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

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Broadway, Between Canal Street and Astor Place Pages: 627-636

Among the early improvements in Broadway was the erection of a large wooden building, originally designed for a circus, but afterward converted into a theatre. It was situated on the east side of Broadway, between Howard and Grand streets.

In a newspaper, of date 1812, is a notice by Messrs. Dwyer & McKenzie, stating that they have taken the late circus, now the Olympic theatre, for a term of years; in which would likewise be given exhibitions of horsemanship, under the direction of Mr. Breschard. Opening performance, May 22, 1812. How long it continued under that management does not appear; but we find the building occupied as a circus in 1820, at which time Victor Pepin controlled its management. In 1825 it appears that it was still occupied as a circus, and belonged to Peter Lorillard. It covered four lots, Nos. 442, 444, 446 and 448 Broadway.

In later years a new building was erected on a portion of the same site, having the name of the Olympic theatre, which, in 1838, was under the management of Mrs. Hamblin. In 1839 it was conducted by Mr. McKinney and in 1840 passed into the hands of Manager Mitchell, under whom it attained a high degree of prosperity. The former circus building is believed to have been the same afterward known as Tattersall's, a place of sale for horses and carriages of all kinds, for which purpose it was occupied until within a few years past. the condition of this block, as it appeared in 1840, is shown by the following illustration.

In early years a circus, called the Stadium, was established on the northeasterly corner of Broadway and Prince streets. These premises were purchased, when Bayard's farm was sold off in lots, b y Mr. Van Rensellaer, and occupied the site of the Metropolitan Hotel and Niblo's Garden. Shortly after the War of 1812, the enclosure was used as a place for drilling militia officers, who were cited to appear at the Stadium for Drill. The circus edifice was surrounded by a high fence, the entrance being on Prince street. Afterward two brick buildings were erected on Broadway, one of which was for some time occupied by James Fenimore Cooper, the novelist. William Niblo (previously p proprietor of the Bank Coffee House in Pine street) removed to this locality in the year 1828, and established a restaurant and public garden. In the centre of the garden was still remaining the old circus building, which was devoted by Mr. Niblo to exhibitions of theatrical performances of a gay and attractive character, which soon attained such popularity as to induce him to erect a building of more pretensions as a theatre. This edifice was constructed even with the line of Broadway, but having a blank face on that street, the entrance being from within the garden. The Latter was approached from Broadway. The interior of the garden was spacious, and adorned with shrubbery and walks, lighted up with festoons of lamps. The view on the preceding page show the condition of Niblo's Garden before the erection of the theatre on Broadway.

A row of one-story buildings was afterward erected along Broadway to the corner of Prince street, that on the corner being for a time occupied by the venerable Grant Thorburn, the seed man. The following view shows the condition of the premises at the time of their destruction by fire. Soon after, the Metropolitan Hotel was erected on the same site:

Among the buildings of a public character along Broadway at various intervals, may be mentioned the following:

On The East Side

No. 434, The Howard House, 1853.

No. 440, Broadway Hall, 1834.

No. 442. The Olympic Theatre, 1838; The Old Circus, 1810; Tattersalls, 1840.

No. 444, The City Assembly Rooms, 1853.

No. 448, The Homoeopathic Dispensary, 1850.

No. 450, The Coliseum, 1847.

No. 472, Mechanics' Hall, 1847; Baptist Church, 1847.

Corner Grand Street, American Hall, 1850.

No. 496, Union Hotel, 1851.

No. 548, Church of the Divine Unity (Dr. Bellows), 1847; Fourth Universalist Church (Mr. Chapin), 1855.

No. 562, Central Log Cabin, 1840. Corner Spring Street, Collamore House, 1851.

Corner Prince street, Niblo's Garden, 1828; Metropolitan Hotel, 1852.

No. 596, New York Racket Club, 1848.

No. 598, Washington Hall, 1850.

No. 600, Masonic Hall, 1850.

Between Houston and Bleecker streets, Laura Keene's, now Olympic theatre.

No. 718, Hope chapel, 1850.

No. 722, Philharmonic Society, 1853; Carroll House, 1853.

No. 724, Church of the Messiah, 1839.

On The West Side

No. 429 City Hotel, 1852.

No. 479, American Art Union, 1852.

No. 483, Philharmonic Society, 1851; Manhattan Club, 1848.

No. 485, Brougham's Lyceum, 1851; Wallack's Theatre, 1853.

No. 493. American Musical Fund Society, 1853.

No. 511, College of Pharmacy, 1851.

South corner of Spring street, St. Nicholas Hotel, 1852.

North corner of Spring street, Prescott House, 1852.

No. 561, Bethesda (colored) church, 1849.

No. 563, American Musical Institute, 1850; New Jerusalem chapel, 1840; Lyceum of Natural History, 1837.

No. 563, Church of St. George the Martyr, 1847.

No. 597, Lafayette Hall, 1847.

Corner of Houston street, St. Thomas's Church, 1827.

No. 639, Primitive Christian Congregation, 1843.

No. 659, Stuyvesant Institute, 1840.

No. 663. National Academy of Design, 1850.

No. 677, Tripler Hall, 1851; Metropolitan Hall, 1853; La Farge House; Winter Garden Theatre.

No. 721, New York Hotel, 1850.

No. 733, Astor Place Hotel, 1853.


Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: D.T. Valentine's History of Broadway Pre: 1865 Part VI Section: C
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
Time & Date Stamp: