He has a sharp tongue, too, this Brown, when he chooses to use it, and a good story is told of this quality of his. He was once calling the carriages at a brilliant party. Among the guests was Harry X—-, a young gentleman of fortune, concerning whose morals some hard things were said. It was hinted that Mr. X—- was rather too fond of faro. The young gentleman and the great sexton were not on good terms, and when Brown, having summoned Mr. X—-'s carriage, asked, as usual, "Where to, sir?" he received the short and sharp reply, "To where he brought me from." "All right, sir," said Brown, calmly, and turning to the driver he exclaimed in a loud tone, "Drive Mr. X—- to John Chamberlain's faro-bank." A roar of laughter greeted this sally, and Brown smiled serenely as his discomfited enemy was driven away.
Fashionable weddings are very costly affairs. The outfits of the bride and groom cost thousands of dollars, the extravagance of the man being fully equal to that of his bride. A wedding is attended with numerous entertainments, all of which are costly, and the expenses attendant upon the affair itself are enormous. The outlay is not confined to the parties immediately concerned, the friends of the happy pair must go to great expense to give to the bride elegant and appropriate presents. One, two, or three rooms, as may be required, are set apart at every fashionable wedding, for the display of the presents. These are visited and commented upon by the friends of the bride and groom, such being the prescribed custom. The presents are frequently worth a handsome fortune. At the marriage of the daughter of a notorious politician not long since, the wedding presents were valued at more than $250,000. Efforts have been repeatedly made to put a stop to the giving of such costly presents, but the custom still continues.
As it is the ambition of every one of the class we are discussing to live fashionably, so it is their chief wish to be laid in the grave in the same style. The undertaker at a fashionable funeral is generally the sexton of some fashionable church, perhaps of the church the deceased was in the habit of attending. This individual prescribes the manner in which the funeral ceremonies shall be conducted, and advises certain styles of mourning for the family. Sometimes the blinds of the house are closed, and the gas lighted in the hall and parlors. The lights in such cases are arranged in the most artistic manner, and everything is made to look as "interesting" as possible.
A certain fashionable sexton always refuses to allow the female members of the family to follow their dead to the grave. He will not let them be seen at the funeral, at all, as he says, "It's horribly vulgar to see a lot of women crying about a corpse; and, besides, they're always in the way."
The funeral over, the bereaved ones must remain in the house for a certain length of time, the period being regulated by a set decree. To be seen on the street within the prescribed time, would be to lose caste. Many of the days of their seclusion are passed in consultations with their modiste, in preparing the most fashionable mourning that can be thought of. They no doubt agree fully with a certain famous modiste of the city, who once declared to a widow, but recently bereaved, that "fashionable and becoming mourning is so comforting to persons in affliction."
Well, after all, only the rich can afford to die and be buried in style in the great city. A lot in Greenwood is worth more than many comfortable dwellings in Brooklyn. A fashionable funeral entails heavy expenses upon the family of the deceased. The coffin must be of rosewood, or some other costly material, and must be lined with satin. A profusion of white flowers must be had to cover it and to deck the room in which the corpse is laid out. The body must be dressed in a suit of the latest style and finest quality, and the cost of the hearse and carriages, the expenses at the church and cemetery, and the fees of the undertaker, are very heavy. The average expense of such an occasion may be set down at from $1500 to $2000.
VII. THE MUNICIPAL POLICE.
Until the passage of the new Charter in 1870, the Police Department was independent of the control of the city officials, and consequently independent of local political influences. There was a "Metropolitan Police District," embracing the cities of New York and Brooklyn, and the counties of New York, Kings, Richmond and Westchester, and a part of Queen's county, in all a circuit of about thirty miles. The control of this district was committed to a commission of five citizens, who were subject to the supervision of the Legislature of the State. The Mayors of New York and Brooklyn were ex-officio members of this board.
The Charter of 1870 changed all this. It broke up the Metropolitan District, and placed the police of New York and Brooklyn under the control of their respective municipal governments. To the credit of the force be it said, the police of New York were less under the influence of the Ring than any other portion of the municipality, and improved rather than depreciated in efficiency.
As at present constituted, the force is under the control and supervision of four Commissioners appointed by the Mayor. The force consists of a Superintendent, four Inspectors, thirty-two Captains, one hundred and twenty-eight Sergeants, sixty-four Roundsmen and 2085 Patrolmen, Detectives, Doorkeepers, etc.
The present Superintendent of Police is Mr. James J. Kelso. He is the Commander-in-chief of the force, and it is through him that all orders are issued. His subordinates are responsible to him for the proper discharge of their duties, and he in his turn to the Commissioners. He was promoted to his present position on the death of Superintendent Jourdan, and has rendered himself popular with men of all parties by his conscientious discharge of his important duties. Mr. Kelso is eminently fitted for his position. His long service in the force, and great experience as a detective officer, have thoroughly familiarized him with the criminals with whom he has to deal, and the crimes against which he has to contend. He has maintained the discipline of the force at a high point, and has been rigorous in dealing with the offenders against the law. His sudden and sweeping descents upon the gambling hells, and other disreputable places of the city, have stricken terror to the frequenters thereof. They are constantly alarmed, for they know not at what moment they may be captured by Kelso in one of his characteristic raids.
In person Mr. Kelso is a fine-looking, and rather handsome man. He shows well at the head of the force. It is said that he was overwhelmed with mortification last July, when the Mayor compelled him to forbid the "Orange Parade," and thus make a cowardly surrender to the mob. When Governor Hoffman revoked Mayor Hall's order, at the demand of the indignant citizens, Kelso was perhaps the happiest man in New York. He had a chance to vindicate his own manhood and the honor of the force, and he and his men did nobly on that memorable day.
The city is divided into two Inspection Districts, each of which is in charge of two Inspectors. Each Inspector is held responsible for the general good conduct and order of his District. It is expected that he will visit portions of it at uncertain hours of the night, in order that the Patrolmen may be made more vigilant by their ignorance of the hour of his appearance on their "beats." The Inspectors keep a constant watch over the rank and file of the force. They examine the Police Stations, and everything connected with them, at pleasure, and receive and investigate complaints made by citizens against members of the force. The creation of this useful grade is due to John A. Kennedy, the first Superintendent of the Metropolitan Police.
The Inspection Districts are sub-divided into thirty-two precincts, in each of which there is a Police Station. Each Station is in charge of a Captain, who is held to a strict accountability for the preservation of the peace and good order of his precinct. He has authority to post the men under his command in such parts of his precinct, and to assign them to such duties as he deems expedient, under the supervision of the Superintendent. He is required to divide his force into two equal parts, called the First and Second Platoons. Each Platoon consists of two Sections. Each of the four Sections is in charge of a Sergeant.
In the illness or absence of the Captain, the Station and Precinct are commanded by one of the Sergeants, who is named for that purpose by the Superintendent. The special duties of the Sergeants are to patrol their precincts, and see that the Roundsmen and Patrolmen are at their posts and performing their duties properly. They are severally responsible for the condition of their Sections. One of the Sergeants is required to remain at the Station House at all times.
Two Roundsmen are selected by the Commissioners from the Patrolmen of each precinct, and one of them is assigned to each platoon. They have the immediate supervision of the Patrolmen, and are required to exercise a vigilant watch over them at all times.
The Patrolmen are the privates of the force. They are assigned certain "beats" or districts to watch. Many of these beats are too large for the care of one man, and more is expected of the Patrolman than he is capable of performing. He is required to exercise the utmost vigilance to prevent the occurrence of any crime within his beat, and to render the commission of it difficult, at the least. The occurrence of a crime on the streets is always regarded as presumptive evidence of negligence on his part, and he is obliged to show that he was strictly attending to his duties at the time. He is required to watch vigilantly every person passing him while on duty, to examine frequently the doors, lower windows, and gates of the houses on his beat, and warn the occupants if any are open or unlocked; to have a general knowledge of the persons residing in his beat; to report to his commanding officer "all persons known or suspected of being policy dealers, gamblers, receivers of stolen property, thieves, burglars, or offenders of any kind;" to watch all disorderly houses or houses of ill-fame, and observe "and report to his commanding officer all persons by whom they are frequented;" to do certain other things for the preservation of the public peace; and to arrest for certain offences, all of which are laid down in the volume of Regulations, of which each member of the force is obliged to have a copy. Patrolmen are not allowed to converse with each other, except to ask or impart information, upon meeting at the confines of their posts; "and they must not engage in conversation with any person on any part of their post, except in regard to matters concerning the immediate discharge of their duties."
The uniform of the force is a frock coat and pants of dark blue navy cloth, and a glazed cap. In the summer the dress is a sack and pants of dark blue navy flannel. The officers are distinguished by appropriate badges. Each member of the force is provided with a shield of a peculiar pattern, on which is his number. This is his badge of office, and he is obliged to show it when required. The men are armed with batons or short clubs of hard wood, and revolvers. The latter they are forbidden to use except in grave emergencies.
