"The largest number of business men who play at Chamberlain's are stock brokers, and these persons say openly that it is a fairer game than the cunning and unscrupulous gambling of Wall street. The brokers, as well as other patrons, go in the night time to try and regain what they lost by day in speculation. Thus they alternate between one gaming resort and the other throughout the year. At the faro table they may lose several thousand dollars; but this they consider equivalent pay for rich suppers, costly wines, fine cigars and a merry time, and they are willing to pay for fun.
"Besides the opportunities which Chamberlain affords to his patrons to lose or win, as luck may direct, he keeps a sort of midnight national bank, where he will cash a check for any man he knows as a reliable party, and many who never think of gambling take advantage of his accommodating spirit. This is why he is reputed a good and valuable neighbor.
"How skilfully contrived are all these minutiae of a gambling palace! They seduce even those who would gladly have never seen a game of chance, and before one is aware of his danger he is past redemption."
Next to the first-class houses come the Second-Class Houses, or "Hells," as they are called in the city. These lie principally along Broadway and the side streets leading from it, and in the Bowery. They are numerous, and are the most frequented by strangers. They are neither as elegantly furnished, nor as exclusive as to their guests, as the first-class houses. Any one may visit them, and they keep a regular force of runners, or "ropers in," for the purpose of enticing strangers within their walls. They are located over stores, as a general rule, and the Broadway establishments usually have a number of flashily-dressed, vulgar-looking men about their doors in the day time, who are insufferably rude to ladies passing by.
[Picture: THE SKIN GAME.]
Faro is the usual game played at these houses, but it is a very different game from that which goes on under the supervision of John Chamberlain. In gambler's parlance, it is called a "skin game." In plain English it means that the bank sets out to win the player's money by deliberate and premeditated fraud. In first-class houses a visitor is never urged to play. Here every guest must stake his money at the risk of encountering personal violence from the proprietor or his associates. The dealer is well skilled in manipulating the cards so as to make them win for the bank always, and every effort is made to render the victim hazy with liquor, so that he shall not be able to keep a clear record in his mind of the progress of the game. A common trick is to use sanded cards, or cards with their surfaces roughened, so that two, by being handled in a certain way, will adhere and fall as one card. Again, the dealer will so arrange his cards as to be sure of the exact order in which they will come out. He can thus pull out one card, or two at a time, as the "necessities of the bank" may require. Frequently no tally is kept of the game, and the player is unable to tell how many turns have been made—whether the full number or less. Even if the fraud is discovered, the visitor will find it a serious matter to attempt to expose it. The majority of the persons present are in the pay of the bank, and all are operating with but one object—to get possession of the money of visitors. The slightest effort at resistance will ensure an assault, and the guest is either beaten and thrown into the street, or he is robbed and murdered, and his body thrown into the river. There are always men hanging around these places who are on the watch for an opportunity to commit a robbery. The most notorious burglars and criminals of the city visit these hells. They keep a close watch over visitors who stay until the small hours of the morning, especially upon those who are under the influence of liquor. They follow them down into the dark and silent streets, and, at a favorable moment, spring upon them, knock them senseless and rob them. If necessary to ensure their own safety, they do not hesitate to murder their victims.
Many persons coming to the city yield to the temptation to visit these places, merely to see them. They intend to lose only a dollar or two as the price of the exhibition. Such men voluntarily seek the danger which threatens them. Nine out of ten who go there merely through curiosity, lose all their money. The men who conduct the "hell" understand how to deal with such cases, and are rarely unsuccessful.
It is in these places that clerks and other young men are ruined. They lose, and play again, hoping to make good their losses. In this way they squander their own means; and too frequently commence to steal from their employers, in the vain hope of regaining all they have lost.
There is only one means of safety for all classes—Keep away from the gaming table altogether.
At first gambling was carried on only at night. The fascination of the game, however, has now become so great, that day gambling houses have been opened in the lower part of the city. These are located in Broadway, below Fulton street, and in one or two other streets within the immediate neighborhood of Wall street.
These "houses," as they are called, are really nothing more than rooms. They are located on the top floor of a building, the rest of which is taken up with stores, offices, etc. They are managed on a plan similar to the night gambling houses, and the windows are all carefully closed with wooden shutters, to prevent any sound being heard without. The rooms are elegantly furnished, brilliantly lighted with gas, and liquors and refreshments are in abundance. As the stairway is thronged with persons passing up and down, at all hours of the day, no one is noticed in entering the building for the purpose of play. The establishment has its "runners" and "ropers in," like the night houses, who are paid a percentage on the winnings from their victims, and the proprietor of the day house is generally the owner of a night house higher up town.
Square games are rarely played in these houses. The victim is generally fleeced. Men who gamble in stocks, curbstone brokers, and others, vainly endeavor to make good a part of their losses at these places. They are simply unsuccessful. Clerks, office-boys, and others, who can spend but a few minutes and lose only a few dollars at a time, are constantly seen in these hells. The aggregate of these slight winnings by the bank is very great in the course of the day. Pickpockets and thieves are also seen here in considerable numbers. They do not come to practise their arts, for they would be shown no mercy if they should do so, but come to gamble away their plunder, or its proceeds.
It is not necessary to speak of the evils of gambling, of the effect of the vice upon society. I have merely to describe the practice as it prevails here. New York is full of the wrecks it has made. Respectable and wealthy families there are by the score whose means have been squandered on the green cloth. There are widows and orphans here whose husbands and fathers have been driven into suicide by gambling losses. The State Prisons hold men whose good names have been blasted, and whose souls have been stained with crime in consequence of this vice. Yet the evil is suffered to grow, and no honest effort is made to check it.
The lottery business of New York is extensive, and, though conducted in violation of the law, those who carry it on make scarcely a show of secrecy.
The principal lottery office of the city is located on Broadway, near St. Paul's church. It is ostensibly a broker's office, and the windows display the usual collection of gold and silver coins, bills, drafts, etc. At the rear end of the front room is a door which leads into the office in which lottery tickets are sold. It is a long, narrow apartment, lighted from the ceiling, and so dark that the gas is usually kept burning. A high counter extends along two sides of the room, and the walls back of this are lined with handbills setting forth the schemes of the various lotteries. Two large black-boards are affixed to the wall back of the main counter, and on these are written the numbers as soon as the drawings have been made. There is always a crowd of anxious faces in this room at the hour when the drawings are received.
The regular lotteries for which tickets are sold here, are the Havana Lottery, which is conducted by the Government of the Island of Cuba, the Kentucky State Lottery, drawn at Covington, Kentucky, and the Missouri State Lottery, drawn at St. Louis, Mo.
The Havana Lottery is managed on the single number plan. There are 26,000 tickets and 739 prizes. The 26,000 tickets are put in the wheel, and are drawn out one at a time. At the same time another ticket inscribed with the amount of a prize is drawn from another wheel, and this prize is accorded to the number drawn from the ticket wheel. This is continued until the 739 prizes have been disposed of.
The Kentucky and Missouri lotteries are drawn every day at noon, and every night. The prizes are neither as large nor as numerous as in the Havana lottery. The drawings are made in public, and the numbers so drawn are telegraphed all over the country to the agents of the lottery.
"The lottery schemes are what is known as the ternary combination of seventy-eight numbers, being one to seventy-eight, inclusive; or in other words, 'three number' schemes. The numbers vary with the day. To-day seventy-eight numbers may be placed in the wheel and fourteen of them drawn out. Any ticket having on it three of the drawn numbers takes a prize, ranging from fifty thousand dollars to three hundred dollars, as the scheme may indicate for the day. Tickets with two of the drawn numbers on them pay an advance of about a hundred per cent. of their cost. Tickets with only one of the drawn numbers on them get back first cost. On another day only seventy-five numbers will be put in the wheel, and only twelve or thirteen drawn out. And so it goes.
"The owners or managers of these concerns are prominent sporting men and gamblers of New York and elsewhere. Considerable capital is invested. It is said that it takes nearly two million dollars to work this business, and that the profits average five hundred thousand dollars or more a year. The ticket sellers get a commission of twelve per cent. on all sales. The tickets are issued to them in lots, one set of combinations going to one section of the country this week, another next; and all tickets unsold up to the hour for the drawing at Covington, are sent back to headquarters. In this way many prizes are drawn by tickets which remain unsold in dealers' hands after they have reported to the agents; and the lottery makes it clear."
