November 3, 2001

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The population of sleepy little Brooklyn had grown to nearly 10,000 in 1823. The Erie Canal, nearing completion upstate, promised future prosperity to all of the towns clustered at the western end of Long Island. Halfway out on the island, housewright Walter Whitman of West Hills decided to relocate his family, including four-year-old Walt, closer to New York, where the market for houses promised to be strong. It seemed to be a good town for the working man; the Brooklyn Apprentices' Library Association was founded this year. It would become the Brooklyn Institute in 1843, the Brooklyn Museum in 1897.

The island of Manhattan was poised for rapid growth. The financial markets were beginning to recover from a brief panic four years ago, and decided to charge an initiation fee for the first time - a whopping $25. New businesses were springing up all over. The New York Gas Light Company was incorporated, with a 30-year gas-pipe monopoly below Grand Street; its president Samuel Leggett had the first home in the city lit with the new illuminating gas. F. Marquand opened a jewelry store at 166 Broadway, just below Fulton Street. A few blocks up Broadway A. T. Stewart opened his dry good store. Far uptown, almost to Grand Street, Joseph W. Duryee opened a lumber yard. And a group of merchants founded the New York Chemical Manufacturing Company. In the future it would switch its focus and become Chemical Bank. Real estate continued to change hands this year. For one thing, land was becoming too valuable to use for dead people, especially poor dead people. The Potter's Field located where Washington Square sits today was closed down in favor of one further uptown. One day that one would also be shut down, to build a reservoir, which would in turn give way to Bryant Park and the New York Public Library. Downtown, at the Battery, the city purchased Fort Clinton. At the other end of town, Archibald Gracie sold his east side mansion to the Foulkes family.

Dining fans could try new restaurants, like the cozy Delmonico's cafe on William Street. If your leanings were toward performing music, you could join the New York Choral Society or the New York Sacred Musical Society. Both would give concerts next year. Like the theatre? You could take in the new British import (yes, even then), Tom and Jerry; or, Life in London which played at the Park Theatre. In November you might take in the musical melodrama Clari, or, the Maid of Milan and hear tunesmith John Howard Payne's Home, Sweet Home. A seat in the gallery would cost you two bits. You could curl up with the latest novel, James Cooper's The Pioneers: or, The Sources of the Susquehanna, which introduced readers to a new hero, Natty Bumppo. Female readers could turn to the new Mirror and Ladies' Literary Gazette. To digress for a moment, the gentle sex was not always catered to. A woman attempting to book passage on a packet boat to join her husband in Europe was refused passage, since she would be the only female aboard and "her presence would be inconvenient to the male passengers." Sports? In May you could go out to Long Island's race track at Jamaica, and watch a local favorite, the stallion Eclipse, defeat the southern contender, Henry. Just the month before, a group of young men gathered up in the village of Greenwich to play a game that a local newspaper, the National Advertiser, described as "base ball". Experts can argue that one with the Advertiser. Include me out.


For Classical 91.5 and 90-point-3, this is David Minor

 

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WEB SITE UPDATE
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The updated New York City and State timeline for 1873-1876 can be found at
http://home.eznet.net/~dminor/NYNY1873.html

 

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URL OF THE WEEK
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Number one on the Hit Parade in 1823, John Howard Payne's "Home, Sweet Home" would remain popular for many decades. For a biography of Payne, take a look at the Long Island Newsday page at http://www.lihistory.com/5/hs510a.htm .

And remember (shameless plug ahead; apologies to Payne) Be it ever so humble, there's no place like Eagles Byte!

 

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IT STILL WAVES ! !
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© 2001 David Minor / Eagles Byte

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