Reminiscences of New York by an Octogenarian (1816 - 1860)
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By Charles H. Haswell

Active in NY's civic life a half-century, Haswell's meticulous notes were published in 1896, the same year Correction emerged as a separate agency. A century later Jackson Era devotee Hal Morris posted them on his Tales of the Early Republic web site, from where these passages have been excerpted with permission.
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Chapter IV excerpts: 1817 - Jacob Radcliffe, Mayor (Continued)
1818 - Cadwallader D. Colden, Mayor

1817. In this year were opened the following streets: First, Second, Third, Fourth, Sixth, Orchard, Chrystie, Forsyth, Eldridge, Allen, and Ludlow.
The young U.S. naval lieutenant who gave his life for his country also thereby gave his name to a New York City street and to the jail that was later built on it. On June 1, 1813, Lt. Augustus C. Ludlow was mortally wounded on the frigate Chesapeake attempting to repell a British boarding party during the War of 1812. In that engagement, Amercian Captain James Lawrence uttered with his dying breath the now-famous line: "Don't give up the ship!"
The five last [were] named after military and naval heroes, viz.:

  • Lieutenant­colonel John Chrystie, killed on the Niagara frontier;
  • Lieutenant colonel Forsyth of the Rifles, wounded in Canada in the same year;
  • Lieutenant Eldridge, scalped in Canada; Lieutenant William H. Allen, wounded in the action between the Argus and H.B.M.S. Pelican;
  • Lieutenant Ludlow, killed in the engagement between the Chesapeake and H.B.M.S. Shannon.
  • Pike Street perpetuates the name of General Pike, killed in the attack upon York (Toronto), Canada -- all in the same year of 1813.

Anthony Street (Worth), had been extended to Orange (Baxter), making at the intersection with Cross (Park) Street, five angular corners; these were designated and known as the "Five Points"-a locality that attained a national reputation as the resort of the abandoned of both sexes and of all nations.

A 19th century illustration depicts the wild Five Points scene of that era. Today federal, state and city courts and the Tombs jail are situated near where it once was. The federal General Services Administration has an excellent web site documenting Five Points history.

This year saw the beginning of the North River Steamboat Co., hence to Albany. . . . On November 29 the Staten Island Ferry was improved by employment of a steamboat, the Nautilus, making four trips a day; fare twenty­five cents. . . . Attached to the Fire Department was a floating fire­engine, the machinery of which some years after was transferred over a well in what was then the Corporation Yard, now the site of the Tombs, and designated Supply Engine No. I.

. . . The City Directory (Longworth's) contained but 19,677 names; it is worthy of note that up to about the year 1825 this publication gave in addition to names and residences information, complete as to some matters but as to others only partial, as concerning the tariff, some city ordinances, the courts, the common council, watchmen, nurses, firemen, etc.

In December of the year it was officially estimated that there were twenty thousand hogs running at large in the streets of the city.
City Hall and Park.
The question was asked about this time why the rear of the City Hall had been made of freestone, while its front and ends were of white marble, and the explanation was given that at the time the Hall was designed its location was so far up­town that the authorities of the day decided it would be useless to incur the cost of a marble rear, when there would be few or none to see it; as a writer of that period declared, it "would be out of sight of all the world.". . . . In these days our civic fathers met in council in the afternoon and adjourned promptly at six, when the Keeper (Custodian) of the City Hall received them in the "tea room," as it was termed, where a substantial entertainment was provided, followed by schnapps and pipes.

The name of the triangular plot at the intersection of Cherry and Pearl streets, or St. George's Square, was changed to Franklin Square, and it is an odd coincidence that in this same year James and John Harper began business at the corner of Front and Dover Streets; the chief. significance of Franklin Square at the present day being the long continuance there of the great publishing house of Harper & Bros., thus founded in the year when the Square was named in honor of a very eminent printer.

It was in this year that the Legislature authorized the construction of the Erie Canal, from Albany to Buffalo, approved by the Council of Revision; a distance of 363 miles, with a width at surface of 40 feet, at bottom 28 feet, and a depth of 4 feet, locks 90 feet in length and 15 feet in width. The first shovelful of earth was raised on July 4 of this year at Rome, and the work was finished in 1825. . . . .

1818: All the public bulkheads and piers (commonly and erroneously termed docks) and slips were rented for one year for $42,750. Essex Market, on Grand between Essex and Ludlow streets, was built. Fourth Street and Sixth Avenue, from Carmine Street to Greenwich Lane, were opened.

The Chambers Street (later the Bleecker Street), the first bank for savings, was opened on 26th of March in a room in the basement of the New York Institution, which was a building on the site of the present Court House, and used as an Almshouse, Court House, and in part by Scudder's Museum, and in this its first year two hundred and thirteen thousand dollars were received by it. . . .

In consequence of the frequent robbing of the United States mail­coach, between this city and Washington, the Post­office Department was compelled to employ guards, and offer arms to the passengers; and piracy was so common in the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico that the Government fitted out and despatched cruisers for its suppression. . . . .

The Humane Society provided "apparatus for the recovery of drowned persons," as it was termed, and deposited one at Brooklyn Ferry House, one at City Dispensary, and one in a building at the corner of Greenwich (No. 296) and Duane streets. The notice which was attached to the front of the building was there until within a few years (1895).

The commissioners of the Almshouse established a soup house at corner of Cross Street (which ran from Chambers to Duane Street) and Tryon Row. . . . .

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