It is argued that lotteries, if managed by honest men, are of necessity fair. This is true; but there is a vast amount of questionable honesty in the whole management. The numbers may be so manipulated as to be entirely in favor of the proprietors, and in the fairest lottery the chances are always very slim in favor of the exact combination expressed on any given ticket being drawn from the wheel. The vast majority of ticket buyers never receive a cent on their outlay. They simply throw their money away. Yet all continue their ventures in the hope that they may at some time draw a lucky number. The amount annually expended in this city in the purchase of lottery tickets is princely. The amount received in prizes is beggarly. The effect upon the lottery gamblers is appalling. Men and women of all ages are simply demoralized by it. They neglect their legitimate pursuits, stint themselves and their families, commit thefts and forgeries, and are even driven into madness and suicide by the hope of growing rich in a day.
III. POLICY DEALING.
Policy dealing is closely allied with the lottery business, and is carried on by the agents for their own benefit. It is one of the most dangerous forms of gambling practised in the city. It consists of betting on certain numbers, within the range of the lottery schemes, being drawn at the noon or evening drawings. You can take any three numbers of the seventy-eight, and bet, or "policy" on them. You may bet on single numbers, or on combinations. The single number may come out anywhere in the drawing. It is called a "Day Number," and the player deposits one dollar in making his bet. If the number is drawn, he wins five dollars. The stake is always one dollar, unless a number of bets of the same description are taken. Two numbers constitute a "Saddle," and both being drawn, the player wins from twenty-four dollars to thirty-two dollars. Three numbers constitute a "Gig," and win $150 to $225. Four numbers make a "Horse," and win $640. A "Capital Saddle" is a bet that two numbers will be among the first three drawn, and wins $500. A "Station Number" is a bet that a given number will come out in a certain place—for instance, that twenty-four will be the tenth number drawn,—and this wins sixty dollars. Any number of "Saddles," "Gigs," or "Horses," may be taken by a single player.
All this seems very simple, and indeed it is so simple that the merest child ought to understand it. The policy dealers know that the chances are always against a single number being drawn, and still greater against the drawing of a combination. Therefore they offer an enormous advance upon the amount staked, knowing that they are as sure of winning as they could desire to be. A man might play policy for a year, and never see his numbers drawn. Yet thousands annually throw away large sums in this wretched game. A large share of the earnings of the poor go in policy playing. It seems to exercise a terrible fascination over its victims. They concentrate all their efforts on devising systems and lucky numbers, and continue betting in the vain hope that fortune will yet reward them with a lucky "gig" or "saddle." All the while they grow poorer, and the policy dealers richer. The negroes are most inveterate policy players. They are firm believers in dreams and dream books. Every dream has its corresponding number set down in the books. To dream of a man, is one; of a woman, five; of both, fifteen; of a colored man, fourteen; of a "genteel colored man," eleven; and so on. A publishing firm in Ann street sells several thousand copies of these dream books every month. The negroes are not the only purchasers. Even men accounted "shrewd" in Wall street are among the number. Indeed Wall street furnishes some of the most noted policy players in the city.
The policy offices are generally dingy little holes, and may be recognized by the invariable sign, "Exchange," over the door or in the window. They are located principally in the most wretched quarters of the city.
Visitors to the Lunatic Asylum and the Almshouse may see a number of instances of the fatal results of policy playing.
LXVI. PETER COOPER.
Peter Cooper was born in New York, on the 12th of February, 1791. His maternal grandfather, John Campbell, was Mayor of New York and Deputy Quartermaster General during the Revolution, and his father was a lieutenant in the Continental army. After the return of peace, Lieutenant Cooper resumed his avocation as a hatter, in which he continued until his death. It required close attention to business and hard work to make a living in those days, and as soon as young Peter was old enough to pick the fur from the rabbit skins which were used in making hats, he was set to work. He had no opportunity to go to school. "I have never had any time to get an education," he once said, "and all that I know I have had to pick up as I went along." He continued in the hat trade until he had thoroughly mastered it, and afterwards became a brewer, pursuing this trade for two years, at the end of which time he apprenticed himself to a coachmaker. Upon completing his term at this trade, he engaged with his brother in the cloth-shearing business, and continued in it until the general introduction of foreign cloths, after the War of 1812, made it unprofitable. He then became a cabinet maker, but soon after opened a small grocery store on the present site of the Cooper Institute.
With his savings he purchased a woollen factory, which he conducted successfully, and some time after this, enlarged his operations by manufacturing glue. In 1830 he erected large iron works at Canton, one of the suburbs of Baltimore, and he subsequently carried on extensive iron and wire works at Trenton, New Jersey. The greater part of his fortune has been gained by the manufacture of iron and glue. He was the first person to roll wrought iron beams for fire-proof buildings, and soon after opening his Baltimore works, he manufactured there, from his own designs, the first locomotive ever made in America. He has been interested in various enterprises, the majority of which have proved successful, and has shown a remarkable capacity for conducting a number of entirely different undertakings at the same time. He is now very wealthy, and has made every dollar of his fortune by his own unaided exertions. He resides in a handsome mansion in Grammercy Park, but lives simply and without ostentation.
He does not enjoy the marked respect and popularity of which he never fails to receive hearty evidences when he appears in public, because of his success alone. He is one of the principal benefactors of the city, and has placed the whole community under heavy obligations to him by his noble gift to the public of the Cooper Institute, which institution has been described in another chapter.
He conceived the idea of this institution more than forty years ago, and long before he was able to carry it out. Having been much impressed with a description of the Ecoles d'Industrie of Paris, he was resolved that his native city should have at least one similar institution. As soon as he felt able to do so, he began the erection of the Cooper Institute. The entire cost was borne by him, and the actual outlay exceeded the estimate upon which he had begun the work by nearly thirty thousand dollars. He had many obstacles, mechanical, as well as pecuniary, to overcome, and when the building was completed and paid for, he found himself comparatively a poor man. Almost every dollar of his fortune had been expended upon his great gift to the working men and women of New York. He persevered, however, and his Institute began the career of usefulness which it has since pursued.
Since then he has prospered to a greater extent than ever, and has acquired a large fortune. He has taken an active part in the extension of the telegraph interests of the country, and is now a stockholder and an officer in the Atlantic Cable Companies. He is very popular among all classes of citizens, and his appearance at public meetings is always greeted with applause.
[Picture: PETER COOPER.]
Mr. Cooper is of medium height, and is rather thin in person. He has a profusion of silvery white hair, and wears his beard under his chin, with the lip and chin clean shaven. His large gold spectacles give a peculiar expression to his eyes, which are small and gray. His face is sharp and thin, and very intelligent, and one of the most thoroughly amiable and benevolent countenances to be met with in New York. It is emphatically the face of a good man.
LXVII. THE "HEATHEN CHINEE."
According to the Census of 1870, there were twenty-three Chinese inhabitants of New York, but the actual number of Celestials in the city at present is believed to be about seventy-five. The most of these are very poor, and nearly all reside in the Five Points district, generally in Baxter street. Some of them are wretched and depraved, but the majority are industrious and well behaved.
The Chinese candy and cigar sellers are well known. They stand on the street corners, by little wooden tables covered with broken bits of candy, which they sell at a penny a piece. They are dirty, dull, and hopeless looking. No one ever sees them smile, and they rarely pay any attention to what is passing on the street. Of all the dwellers in the great city they seem the most utterly forlorn. The patience with which they remain at their posts, day after day, and in all weathers, is touching, and one cannot help pitying them. Their earnings must be very small, but they manage to live on them.
The cigar makers are more fortunate. They buy cheap remnants of tobacco from the dealers in that article, and at night make these lots up into cigars, averaging from 150 to 180 cigars per night. They dispose of these the next day at three cents apiece, and some of them earn as much as $30 or $35 per week. The cigar maker has a peculiar song which he sings or chants while rolling out his cigars, and varies this chant by occasionally puffing a cigar.
There are scarcely any Chinese women in the city, but nearly all the Chinamen are married. They have a great fondness for Irish wives, and nearly all have two, and some of them three wives apiece. Families of this size are very expensive luxuries, and it takes all John's industry to provide for them. A gentleman not long since asked one of these much married individuals how he managed to keep his wives from fighting. He was answered that they got along very peaceably together. Upon being pressed, however, John admitted that they did fight sometimes.
"Then how do you manage them?"
"When he fightee," said John, dryly, "me turnee him out in the yardee. Me lockee the door, and let him fightee out. He git tired soon, and me let him in. Me—what you call him?—boss here."