The general misdemeanors of which the police are bound to take notice, are: Attempts to pick a pocket, especially where the thief is a known pickpocket; cruel usage of animals in public places; interfering with the telegraph wires; selling or carrying a slingshot; aiding in any way in a prize fight, dog fight, or cock fight; destroying fences, trees, or lamps, or defacing property; aiding in theatrical entertainments on Sunday; disorderly conduct; participating in or inciting to riots; assaults; drunkenness on the streets; gambling; discharging fire-arms on the streets; and other stated offences. The officer must be careful to arrest the true offender, and not to interfere with any innocent person, and is forbidden to use violence unless the resistance of his prisoner is such as to render violence absolutely necessary, and even then he is held responsible for the particular degree of force exerted. If he is himself unable to make the arrest, or if he has good reason to fear an attempt at a rescue of the prisoner, it is his duty to call upon the bystanders for assistance; and any person who refuses him when so called on, is guilty of a misdemeanor, for which he may be arrested and punished.
Promotions are made in the force as follows: Inspectors are chosen from the Captains, Captains from Sergeants, Sergeants from Roundsmen, and Roundsmen from the most efficient Patrolmen.
The duties of a policeman are hard, and the salaries are moderate in every grade. The hours for duty of the Patrolmen are divided in the following manner: from six to eight o'clock in the morning; from eight o'clock in the morning to one in the afternoon; from one in the afternoon to six; from six to twelve midnight; from twelve midnight to six in the morning. These "tours" of duty are so distributed that no one man shall be called on duty at the same hour on two successive days. One-third of the entire force, about 700 in all, is on duty in the daytime, and two-thirds, about 1400 men, at night. Sickness and casualties bring down this estimate somewhat, but the men are such fine physical specimens that sick leaves are now comparatively rare.
Besides the Patrolmen there are several divisions of the force. Forty men, called the Court Squad, are on duty at the various Courts of Justice. Four have charge of the House of Detention for Witnesses, No. 203 Mulberry street. The Sanitary Squad consists of a captain, four sergeants, and fifty-seven patrolmen. Some of these are on duty at the ferries and steamboat landings. Others are detailed to examine the steam boilers in use in the city. Others execute the orders of the Board of Health. Another detachment, nine in number, look after truant children. Others are detailed for duty at banks and other places. The Detectives will be referred to hereafter.
[Picture: FEMALE PRISONERS IN THE FOURTH POLICE STATION]
The qualifications demanded of an applicant for admission into the force are thus set down in the book of Regulations: "No person will be appointed a Patrolman of the Metropolitan Police Force unless, he
"First, is able to read and write the English language understandingly.
"Second, is a citizen of the United States.
"Third, has been a resident of this State for a term of one year next prior to his application for the office.
"Fourth, has never been convicted of a crime.
"Fifth, is at least five feet eight inches in height.
"Sixth, is less than thirty-five years of age.
"Seventh, is in good health, and of sound body and mind.
"Eighth, is of good moral character and habits.
"Applicants for the office must present to the Board of Commissioners a petition signed by not less than five citizens of good character and habits, and verified by the affidavit of one of them."
As none but "sound" men are wanted, the applicant is then subjected to a rigid medical examination; and the writer is informed by one of the most efficient surgeons of the force, that scarcely one applicant in ten can stand this test. The applicant must also give, under oath, an exact statement as to his parentage, nationality, education, personal condition in every respect, business or employment, and physical condition.
The strictest discipline is maintained in the force, and offences are rigidly reported and punished. All members are required at once to communicate intelligence of importance to their superior officers. The men are regularly drilled in military exercises, to fit them for dealing efficiently with serious disturbances. The writer can testify, that during their parade in the Spring of 1871, they presented as fine an appearance, and executed their manoeuvres as correctly as any body of regular troops.
The finest looking and largest men are detailed for service on Broadway. One of their principal duties is to keep the street free from obstructions, no slight task when one considers the usual jam in the great thoroughfare. It is a common habit to denounce the "Broadway Squad" as more ornamental than useful, but the habitues of that street can testify to the arduous labor performed by the "giants," and the amount of protection afforded by them to the merchants and promenaders. Scarcely a day passes that they do not prevent robberies and cut short the operations of pickpockets.
The number of arrests made by the force is fair evidence of their efficiency. Since 1862 the annual number has been as follows:
Total arrests in New York 1862 82,072 1863 61,888 1864 54,751 1865 68,873 1866 75,630 1867 80,532 1868 78,451 1869 72,984
During the year 1869, the arrests were divided as follows:
Males 51,446 Females 21,538
The principal causes for which these arrests were made were as follows:
Assault and Battery 5,638 1,161 Disorderly conduct 9,376 5,559 Intoxication 15,918 8,105 Intoxication and 5,232 3,466 disorderly conduct Petty larceny 3,700 1,209 Grand larceny 1,623 499 Malicious mischief 1,081 32 Vagrancy 1,065 701
During the past nine years over 73,000 lost children have been restored to their parents by the police. More than 40,000 houses have been found open at night, owing to the carelessness of the inmates, who have been warned of their danger by the police in time to prevent robbery. There is scarcely a fire but is marked by the individual heroism of some member of the force, and the daily papers abound in instances of rescues from drowning by the policemen stationed along the docks. In times of riot and other public danger, the police force have never been found lacking, and they have fairly won the "flag of honor" which the citizens of New York are about to present to them in recognition of their gallant and efficient services on the 12th of July, 1871. That there are individuals whose conduct reflects discredit upon the force is but natural; but as a whole, there does not exist a more devoted, gallant, and efficient body of men than those composing the police of New York.
The Station Houses of the city are so arranged as to be central to their respective precincts. The new buildings are models of their kind, and the old ones are being improved as rapidly as possible. Perhaps the best arranged, the handsomest, and most convenient, is that of the Fourth Precinct, located at No. 9 Oak street. The locality is one of the worst in the city, and it is necessary that the police accommodations should be perfect. The building is of red brick, with a fine white granite facade, with massive stone steps leading from the street to the main entrance. The entrance leads directly to the main room, or office. On the right of the entrance is the Sergeant's desk, of black walnut, massive and handsomely carved. Back of this is a fine book-case of the same material, for the record books and papers of the station. The telegraph instrument is at the side farthest from the windows—a precaution looking to its safety in case of a riot or attack on the station. Speaking-tubes, and boxes for papers, communicate with the other apartments. The walls are adorned with fine photographs of the late Superintendent Jourdan, the present Superintendent Kelso, and the Police Commissioners. Back of the office is the Surgeon's Room, with every convenience for the performance of the Surgeon's duties. The office of the Captain in command of the station is to the left of the entrance, and is fitted up with a Brussels carpet, and black walnut furniture. The walls are covered with fine engravings and photographs of prominent men. The Captain is also provided with a bed-room, bathroom, etc., which are elegantly furnished. The Sergeants' bedrooms are large, airy, and well furnished. Bathrooms for the Sergeants and Patrolmen are located in the basement. The sleeping rooms of the Sergeants and Roundsmen, and four large dormitories for the Patrolmen, are situated on the second and third floors. Each Patrolman has a private closet for his clothing, etc., and each bedstead is stamped with the occupant's section number. The fourth story is used for store-rooms. On the first floor there is also a large sitting-room for the Patrolmen.
Attached to the Station House, and connected with it by a bridge, is the prison, a brick building three stories in height. It is entered through the Patrolmen's sitting-room, and is the largest in any city station house. It contains fifty-two cells, all of which are of a good size and are well ventilated. Four of these (Nos. 1, 16, 17, 32) are somewhat larger than the others, and are humorously called by the force "Bridal chambers." They are reserved for the more respectable prisoners. Over the prison are two large rooms designed for the unfortunates who seek a night's shelter at the station—one for men and the other for women. They are provided with board platforms to sleep on. These platforms can be removed, and the whole place drenched with water from hydrants conveniently located.
As a matter of course, this model station is in charge of one of the most efficient, experienced, and reliable officers of the force. It is at present commanded by Captain A. J. Allaire, whose personal and official record fairly entitles him to the high and honorable position he holds in the force.
The station houses are kept scrupulously clean. Neatness is required in every department of the police service. The Inspector may enter them at any hour, and he is almost sure to find them in perfect order.
