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Friday, May 24, 2013

It's a Wrap II

Continued from Crooked Lake Review blog

Script No. 418, July 2, 2005

 We'll begin our final 1829 visit to the New York City area over in Brooklyn. There was some talk in town of building a bridge back to Manhattan this year, but the talk was decades ahead of the technology and nothing came of the idea. A less ambitious plan did throw a causeway over the creek that separated an island noted for its rabbits, or conies, from the mainland. The men behind the plan added a small hotel, the Coney Island House, for wealthy visitors, but it would be many years yet before the average New York worker could head to Coney for a day's outing.

And the workers were getting antsy. A recent recession set large companies looking for ways to improve profits, one of the most popular being to increase the work day from ten hours to eleven. With no increase in pay, of course. A Committee of Fifty was formed to deal with this and other issues. By autumn some members of Tammany had joined reformers like Frances Wright and Thomas Skidmore, and given birth to the Workingmen's Party. Out of a protest meeting came a call to elect "men who, from their own sufferings, know how to feel for ours, and who, from consanguinity of feeling, will be disposed to do all they can to afford a remedy." Also under attack was inherited wealth, chartered monopolies and debtors' prisons. On November 7th carpenter Ebenezer Ford, president of the carpenter's union was the first labor leader voted into public office when he was elected to the New York State Assembly. The following month brought forth a proclamation, The Working Men's Declaration of Independence, with a rather familiar-sounding message: "When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one class of a community to assert their natural and unalienable rights in opposition to other classes of their fellow men..." Several decades later other, female, activists would start their own declaration in a similar fashion. Lines were being drawn.

Speaking of women, one select group was leaving town. Progress had been made on the new Sing Sing prison up the Hudson, so it was now feasible to house women there as well as men. The final population of Newgate Prison was shipped "up the river" and the land in the future Greenwich Village neighborhood was sold off, opening the future neighborhood to development.

If you weren't protesting, changing cells, or watching the 1829 version of beach bunnies out at Coney, you could still find ways to occupy your time. Several residents were moving from one stage of life to the next. Young Herman Melville entered Columbia Grammar School, to learn his letters (he'll perform well, we think). And Nathan Beers opened this home to wedding guests as he hosted his niece Charity Hallett's wedding to 19-year-old shopkeeper Phineas Barnum.

Young painters Thomas Cole and Asher B. Durand had help found the National Academy of Design back in 1826 and this year they teamed up with editor/poet William Cullen Bryant (who had lectured at the Academy) to form The Sketch Club. Out of these modest beginnings would come the Hudson River School of painting. Meetings of the club weren't always on new methods of applying paint to canvas though. Satirical debates were a popular form of entertainment at the time. On March 13th Cole emceed a solemn discussion. On the combustibility of peanut shells. On that note -  Goodbye, 1829.

© 2005 David Minor / Eagles Byte

Sunday, May 12, 2013



Governor George Clinton addresses the state legislature in Manhattan, urges strengthening defenses against the British. They vote £30,000 for fortifying New York City and £12,000 for the frontiers to the west and north.

Mar 22
The state legislature votes to extend the Mohawk Valley Road west from Fort Schuyler (Utica) to the Genesee River. The extension will be named the Main Genesee River Road.

May 27
Tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt is born near Stapleton, Staten Island, the fourth of nine children, to farmer Cornelius Vanderbilt and his wife Phoebe.

Sep 28                 
New York City tavern keeper James Leeson dies at the age of 38. He’s buried in Manhattan’s Trinity Cemetery. His tombstone will display Masonic symbols as well as a strange code, which will not be deciphered until 1889.

French lawyer, politician and epicure Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, visiting New York City, leaves for a wild turkey shoot near Hartford, Connecticut.  While there he learns of a new soup invented by Boston tavern-keeper Jean Baptiste Gilbert Payplat dis Julien. They swap recipes, Brillat-Savarin teaches Julien his fondue method.

Nov 3                 
Journalist, New York Evening Post editor and romantic poet William Cullen Bryant is born in Cummington, Massachusetts, to doctor and later state legislator Peter Bryant and his wife Sarah Snell, Bryant.