The children by these queer unions seem to be healthy, and nearly all of them speak Chinese in talking to their fathers, and their English has a decided brogue. Many of the Chinese decorate their houses with the letters they have received from home. These letters are curious collections of hieroglyphics, some of which are executed in brilliant colors.
There is a Chinese boarding house for sailors of that nationality in Baxter street, kept by a Chinaman and his wife, who is also an Oriental. These Chinese sailors are simply cooks or stewards of vessels arriving here from China or California, and not able-bodied seamen. They do not frequent the ordinary sailor's boarding houses, and are never seen in the dance houses or hells of Water street. They pass their time on shore quietly in their countryman's establishment, and some of them use this season of leisure in trying to acquaint themselves with the English language. All are opium smokers.
[Picture: CHINESE CANDY DEALER.]
The main room of the boarding house in Baxter street is fitted up with a series of beds or berths, one above another, extending around it. At almost any time one may find several Chinese lying in these berths smoking opium. The opium pipe is a large piece of wood pierced down the centre with a fine hole. The stem is very thick, and is about eighteen inches long. The smoker has before him a box of soft gum opium and a small lamp. He takes a little steel rod, picks off a small piece of opium with it, holds it in the flame of the lamp for a few minutes, and when it has become thoroughly ignited, places it in the bowl of his pipe and puffs away, repeating the operation until he is satisfied, or is insensible.
They are very fond of cards. Those used by them are brought from China, and are curiosities. They are about one inch in width and five inches long, and are gorgeously painted with old time Chinese men and women. To each card there is attached a certain value. The cards are divided into six lots of equal size. Each of the two players chooses one of these packs alternately. The first player places a card on the table, and his opponent places another immediately across it. The others are placed obliquely to these, in the form of a star, and each player scores the value of his card as he lays it down. The game is won by the player who has the largest score.
Altogether, in spite of the misconduct of a few, the Chinese of New York are, barring their bigamous affection for the Irish women, a very innocent and well-behaved class.
LXVIII. STREET CHILDREN.
In spite of the labors of the Missions and the Reformatory Institutions, there are ten thousand children living on the streets of New York, gaining their bread by blacking boots, by selling newspapers, watches, pins, etc., and by stealing. Some are thrust into the streets by dissolute parents, some are orphans, some are voluntary outcasts, and others drift here from the surrounding country. Wherever they may come from, or however they may get here, they are here, and they are nearly all leading a vagrant life which will ripen into crime or pauperism.
The newsboys constitute an important division of this army of homeless children. You see them everywhere, in all parts of the city, but they are most numerous in and about Printing House Square, near the offices of the great dailies. They rend the air and deafen you with their shrill cries. They surround you on the sidewalk, and almost force you to buy their papers. They climb up the steps of the stage, thrust their grim little faces into the windows, and bring nervous passengers to their feet with their shrill yells; or, scrambling into a street car, at the risk of being kicked into the street by a brutal conductor, they will offer you their papers in such an earnest, appealing way, that, nine times out of ten, you buy from sheer pity for the child.
The boys who sell the morning papers are very few in number. The newspaper stands seem to have the whole monopoly of this branch of the trade, and the efforts of the newsboys are confined to the afternoon journals—especially the cheap ones—some of which, however, are dear bargains at a penny. They swarm around the City Hall, and in the eastern section of the city, below Canal street; and in the former locality, half a dozen will sometimes surround a luckless pedestrian, thrusting their wares in his face, and literally forcing him to buy one to get rid of them. The moment he shows the least disposition to yield, they commence fighting among themselves for the "honor" of serving him. They are ragged and dirty. Some have no coats, no shoes, and no hat. Some are simply stupid, others are bright, intelligent little fellows, who would make good and useful men if they could have a chance.
[Picture: THE NEWSBOYS.]
The majority of these boys live at home, but many of them are wanderers in the streets, selling papers at times, and begging at others. Some pay their earnings, which rarely amount to more than thirty cents per day, to their mothers—others spend them in tobacco, strong drink, and in visiting the low-class theatres and concert halls.
Formerly, these little fellows suffered very much from exposure and hunger. In the cold nights of winter, they slept on the stairways of the newspaper offices, in old boxes or barrels, under door steps, and sometimes sought a "warm bed" on the street gratings of the printing offices, where the warm steam from the vaults below could pass over them.
The Bootblacks rank next to the newsboys. They are generally older; being from ten to sixteen years of age. Some are both newsboys and bootblacks, carrying on these pursuits at different hours of the day.
They provide themselves with the usual bootblack's "kit," of box and brushes. They are sharp, quick-witted boys, with any number of bad habits, and are always ready to fall into criminal practices when enticed into them by older hands. Burglars make constant use of them to enter dwellings and stores and open the doors from the inside. Sometimes these little fellows undertake burglaries on their own account, but they are generally caught by the police.
The bootblacks are said to form a regular confraternity, with fixed laws. They are said to have a "captain," who is the chief of the order, and to pay an initiation fee of from two dollars downwards. This money is said to find its way to the pockets of the captain, whose duty it is to "punch the head" of any member violating the rules of the society. The society fixes the price of blacking a pair of boots or shoes at ten cents, and severely punishes those who work for a less sum. They are at liberty, however, to receive any sum that may be given them in excess of this price. They surround their calling with a great deal of mystery, and those who profess to be members of the society flatly refuse to communicate anything concerning its place of meeting, or its transactions.
A large part of the earnings of the bootblacks is spent for tobacco and liquors. These children are regular patrons of the Bowery Theatre and the low-class concert halls. Their course of life leads to miserable results. Upon reaching the age of seventeen or eighteen the bootblack generally abandons his calling, and as he is unfit for any other employment by reason of his laziness and want of skill, be becomes a loafer, a bummer, or a criminal.
For the purpose of helping these and other outcasts, the Children's Aid Society was organized nineteen years ago. Since then it has labored actively among them, and has saved many from their wretched lives, and has enabled them to become respectable and useful members of society.
The Children's Aid Society extends its labors to every class of poor and needy children that can be reached, but makes the street children the especial objects of its care. It conducts five lodging houses, in which shelter and food are furnished at nominal prices to boys and girls, and carries on nineteen day and eleven evening Industrial Schools in various parts of the city. The success of the society is greatly, if not chiefly, due to the labors and management of Charles Loring Brace, its secretary, who has been the good genius of the New York street children for nearly twenty years.
The best known, and one of the most interesting establishments of the Children's Aid Society, is the Newsboys' Lodging House, in Park Place, near Broadway. It was organized in March, 1854, and, after many hard struggles, has now reached a position of assured success. It is not a charity in any sense that could offend the self-respect and independence of its inmates. Indeed, it relies for its success mainly in cultivating these qualities in them. It is in charge of Mr. Charles O'Connor, who is assisted in its management by his wife. Its hospitality is not confined to newsboys. Bootblacks, street venders, and juvenile vagrants of all kinds are welcomed, and every effort is made to induce them to come regularly that they may profit by the influences and instruction of the house. Boys pay five cents for supper (and they get an excellent meal), five cents for lodging, and five cents for breakfast. Those who are found unable to pay are given shelter and food without charge, and if they are willing to work for themselves are assisted in doing so.
The boys come in toward nightfall, in time for supper, which is served between six and seven o'clock. Many, however, do not come until after the theatres close. If they are strangers, their names and a description of them are recorded in the register. "Boys have come in," says Mr. Brace, "who did not know their own names. They are generally known to one another by slang names, such as the following: 'Mickety,' 'Round Hearts,' 'Horace Greeley,' 'Wandering Jew,' 'Fat Jack,' 'Pickle Nose,' 'Cranky Jim,' 'Dodge-me-John,' 'Tickle-me-foot,' 'Know-Nothing Mike,' 'O'Neill the Great,' 'Professor,' and innumerable others. They have also a slang dialect."
Upon being registered, the boy deposits his cap, overcoat, if he has one, comforter, boots, "kit," or other impedimenta, in a closet, of which there are a number, for safe keeping. He passes then to the bath tub, where he receives a good scrubbing. His hair is combed, and if he is in need of clothing, he receives it from a stock of second hand garments given by charitable individuals for the use of the society. Supper is then served, after which the boys assemble in the class room, which is also the chapel. Here they engage in study, or are entertained by lectures or addresses from visitors. They also sing hymns and familiar songs, and the sitting usually terminates about nine o'clock with the recitation of the Lord's Prayer and the singing of the Doxology. After this they may go to bed, or play dominoes for an hour or two longer, or repair to the gymnasium.
