B.E. - Comforted seeing you carriage; P.B. troublesome horribly; cruel silence; how you? when, where see you? write; keep promises. Lydia P.
From the New York Herald, Sept. 7, 1842: "A furious bull, mad from some cause, perhaps the weather, rushed up one of the cross streets yesterday into Broadway, carrying every thing living in a mass before him, with tail erect, nose to ground, and dust flying as he bounded forward." He was finally stopped by a young man named Horatio N. Ball, of 27 Chrystie St., but not before he tossed a man 20 feet, with his horns,and upset many others promenading on Broadway. And in 1855 the New York Evening Post reported that “a mad bull ran from Christie street to the corner of 24th street and 2d avenue, where he was captured and killed.”
The bulls weren’t coming uptown from Wall Street, though - the New York Stock and Exchange Board had been meeting since 1817 but they weren’t located at 11 Wall St. until 1865. They were probably escaping from the Cattle Market. Phelps’ New York City Guide (1853) says that this was located at 44th Street and Fifth Avenue - the future site of one of Delmonico’s restaurants in the early 20th century.
Image: Broadway, New York: South from the Park: Currier and Ives print, 1840s
The Mayor’s Black Book was a book of complaints that New Yorkers of the 1850s could contribute to. And complain they did, about everything and anything, giving us insight into the everyday things that don’t make it into history books (my favorite kind of history!). This item is from January 1855, as printed by the New York Times:
"That a large number of bad boys congregate in front of No. 32 Madison-street, playing ball, throwing stones and committing all manner of depredations* on the property of the complainant, Charles W. Mack."
(The photo is from 1909 but I couldn’t find an image from the 19th century that was quite right.)
*My father did exactly this sort of thing in Brooklyn in the 1930s although the shopkeeper did not call them depredations, exactly (lol).
Helen Worden, born in Denver, Colorado in 1896, was a pioneering woman journalist in the 1930s and 1940s.She wrote for several New York papers including the New York World-Telegram, and is known for her New York guidebooks as well as for an account of the famous New York hoarders, the Collyer brothers, entitled Out of This World (1954).
When Shire Books was kind enough to send me Discover New York to read and review, I was enormously happy. I collect old New York City guidebooks, and Helen Worden’s Here Is New York (1939) is a favorite of mine (it was written for tourists visiting the 1939 World’s Fair). Discover New York was first published in 1943 and written for servicemen and women passing through the city during World War II; this reprint is in celebration of the 70th anniversary of its publication.
It’s a wonderful read, one that takes me straight into the New York City of my parents, who were teens back then. Worden tells her readers all the basics, like the cost of a subway ride (a nickel!) and that the Stork Club was the place to see and be seen. You could, she suggests, go to the Hurricane club at 1619 Broadway and catch Duke Ellington playing a few sets? Don’t forget, she adds, that there is a $2.00 minimum there. Or perhaps you’d like to drop in to the Blue Angel, a night spot “run by a Frenchman who knows his omelets” - his chef makes them with rum. And if you prefer the outdoor life, you could take a nickel subway ride to the northernmost bit of Manhattan, and fish for a few bass at Inwood Hill Park.
She describes several neighborhoods, most of which you’ll know - Chinatown, Little Italy, Greenwich Village. But did you know there was a Little Turkey, on Washington Street between Battery Park and Fulton Street, where you could buy silks and brasses, and dine on lamb in grape leaves and “rosewater pastry”? It was also known as Little Syria, and was razed to make way for the entrance ramps to the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, which opened in 1950
Complete with reproductions of the original advertisements (which are wonderful, too), Discover New York is a must for anyone who loves old New York or for those who (like me) collect vintage guidebooks. I had a wonderful trip back in time reading it - and so will you.
[Images of inwood Park and a Turkish nightclub on Allen St. in the 1940s are both from Wikimedia Commons]
*Many thanks to Shire Books - and the opinions are, of course, all my own.
[Kitsch and Retro is my retro.vintage Tumblr]
Inconvieniency of Tight Lacing, as seen in St. John’s Park, New York City, September 28, 1829. The gentleman on the right is saying “Oh! oh! ah! ah! I shall communicate this to the Morning Courier & N.Y. Inquirer.”
"St. John’s Park…is on the west side of Broadway, bounded by Varick, Bach, Hudson and Laight streets. It is private property, and consequently not open to the citizens generally. The foliage considerably various, the healthy vigor of the trees, and the verdant freshness of the grass, entitle it to be considered one of the most tasty and the most rural pleasure grounds in the city." — The New-York Farmer and Horticultural Repository, August 1830 (Volume 3, p. 84).
In other words, St. John’s Park was the sort of place wealthy (and silly) dandies would go to strut around and run into trouble (and lampposts) because of their tight corsets (lol). The park was created in the early 1800s by Trinity Church, which owned the land. It was named for St. John’s Chapel, a then-new parish of Trinity.
In 1867 Trinity Church sold St. John’s Park to the Hudson River Railroad, who built a depot there; in 1927 the depot was demolished to make way for the Holland Tunnel. And now the bit that’s left of St. John’s Park is completely blocked from the public not by iron gates but by the exits from the Holland Tunnel, which surround it.. So much for the tasty, verdant pleasure ground where New York Beau Brummels used to parade.
First image is from NYPL Digital Gallery
Second image (from 1866) and third image (from 2010) via Wikipedia
"The ‘Walton House,’ which stands between Peck slip and Dover street in Pearl street, is to be torn down to make way for the approaches to the East River bridge. It antedates the Revolution. At that time it was a magnificent mansion, and was constructed in the best known style. In 1850 it became an emigrant boarding house, and subsequently was rented as an apartment house, the lower part being used for stores. It narrowly escaped fire in 1853, when Harper Brothers’ establishment took fire." — New York Herald, June 20, 1878
The Walton House was built in 1752 by Captain William Walton (1706-1768), a prominent merchant and politician. It was located in Franklin Square and the street address was 328 Pearl Street, which was originally called Queen Street. In the 1820s it was a hotel, and one of the regular stops made by the Flushing & Newtown stagecoaches.
The Walton House was demolished in 1881.
Image from NYPL Digital Gallery