Designer Duncan Phyfe begins manufacturing furniture.    **    Bellevue Hospital is created out of a pest house built to cope with the plague.    **     Journeymen printers form the Franklin Typographical Society, the city’s first permanent labor association.    **    John Jacob Astor travels to Europe in the fall, leaving his seven-months-pregnant wife Sarah behind.    **    Potter’s Field is laid out at the junction of Bloomingdale and Post roads, the future site of Madison Square.    **    Further attempts to sell the land in the former Collect Pond area again elicits no responses.    **    City surveyor Benjamin Taylor and others make proposals for supplying the city with water. Nothing is done.    **    Aaron Burr's wife Theodosia dies, leaving him with a daughter, also named Theodsia.    **    Colonel Marinus Willet, a prominent member of the Tammany Society and a war veteran, is sent south to invite Creek Indian half-breed chief Alexander McGillivray and some of his warriors to New York to meet Washington and Secretary of War Henry Knox. The Society acts as host to the 29 Indians and a peace treaty is signed formally ceding the land between the Oconee and Ogeechee rivers to Georgia.    **    The Bridge Café open at Water and Dover streets. In modern times it is the city’s oldest existing restaurant.    **    Construction begins on the City Hotel (Tontine City Tavern), on the Broadway site of the demolished City Tavern.    **    The former Kennedy mansion, at 1 Broadway, built by Royal navy captain Archibald Kennedy, is sold by present owner, merchant and financier Nathaniel Prime, opens as the Washington Hotel.    **    The French begins using Bedloes Island as an isolation (quarantine) station.    **    Philadelphian John Bill Ricketts brings his circus company to perform at Broadway and Broome Street. The group will return to the city five times.   **    Peter Schermerhorn combines properties at Beekman Slip  (the future Schermerhorn Row and Fulton Street).    **    Future Manhattan businessman Ira Hawley is born in Ridgefield, Connecticut.


Connecticut investor William Wadsworth drives three ox teams from New York City to Big Tree (Geneseo) escorting six families to settle there.

Jan 11                 
A daughter, Dorothea Astor, is born in New York City to John Jacob and Sarah Todd Astor.

Mar 14                 
John Jacob Astor writes to London pianoforte manufacturer Tschudi & Broadwood, orders an instrument to be shipped to his family back in New York.

Mar 24                 
State surveyor general Simeon De Witt acquires Benjamin Ellicott's certified map of his Pre-emption Line survey, by an act of the legislature.

Apr 9                 
The New York State Legislature passes “An act for the encouragement of schools". $50,000 annually is appropriated for the next five years, to establish and support common schools.

Apr 13                 
Publisher (Harper Brothers) and politician James Harper is born in Newtown, Queens, to farmer, carpenter and storekeeper Joseph Henry Harper and his wife Elizabeth Kolyer Harper.

May 12                 
Columbia College professor Dr. Samuel Latham Mitchill addresses the Tammany Society of New York City on its designated anniversary, describes a highly imaginary history of Chief Tammany.

Sep 1                 
New York Herald publisher James Gordon Bennett, Sr. is born in Newmill, Scotland to a prosperous Catholic family of French descent.

John Fitch experiments with a steam-driven craft using a screw propeller, on the Collect Pond.    **    Astor, back in the U. S. and finding himself short of funds, hurries off to Montréal, writes to Peter Smith at the settlement of Utica to obtain credit.    **    Yellow fever kills close to 750 people. Half the population leaves the city.    **   For the third time since 1788, a grand jury indicts the city for its filthy streets. Again nothing is done.    **    Further proposals for the city's water supply are made, and ignored.    **    Federalist flour merchant John Coles, having purchased rights to build a bridge across the lower Harlem River from a discouraged Lewis Morgan, is granted the right to build a stone dam at the site.    **    The Tammany Museum is sold to its director Gardiner Baker. He also purchases Daniel Bowen's New York and Philadelphia waxworks and Bowen's paintings by Robert Edge Pine.    **    The American Bank Note Company is founded.    **    Ferry service begins between Catherine Street in Manhattan and and the foot of Main Street in Brooklyn.    **    French exile Moreau de St. Mery passes through the city.    **     The City Hotel (Tontine City Tavern) on Broadway is completed; opens for business.

©  David Minor         Eagles Byte