[Picture: A WINTER NIGHT SCENE IN A POLICE STATION]
These stations afford a temporary shelter to the outdoor poor. In all of them accommodations are provided for giving a night's lodging to the poor wretches who seek it. When the snow lies white over the ground, or the frosts have driven them out of the streets, these poor creatures come in crowds to the station houses, and beg for a shelter for the night. You may see them huddling eagerly around the stove, spreading their thin hands to catch the warmth, or holding some half-frozen child to be thawed by the heat, silent, submissive, and grateful, yet even half afraid that the kind-hearted Sergeant, who tries to hide his sympathy for them by a show of gruffness, will turn them into the freezing streets again. When the rooms devoted to their use are all filled, others still come, begging, ah, so piteously, to be taken in for the night. I think there is no part of the Sergeant's duties so hard, so painful to him, as to be forced to turn a deaf ear to these appeals. Let us thank God, however, he does not do so often, and even at the risk of being "overhauled" for exceeding his duty, the Sergeant finds, or makes, a place for those who seek his assistance in this way. Many of those who seek shelter here are constant tramps, who have nowhere else to go. Others are strangers in the city—poor people who have come here in search of employment. Failing to find it, and what little money they brought with them being exhausted, they have only the alternative of the station house or the pavement. Many who are simply unfortunate, suffer almost to perishing before seeking the station house, mistakenly supposing that in so doing they place themselves on a par with those who are brought there for offences against the law. But at last the cold and the snow drive them there, and they meet with kindness and consideration. I could not here present a description of the quiet and practical way in which the members of the "Force" relieve such sufferers. No record is kept of such good deeds by the force, and the Sergeant's book is modestly silent on this subject; but we may be sure it is written in letters of living light on the great book that shall be opened at the last day.
The stations are connected with each other and with the headquarters by telegraph. The telegraph system has been so perfected that by means of a set of numbers struck on a bell, each of which refers to a corresponding number in the book of signals, questions are asked and answered, and messages sent from station to station with the greatest rapidity.
The Headquarters of the Police Force are located in a handsome building, five stories high, known as No. 300 Mulberry street. The building extends through to Mott street, in the rear. It is situated on the easterly side of Mulberry street, between Bleecker and Houston streets. It is ninety feet in width. The Mulberry street front is of white marble, and the Mott street front is of pressed brick, with white marble trimmings. It is fitted up with great taste, and every convenience and comfort is provided for the members of the force on duty here. The greatest order is manifest. Everything and every man has a place, and must be in it at the proper times. There is no confusion. Each department has its separate quarters.
The Superintendent's office is connected by telegraph with every precinct in the city. By means of this wonderful invention, the Superintendent can communicate instantly with any point in the city. The news of a robbery or burglary is flashed all over New York and the adjoining country before a man has fairly secured his plunder. If a child is lost, all the precincts are furnished immediately with an accurate description of it, and the whole force is on the lookout for the little wanderer, and in a marvellously quick time it is restored to its mother's arms. By means of his telegraph, the Superintendent can track a criminal, not only all over the city, but all over the civilized world, and that without leaving his office. One of the most interesting rooms in the headquarters is that for the trial of complaints against members of the force. Every charge must be sworn to. It is then brought before the Commissioners, or rather before one who is appointed by the Board to hear such complaints. He notifies the accused to appear before him to answer to the charge. Except in very grave cases the men employ no counsel. The charge is read, the Commissioner hears the statements of the accused, and the evidence on both sides, and renders his decision, which must be ratified by the full "Board." The majority of the charges are for breaches of discipline. A Patrolman leaves his beat for a cup of coffee on a cold morning, or night, or reads a newspaper, or smokes, or stops to converse while on duty. The punishment for these offences is a stoppage of pay for a day or two. First offences are usually forgiven. Many well-meaning but officious citizens enter complaints against the men. They are generally frivolous, but are heard patiently, and are dismissed with a warning to the accused to avoid giving cause for complaint. Thieves and disreputable characters sometimes enter complaints against the men, with the hope of getting them into trouble. The Commissioner's experience enables him to settle these cases at once, generally to the dismay and grief of the accuser. Any real offence on the part of the men is punished promptly and severely, but the Commissioners endeavor by every means to protect them in the discharge of their duty, and against impositions of any kind.
Another room in the headquarters is called "The Property Room." This is a genuine "curiosity shop." It is filled with unclaimed property of every description, found by, or delivered to the police, by other parties finding the same, or taken from criminals at the time of their arrest. The room is in charge of the Property Clerk, who enters each article, and the facts connected with it, in a book kept for that purpose. Property once placed in this room is not allowed to be taken away except upon certain specified conditions. Unclaimed articles are sold, after being kept a certain time, and the proceeds are paid to the Police Life Insurance Fund.
The pay of a policeman is small, being only about $1200 per annum. In order to make some compensation for this deficiency, the Police Law contains the following provisions:
"If any member of the Municipal Police Force, whilst in the actual performance of duty, shall become permanently disabled, so as to render his dismissal from membership proper, or if any such member shall become superannuated after ten years of membership, a sum of not exceeding $150, as an annuity, to be paid such member, shall be chargeable upon the Municipal Police Life Insurance Fund. If any member of the Municipal Police Force, whilst in the actual discharge of his duty, shall be killed, or shall die from the immediate effect of any injury received by him, whilst in such discharge of duty, or shall die after ten years' service in the force, and shall leave a widow, and if no widow, any child or children under the age of sixteen years, a like sum by way of annuity shall become chargeable upon the said fund, to be paid to such widow so long only as she remains unmarried, or to such child or children so long as said child, or the youngest of said children, continues under the age of sixteen years. In every case the Board of Municipal Police shall determine the circumstances thereof, and order payment of the annuity to be made by draft, signed by each trustee of the said fund. But nothing herein contained shall render any payment of said annuity obligatory upon the said Board, or the said trustees, or chargeable as a matter of legal right. The Board of Municipal Police, in its discretion, may at any time order such annuity to cease."
VIII. THE BOWERY.
Next to Broadway, the most thoroughly characteristic street in the city is the Bowery. Passing out of Printing House Square, through Chatham street, one suddenly emerges from the dark, narrow lane, into a broad square, with streets radiating from it to all parts of the city. It is not over clean, and has an air of sharpness and repulsiveness that at once attracts attention. This is Chatham Square, the great promenade of the old time denizens of the Bowery, and still largely frequented by the class generally known as "the fancy."
At the upper end of the square begins a broad, flashy-looking street, stretching away to the northward, crowded with pedestrians, street cars, and wheeled vehicles of all kinds. This is The Bowery. It begins at Chatham Square, and extends as far as the Cooper Institute, on Eighth street, where the Third and Fourth avenues—the first on the east, and the other on the west side of the Institute—continue the thoroughfare to the Harlem River.
The Bowery first appears in the history of New York under the following circumstances. About the year 1642 or 1643, it was set apart by the Dutch for the residence of superannuated slaves, who, having served the Government faithfully from the earliest period of the settlement of the island, were at last allowed to devote their labors to the support of their dependent families, and were granted parcels of land embracing from eight to twenty acres each. The Dutch were influenced by other motives than charity in this matter. The district thus granted was well out of the limits of New Amsterdam, and they were anxious to make this negro settlement a sort of breakwater against the attacks of the Indians, who were beginning to be troublesome. At this time the Bowery was covered with a dense forest. A year or two later farms were laid out along its extent. These were called "Boweries," from which the street derives its present name. They were held by men of mark, in those simple and honest days. To the north of Chatham Square lay the broad lands of the De Lanceys, and above them the fine estates of the Dyckmans, and Brevoorts, all on the west of the present street. On the east side lay the lands of the Rutgers, Bayards, Minthornes, Van Cortlandts and others. Above all these lay the "Bouwerie" and other possessions of the strong-headed and hard-handed Governor Peter Stuyvesant, of whom many traces still exist in the city. His house stood about where St. Mark's (Episcopal) Church is now located. In 1660, or near about that year, a road or lane was laid off through what are now Chatham street, Chatham Square and the Bowery, from the Highway, as the portion of Broadway beyond the line of Wall street was called, to Governor Stuyvesant's farm. To this was given the distinctive name of the "Bowery lane." Some years later this lane was continued up the island under the name of the "Boston Road." In 1783 the Bowery again came into prominent notice. On the 25th of November of that year, the American army, under General Washington, marched into the Bowery early in the morning, and remained until noon, when the British troops evacuated the city and its defences. This done, the Americans marched down the Bowery, through Chatham and Pearl streets, to the Battery, where they lowered the British flag which had been left flying by the enemy, and hoisted in its place the "stars and stripes" of the new Republic.