On Sunday evening divine service is held in the chapel. Says Mr. Brace: "There is something unspeakably solemn and affecting in the crowded and attentive meetings of these boys, of a Sunday evening, and in the thought that you speak for a few minutes on the high themes of eternity to a young audience who to-morrow will be battling with misery, temptation, and sin in every shape and form, and to whom your words may be the last they ever hear of either friendly sympathy or warning."
"The effect on the boys," he adds, "of this constant, patient, religious instruction, we know to have been most happy. Some have acknowledged it, living, and have shown better lives. Others have spoken of it in the hospitals and on their death-beds, or have written their gratitude from the battle field."
The officers of the Lodging House use their influence to induce the boys, who are the most notoriously improvident creatures in the city, to save their earnings. They have met with considerable success. There is now a Newsboys' Savings Bank, which began in this way: A former superintendent, Mr. Tracy, caused a large table to be provided and placed in the Lodging House. This table contained "a drawer divided into separate compartments, each with a slit in the lid, into which the boys dropped their pennies, each box being numbered and reserved for a depositor. The drawer was carefully locked, and, after an experience of one or two forays on it from petty thieves who crept in with the others, it was fastened to the floor, and the under part lined with tin. The Superintendent called the lads together, told them the object of the Bank, which was to make them save their money, and put it to vote how long it should be kept locked. They voted for two months, and thus, for all this time, the depositors could not get at their savings. Some repented, and wanted their money, but the rule was rigid. At the end of the period, the Bank was opened in the presence of all the lodgers, with much ceremony, and the separate deposits were made known, amid an immense deal of 'chaffing' from one another. The depositors were amazed at the amount of their savings; the increase seemed to awaken in them the instinct of property, and they at once determined to deposit the amounts in the city savings banks, or to buy clothes with them. Very little was spent foolishly. This simple contrivance has done more to break up the gambling and extravagant habits of the class than any other one influence. The Superintendent now pays a large interest on deposits, and the Trustees have offered prizes to the lads who save the most." The deposits of the boys now foot up an aggregate of about $1800.
The boys are assisted to earn their own support. Says Mr. Brace, writing in 1870:
"Through the liberality of one of our warmest friends, and generous trustee, B. J. Howland, Esq., a fund, which we call the 'Howland Fund,' was established. He contributed $10, to which other patrons added their contributions subsequently. The object of this fund is to aid poor and needy boys, and supply them with the means to start in business. We have loaned from this fund during the year $155.66, on which the borrowers have realized a profit of $381.42. It will be seen that they made a profit of 246 per cent. We loan it in sums of 5 cents and upward; in many cases it has been returned in a few hours. At the date of our last report there was due and outstanding of this fund $11.05, of which $5 has since been paid, leaving $6.05 unpaid."
The work of the Lodging House for seventeen years is thus summed up by the same authority:
"The Lodging House has existed seventeen years. During that time we have lodged 82,519 different boys, restored 6178 lost and missing boys to their friends, provided 6008 with homes and employment, furnished 523,488 lodgings, and 373,366 meals. The expense of all this has been $109,325.26, of which amount the boys have contributed $28,956.67, leaving actual expenses over and above the receipts from the boys $80,368.59, being about $1 to each boy."
The other institutions of the Children's Aid Society are conducted with similar liberality and success. We have not the space to devote to them here, and pass them by with regret.
It is not claimed that the Society has revolutionized the character of the street children of New York. It will never do that. But it has saved many of them from sin and vagrancy, and has put them in paths of respectability and virtue. It has done a great work among them, and it deserves to be encouraged by all. It is sadly in need of funds during the present winter, and will at all times make the best use of moneys contributed towards its support.
It employs an agent to conduct its children to homes in other parts of the country, principally in the West, as soon as it is deemed expedient to send them away from its institutions. It takes care that all so placed in homes are also placed under proper Christian influences.
There are a large number of persons in New York who make considerable sums of money by conducting "Gift Enterprises," and similar schemes. These usually open an office in some prominent part of the city, and flood the country with circulars and handbills of their schemes. They sometimes advertise that the affair is for the benefit of some school, or library, or charitable association. In a few instances they announce that the scheme is merely a means of disposing quickly of an extensive estate, or a building. Whatever may be the pretext, the object is always to wring money out of the credulous, and the plan is substantially the same. Generally, in order to evade the law against lotteries, a concert is announced, and the tickets are sold ostensibly as admissions to that amusement. Buyers are told that the result will be announced at this concert. The tickets are sold at prices varying from one to five dollars. Directories of other cities are obtained, and the mailing clerks of the city newspapers are paid for copies of the subscription lists of those journals. Circulars are mailed to parties in other parts of the country, whose names are thus obtained. There is scarcely a town or village in the United States but is reached in this way, and as there are many simpletons in every community, responses of the character desired by the swindlers come in rapidly. Each person to whom a circular is sent is requested to act as an agent for the scheme, and is promised a prize in the distribution if he will use his influence to sell tickets, and he is requested to say nothing of the inducements offered to him, as such knowledge would make others dissatisfied. The prize is represented as of great value. The person receiving the circular is usually flattered by being selected as the agent of a New York house, and is also tempted by the liberal offer made to him. He sets to work at once, sells a number of tickets, and forwards the proceeds to his principals in New York. The money is simply thrown away. No concert is ever held, no drawing is ever made. The scoundrels in charge of the swindle continue the sale as long as there is a demand for the tickets, and pocket all the receipts. When there is danger of interference by the police, they close their office and disappear. In a short while, they resume operations under a new name with an entirely new scheme, and repeat the same trick from year to year.
[Picture: ATTACK ON A SWINDLER.]
The police are constantly called upon to break up these affairs. Not long ago, a well-known Gift Enterprise manager was brought before the Tombs Police Court upon the complaint of several of his victims. The plaintiffs were unable, however, to make out a successful case against him, and he was discharged. His victims—the court room was crowded with them—then resolved to be their own avengers, and as he came out into the street radiant with triumph, they fell upon him, and but for the interference of the police would have beaten him severely.
A few months ago, a Gift Enterprise establishment was opened in Broadway, not far from the Grand Central Hotel. The plan was as follows: A large stock of jewelry, pianos, fancy articles, musical instruments, etc., all of which were subsequently proved to have been hired for the purpose, was displayed in a large store in Broadway. Purchasers, attracted by the handsome stock, and the announcement that it would be disposed of by a "grand drawing," were induced to purchase sealed envelopes from the clerks, at one dollar each. Each envelope contained a check on which was a printed number. Purchasers, after buying these checks and ascertaining the numbers, were requested to pass down into the basement. Here a large wheel, turned by a man, was constantly revolving. The purchaser presented his check, and a clerk thrust his hand into the wheel and drew out a small slip of pasteboard. If the number thus drawn corresponded with the number of the check held by the purchaser, the purchaser was entitled to the article the name of which was affixed to the said number, on a printed list of the contents of the store. The scheme was seemingly fair enough, but the majority of the tickets drew blanks. Occasionally, however, when the sales began to show signs of slackening, a lucky number would draw a watch, a diamond pin, or a piano, and the article would be formally delivered to the holder of the ticket. Immediately the crowd which filled the store would invest anew in tickets, but nothing but blanks would reward them.
The captain of police, commanding the precinct in which the affair was conducted, became interested in the scheme. His quick eye detected many irregularities in the transaction, and he saw that the holders of the lucky numbers were always the same men, and that they at once passed into a back room of the establishment. Convinced that the purchasers were being swindled, he attired himself in plain clothes, purchased a ticket, went down to the basement, and drew a blank. Taking his stand by the wheel, he watched the drawing of sixty-five tickets in succession. Each drew a blank. Thoroughly satisfied of the fraud, he procured a warrant for the arrest of the manager of the scheme, and seized the establishment. The wheel was found to contain about a bushel of bits of pasteboard, every one of which was blank. Efforts were made to punish the parties connected with the swindle, but without success.
Another trick of the New York swindlers is to send a circular to someone in a distant town, notifying him that he has drawn a prize in their lottery, say a watch worth two hundred dollars. They state that he must forward five per cent. (ten dollars) on the valuation of the watch within ten days. The person receiving this circular well knows that he has purchased no ticket in the above concern, and at once supposes that he has received through mistake the notification intended for some other man. Still, as the parties offer to send him, for ten dollars, a watch worth two hundred dollars, he cannot resist the temptation to close with the bargain at once. He sends his ten dollars, and never hears of it again. These circulars are sent out by the thousand to all parts of the country, and, strange as it may seem, the trick is successful in the majority of instances.
