D.T. Valentine's History of Broadway Pre: 1865 Part II

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Broadway, From Wall Street to the Park Pages: 524-544

The city walls were erected in 1653, and were not demolished until nearly fifty years afterwards. One of the gates, affording egress from the town, stood across Broadway. Over a hundred years after its removal, while digging to lay mains for the Manhattan Water Works, the posts of this gate were found beneath the street, having been cut off near the surface, and with their removal passed away the last vestige of this ancient feature of the Dutch city.

Beyond the city walls the highway was known in Dutch times as the "Heere Wegh," in contradistinction to the Heere Straat, as it was called within the town. it ran upon the present line of Broadway as far as the Commons or present Park, whence it diverged on the line of Chatham street. The road passed originally a portion of the West India Company's garden, Damen's plantation, Van Tienhoven's plantation, a part of the West India Company's farm, and a portion of the Commons.

The garden of the Company occupied the site of the present Trinity church-yard. Upon the abandonment of the old church-yard, in the latter part of the seventeenth century, a portion of the garden lying north of the city gates was devoted to burial purposes. That part of it upon which the Trinity Church now stands was at first proposed as the site of a parsonage, it being contemplated to erect the church itself within the walls of the bastion which stood on the northwest corner of Wall and William streets (a). But probably the change of the times and the increased security arising from progress of population, induced the selection of that site on Broadway for the church instead of the parsonage.

Trinity Church was erected in 1696; the first sermon being preached on the 6th February, 1697, by Rev. Mr. Vesey, who continued as pastor until his death, about fifty years subsequently. The church was enlarged in 1737, it being one hundred and forty-eight feet in length and seventy-two in breadth. The steeple was a hundred and seventy-eight feet high. In 1761, it was struck by lightning, and consumed to the belfry. An excellent organ, brought from London, was one of the attractions of this edifice. Beneath the floor were vaults of the leading families attached tot he congregation, denoted by sculptured entablatures along the side walls in the building.

After the return of peace, a new edifice was erected, which was consecrated by Bishop Provost, in 1791. The size of this building was somewhat less than the former, being one hundred and four feet by seventy-two. The steeple was one hundred and ninety-eight feet high, and contained a chime of bells. In the 9nterior were galleries on the two sides; an organ loft at the east-end. At the west end was the chancel, in front of which were the desk and pulpit. Several elegant cut glass chandeliers depended from a gothic ceiling. The windows were of gothic form, with very small panes of glass. A very large gothic window, containing over a thousand panes of glass occupied the west end of the building. The engraving on opposite page is a view of Trinity Church as it existed from 1791 to 1839.

In 1839, Trinity Church was demolished and gave place to the present elegant structure. There have been no interments in the church-yard since 1822, about which period a law was passed forbidding interments south of Canal street. It was said at that time that the church records showed upward of a hundred and sixty thousand burials to have been made within that small enclosure, but it is probable this was an exaggeration.

Recurring to the progress of Broadway through the original farms, it is found that Damen's plantation, which lay nearest to Wall street, was patented to him in 1644. It extended on the west side of Broadway from opposite Pine street to Fulton street, and on the east side from Maiden lane southwardly to about the present line of Pine street. The original owner, John Damen, died while on a visit to the Fatherland in the year 1651. The partition of his estate among the heirs of his widow was made about the year 1669. No record of the terms of this division exists; but as the heirs soon after sold off their portion to other persons, an approximate idea of the condition of the property before it was built upon can be gathered from the records.

As to the subsequent subdivision of this property, it is sufficient to note those of the two largest parcels, one of which had been conveyed to O.S. Van Cortland and the other to Tunis Dey. The former was apportioned to two daughters of the Burgomaster, one of whom married Fred. Philipse and the other William Teller. In 1733 the heirs of these parties partitioned the property and laid out Courtlandt street, extending to the river. This street was accepted as a public street the same year. Subsequently, Philip and Frederic Van Cortland acquired the estate. The first sale of a lot of which we find record was in 1737, on the north side of Courtlandt street; size, twenty-five by one hundred and twenty-six feet, extending to land of Dey. Price, twenty-six pounds.

The Dey property contained over five acres. Tunis Dey, who was a gardener and miller (his windmill being situated near the river shore), made his will in 1688, leaving half of this property to his wife and half to his children. It was not until 1730 that actual partition was made. In 1743 a map was made, and the property was brought into the market as building lots. The first record of any sale is dated in 1745, which describes a lot on southwest corner of Broadway and Dey street; consideration, seventy-five pounds. The value of property, however, speedily rose, and in 1770 we find sale of a lot on Broadway, near Dey street, for three hundred and eighty pounds. Broadway was first regulated from Dey street to Fulton street in 1760. In connection with this part of the city, mention should be made of the first suburban tavern, such as afterwards became so fashionable on Broadway, outside of the city walls. This was the "Blue Boar," erected about the year 1670, on the east side of Broadway, near the present corner of Liberty street.

Van Tienhoven's plantation, extending along the east side of Broadway, from the Maagde Paatje, or Maiden Lane, to a point about one hundred and seventeen feet north of Fulton street, became the property of an association of five shoemakers and tanners, and thence became commonly known as the Shoemakers' Pasture. Their property embraced about sixteen acres in all. The tannery was located on a swampy section near the junction of Maiden lane and William street. After being used in common for many years, the property was mapped off in 1715, at which time, as the record curiously states, the owners, "finding the said land to be rentable for building of houses for an enlargement of the city, projected and laid out said lands into one hundred and sixty-four lots."

John Harberding, a venerable craftsman, and one of the original members of the shoe-makers' association, lived and plied his trade on Broadway, near Maiden lane. In a division of the property, some years after, the along-Broadway portion was allotted to him, extending the whole front, being five hundred and eighty feet along Broadway, and one hundred and sixty feet in depth. The plot is described as a garden, then in the occupation of said Harberding. Mr. Harberding emigrated to this city about the year 1660, while it was still under Dutch rule. He was a shoemaker by trade, and though rather a wild youth, became in his mature years a pillar of the Church, and lived to a venerable age. He died in 1723, leaving a handsome fortune, a considerable portion of which he bequeathed to the Dutch Reformed Church, which they still enjoy. The streets as laid out originally through the property still exist (although both have been widened in recent times) under the names of John street (after the proprietor) and Fulton street, formerly Fair street. A house and lot, apparently the homestead of John Harberding, on the corner of Broadway and Maiden lane, was sold soon after his death (viz., 1732) for one hundred and twenty pounds.

That part of the Shoemakers' Pasture lying north of the present Fulton street, being about one hundred and seventeen feet on Broadway, and occupying the block now bounded by Broadway, Fulton, Nassau and Ann streets, was for many years occupied as a public resort, and known as Spring Garden. The public house on the premises was situated on the late site of the Museum, corner of Ann street. In 1760 we find the advertisement of john Elkin, its proprietor, offering to the public "breakfast from 7 to 9; tea in the afternoon from 3 to 6; the best of green tea and hot French rolls, pies and tarts drawn from 7 to 9; mead and cakes." In the time immediately preceding the Revolution the house was known as Hampden Hall, having been purchased by "The Sons of Liberty," (the celebrated political organization of revolutionary times,) for their headquarters. It was the scene of action of many of the riots and public disputes which characterized that era of our history. Subsequent to the Revolution its uses were private until its conversion into a museum by John Scudder, about the year 1830. Mr. Barnum, went into possession of the Museum about the year 1840.

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Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: D.T. Valentine's History of Broadway Pre: 1865 Part II
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: From My Collection of Books: Manual of the Corporation of the City of New York by D.T. Valentine 1865
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