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

 
 
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Broadway, From Duane Street To Canal Street Pages: 572-604

The account thus far given, has shown the improvements in that section prior to the revolutionary war. "During the seven years in which the city was occupied by the British, the history of the Kalck-hook was of a military character. The hospital, which was tenanted by soldiers, was fortified by works thrown up around the building, and for greater security a block house, and some other fortifications, were erected on the north side of the point overlooking the meadows. The foregoing map, executed by a British officer, shows the condition of that vicinity towards the close of the British occupation.

As affairs assumed a settled condition after the war, the improvement of this part of the city was undertaken by the regulation and opening of the streets. The natural condition of the surface was unequal, and required much filling and excavating in various parts. Thus when sidewalks were first proposed in 1791, to extend from the Bridewell, in the Park, to the hospital, it was reported by the surveyor that the requisite lowering of Broadway, at Warren and Chambers streets, would be about three feet, while at the depressed portion, through which Duane street was laid out it required to be raised about eight feet. Thence up to the hospital it required lowering to the extent of ten feet at the latter point. Nearly opposite the hospital was the handsome residence of Mr. David M. Clarkson, the first house of any size erected in this vicinity on the line of Broadway. At this point the sidewalks were proposed to stop; but the digging away of the street as far as the meadows, it was designed to proceed with. Some years elapsed, however, before the cutting down of Broadway was finally carried into effect, when the deepest cutting was found to be between the present White and Walker streets, where the street was cut down below the natural surface to the depth of about twenty-three feet. The regulation of the street was continued to the stone bridge at the meadows.

Before proceeding to note the progress of improvement in that section, it will be found convenient to allude to the names of the cross streets, several of which have been changed at various periods.

Barley street, so called after a brewery west of Broadway, was afterwards called Duane street.

Magazine street, so named, from the reason that it led past the old Powder house on the little island in the pond, was afterwards called Pearl street.

Catharine street has been altered to Anthony street, and Catharine lane and Leonard street have retained their names.

Sugar-loaf street has been altered to Franklin street.

White, Walker and Canal streets have retained their original names.

The improvement of the east side of Broadway between Duane and Pearl streets, was commenced soon after the close of the Revolution, and within ten or fifteen years after that period the whole front had been built upon. The buildings were of wood and of small proportion with two exceptions, those known as Nos. 308 and 310, which were three-story brick buildings, then considered of an excellent class. These were erected by Mr. Nichols, and in after years were occupied by leading citizens, among whom may be mentioned: Joseph Richard, William Cutting (lawyer), John C. Stevens, John Tonnele, Jr., and Mr. Rapelje. A view of this portion of Broadway as it existed with the original buildings erected upon it, is here given.

About 1818, a fine house was erected on premises No. 306, first occupied by John McKesson, afterwards by Samuel Bradhurst, H.H. Scheiffelin, and others. Several of the original frame buildings stood until within comparatively recent years, others were demolished for the erection of Masonic Hall in 1826. This building of which a view follows, occupied a site originally built upon by Heckles, a mason, and afterwards used as a grocery store. The Masonic fraternity erected this elegant edifice for the purposes of their order. The engraving sufficiently illustrates the outward appearance of the building. The hall of entrance, ten feet in width, extended the length of the building, as the most splendid apartment of the kind in the United States, being a saloon, in the richest style of gothic architecture, ninety-five feet long, forty-seven wide, and twenty-five high. From the ceiling, which was divided into eight arches, were pendant numerous ornaments in imitation of the chapel of Henry VIII. This room was used for public meetings, concerts, and balls, & C. The third story was used as meeting rooms for the Masonic fraternity. The building was commenced in June, 1826, and finished in the following year, at a cost of $50,000.

After the serious blow given to the masons, arising out of the "Morgan" excitement which was drawn into politics, the prosperity of Masonic Hall gradually waned, and its name was changed to Gothic Hall. In one of the city publications in 1841 it is recorded as having changed hands, its stockholders having received neither principal nor interest on their investment. A few years since it was demolished, to give place to the present elegant buildings on the site Nos. 314 and 316 Broadway.

The block between Pearl and Anthony streets was originally chiefly occupied by the brewery, erected not long after the Revolution, by Mr. Snyder; after his death his widow married Anthony Steenbach, who conducted the business in connection with James Brown. The brewery and malt house were entered from Anthony street. Steenbach's residence was on the southeast corner of Broadway and Anthony streets, and Brown's on the northeast corner; attached to each was a large kitchen garden extending along Broadway. On Steenbach's death, the property went to the children, of Mrs. Steenbach by her former husband, one of whom (Peter Snyder) conducted the business for some years subsequent. The executor of Mr. Steenbach was Mr. Stephen Conover, who is still living. Mr. Conover was in, the hardware business on Broadway, between fifty and sixty years, and still resides in the vicinity of his old business stand. As executor of Steenbach, he erected on the site of the kitchen garden, along Broadway, five small one-story buildings.

In after years the Broadway theatre was the principal building erected on this block, and was in prosperous operation for several years, in 1850, and thereabouts. It was destined, however, to stand but a comparatively short period, and its site is now occupied by the elegant marble stores erected by its proprietor James R. Whiting, Esq.

From Anthony street to Catharine lane the property belonged to the owners of the brewery, on the opposite corner, and before the year 1800 but one house had been erected on the block, in which Mr. Brown the original owner, resided. It was on the corner of Anthony street, and was removed within a comparatively recent period. A view of it is given in the next illustration. Within a few years subsequently, residences of a good class were erected on the bloc, and we find them occupied at different periods by several leading citizens, among whom may be mentioned, John Griscom, Gilbert Robertson, Edward W. Laight, and J.R. Beekman. On this block was, in after years, erected a church edifice, affording the largest accommodation for an audience of any then in the city. It was built about the year 1836, and was originally called the Sixth Free Presbyterian Church, in which Rev. F.G. Finley and others officiated. Its name was afterward changed to "The Tabernacle," and Rev. J.P. Thompson officiated as minister subsequent to the year 1846. The building stood upon lots in the rear of those on Broadway, but the entrance was from the latter street, and was known as No. 340. The facilities of the large audience room rendered this a noted place of meetings where extensive public accommodations were required, and its history is identified with many gatherings of the people on important occasions.

On the next block, between Catharine lane and Leonard street, which contained but about sixty feet front, two small frame buildings were originally erected before the grade of the street was lowered. They were let down even with the street, and in one of them, on the corner of Leonard Street, Stephen Conover established his hardware store in 1810, the other being occupied by Cahoone as a grocery. These afterwards gave place to the elegant edifice erected by the New York Society Library Association. This institution, which was the oldest of the kind in New York, had previously been located in Nassau street, opposite the Dutch church (now Post-office). They sold their property in 1836 for $44,200, and with those and other funds derived from the New York Atheneum, then merged with them, they purchased the site in Broadway, containing sixty feet front and one hundred feet deep, at a cost of $47,500. The edifice cost about $70,000, the result leaving the Library considerably in debt. The building was completed in 1839. The Library Association occupied the premises until 1853, when they sold to Appleton & Co., publishers, for the sum of $110,000, by whom it is still occupied.

The block between Leonard and Franklin streets, soon after the Revolution, was at first improved by the erection of a residence by Mr. David M. Clarkson, a merchant.

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

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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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