After the city began to extend up the island, the Bowery commenced to lose caste. Decent people forsook it, and the poorer and more disreputable classes took possession. Finally, it became notorious. It was known all over the country for its roughs or "Bowery B'hoys," as they were called, its rowdy firemen, and its doubtful women. In short, it was the paradise of the worst element of New York. On this street the Bowery boy was in his glory. You might see him "strutting along like a king" with his breeches stuck in his boots, his coat on his arm, his flaming red shirt tied at the collar with a cravat such as could be seen nowhere else; with crape on his hat, the hat set deftly on the side of his head, his hair evenly plastered down to his skull, and a cigar in his mouth. If he condescended to adorn his manly breast with any ornament it was generally a large gold or brass figure representing the number of "der mersheen" with which he ran. None so ready as he for a fight, none so quick to resent the intrusion of a respectable man into his haunts. So he had money enough to procure his peculiar garb, a "mersheen" to run with and fight for, a girl to console him, the "Old Bowery Theatre" to beguile him from his ennui, and the Bowery itself to disport his glory in, he was content. Rows were numerous in this quarter, and they afforded him all the other relaxation he desired. If there be any truth in the theories of Spiritualism, let us be sure his ghost still haunts the Bowery.
And the Bowery girl—who shall describe her? She was a "Bowery b'hoy" in petticoats; unlike him in this, however, that she loved the greatest combination of bright colors, while he clung religiously to red and black. Her bonnet was a perfect museum of ribbons and ornaments, and it sat jauntily on the side of her head. Her skirts came to the shoe top and displayed her pretty feet and well-turned ankle, equipped with irreproachable gaiters and the most stunning of stockings. One arm swung loosely to the motion of her body as she passed along with a quick, lithe step, and the other held just over her nose her parasol, which was sometimes swung over the right shoulder. Even the Bowery boy was overcome by her stunning appearance, and he forgot his own glory in his genuine admiration of his girl.
Well! they have passed away. The street cars, the new police, and the rapid advance of trade up the island, have made great changes here, but there are still left those who could tell many a wondrous tale of the old time glories of the Bowery.
The street runs parallel with Broadway, is about double the width of that thoroughfare, and is about one mile in length. It is tolerably well built, and is improving in this respect every year. In connection with Chatham Square it is the great route from the lower end of the island to Harlem Bridge. Nearly all the east side street car lines touch it at some point, and the Third avenue line traverses its entire length. It lies within a stone's throw of Broadway, but is entirely different from it in every respect. Were Broadway a street in another city the difference could not be greater.
[Picture: THE BOWERY]
The Bowery is devoted mainly to the cheap trade. The children of Israel abound here. The display of goods in the shops flashy, and not often attractive. Few persons who have the means to buy elsewhere care to purchase an article in the Bowery, as those familiar with it know there are but few reliable dealers in the street. If one were to believe the assertions of the Bowery merchants as set forth in their posters and hand bills, with which they cover the fronts of their shops, they are always on the verge of ruin, and are constantly throwing their goods away for the benefit of their customers. They always sell at a "ruinous sacrifice;" yet snug fortunes are realized here, and many a Fifth avenue family can look back to days passed in the dingy back room of a Bowery shop, while papa "sacrificed" his wares in front. Sharp practice rules in the Bowery, and if beating an unwilling customer into buying what he does not want is the highest art of the merchant, then there are no such salesmen in the great city as those of this street. Strangers from the country, servant girls, and those who, for the want of means, are forced to put up with an inferior article, trade here. As a general rule, the goods sold here are of an inferior, and often worthless quality, and the prices asked are high, though seemingly cheap.
Pawnbrokers' shops, "Cheap Johns," third-class hotels, dance houses, fifth-rate lodging houses, low class theatres, and concert saloons, abound in the lower part of the street.
The Sunday law is a dead letter in the Bowery. Here, on the Sabbath, one may see shops of all kinds—the vilest especially—open for trade. Cheap clothing stores, concert saloons, and the most infamous dens of vice are in full blast. The street, and the cars traversing it, are thronged with the lower classes in search of what they call enjoyment. At night all the places of amusement are open, and are crowded to excess. Roughs, thieves, fallen women, and even little children throng them. Indeed it is sad to see how many children are to be found in these places. The price of admission is low, and strange as it may sound, almost any beggar can raise it. People have no idea how much of the charity they lavish on street beggars goes in this way. The amusement afforded at these places ranges from indelicate hints and allusions to the grossest indecency.
Along the line of almost the entire street are shooting galleries, some of which open immediately upon the street. They are decorated in the most fanciful style, and the targets represent nearly every variety of man and beast. Here is a lion, who, if hit in the proper place, will utter a truly royal roar. Here is a trumpeter. Strike his heart with your shot, and he will raise his trumpet to his lips and send forth a blast sufficient to wake every Bowery baby in existence. "Only five cents a shot," cries the proprietor to the surrounding crowd of barefoot, penniless boys, and half-grown lads, "and a knife to be given to the man that hits the bull's eye." Many a penny do these urchins spend here in the vain hope of winning the knife, and many are the seeds of evil sown among them by these "chances." In another gallery the proprietor offers twenty dollars to any one who will hit a certain bull's eye three times in succession. Here men contend for the prize, and as a rule the proprietor wins all the money in their pockets before the mark is struck as required.
The carnival of the Bowery is held on Saturday night. The down-town stores, the factories, and other business places close about five o'clock, and the street is thronged at an early hour. Crowds are going to market, but the majority are bent on pleasure. As soon as the darkness falls over the city the street blazes with light. Away up towards Prince street you may see the flashy sign of Tony Pastor's Opera House, while from below Canal street the Old Bowery Theatre stands white and glittering in the glare of gas and transparencies. Just over the way are the lights of the great German Stadt Theatre. The Atlantic Garden stands by the side of the older theatre, rivalling it in brilliancy and attractiveness. Scores of restaurants, with tempting bills of fare and prices astonishingly low, greet you at every step. "Lager Bier," and "Grosses Concert; Eintritt frei," are the signs which adorn nearly every other house. The lamps of the street venders dot the side-walk at intervals, and the many colored lights of the street cars stretch away as far as the eye can reach. The scene is as interesting and as brilliant as that to be witnessed in Broadway at the same hour; but very different.
As different as the scene, is the crowd thronging this street from that which is rushing along Broadway. Like that, it represents all nationalities, but it is a crowd peculiar to the Bowery. The "rich Irish brogue" is well represented, it is true; but the "sweet German accent" predominates. The Germans are everywhere here. The street signs are more than one-half in German, and one might step fresh from the Fatherland into the Bowery and never know the difference, so far as the prevailing language is concerned. Every tongue is spoken here. You see the piratical looking Spaniard and Portuguese, the gypsy-like Italian, the chattering Frenchman with an irresistible smack of the Commune about him, the brutish looking Mexican, the sad and silent "Heathen Chinee," men from all quarters of the globe, nearly all retaining their native manner and habits, all very little Americanized. They are all "of the people." There is no aristocracy in the Bowery. The Latin Quarter itself is not more free from restraint.
Among the many signs which line the street the word "Exchange" is to be seen very often. The "Exchanges" are the lowest class lottery offices, and they are doing a good business to-night, as you may see by the number of people passing in and out. The working people have just been paid off, and many of them are here now to squander their earnings in the swindles of the rascals who preside over the "Exchanges." These deluded creatures represent but a small part of the working class however. The Savings Banks are open to-night, many of them the best and most respectable buildings on the Bowery, and thousands of dollars in very small sums are left here for safe keeping.
Many of the Bowery people, alas, have no money for either the banks or the lottery offices. You may see them coming and going if you will stand by one of the many doors adorned with the three gilt balls. The pawnbrokers are reaping a fine harvest to-night. The windows of these shops are full of unredeemed pledges, and are a sad commentary on the hope of the poor creature who feels so sure she will soon be able to redeem the treasure she has just pawned for a mere pittance.
Down in the cellars the Concert Saloons are in full blast, and the hot foul air comes rushing up the narrow openings as you pass them, laden with the sound of the fearful revelry that is going on below. Occasionally a dog fight, or a struggle between some half drunken men, draws a crowd on the street and brings the police to the spot. At other times there is a rush of human beings and a wild cry of "stop thief," and the throng sweeps rapidly down the side-walk overturning street stands, and knocking the unwary passer-by off his feet, in its mad chase after some unseen thief. Beggars line the side-walk, many of them professing the most hopeless blindness, but with eyes keen enough to tell the difference between the coins tossed into their hats. The "Bowery Bands," as the little street musicians are called, are out in force, and you can hear their discordant strains every few squares.
Until long after midnight the scene is the same, and even all through the night the street preserves its air of unrest. Some hopeful vender of Lager Beer is almost always to be found at his post, seek him at what hour you will; and the cheap lodging houses and hotels seem never to close.
Respectable people avoid the Bowery as far as possible at night. Every species of crime and vice is abroad at this time watching for its victims. Those who do not wish to fall into trouble should keep out of the way.