The scoundrels who carry on these enterprises feel perfectly safe. They know that their victims dare not prosecute them, as by purchasing a ticket a man becomes a party to the transaction, and violates the laws of the State of New York. No one cares to avow himself a party to any such transaction, and consequently the swindlers are safe from prosecution.
The Post-office authorities of the city state that over five hundred letters per day are received in this city from various parts of the country, addressed to the principal gift establishments of the city. Nearly all of these letters contain various sums of money. Last winter these mails were seized and opened by the Post-office Department, and some of the letters were found to contain as much as three hundred dollars.
The profits of these swindlers are enormous. Those which are well conducted realize half a million of dollars in three or four months. Instead of resting satisfied with this amount, the rogues close up their business, and start a fresh enterprise.
From this description the reader will see how the various gift enterprises, under whatever name they are presented, are managed, and how certain he is to lose every cent he invests in them. The description applies also to the various Manufacturing and Co-operative Jewelry Associations, and all schemes of a kindred nature.
A little common sense ought to teach persons that no man can afford to sell a watch worth one hundred dollars for five dollars, or a diamond pin worth two hundred dollars for one dollar. And yet thousands innocently believe the assertions of the swindlers, and part with their money never to see it again. The gold pens, jewelry, watches, etc., sold by these advertising swindlers are not worth a twentieth of the cost of the tickets.
The Dollar stores reap enormous profits from the sale of their bogus jewelry, etc. They ask a dollar for an article which is dear at twenty-five cents.
"Situation Agencies" are common in the city. There are always a number of people here out of employment and anxious to obtain it. These are attracted by advertisements such as the following:
WANTED, CLERKS, COPYISTS, COLLECTORS, timekeepers, watchmen, porters, bartenders, coachmen, grooms, two valets to travel. Immediate employment.
They call at the "Agency," which is usually in one of the upper stories of a Nassau street building. The agent, a flashy young man, personates his clerk on such occasions. He informs the applicant that the proprietor is not in, but will be soon, and that in order to secure the very first chance of employment, he must register his name and make a deposit of two dollars. He overcomes the objections of the applicant by stating that the office is overrun with persons needing assistants, and that there are a dozen openings ready for the applicant. The proprietor, however, manages all these things himself. He is sure to be in in the afternoon. The name is registered, the money is paid, but the proprietor is never to be found. The "clerk," if pressed for the return of the money, utterly denies the whole transaction, destroys the register, if necessary, and as there is no evidence to convict him, he escapes the punishment of his crime.
Another "circular swindle" is practised as follows: Circulars are sent to persons in other parts of the Union, offering one hundred dollars in perfect counterfeits of United States Treasury notes and fractional currency for five dollars. One of the most ingenious of these circulars, all of which are lithographed, reads as follows:
"When Congress authorized the present issue of greenbacks, the Treasury Department executed plates of enormous cost and wonderful workmanship, from which the whole amount of currency authorized by Congress was to be printed, and it was ordered at the time, that, as soon as the whole amount had been printed, the plates, some one hundred in number, should be taken from the Treasury Department, conveyed to the Navy Yard, and melted. Now, it so happened that the plates from which the one, two, and five dollar bills had been printed, were not destroyed. How it was brought about, we, as a matter of prudence, do not state. It is enough to know that the plates are still preserved uninjured, and we trust their whereabouts will never be known, except to us."
Formerly this business was carried on through the Post-office, the rascals sending their victims the photographic cards of the currency of the United States, which sell on the streets for a penny or two apiece. The Government, however, suddenly put a stop to this by seizing the letters addressed to the swindlers, and returning them, with the money enclosed, to the writers. Now the knaves are careful to caution their correspondents to send money by express, and to prepay the charges. Very many of these circulars are successful. The money is sent in advance, or the "queer" is shipped C.O.D. In the latter case, the box is delivered on payment of the charges, and the money thus secured to the swindler, as it is the plain duty of the express company to forward it to the sender of the C.O.D. The box, upon being opened by the victim, is found to contain old paper, or bits of iron or stone.
As a matter of course, only dishonest men will answer these circulars, or consent to buy money known to be counterfeit. The world is full of such, however, and large sums are annually received by the New York swindlers in answer to their circulars. The victim, in the majority of instances, is afraid to expose the trick. The police of the city are fully informed as to the names, appearance, and residence, of each of these swindlers, but are powerless to interfere with them. They do not issue counterfeit money, and are not, therefore, liable to the charge of counterfeiting. They screen themselves from the charge of obtaining money under false pretences by never transacting their business in person. Everything is done by letter, and even the C.O.D. part of the business is managed in such a way as to make identification impossible.
The country newspapers are filled with advertisements of cheap sewing machines, which range in price from one to ten dollars. The men who insert these advertisements are among the most unprincipled swindlers in New York. Sometimes they pocket the money and send nothing in return, but when they do send a "machine" it is worthless. The actual cost of it never exceeds twenty-five cents. One scoundrel, some time ago, sent a lady who had remitted him three dollars a large needle, and wrote that it was "the best sewing machine in the world."
Another swindler advertises a music box for $2.50, "warranted to play six airs." In return for the money, he sends a child's harmonicon, the retail price of which is fifty cents.
Another advertises a "Pocket Time-keeper," at one dollar. It is usually a wretched pasteboard, tin or brass imitation of a sun dial. Sometimes it is a child's toy watch.
The day of mock auctions has gone by, but there are still one or two of these establishments lingering in the city. These are managed in various ways.
[Picture: A STRANGER'S EXIT FROM A "CHEAP JOHN SHOP".]
At some of these establishments a lot of pencil cases, watches, or other goods, is offered for sale. The lot generally contains a dozen or a gross of articles. Bids are started by the "decoys" of the proprietor, who are scattered through the crowd, and strangers are thus induced to make offers for them. Each man supposes he is bidding for a single lot, and is greatly astonished to find the whole lot knocked down to him. He is told he must take the entire lot, that his bid was for all. Some are weak enough to comply with the demand, but others resist it.
A well-known Broadway auctioneer was brought before the Mayor, some time ago, on the following complaint. A gentleman, who appeared against the auctioneer, stated that he had attended his last sale. The auctioneer put up a box containing twelve silver pencil-cases, and the gentleman, supposing from his manner and language, that he was selling them fairly, bid two dollars and fifty cents for the lot. To his surprise, he was told that he had bid two dollars and fifty cents for each pencil-case, and that he must pay thirty dollars for the whole lot. The money had been paid and the auctioneer refused to return it, insisting that the gentleman should take one pencil-case or nothing. The Mayor compelled the scamp to refund the money, and warned him that he would revoke his licence if a similar complaint were again made against him.
In some of these establishments, a stranger who attempts to remonstrate against the swindle fares badly. He is hustled out by the confederates of the proprietor, and if he attempts to defend himself, is handed over to the police on a charge of attempting to create a disturbance.
Other establishments sell watches and cheap jewelry. A really good article is put up, and passed around through the crowd as a sample. It draws bids rapidly, and is knocked down to the highest bidder. It has by this time been handed back to the auctioneer, and when the purchaser demands it, he is given some worthless article, which the dealer and his assistants swear was the one exhibited to the crowd. Remonstrances are useless. The bogus article must be taken or the money lost, unless the victim calls in the police. The city authorities have recently stationed a policeman at the door of one of these establishments, to warn strangers of its true character.
The pocket-book dropping game is of common occurrence, but is rarely practised on residents of the city. A man suddenly darts from a crowd on the street and appears to pick up something at the feet of his intended victim. This, of course, attracts the attention of the latter. The former displays a well-filled pocket-book, and asks the stranger if he dropped it, as it was found at his feet. He is answered in the negative.
[Picture: THE POCKET-BOOK GAME.]
"Strange," remarks the swindler, "it was lying right at your feet, and I felt sure it was yours. However, it is a rich prize."
He then inquires if the stranger intends staying in town. If answered affirmatively, he says:
"Then I will turn over the pocket-book to you. You can advertise it. Give me ten dollars and take the wallet. You can advertise it, or the owner will no doubt advertise it himself. Then you can claim the reward, which will certainly not be less than fifty dollars."
The other party reasons that he is sure of his money, with the wallet in his possession, and he sometimes dishonestly purposes appropriating the entire contents to his own use. He pays the ten dollars to the finder of the book, who hurries off, saying that he has just time to catch the train by which he intends leaving the city. Upon examining the wallet, the victim finds that its contents consist of a wad of paper wrapped in a wretched counterfeit note. He has given his ten dollars for a collection of worthless paper.
