D. T. Valentine's History of Broadway Pre: 1865 Part VI Section: B

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Broadway, Between Canal Street and Astor Place Pages: 619-627

The occurrence of the war with Great Britain soon after the period above referred to had the effect to defer the improvement of the street; but its progress was only temporarily stayed, and we find indications of a speculative character attached to property on the whole line of the street. Taking the year 1820 as a guide, it is found that very much of the street had already been improved.

On the east side, between Canal and Howard streets, the whole front was occupied, though the buildings were small frame edifices. Among them were Geer & Riley's carpenter shop. These parties became notable builders, and were identified with many of the improvements in the upper part of the city. On the block above (between Howard and Grand streets), there were several small houses, besides Wyman's stables, the pioneer establishment of that kind above Canal street.

Victor Pepin then conducted a circus established on that block (afterward Tattersalls), to be hereafter more particularly referred to. But between the circus and Grand street the lots were still unoccupied. The next block (between Grand and Broome streets) was about half filled up, there being some seven lots improved and seven vacant. The class of buildings on this block was superior to that erected at an earlier period. The owners were principally men of means. The best houses were those on the corner of Broome street, the corner being owned by Abijah Hammond, and that adjoining being the property of Elbert Anderson. These were first-class residences. The view which has been given in another place of the "Broadway House" shows the character of the houses in the middle of the block.

The block next above (between Broome and Spring streets) was entirely built upon, all the buildings being erected for residences, though most of them were without pretensions to being of the first class of houses. There were several others, however, all of which were owned by Isaac Lawrence, which were of a superior description, and were tenanted by well-known citizens. Of these, No. 476 was occupied by Alfred S. Pell; No. 478, by George Richards; No. 480, which was a large double house, was occupied by Mr. Lawrence, the owner; No. 482, by John Griswold; No. 484, by Foxhall A. Parker. We may mention, among other residents on that block at the period spoken of, Murray Hoffman, No. 486, and Gabriel V. Ludlow, No. 499. Citizen Genet occupied the southeast corner of Broadway and Spring street.

The block between Spring and Prince streets was just beginning to receive the impetus of improvement, and two fine buildings on the corner of Spring street had been erected by Thomas T. Woodruff, an enterprising builder. Two other small houses, with gable fronts, stood near the middle of the block; but there were no less than fifteen lots then still unimproved. These, however, were held in that condition but a short time after that period. The next block (that between Prince and Bleecker streets, Houston street not having been yet opened) then approached the suburbs of the city. It was pretty fully built upon, but mostly by a small class of buildings. The site since occupied by Niblo's Garden and the Metropolitan Hotel was then vacant; but north of that property the street was nearly all occupied, principally by small frame buildings, which had been erected by persons of moderate means at a time when the lots could be purchased at a low figure. But toward Bleecker street the property was in the hands of men of fortune, and was improved with a superior class of buildings. The principal one of these proprietors was John Mason, who owned several fine houses, occupied by leading citizens, among whom were Mayor Colden, N.G. Rutgers, H.B. Lambert, and R. Despard, the latter being on the corner of Bleecker street.

Between Bleecker and Bond streets (the latter street having then been recently established) the property was still unimproved, and such also was the condition of the adjoining block (between Bond and Great Jones streets). Of the next block (between Great Jones and Fourth streets) the same may be said, except that a small frame house was in the center of the block. Between Fourth and Art streets (Astor Place) the improvements were of a slight character; there were three or four frame houses of an inferior description, with the exception of the Duryea property, to which a garden, embracing several lots, was attached, and upon which was a respectable residence then occupied by John F. Cox.

This brings us to the point to which this portion of our description of Broadway extends on the east side of the street.'

Pursuing our description of the condition of the street on the west side at the same period (1820), and commencing in the same manner at Canal street, we find the first block (that between Canal and Howard streets) to have been still unimproved, except by two small frame buildings, one on the corner and the other adjoining. The next block (between Howard and Grand streets) was pretty fully built upon, generally by frame buildings of an ordinary class. A speculative builder (John Morse) had, however, divided up three lots, on which he had erected four brick houses of a good description, which are still standing. On the block above (between Grand and Broome streets), on the northwest corner of Grand street, was a small office of Stephen B. Munn, a large property-holder in the vicinity. On the corner of Broome was Allen Clark's grocery, but the interior of the block was vacant. The next block (between Broome and Spring streets) was about half built up.