IX. PUBLIC SQUARES.
I. THE BATTERY.
The lowest and one of the largest of the pleasure grounds of the city, is the park lying at the extreme end of the island, at the junction of the Hudson and East rivers, and known as the Battery. At the first settlement of the Dutch, the fort, for the protection of the little colony, was built at some distance from the extreme edge of the island, which was then rocky and swampy, but near enough to it to sweep the point with a raking fire. This fort occupied the site of the present Bowling Green. In 1658 Governor Stuyvesant erected a fine mansion, afterwards known as "The Whitehall," in the street now called by that name, but "Capsey Rocks," as the southern point of the island was called, remained unoccupied. In 1693, the Kingdom of Great Britain being at war with France, the Governor ordered the erection of a battery "on the point of rocks under the fort," and after considerable trouble, succeeded in obtaining from the Common Council, who were very reluctant to pay out the public money for any purpose not specified in the charter—a virtue which seems to have died with them—the sum necessary for that purpose. In 1734 a bill was passed by the General Assembly of the Province, ordering the erection of a battery on Capsey Rocks, and forbidding the erection of houses which would interfere with the fire of its guns, "on the river, or on parts which overflow with water, between the west part of the Battery, or Capsey Rocks, to Ells Corner on the Hudson River," (the present Marketfield street).
During the years preceding the Revolution, and throughout that struggle, the Battery was used exclusively for military purposes. About the year 1792 measures were taken for filling up, enclosing, and ornamenting the place as a public park, to which use it has since been devoted.
During the first half of the present century the Battery was the favorite park of the New Yorkers, and was indeed the handsomest. The march of trade, however, proved too much for it. The fashion and respectability of the city which had clustered near it were driven up town. Castle Garden, which had been a favorite Opera House, was converted into an emigrant depot, and the Battery was left to the emigrants and to the bummers. Dirt was carted and dumped here by the load, all sorts of trash was thrown here, and loafers and drunken wretches laid themselves out on the benches and on the grass to sleep in the sun, when the weather was mild enough. It became a plague spot, retaining as the only vestige of its former beauty, its grand old trees, which were once the pride of the city.
In 1869, however, the spot was redeemed. The sea-wall which the General Government had been building for the protection of the land was finished, and the Battery was extended out to meet it. The old rookeries and street-stands that had clustered about Castle Garden were removed, the rubbish which had accumulated here was carted away, and the Battery was again transformed into one of the handsomest of the city parks.
It now covers an area of about twelve acres, and is tastefully and regularly laid off. Broad stone paved walks traverse it in various directions, and the shrubbery and flowers are arranged with the best possible effect. A tall flag-staff rises from the centre of the park, and close by is a stand from which the city band give their concerts at stated times in the summer. A massive stone wall protects the harbor side from the washing of the waves, and at certain points granite stairs lead to the water.
The view from the Battery embraces a part of Brooklyn and the East River, Governor's and Staten islands, the Inner Bay, the Jersey shore, North River and Jersey City. The eye ranges clear down to the Narrows, and almost out to sea, and commands a view which cannot be surpassed in beauty. Here the sea breeze is always pure and fresh, here one may come for a few moments' rest from the turmoil of the great city, and delight himself with the lovely picture spread out before him.
II. THE BOWLING GREEN.
At the lower end of Broadway there is a small circular public square, enclosed with an iron railing, and ornamented with a fountain in the centre. This is known as the Bowling Green, and is the first public park ever laid out in the city.
The first fort built by the Dutch on Manhattan island covered a good part of the site of this square. In 1733 the Common Council passed a resolution ordering that "the piece of land lying at the lower end of Broadway fronting the fort, be leased to some of the inhabitants of Broadway, in order to be inclosed to make a Bowling Green, with walks therein, for the beauty and ornament of the said street, as well as for the recreation and delight of the inhabitants of this city, leaving the street on each side fifty feet wide." In October, 1734, the Bowling Green was leased to Frederick Philipse, John Chambers, and John Roosevelt, a trio of public spirited gentlemen, for ten years, for a Bowling Green only, and they agreed to keep it in repair at their own expense. In 1741 a fire swept away the fort, and afforded a chance of improving the park, which was done. A change for the better was brought about in the neighborhood by the establishment of the grounds, and substantial houses began to cluster about it.
A few years before the Revolution, the Colonial Assembly purchased in England a leaden statue of King George the Third, and set it up in the centre of the Bowling Green, in May 1771. The grounds at this time had no fence around them, as we learn from a resolution of the Common Council, and were made the receptacle of filth and dirt, thrown there, doubtless, by the patriots as an insult to the royalists. As the troubles thickened, the people became more hostile to the statue of King George, and heaped many indignities upon it, and after the breaking out of the war, the unlucky monarch was taken down and run into bullets for the guns of the Continental army.
After the close of the Revolution, Chancellor Livingston enclosed the grounds with the iron fence which still surrounds them, and subsequently a fountain was erected on the site of the statue.
III. THE PARK.
"THE PARK" is the title given by New Yorkers to the enclosure containing the City Hall and County Buildings. It originally embraced an area of eleven acres, but within the past year and a half the lower end has been ceded to the General Government by the city, and upon this portion the Federal authorities are erecting a magnificent edifice to be used as a City Post Office. This building covers the extreme southern end of the old Park, and the northern portion is occupied by the City Hall, the new County Court-House and the Department of Finance of the city and county.
In the days of the Dutch in New Amsterdam, the site of the Park, which was far outside the village limits, was set apart as a common, and was known as the "Vlachte," or "Flat," and subsequently as the "Second Plains," "Commons," and "Fields." It was the common grazing ground of the Knickerbocker cows, and was by universal consent made public property—the first ever owned by the city. It is believed that previous to this it was the site of the village of the Manhattan Indians, a belief which is strengthened by the frequent finding of Indian relics in digging up the soil on this spot. It was connected with the Dutch village by a road which ran through a beautiful valley now known as Maiden lane.
[Picture: THE CITY HALL PARK]
Every morning the village cowherd, who was a most important personage, would walk the streets of New Amsterdam and sound his horn at each burgher's door. The cows were immediately turned out to him, and when he had collected his herd he would drive them by the pretty valley road to the commons, and there by his vigilance prevent them from straying into the unsettled part beyond. At a later period the mighty Dutch warriors whose prowess the immortal Deiderich Knickerbocker has celebrated, made the commons their training ground, and here was also marshalled the force which wrested the city from the Dutch. Under the English it became a place of popular resort, and was used for public celebrations, the town having reached the lower limit of the commons. Here were celebrated his Majesty's birth-day, the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot, and other loyal holidays, and here were held the tumultuous assemblies, the meetings of the Liberty Boys, and other demonstrations which preceded the Revolution.
In 1736 the first building, a Poor-House, was erected on the site of the present City Hall. In 1747 a powder-house was erected by the city within the limit of the commons, near the site of the present City Hall. The gallows stood on the site of the new Post-office, and in 1756 was removed to the vicinity of the present Five Points. In 1757 the new jail, more recently known as the Hall of Records, was erected. In the same year, the old French war being in progress, wooden barracks were erected along the Chambers street front of the Park.
In 1757 a part of the site of the City Hall was laid out as a burying ground for the inmates of the Alms-House. In 1764 a whipping-post, stocks, cage, and pillory were erected in front of the new jail. In 1755 a Bridewell was built on that portion lying between the City Hall and Broadway. After the Revolution, in 1785, the Park was first enclosed in its present form, by a post-and-rail fence, and a few years later this was replaced by wooden palings, and Broadway along the Park began to be noted as a fashionable place of residence. In 1816, the wooden fence gave way to an iron railing, which was set with due ceremonies by the city authorities. In 1795 a new Alms-House was built along the Chambers street front, but in 1812, Bellevue Hospital having been finished, the paupers were transferred thither, and the old building was refitted as a Museum. In 1802 the corner-stone of the present City Hall was laid. The building was finished in 1810. Some years later the old buildings were removed or converted into offices for the city and county officials.
In 1870, the southern portion having been ceded to the Federal Government for the erection of a new Post-office thereon, the Park was laid out on a new plan, and handsomely adorned with walks, shrubbery, fountains, etc. It is now an ornament to the city.
IV. OTHER PARKS.
WASHINGTON SQUARE is located between Fourth and Seventh streets, at the lower end of Fifth avenue. The site was originally a Potter's Field, and it is said that over one hundred thousand persons were buried here in days gone by. The square contains a little over nine acres, and is handsomely laid out, and adorned with a fountain, around which passes the main carriage drive, flowers, shrubbery, etc. The trees are among the finest in the city, and are kept with great care. An iron railing formerly surrounded the grounds, but in 1870-71 this was removed, and Fifth avenue was extended through the square to Laurens street. This street was widened and called South Fifth avenue, thus practically extending the avenue to West Broadway at Canal street. The square is surrounded by handsome residences. On the east side are the University of New York and a Lutheran Church.
TOMPKINS SQUARE is one of the largest in the city, and is laid off without ornament, being designed for a drill ground for the police and military. It occupies the area formed by avenues A and B, and Seventh and Tenth streets.