It would require a volume to describe all the swindles and rogueries carried on in this city. The instances we have presented will be sufficient to give the reader an insight into the subject, and to warn him against the wiles of the sharpers which assail him even in his own home.
LXX. ROBERT BONNER.
The circulation of the New York Ledger is over 300,000 copies, and its readers cannot be far short of one million of people. To all these the name of ROBERT BONNER is as familiar as that of his paper.
He was born in the north of Ireland, near Londonderry, in 1824. He came to this country when a mere child, and was brought up in the State of Connecticut, where he received a good common school education. He was apprenticed to the printer's trade at an early age, and began his apprenticeship in the office of the Hartford Courant. He came to New York at the age of twenty, and obtained employment in the office of a political journal, which soon suspended publication. He then secured a position in the office of the Evening Mirror, from which he passed to the post of foreman in the office of a small, struggling, commercial paper, called the Merchants' Ledger. In a year or two after forming this connection, he purchased the Ledger, and determined to change both its character and form, and convert it into a literary journal. He had the good sense to perceive that there was a great need of a cheap literary journal, suited to the comprehension and tastes of the masses, who cared nothing for the higher class periodicals. He proceeded very cautiously, however, and it was not until some time after that he made the Ledger entirely a literary paper, and issued it in its present form. He induced Fanny Fern, who was then in the flush of the reputation gained for her by her "Ruth Hall," to write him a story, ten columns long, and paid her one thousand dollars in cash for it. He double-leaded the story, and made it twenty columns in length, and advertised in nearly every newspaper of prominence in the country that he was publishing a story for which he had paid one hundred dollars per column. His mode of advertising was entirely new, and was sneered at at the time as a "sensational." It accomplished its object, however. It attracted the attention of the readers of the papers, and they bought the Ledger "to see what it was." They liked the paper, and since then there has been no abatement in the demand for it. The venture was entirely successful. Mr. Bonner's energy and genius, and Fanny Fern's popularity, placed the Ledger on a substantial footing from the start, and out of the profits of the story for which he had paid such an unusually large price, Mr. Bonner purchased a handsome city residence.
He did not content himself with Fanny Fern, though she became a regular contributor to his paper. He secured the services of Edward Everett, offering him ten thousand dollars for a series of papers, the money to be devoted to the purchase of Mount Vernon, an object very dear to the heart of the great orator. Mr. Bonner not only secured a valuable contributor, but won a warm personal friend in Mr. Everett. The latter continued his connection with the Ledger until the close of his life. Mr. Bonner also secured as regular contributors to his paper George Bancroft, the historian, James Parton (Fanny Fern's husband), Henry Ward Beecher, and many of the leading men of the country, and a number of brilliant and popular female writers.
The Ledger is steadily growing in the public favor. From the profits of his paper, Mr. Bonner has erected a splendid marble publishing house, at the corner of William and Spruce streets, in New York, from which the Ledger is now issued. It is one of the most complete establishments in the country, and is fitted up with every convenience necessary to the performance of the work upon the paper in the most complete and expeditious manner.
Mr. Bonner is married, and has a family. He owns a country seat in Westchester county, to which he repairs in the summer. His city residence is on the south side of Fifty-sixth street, a few doors west of the Fifth avenue. It is a handsome brown stone mansion. In the rear of it, on Fifty-fifth street, is his stable, a large and tasteful edifice of brick. It is the most perfect establishment of its kind in the country. Everything is at hand that is necessary for the comfort and care of the horses, and the men in charge of the place are thoroughly skilled in their business. Mr. Bonner owns seven of the finest horses in the world. First on the list is "Dexter," the fastest horse "on the planet." He has made his mile in 2.17.25 in harness, and 2.18 under the saddle. "Lantern," a splendid bay, 15.5 hands high, has made his mile in 2.20. "Pocahontas" has made her mile in 2.23, and "Peerless," a fine gray mare, has followed close on to her in 2.23.25. The former is said to be the most perfectly formed horse in the world. "Lady Palmer" has made 2 miles, with a 350 pound wagon and driver, in 4.59, while her companion, "Flatbush Mare," has made a 2 mile heat to a road wagon in 5.01.25. The "Auburn Horse," a large sorrel, 16.5 hands high, with four white feet and a white face, was declared by Hiram Woodruff to be the fastest horse he ever drove. These horses cost their owner over two hundred thousand dollars, and he would not part with them for double that sum. He will not race them, though almost every inducement has been offered him to do so, as he is opposed to racing for money. He bought them for his own enjoyment, and drives them himself.
[Picture: ROBERT BONNER.]
Mr. Bonner is now very wealthy. He lives simply, however, and detests and shuns personal notoriety or ostentation. He has the reputation of being a warm-hearted, generous man, and has many friends. He is short, thick-set, and solidly made. His hair is sandy, his complexion florid, his forehead large and thoughtful, his eye bright and pleasant, and his manner frank, genial, and winning.
LXXI. PUBLIC BUILDINGS.
The Public Buildings of New York are not numerous. Some of them are handsome, and others are models of ugliness. We shall mention here only those which are not described elsewhere in this volume.
The most prominent is the City Hall, which is located in the City Hall Park. It faces the south, and the ground line is perpendicular to Broadway. It is a handsome edifice, and is surmounted by the best clock tower in the Union, above which is a marble image of Justice. The front and ends of the City Hall are constructed of white marble, but the rear face is of brown stone. The building was erected between the years 1803 and 1810, and the city fathers, sagely premising that New York would never extend above the Park, decided to save the difference between marble and brown stone at this side, "as this portion would face the country." The building contains the offices of the Mayor and city officials. Some of its rooms are very handsome, and are elegantly decorated.
The clock tower and the upper portions of the building were set on fire by the pyrotechnical display in honor of the Atlantic Telegraph of 1859. They were rebuilt soon afterwards, in much better style.
"Previous to the completion of the new cupola, our city fathers contracted with Messrs. Sperry & Co., the celebrated tower-clock makers of Broadway, to build a clock for it, at a cost not exceeding four thousand dollars, that our citizens might place the utmost reliance upon, as a time-keeper of unvarying correctness. During the month of April the clock was completed, and the busy thousands who were daily wont to look up to the silent monitor, above which the figure of Justice was enthroned, hailed its appearance with the utmost satisfaction. It is undoubtedly the finest specimen of a tower-clock on this side of the Atlantic, and, as an accurate time-keeper, competent judges pronounce it to be unsurpassed in the world. The main wheels are thirty inches in diameter, the escapement is jewelled, and the pendulum, which is in itself a curiosity, is over fourteen feet in length. It is a curious fact that the pendulum bob weighs over three hundred pounds; but so finely finished is every wheel, pinion, and pivot in the clock, and so little power is required to drive them, that a weight of only one hundred pounds is all that is necessary to keep this ponderous mass of metal vibrating, and turn four pairs of hands on the dials of the cupola. The clock does not stand, as many suppose, directly behind the dials, but in the story below, and a perpendicular iron rod, twenty-five feet in length, connects it with the dial-works above."
[Picture: THE CITY HALL.]
To the east of the City Hall, and within the limits of the Park, is the Hall of Records, a stone building, covered with stucco. It was erected in 1757, as a city prison. It is now occupied by the Registrar of the city and his clerks.
In the rear of the City Hall, and fronting on Chambers street, is the New County Court House, which, when completed, will be one of the finest edifices in the New World. It was begun more than eight years ago, and is constructed of "East Chester and Massachusetts white marble, with iron beams and supports, iron staircases, outside iron doors, solid black-walnut doors (on the inside), and marble tiling on every hall-floor of the building, laid upon iron beams, concreted over, and bricked up. With a basis of concrete, Georgia-pine, over yellow-pine, is used for the flooring of the apartments. The iron supports and beams are of immense strength—some of the girders crossing the rooms weighing over fifty thousand pounds. The pervading order of architecture is Corinthian, but, although excellent, the building cannot be said to be purely Corinthian. An additional depth of, say, thirty feet, would have prevented a cramping of the windows on the sides, which now necessarily exists, and have added power and comprehension to the structure as an entirety; but the general effect is grand and striking in the extreme. The building is two hundred and fifty feet long, and one hundred and fifty feet wide. From the base-course to the top of the pediment the height is ninety-seven feet, and to the top of the dome, not yet erected, two hundred and twenty-five feet. From the sidewalk to the top of the pediment measures eighty-two feet; to the top of the dome two hundred and ten feet. When completed, the building will be surmounted by a large dome, giving a general resemblance to the main portion of the Capitol at Washington. The dome, viewed from the rear, appears something heavy and cumbrous for the general character of the structure which it crowns; but a front view, from Chambers street, when the eye, in its upward sweep, takes in the broad flight of steps, the grand columns, and the general robustness of the main entrance, dissipates this idea, and attaches grace and integrity to the whole. One of the most novel features of the dome will be the arrangement of the tower, crowning its apex, into a light-house, which, from its extreme power and height, it is supposed, will furnish guidance to vessels as far out at sea as that afforded by any beacon on the neighboring coast. This is the suggestion of the architect, Mr. Kellum, but, whether or not it will be carried out in the execution of the design, Mr. Tucker, the superintendent of the work, is unable to say. The interior of the edifice is equally elaborate and complete, and several of the apartments are now occupied by the County Clerk, the Supreme Court, and as other offices. The portico and stoop, now being completed, on Chambers street, will, it is said, be the finest piece of work of the kind in America."
