenape Indian trail called Wickquasgeck Trail, which crept through heavy NYC forests on the spine of a high ridge of ground. The trail ended at the council grounds, now Bowling Green. Wickquasgeck Trail turned eastward at Ann Street and continued down Park Row.
Many Indian trails were made into NYC's first roads. These 12-to-18-inch wide trails were the only paths from one Indian settlement to another. The Wickquasgecks were Delaware-speaking Mahican Indians who lived by Yonkers. Broadway (Heerestraat) followed the Wickquasgeck Trail to Bowling Green where Indians had council meetings and smoked the peace pipe.
Native American - Norumbegans Explorer-Juan (Jan) Rodrigues was the 1st non native resident of NYC. This black (mulatto) crewman from the boat Jonge Tobias lived and traded among the natives in 1612 (w/o support of a harbor ship). A friend of the Indians and the keeper of the Norumbega secret. Timeline - 1612 - 1664 Topics - Indian/ Dutch, People - Adrian Block fire through Peter Stuyvesant fire proofing Places
Slave - Caesar's friend Timeline - 1712 - 1741 Topics - 1712 - 1741 Slave revolts, Dutch / British Slave/White People - Gerardus Beekman to Molly Williams (1818) Places - greenwich and rector (John Hughson tavern), Water & Wall (slave market), Hanover square-#11, Firemen's Hall-71 Fulton Street,
Inventor - Christopher Colles -1774 - NYC's first log pipeline Timeline 1742-1776 Topics - Patriots / British, Water People Places
Patriot - Burr Timeline - 1776- 1836. Topics - Patriots / Tory Loyalists, 1776 Fire, Manhattan Company Places
Ringleader - Tweed Timeline - 1823 -1878 Topics - 1835 Fire, 1845 Fire, Tammany Hall, Gangs, People - Mose Humphrey knocked senseless in 1838 Places -