UNION SQUARE, lying between Broadway and Fourth avenue, and Fourteenth and Seventeenth streets, was originally a portion of the estate of Elias Brevoort. In 1762 he sold twenty acres lying west of the "Bowery Road" to John Smith, whose executors sold it to Henry Spingler for the sum of 950 pounds, or about $4750. The original farm-house is believed to have stood within the limits of the present Union Square. About the year 1807 Broadway was laid off to the vicinity of Twenty-second street, and in 1815 Union Square was made a "public place," and in 1832 it was laid off as it now exists. The square is regular in shape, and the central portion is laid off as a park, and ornamented with shrubbery, flowers, walks, and a fountain. It is one of the prettiest parks in the city, and covers an area of several acres. It is oval in form, and is without an enclosure.
[Picture: THE WASHINGTON STATUE IN UNION SQUARE.]
Near the fountain is a thriving colony of English sparrows, imported and cared for by the city for the purpose of protecting the trees from the ravages of worms, etc. The birds have a regular village of quaint little houses built for them in the trees. They frequent all the parks of the city, but seem to regard this one as their headquarters. Some of the houses are quite extensive and are labelled with curious little signs, such as the following: "Sparrows' Chinese Pagoda," "Sparrows' Doctor Shop," "Sparrows' Restaurant," "Sparrows' Station House," etc. At the southeast angle of the square stands Hablot K. Browne's equestrian statue of Washington, a fine work in bronze, and at the southwest angle is his statue of Lincoln, of the same metal. The houses surrounding the square are large and handsome. They were once the most elegant residences in New York, but are now, with a few exceptions, used for business. Several hotels, the principal of which are the Everett and Spingler Houses, front on the Square. On the south side, east of Broadway, is the Union Square Theatre, and on the west side, at the corner of Fifteenth street, Tiffany's magnificent iron building. In a few years the square will doubtless be entirely surrounded with similar structures. It is here that the monster mass meetings are held.
STUYVESANT SQUARE lies to the east of Union Square, and is bisected by the line of the Second avenue. Its upper and lower boundaries are Fifteenth and Seventeenth streets. It consists of two beautiful parks of equal size, surrounded by a handsome iron railing, and filled with choice flowers and shrubbery. In the centre of each is a fountain. These parks are the property of St. George's Church (Episcopal), which stands on the west side of the square at the corner, and were given to the corporation of that church by the late Peter G. Stuyvesant, Esq.
GRAMMERCY PARK lies midway between the Fourth and Third avenues, and separates Lexington avenue on the north from Irving Place, really a part of the same avenue, on the south. Its northern and southern boundaries are Twentieth and Twenty-first streets. It is tastefully laid out, is enclosed with an iron fence, and is kept locked against the public, as it is the private property of the persons living around it. On the east side the entire block is taken up by the Grammercy Park Hotel—a first-class boarding house—the other three sides are occupied by the residences of some of the wealthiest capitalists in America. Here dwell Peter Cooper, Moses Taylor, Cyrus W. Field, James Harper (of Harper & Bros.), and others equally well known in the financial world.
MADISON SQUARE comprises about ten acres, and lies at the junction of Broadway and the Fifth avenue. The latter street bounds it on the west, Madison avenue on the east, Twenty-third street on the south, and Twenty-sixth street on the north. It is nearly square in form, and is beautifully laid off. It has no fence, and this adds to the appearance of space which the neighboring open area gives to it. The Fifth Avenue Hotel, the Hoffman, Albemarle, and Worth Houses face it on the west, the Hotel Brunswick is on the north side, and the Union League Club House and a handsome Presbyterian Church are on the east side along the line of Madison avenue. The land now included in Madison Square was owned by the city from a very early period, and was used as a Potter's Field. In 1806 it was ceded to the United States for the erection of an Arsenal, for which purpose it was occupied for several years. In 1824 the "Society for the Reformation of Juvenile Delinquents" obtained possession of the Arsenal grounds, on which they erected a House of Refuge, which was opened January 1st, 1825. This establishment consisted of two large stone buildings, and the grounds were enclosed with a stone wall seventeen feet high. In 1838 the House of Refuge was destroyed by fire, and a few years later Madison Square was laid out. It is now one of the most fashionable localities in the city, and the favorite promenade of the up-town people, who are drawn here in great numbers by the summer afternoon concerts of the Central Park Band.
RESERVOIR SQUARE occupies the site of the old Crystal Palace, and lies between Sixth avenue and the Croton Reservoir on Fifth avenue, and Fortieth and Forty-second streets. It has recently undergone great changes. It is a very pretty park, and is much frequented by the nurses and children of the adjacent neighborhoods.
X. THE FIFTH AVENUE.
The Fifth avenue, commencing at Washington Square, or Seventh street, and extending to the Harlem River, is said by the residents of New York to be the finest street in the world. It is about six miles in length, and is built up continuously from Washington Square to the Central Park, a distance of nearly three miles. From Fifty-ninth street to the upper end of the Central Park, One-hundred-and-tenth street, it is laid with the Nicholson or wooden pavement. It is being rapidly built up along its eastern side, the Park bounding the opposite side of the street, and this portion bids fair to be one of the most delightful and desirable neighborhoods in the city. In the vicinity of One-hundred-and-eighteenth street, the line of the avenue is broken by Mount Morris, an abrupt rocky height, which has been laid off as a pleasure ground. Around this the street sweeps in a half circle, and from here to the Harlem River, One-hundred-and-thirty-fifth street, it is lined with pretty villas, and paved with asphaltum.
From Madison Square to its lower end, the avenue is rapidly giving way to business, and its palatial residences are being converted into equally fine stores. Hotels and fashionable boarding-houses are thick in this quarter. Above Madison Square the street is devoted to private residences, and this part is par excellence "The Avenue."
[Picture: FIFTH AVENUE, NEAR TWENTY-FIRST STREET.]
The principal buildings, apart from the residences, are the Brevoort House, at the corner of Clinton Place, an ultra fashionable hostelrie. On the opposite side of the street, at the northwest corner of Tenth street, is the handsome brown stone Episcopal Church of the Ascension, and on the southwest corner of Eleventh street is the equally handsome First Presbyterian Church, constructed of the same material. At the northeast corner of Fourteenth street is Delmonico's famous restaurant, fronting on both streets; and diagonally opposite, on the southwest corner of Fifteenth street, the magnificent house of the Manhattan Club. Not far from Delmonico's, and on the same side, is a brick mansion, adorned with a sign bearing a coat of arms, and the announcement that the ground floor is occupied by the eighth wonder of the world, "A Happy Tailor." At the southeast corner of Nineteenth street is the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, in charge of the eloquent Dr. John Hall. Two blocks above, on the southwest corner of Twenty-first street, is the South Dutch Reformed Church, a handsome brown stone edifice, and diagonally opposite is the Glenham House. At the southwest corner of Twenty-second street, is the famous art gallery of Gonpil & Co., and immediately opposite the St. Germains Hotel. At Twenty-third street, Broadway crosses the avenue obliquely from northwest to southeast. On the left hand, going north, is the Fifth Avenue Hotel, and on the left Madison Square. The open space is very broad here, and is always thronged with a busy, lively crowd. At the northeast corner of Twenty-sixth street is the Hotel Brunswick, and on the southwest corner of Twenty-seventh street the Stevens House, both monster buildings rented in flats to families of wealth. At the northwest corner of Twenty-ninth street, is a handsome church of white granite, belonging to the Dutch Reformed faith, and familiarly known as the "Church of the Holy Rooster," from the large gilt cock on the spire. At the northwest corner of Thirty-fourth street is the new marble residence of Mr. A. T. Stewart, the most magnificent dwelling house in the land. Immediately opposite is a fine brown stone mansion, occupied at present by Mr. Stewart. On the southeast corner of Thirty-fifth street, is Christ Church (Episcopal), and on the northwest corner of Thirty-seventh street the Brick Church (Presbyterian), of which Dr. Gardiner Spring is the pastor. At Fortieth street, and extending to Forty-second, the west side of the avenue is taken up with the old distributing reservoir, a massive structure of stone, and immediately opposite is the Rutgers Female College. At the southeast corner of Forty-third street is the city residence of the notorious Boss Tweed, and at the northeast corner of the same street, the splendid Jewish synagogue known as the Temple E-manu-el. At the southwest corner of Forty-fifth street is the Church of the Divine Paternity (Universalist), of which Dr. Chapin is the pastor, and on the opposite side of the street in the block above, the Church of the Heavenly Rest (Episcopal). At the northwest corner of Forty-eighth street is the massive but unfinished structure of the Collegiate Dutch Reformed Church. On the east side of the avenue, and occupying the block between Fiftieth and Fifty-first streets, is the new St. Patrick's Cathedral, unfinished, but destined to be the most elaborate church edifice in America. The block above the Cathedral is occupied by the Male Orphan Asylum of the same church, next door to which is the mansion of Madame Restelle, one of the most noted abortionists of New York. On the northwest corner of Fifty-third street is the new St. Thomas' Church (Episcopal), a fine edifice, and owned by one of the wealthiest congregations in the city. Between Fifty-fourth and Fifty-fifth streets, and on the same side of the street, is St. Luke's Hospital, with its pretty grounds. On the east side, between Fifty-eighth and Fifty-ninth streets, and now in course of erection, will be located the Central Park Hotel, which is to be one of the most imposing structures in New York; and just opposite is the main entrance to the Central Park.