It was this building which furnished the Ring with their favorite pretext for stealing the public money. The manner in which this was done has been described in another chapter.
The Bible House is a massive structure of red brick, with brown stone trimmings, and covers the block bounded by Third and Fourth avenues and Eighth and Ninth streets. It covers three-quarters of an acre, its four fronts measuring a total of 710 feet. It was completed in 1853, at a cost, including the ground, of $303,000, and is to-day worth nearly double that sum. It contains fifty stores and offices, which yield an aggregate annual rent of nearly $40,000. These rooms are occupied chiefly by benevolent and charitable societies, so that the Bible House has become the great centre from which radiate the principal labors of charity and benevolence in the City and State.
The Bible House is owned by, and forms the headquarters of the American Bible Society. The Bibles of this Society are printed here, every portion of their publication being carried on under this vast roof. The receipts of the Society since its organization in 1816 have amounted to nearly $6,000,000. Thousands of copies are annually printed and distributed from here. The entire Union has been canvassed three times by the agents of the Society, and hundreds of thousands of destitute families have been furnished each with a copy of the Blessed Book. The Bible has been printed here in twenty-nine different languages, and parts of it have been issued in other languages.
About 625 persons find employment in this gigantic establishment. Of these about three hundred are girls, and twenty or thirty boys. The girls feed the presses, sew the books, apply gold-leaf to the covers ready for tooling, etc. About a dozen little girls are employed in the press-room in laying the sheets, of the best description of Bibles, between glazed boards, and so preparing them for being placed in the hydraulic presses. Every day there are six thousand Bibles printed in this establishment, and three hundred and fifty turned out of hand completely bound and finished.
[Picture: TAMMANY HALL.]
Tammany Hall, in East Fourteenth street, between Irving Place and Third avenue, is a handsome edifice of red brick, with white marble trimmings. It contains several fine halls, and a number of committee rooms. The main hall is one of the handsomest in the city, and was formerly used as a theatre. It was in this hall that the National Democratic Convention of 1868 was held. The building is the property of the "Tammany Society." This Society was organized in 1789 as a benevolent association, but subsequently became a political organization and the ruling power in the Democratic politics of the City and State.
[Picture: NATIONAL ACADEMY OF DESIGN.]
The Academy of Design is located at the northwest corner of Fourth avenue and Twenty-third street. It is one of the most beautiful edifices in the city. It is built in the pure Gothic style of the thirteenth century, and the external walls are composed of variegated marble. It has an air of lightness and elegance, that at once elicit the admiration of the gazer. The interior is finished with white pine, ash, mahogany, oak, and black walnut in their natural colors; no paint being used in the building. Schools of art, a library, reading room, lecture room, and the necessary rooms for the business of the institution, occupy the first and second stories. The third floor is devoted to the gallery of paintings and the sculpture room. At certain seasons of the year exhibitions of paintings and statuary are held here. None but works of living artists are exhibited.
[Picture: STEINWAY AND SONS' PIANO FACTORY.]
One of the most imposing buildings in the city is the new Grand Central Depot, on Forty-second street and Fourth avenue. It is constructed of red brick, with iron trimmings painted white, in imitation of marble. The south front is adorned with three and the west front with two massive pavilions. The central pavilion of each front contains an illuminated clock. The entire building is 696 feet long and 240 feet wide. The space for the accommodation of the trains is 610 feet long and 200 feet wide. The remainder of the edifice is devoted to the offices of the various railways using it. Waiting-rooms, baggage-rooms, etc. The car-shed is covered with an immense circular roof of iron and glass. The remainder of the building is of brick and iron. The principal front is on Forty-second street. This portion is to be occupied by the offices and waiting-rooms of the New York and New Haven and the Shore Line railways. The southern portion of the west front is occupied by the offices and waiting-rooms of the New York, Harlem, and Albany Railway, and the remainder of this front by the offices and waiting-rooms of the Hudson River and New York Central railways. These roads are the only lines which enter the city, and they are here provided with a common terminus in the very heart of the metropolis. The waiting-rooms and offices are finished in hard wood, are handsomely frescoed, and are supplied with every convenience. The height of the roof of the main body of the depot is 100 feet from the ground; the apex of the central pavilion on Forty-second street is 160 feet from the ground.
The car-house constitutes the main body of the depot. It is lighted from the roof by day, and at night large reflectors, lighted by an electrical apparatus, illuminate the vast interior. The platforms between the tracks are composed of stone blocks. Each road has a particular portion assigned to it, and there is no confusion in any of the arrangements. The roof is supported by thirty-one handsome iron trusses, each weighing forty tons, and extending in an unbroken arch over the entire enclosure. The glass plates in the roof measure 80,000 feet. The interior of the car-house is painted in light colors, which harmonize well with the light which falls through the crystal roof.
About eighty trains enter and depart from this depot every day. The running of these is regulated by the depot-master, who occupies an elevated position at the north end of the car-house, from which he can see the track for several miles. A system of automatic signals governs the running of the trains through the city.
The building was projected by Commodore Vanderbilt. Ground was broken for it on the 15th of November, 1869, and it was ready for occupancy on the 9th of October, 1871.
LXXII. PATENT DIVORCES.
It may not be generally known in other parts of the country, but it is very well understood in the city, that New York is the headquarters of a powerful Ring of corrupt and unscrupulous lawyers, whose business is to violate the law of the land, and procure by fraud divorces which will not be granted by any court after a fair and full hearing of the case. It may be asserted at the outset, that those who are fairly and justly entitled to such a separation, never seek it through the Divorce Ring.
In any issue of certain city newspapers, you will see such advertisements as the following:
ABSOLUTE DIVORCES LEGALLY OBTAINED, in New York, and States, where desertion, drunkenness, etc., etc., are sufficient cause. No publicity; no charge until divorce obtained; advice free. M—- B—-, attorney, 56 —- street.
The all-sufficient cause with these lawyers is the desire for a separation on the part of the husband or wife, and they never trouble themselves with questions of law or morality. The law of New York allows a divorce with the right to marry again, upon one ground only—that of adultery.
"The lawyers of the Divorce Ring are the pariahs of their profession—men who have been debarred in other States (sometimes in other countries) for detected malpractice; men who began life fairly, but sank into ignominy through dissipation, political failure, or natural vicious tendencies; men, even, who never opened a law-book before entering upon their present avocation, but gleaned a practical knowledge of the legal alternative of 'wedded woe' by a course of training in the private detective's trade. These latter worthies often hire the use of practising lawyers' names. Occasionally they hire the said lawyers themselves to go through the mummeries of the courts for them; and we could name one of our most eloquent and respectable criminal pleaders who, on a certain occasion at least, permitted himself to be nominally associated with one of the boldest operators of the Ring.