There were on that block, however, the two best houses then on Broadway above Canal street. These had been recently erected by Mr. Stephen B. Munn, and were very superior buildings for that day. Toward Spring street there were three brick buildings of an ordinary class, one of which, on the corner of Spring street, was occupied as a drug store by Henry T. Kiersted, who continued in the same premises for over thirty years subsequently. When his premises were purchased for the site of the St. Nicholas Hotel, Gen. Kiersted removed to the suburbs of the city corner of Broadway and Forty-sixth street. There were, however, on the block spoken of, at that time, over a dozen unoccupied lots. The following view shows the condition of the street on the site of the St. Nicholas Hotel as it was in 1820. The building below the grade was a coach factory, standing on the level of an old lane. On its site was afterward the coach factory of Milne Parker. The fortifications on the hill in the rear were the remains of earth-works from Revolutionary times.

On the next block (between Spring and Prince streets) there were three buildings, one of which (Dr. Livingston's) was on the corner of Prince street; another, Dr. Henry Mott's, father of Dr. Valentine Mott, is still standing, having been occupied by the same family until three or four years since. There was, however, at that time, a fine residence nearer to Spring street, occupied by Robert Halliday, and another of less pretensions belonging to the Beekman estate. The vacant lots were about fourteen in number. On the block between Prince and Houston streets there were but three houses, two of which were small frame buildings. The other, however, was a superior residence, then recently erected by Mr. Astor, and occupied by his son-in-law Walter Langdon. Mr. Astor owned a considerable property in that vicinity, extending to and along Prince street. It was not, however, improved by the erection of buildings until many years afterward. At one period, Catherwood's Panorama occupied these premises. A view is here given of this vicinity, although the period to which the picture refers is some years subsequent to that to which we have been alluding.

On the next block (between Houston and Bleecker streets) there was but one frame building; the block above, however (between Bleecker and Amity streets), was improved by the erection of several fine brick residences, most of which were the property of George Brinkerhoff. Between Amity Street and Art street there was no cross street established, and the property was divided into large parcels, much of it still remaining in The condition of suburban residences. Among the proprietors may be mentioned, William Neilson, three acres: Widow Depeyster, Five acres; the Thomas estate, residence and twelve lots; Elbert Anderson, house and ten lots; Martin Hoffman, house and eight lots; Peter Hatrick, house and two lots; and Henry Sherman.

We shall now proceed to note some of the incidents and changes in that part of Broadway under consideration.

Among the earliest of the places which attained public notoriety was Vauxhall Garden, which occupied the old mansion and surrounding premises of the Bayard estate. This was established by a Frenchman, named Delacroix, about the year 1798, and was for some years a popular resort. The garden, which was the same as that originally laid out by the early proprietors, was extensive and handsomely embellished; near it toward the east, rose Bayard's Mount, or as it was called, after Revolutionary times, "Bunker Hill," from the fortifications on its summit. This was the highest eminence near the city, and afforded an extensive prospect on every side. It was at this time, bare of trees, and on gala occasions its sides were filled with people witnessing exhibitions of fireworks, &c., in the fields below. "Flying horse," mead-booths, &c., crowned its summits.

In the neighborhood were also considerable groves, the relics of what in old times were known as "Bayard's Woods." But the advancing progress of population soon drove Delacroix to other quarters. he established himself in a locality so far beyond the limits of the city as to promise many years of enjoyment before the strides of city improvements reached it. This was on the Bowery, south of the Sandy Hill road and to this place he transferred his residence as well as the former name of his establishment. He laid out the grounds, covering several acres, and extending to Broadway, in the geometrical style of gardening, and planted trees along the alleys. About the year 1827, the garden was shorn of half its proportions by the opening of Lafayette place through its centre. The Astor Library was erected within its limits.

(Continue Part: VI Section: C)


Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: D.T. Valentine's History of Broadway Pre: 1865 Part VI Section: B
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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