From Seventh to Fifty-ninth streets, the avenue presents a continuous line of magnificent mansions. There are a few marble, yellow stone, and brick buildings, but the prevailing material is brown stone. The general appearance of the street is magnificent, but sombre, owing to the dark color of the stone. Nearly all the houses are built on the same design, which gives to it an air of sameness and tameness that is not pleasing. But it is a magnificent street, nevertheless, and has not its equal in the great and unbroken extent of its splendor in the world. It is a street of palaces. Madison and Park avenues, and portions of Lexington avenue, are nearly as handsome, as are the cross streets connecting them with the Fifth avenue, and many of the streets leading to the Sixth avenue are similarly built. The great defect of the avenue is the poverty of resource in the designs of the buildings, but this is the only species of poverty present here.
If the houses are palatial without, they are even more so within. Some of them are models of elegance and taste; others are miracles of flashy and reckless adornment. The walls and ceilings are covered with exquisite frescoes. The floors are rich in the finest and thickest of carpets, on whose luxurious pile no footfall ever sounds. The light of the sun comes struggling in through the richest of curtains, and at night the brilliancy of the gas is softened by the warmest tinted porcelain shades, or heightened by the dazzling reflection of crystal chandeliers. The drawing rooms are filled with the costliest and the richest furniture which is the perfection of comfort, and with works of art worth a fortune in themselves. Back of these, or across the hall, through the half opened doors, you see the sumptuously furnished library, with its long rows of daintily bound books in their rosewood shelves. The library is a "feature" in most houses of the very wealthy, and in the majority of instances is more for ornament than for use. In the rear of all is the conservatory with its wealth of flowers and rare plants, which send their odors through the rooms beyond. The upper and lower stories are furnished on a corresponding scale of magnificence. Everything that money can procure for the comfort or luxury of the inmates is at hand. Nor are such residences few in number. They may be counted by the hundred, each with its contents worth a large fortune. The style of living is in keeping with the house, and, as a matter of course, only the very wealthy can afford such homes.
As for the occupants, they represent all classes—the good and the bad, the cultivated and the illiterate, the refined and the vulgar, the well-born and those who have risen from the gutters. If shoddy finds a home here, genuine merit is his neighbor. Those who have large and assured incomes can afford such a style of life; but they do not comprise all the dwellers on the Avenue. Many are here who have strained every nerve to "get into the Avenue," and who would sell body and soul to stay there, yet who feel that the crash is coming before which they must give way. Others there are who would give half their possessions to move in the society in which their neighbors live. They reside on the Avenue, but they are ignored by one class of its occupants, because of their lack of refinement and cultivation, and by another because of their inferiority in wealth. Great wealth covers a multitude of defects in the Avenue.
Perhaps the most restless, care-worn faces in the city are to be seen on this street. Women clad in the richest attire pass you with unquiet face and wistful eyes, and men who are envied by their fellows for their "good luck," startle you by the stern, hard set look their features wear. The first find little real happiness in the riches they have sold themselves for, and the latter find that the costly pleasures they courted have been gained at too dear a price.
[Picture: THE NEW RESIDENCE OF A. T. STEWART, ESQ.]
Families are small in the Avenue, and Madame Restelle boasts, that her wealth has been earned in a large degree by keeping them so. Fashion has its requirements, and before them maternity must give way. Your fashionable lady has no time to give to children, but pets lap-dogs and parrots.
Well, the Avenue mansions have their skeletons, as well as the east side tenement houses. The sin of the fashionable lady is covered up, however, and the poor girl must face the world. That is the difference. Madame married her husband for his money, and her love is given to one who has no right to claim it; and what between her loathing for her liege lord and her dread of detection, she leads a life not to be envied in spite of the luxury which surrounds her. The liege lord in his turn, never suspecting his wife, but disheartened by her coldness to him, seeks his "affinity" elsewhere; and, by and by, the divorce court tells some unpleasant truths about the Avenue.
Contemplating these things, I have thought that the most wretched quarter of the city hardly holds more unhappy hearts than dwell along the three miles of this grand street; and I have thanked God that the Avenue does not fairly represent the better and higher phases of social and domestic life in the great city.
XI. STREET TRAVEL.
I. THE STREET CARS.
The peculiar shape of the island of Manhattan allows the city to grow in one direction only. The pressure of business is steadily bringing the mercantile district higher up the island, and compelling the residence sections to go farther to the northward. Persons in passing from their homes to their business go down town in the morning, and in returning come up town in the evening. Those who live in the better quarters of the city, or in the upper portion of the island, cannot think of walking between their homes and their business. To say nothing of the loss of time they would incur, the fatigue of such a walk would unfit nine out of ten for the duties of the day. In consequence of this, street railways and omnibuses are more necessary, and better patronized in New York than in any city in the Union.
The street cars are the most popular, as they constitute the quickest and most direct means of reaching the most of the city localities. There are about twenty-two lines in operation within the city limits. The majority of these run from north to south, and a few pass "across town" and connect points on the North and East Rivers. A number centre in Park Row at the new Post-office, and at the Astor House. The fare is usually five cents below Sixty-fifth street, and from six to eight cents to points above that street.
The Street Railway Companies are close corporations. Their stock is very rarely in the market, and when it is offered at all sells readily at high prices. The actual dividends of these companies are large, often reaching as high as thirty-five per cent. This, however, is carefully concealed from the public, and the companies unite in declaring that the expenses of operating their roads are too heavy to admit of even a moderate profit. This they do, no doubt, to excuse in some degree the meanness with which they conduct their enterprises; for it is a striking fact that the heavier such a company's business grows, and the more its profits increase, the more parsimonious it becomes towards its employees and the public.
There is not a line in the city that has a sufficient number of cars to accommodate its patrons. More than one-half of those who ride on the cars are obliged to stand during their journey. As a rule, the cars are dirty and filled with vermin. The conductors and drivers are often appointed for political reasons alone, and are simply brutal ruffians. They treat the passengers with insolence, and often with brutality.
One meets all sorts of people on the street cars, and sometimes the contact is closer than is agreeable, and keeps sensitive people in constant dread of an attack of the itch or some kindred disease. Crowded cars are much frequented by pick-pockets, who are said to be frequently in league with the conductors, and many valuable articles and much money are annually stolen by the light-fingered in these vehicles.
[Picture: NEW PALACE-CAR IN USE ON THE THIRD AVENUE LINE.]
If the drivers and conductors are often deserving of censure, they have their grievances also. Their employers are merciless in their treatment of them. They lead a hard life, working about fifteen hours out of every twenty-four, with no holidays. The conductors receive from $2.00 to $2.50 per day, and the drivers from $2.25 to $2.75. In order to make up the deficiency between their actual wages and their necessities, the conductors and drivers have fallen into the habit of appropriating a part of the money received from passengers to their own use. Many of them are very expert at this, but some are detected, discharged from the service of the company, and handed over to the police. The companies of course endeavor to put a stop to such practices, but thus far have not been successful, and plead as their excuse for the low wages they give, that this system of stealing prevents them from giving higher pay. Spies, or "spotters," as the conductors term them, are kept constantly travelling over the roads to watch the employees. They note the number of passengers carried during the trip, and when the conductors' reports are handed in, examine them and point out such inaccuracies as may exist. They soon become known to the men. They are cordially hated, and sometimes fare badly at the hands of those whose evil doings they have exposed. This practice of "knocking down," or appropriating money, begins with the conductor, as he alone receives the money paid for fares. Those interested in it defend it on various grounds. The President of the Third Avenue Railway Company, the principal horse-car line in the city, once said to a reporter for a morning paper:
"We try and get all honest men. We discharge a man immediately if he is found to be dishonest. You see, conductors are sometimes made more dishonest by the drivers, who demand so much a day from them. You have no idea how much a driver can worry a conductor if he wants to. For instance, he can drive a little past the corner every time when he ought to stop. He can be looking the other way when the conductor sees a passenger coming. He can run too fast, or let the car behind beat his, and so on, annoying the conductor continually. The only way the conductor can keep friends with him is to divide every night. . . . The conductors 'knock down' on an average about thirty-five or fifty cents per day. . . . I don't think the practice can be entirely stopped. We try all we can. Some will do it, and others think they have the same right. We can't stop it, but discharge a man mighty quick if he is detected." The Third Avenue line runs 200 cars, so that the loss of the company by the "knock-down" system is from $70 to $100 per day, or from $25,500 to $36,500 per annum.
