November 14, 1998


The government in Albany continued refining New York State's structure in 1796. It divided the state into eight legal districts. With the exception of the New York City District, each had its own attorney general. In its own backyard, a public water corporation continued to struggle with the foulness of the drinking water, approving the construction of a water works. Nothing came of it. It would not be until the year 1850 that the city finally got a municipal water supply.

The former capital, at the mouth of the Hudson, began enhancing it's reputation as a cultural center. In an impressive coup it enticed English actor Joseph Jefferson to make his city debut in the play The Provoked Husband. Shortly before the year's end it would also premiere Victor Pellesier's opera Edwina and Angelina. It's probably safe to say that neither work has tempted today's producers to stage a major revival, but it was a beginning. John Fitch and John Stevens both continued their separate experiments with steam-driven vessels on the Collect Pond, with Fitch introducing the concept of the screw propeller to his prototype vessel. Lower Broadway's City Hotel, begun two years previously, was completed. A Universalist Church was built this year a few blocks to the east, and some members of the Methodist Episcopal Church founded the city's first black congregation.

The Upstate area was flush with royal visitors in 1796. The exiled Louis Philippe of France, Duc d'Orleans, arrived in Philadelphia, followed shortly by his younger brothers the Duc de Montpensier and the Duc de Beaujolais. After nipping down to Mount Vernon to visit former president George Washington, they then toured up the Ohio River, and crossed over to the Genesee country, where they met with land agent Thomas Morris, son of financier Robert Morris, at Canandaigua. After putting them up at the cabin of Orringh Stone in today's Rochester suburb of Brighton, Morris guided the royal trio to see the Falls of the Genesee. Beaujolias would later paint a picture of them. Others tourists were arriving and many of hem would return to take up residence. This was made a bit easier by a new state road between Whitestown, in Oneida County, and Geneva, by way of Auburn.The state also awarded a $15,000 grant to the Western Inland company for improvements.

Agent Williamson's properties were thriving. An academy (fancy name meaning school) opened in Geneva. And down along the southern tier Steuben County entrepreneurs William Kersey and James Edie began publishing the Bath Gazette and Genesee Advertiser, using the county's first printing press. A bit further west Williamson had an inn constructed, to play host to prospective land buyers and demonstrate the amenities of a wilderness civilization. The site would later take the name Corning. Over 3,000 visitors were attracted to central New York this year.

For Classical ninety-one five, this is David Minor


© 1998 David Minor / Eagles Byte