"The dens of the divorcers are situated chiefly on the thoroughfares most affected by lawyers of the highest caste, though even Broadway is not wholly exempt from them; and Wall street, Pine street, and especially Nassau street, contain a goodly number each. Without any ostentatious display of signs or identifications, they are generally furnished in the common law-office style, with substantial desks and chairs, shelves of law-books, and usually a shady private apartment for consultations. Sometimes the name upon the 'directory' of the building and name over the 'office' itself will be spelled differently, though conveying the same sound; as though the proprietor thereof might have occasional use for a confusion of personalities. Along the stairs and hallways leading to these dens, at almost any hour of the day, from 10 A.M. to 3 P.M., may be met women in flashy finery and men with hats drawn down over their eyes—all manifestly gravitating, with more or less shamefacedness, towards the places in question. They may be dissolute actresses, seeking a spurious appearance of law to end an old alliance and prepare for a new one. They may be the frivolous, extravagant, reckless wives of poor clerks or hard-working mechanics, infatuatedly following out the first consequences of a matinee at the theatre and a 'Personal' in the Herald. They may be the worthless husbands of unsuspecting, faithful wives, who, by sickness, or some other unwitting provocation, have turned the unstable husbandly mind to thoughts of connubial pastures new and the advertising divorcers. They may be the 'lovers' of married women, who come to engage fabricated testimony and surreptitious unmarriage for the frail creatures whose virtue is still too cowardly to dare the more honest sin. They are not the wronged partners of marriage, who, by the mysterious chastising providence of outraged hearths and homes, are compelled, in bitterest agony of soul, to invoke justice of the law for the honor based upon right and religion.
"The manufacture of 'a case' by the contrabandists of divorce is often such a marvel of unscrupulous audacity, that its very lawlessness constitutes in itself a kind of legal security. So wholly does it ignore all the conventionalities of mere legal evasion, as to virtually lapse into a barbarism, knowing neither law nor civilization. A young woman in flaunting jockey hat, extravagant 'chignon,' and gaudy dress, flirts into the den, and turns a bold, half-defiant face upon the rakish masculine figure at the principal desk. The figure looks up, a glance between the two tells the story, and the woman is invited to step into the consulting-room (if there be one), and give her husband's name and offence. A divorce will cost her say twenty-five, or fifty, or seventy-five dollars—in fact, whatever sum she can afford to pay for such a trifle. She can have it obtained for her in New York, or at the West, just as her husband's likelihood to pry into things, or her own taste in the matter, may render advisable. Not a word of the case can possibly get into the papers in either locality. She can charge 'intemperance,' or 'desertion,' or 'failure to support,' or whatever else she chooses; but, perhaps, it would be better to make it adultery, as that can be just as easily proved, and 'holds good in any State.' This point being decided, the young woman can go home, and there keep her luckless wretch of a husband properly in the dark until her 'decree' is ready for her. If the applicant is a man, the work is all the easier; for then even less art will be required to keep the unconscious 'party of the second part' in ignorance of the proceedings. The case is now quietly put on record in the proper court (if the 'suit' is to be 'tried' in New York), and a 'summons' prepared for service upon the 'defendant.' To serve this summons, any idle boy is called in from the street, and directed to take the paper to defendant's residence or place of business, and there serve it upon him. Away goes the boy, willing enough to earn fifty cents by this easy task, and is met upon the stoop of the residence, or before the door of the place of business, by a confederate of the divorce-lawyer, who sharply asks what he wants. 'I want to see Mr. —-,' says the boy. 'I am Mr. —-,' returns the confederate, who is thereupon served with the summons. Back hurries the boy to the law-office, signs an affidavit that he has served the paper upon defendant in person, is paid for the job, and goes about his business. The time selected for the manoeuvre is, of course, adapted to what the 'plaintiff' has revealed of her husband's hours for home or for business; and, after the improvised server of the 'summons' has once sworn to his affidavit and disappeared, there is no such thing as ever finding him again! A 'copy of the complaint' is 'served' in the same way; or, the 'summons' is published once a week for a month in the smallest type of the smallest obscure weekly paper to be found. This latter device, however, is adopted only when the plaintiff (having some moral scruples about too much perjury at once) charges 'desertion,' and desires to appear quite ignorant of unnatural defendant's present place of abode. If, for any particular reason, the party seeking a divorce prefers a Western decree, the 'lawyer,' or a clerk of his, starts at once for Indiana, or some quiet county of Illinois; and, after hiring a room in some tavern or farm-house in the name of his client (to establish the requisite fact of residence!), gives the case into the hands of a local attorney with whom he has a business partnership. This Western branch of the trade has reached such licence that, not long ago, a notorious practitioner of the Ring actually issued an advertisement in a paper of New York, to the effect that he had just returned to this city from the West with a fresh stock of blank divorces! The wording was not literally thus, but such was its obvious and only signification. Whether the 'trial' is to take place in New York or Indiana, however, there is but one system commonly adopted in offering proof of the truth of the complaint upon which a divorce is demanded. Plaintiff's villainous attorney, after waiting a due length of time for some response from the defendant in the case(!), asks of the Court, as privately as possible, the appointment of a referee.
"His Honor the Court, upon learning that 'defendant' does not oppose (of course not!), names a referee, who shall hear the testimony in the case, and submit a copy thereof, together with his decision thereon, to the Court for confirmation. Then, before the referee—who is to be properly feed for his officiation—go the divorce-lawyer and two or three shabby-genteel-looking 'witnesses,' who from thenceforth shall never be findable by mortal man again. The 'witnesses' swear to any thing and every thing—that they have seen and recognized defendant in highly improper houses with improper persons; that they know plaintiff to be pure, faithful, and shamefully misused in the marriage relation, etc., etc. As 'defendant,' not even aware that he or she is a 'defendant,' makes no appearance, either in person or by counsel, to combat this dreadful evidence, the referee must, of course, render decision for plaintiff—'the law awards it, and the Court doth give it.' The judge subsequently confirms this decision; a decree of full divorce is granted, in due and full legal form, to the triumphant plaintiff; and the 'defendant' is likely to become aware of the suit for the first time on that night."
The acts of the divorce Ring are no secrets in New York. Yet neither the judges nor the Bar Association make any efforts to rid the courts of such wretches. "A citizen of New York, whose misguided wife had secretly obtained a fraudulent divorce from him through such practice as we have described, and who, in turn, had successfully sued in the legitimate way for the dissolution of marriage thus forced upon him, sought to induce his legal adviser, a veteran metropolitan lawyer of the highest standing, to expose the infamous divorce 'Ring' before the courts, and demand, in behalf of his profession, that its practitioners should be at least disbarred. The response was, that the courts were presumed to be entirely ignorant of the fraudulent parts of the proceedings referred to; that the offenders could be 'cornered' only through a specific case in point against them, and, besides, that the referees in their cases were nearly all connected, either consanguinely or in bonds of partnership interest, with the judges who had appointed them, and before whom the motion for disbarment would probably come! For this last curious reason no lawyer could, consistently with his own best interests, inaugurate a movement likely to involve the whole referee system in its retributive effects. A lawyer so doing might, when arguing future cases in court, find a certain apparent disposition of the Bench to show him less courtesy than on former occasions—to snub him, in fact, and thereby permanently prejudice his professional future likelihoods in that jurisdiction!"
LXXIII. THE CROTON WATER WORKS.
There were many plans for supplying the city of New York with fresh water, previous to the adoption of the Croton Aqueduct scheme, but we have not the space to present them here. They were all inadequate to the necessities of the city, and all in turn were thrown aside. The most important was one for obtaining the water supply from the Bronx River. It was believed that a daily supply of 3,000,000 gallons could be obtained from this stream, but nothing was done in the matter, and it was not until the prevalence of Asiatic Cholera in 1832 had impressed upon the people the necessity of a supply of pure water, nor until the great fire of 1837 had convinced them that they must have an abundance of water, that the scheme for supplying the city from the sources of the Croton River was definitely resolved upon. De Witt Clinton gave his powerful support to the scheme, and the citizens at the municipal elections expressed themselves unqualifiedly in favor of a full supply of fresh water. It was decided to obtain the supply from the Croton River, and in May, 1837, the work on the aqueduct which was to convey it to the city was actually begun, and on the 4th of July, 1842, the Croton water was distributed through the city.
The first step was to throw a massive dam across the Croton River, by means of which the Croton Lake was formed, the water being raised to a depth of forty feet by the obstruction. From this dam an aqueduct, constructed of brick, stone, and cement, conveys the water to the city, a distance of nearly forty miles. It is arched above and below, and is seven and a half feet wide, and eight and a half feet high, with an inclination of thirteen inches to the mile. It rests on the ground for a portion of its course, and in other parts is supported by a series of stone arches. It crosses twenty-five streams in Westchester County, besides numerous brooks, which flow under it through culverts. It is conveyed across the Harlem River by means of the High Bridge. The water flows through vast iron pipes, which rest upon the bridge. The bridge is a magnificent stone structure, 1450 feet long, with fifteen arches, the highest of which is one hundred feet above high water mark. Its great height prevents it from interfering with the navigation of the stream. The High Bridge is one of the principal resorts in the suburbs of New York. The structure itself is well worth seeing, and the scenery is famed for its surpassing loveliness.