A conductor gave his explanation of the system as follows:
"Well, I'll tell ye. When a conductor is put on a road he has to wait his turn before getting a car; it may be a month or six weeks before he is regularly on. He'll have to know the ropes or he'll be shelved before he knows it. He'll have to be a thief from the start or leave the road. His pay is $2 to $2.25 per day. Out of that sum he must pay the driver from $1 to $2 a day; the starter he has to conciliate in various ways. A lump of stamps is better than drinks and cigars, though drinks and cigars have a good deal of influence on the roads; and then the 'spotter' has to get $5 every week."
"Why do the conductors allow themselves to be imposed on in this way?"
"Why? Because they can't help it. If they don't pay the driver, the driver will not stop for passengers, and the conductor is short in his returns; if they don't have a 'deal' with the starter, the starter will fix him somehow. You see the driver can stop behind time, or go beyond it if he likes. The latest car in the street, you understand, gets the most passengers. So it is that the drivers who are feed by the conductors stay from two to five minutes behind time, to the inconvenience of passengers, but to the profit of the driver, the conductor, the starter, the spotter, and for all I know, the superintendent and president of the company. It is a fine system from beginning to end. The amount of drink disposed of by some of the fellows in authority is perfectly amazing. I know a starter to boast of taking fifteen cocktails (with any number of lagers between drinks) in a day, and all paid for by the 'road;' for, of course, the conductors saved themselves from loss. Oh, yes, you bet they did! The conductor's actual expenses a day average $5; his pay is $2.25, which leaves a fine tail-end margin of profit. How the expenses are incurred I have told you. What ken a man do? Honesty? No man can be honest and remain a conductor. Conductors must help themselves, an' they do! Why, even the driver who profits by the conductor's operations, has to fee the stablemen, else how could he get good horses? Stablemen get from $1 to $2 per week from each driver."
"Then the system of horse railroad management is entirely corrupt?"
"You bet. 'Knocking down' is a fine art, as they say: but it is not confined to the conductors. The worst thing about the car business though, and what disgusted me while I was in it, was the thieves."
"Ay, the thieves. The pick-pockets, a lot of roughs get on your car, refuse to pay their fares, insult ladies, and rob right and left. If you object you are likely to get knocked on the head; if you are armed and show fight you are attacked in another way. The thieves are (or rather they were until lately) influential politicians, and tell you to your face that they'll have you dismissed. Ten to one they do what they say. I tell ye a man ought to have leave to knock down lively to stand all this."
II. THE STAGES.
The stages of New York are a feature of the great city, which must be seen to be appreciated. They are the best to be found on this continent, but are far inferior to the elegant vehicles for the same purpose which are to be seen in London and Paris. The stages of New York are stiff, awkward looking affairs, very difficult to enter or leave, a fact which is sometimes attended with considerable danger on the part of ladies. To ride in one is to incur considerable fatigue, for they are as rough as an old-fashioned country wagon. Unlike the European omnibuses, they have no seats on top, but an adventurous passenger may, if he chooses, clamber up over the side and seat himself by the Jehu in charge. From this lofty perch he can enjoy the best view of the streets along the route of the vehicle, and if the driver be inclined to loquacity, he may hear many a curious tale to repay him for his extra exertion.
The stages, however, as inconvenient as they are, constitute the favorite mode of conveyance for the better class of New Yorkers. The fare on these lines is ten cents, and is sufficiently high to exclude from them the rougher and dirtier portion of the community, and one meets with more courtesy and good breeding here than in the street cars. They are cleaner than the cars, and ladies are less liable to annoyance in them. Like the cars, however, they are well patronized by the pickpockets.
The driver also acts as conductor. The fares are passed up to him through a hole in the roof in the rear of his seat. The check-string passes from the door through this hole, and rests under the driver's foot. By pulling this string the passenger gives the signal to stop the stage, and in order to distinguish between this and a signal to receive the passenger's fare, a small gong, worked by means of a spring, is fastened at the side of the hole. By striking this the passenger attracts the driver's attention. A vigorous ringing of this gong by the driver is a signal for passengers to hand up their fares.
All the stage routes lie along Broadway below Twenty-third street. They begin at some of the various East River ferries, reach the great thoroughfare as directly as possible, and leave it to the right and left between Bleecker and Twenty-third streets, and pass thence to their destinations in the upper part of the city. The principal lines pass from Broadway into Madison, Fourth and Fifth avenues, and along their upper portions traverse the best quarter of the city. As the stages furnish the only conveyances on Broadway, they generally do well. The flow and ebb of the great tide down and up the island in the morning and evening crowd every vehicle, and during the remainder of the day, they manage by the exertions of the drivers to keep comfortably full.
The stage drivers constitute a distinct class in the metropolis, and though they lead a hard and laborious life, their lot, as a general thing, is much better than that of the car drivers. They suffer much from exposure to the weather. In the summer they frequently fall victims to sunstroke, and in the bitter winter weather they are sometimes terribly frozen before reaching the end of their route, as they cannot leave their boxes. In the summer they protect themselves from the rays of the sun by means of huge umbrellas fastened to the roof of the coach, and in the winter they encase themselves in a multitude of wraps and comforters, and present a rather ludicrous appearance. They are obliged to exercise considerable skill in driving along Broadway, for the dense throng in the street renders the occurrence of an accident always probable, and Jehu has a holy horror of falling into the hands of the police. Riding with one of them one day, I asked if he could tell me why it was that the policemen on duty on the street were never run over or injured in trying to clear the thoroughfare of its frequent "blocks" of vehicles?
"There'll never be one of them hurt by a driver accustomed to the street, sir," said he, dryly; "I'd rather run over the richest man in New York. Why, the police would fix you quick enough if you'd run a-foul of them. It would be a month or two on the Island, and that's what none of us fancy."
It requires more skill to carry a stage safely through Broadway than to drive a horse car, and consequently good stage-drivers are always in demand, and can command better wages and more privileges than the latter. They are allowed the greater part of Saturday, or some other day in the week, and as the stages are not run on Sunday, that day is a season of rest with them.
Like the street car conductors, they are given to the practice of "knocking down," and it is said appropriate very much more of their employers' money than the former. They defend the practice with a variety of arguments, and assert that it is really to their employers' interests for them to keep back a part of the earnings of the day, since in order to cover up their peculations, they must exert themselves to pick up as many fares as possible. "It's a fact, sir," said one of them to the writer, "that them as makes the most for themselves, makes the biggest returns to the office."
Many of the drivers are very communicative on the subjects of their profession, and not a few tell some good stories of "slouches," "bums," and "beats," the names given to those gentlemen whose principal object in this world is to sponge upon poor humanity to as great an extent as the latter will permit. One of the cheapest ways of "getting a ride" is to present a five or ten dollar bill; very few drivers carry so much money, as they hardly ever have that amount on their morning trips; the bill cannot be changed, and the owner of it gets "down town" free.
Apropos of this method, a talkative Jehu said to me one morning, "When I was a drivin' on the Knickerbocker," a line that ran some twenty years ago from South Ferry through Broadway, Bleecker, and Eighth avenue, to Twenty-third street, "there was a middle-aged man that used to ride reg'lar; all the fellows got to knowin' him. Well, he'd get in and hand up a ten dollar note—you know the fare was only six cents then—and we never had so much 'bout us, so, of course, he'd ride for nothin'; well, that fellow stuck me five mornin's straight, and I sort o' got tired of it; so on the six' day I went to the office and says to the Boss, 'There's a man ridin' free on this line. All the fellows knows him; he gives 'em all a ten dollar note and they can't break it. He's rid with me these last five mornin's, an' I'm goin' for him to-day, I want ten dollars in pennies, an' six fares out. If he rides I'll git square with him.' So the Boss he gives me nine dollars and sixty-four cents all in pennies—you know they was all big ones then—an' they weighed some, I tell you. When I got down to Fourteenth street he hailed me. Then the fares used to pay when they got out. So he hands up his note; I looked at it—it was on the "Dry Dock"—an' I hands him down the pennies. Well, how he did blow about it an' said how he wouldn't take 'em. Well, says I, then I'll keep it all. Well, he was the maddest fellow you ever seen; he was hoppin'! But he got out an' some one inside hollers out, 'Put some one on the other side or you'll capsize,' an' he thought it was me. He jumped on the sidewalk an' he called me everything he could lay his tongue to, an' I a la'ffin' like blazes. Says he, 'I'll report you, you old thief,' an' I drove off. Well, I told the Boss, an' he says, 'Let him come, I'll talk to him,' but he never made no complaint there."