Old Landmarks In 1770: NYC

Starting from the Battery, or Bowling Green, " the Broad Way " was skirted by a double row of trees, which extended up the slope of the street nearly as far as Beaver lane (Morris street). Here resided many persons who were in those days prominent in the mercantile and social circles of New York. Broadway above Beaver Lane was generally occupied with private dwellings.

At some distance to the right, from the Broadway, on the upper side of Garden street (Exchange place), between Broad and Smith (now William), streets, formerly stood the ancient church edifice of the " Old " Dutch Church. That ancient meeting-house remained until 1807, when it was taken down to make room for a new edifice, which, in its turn, was destroyed, in " the great fire " of December,1835.

On the corner of what is now known as Rector street, stood the old Lutheran Church, and, in its rear—towards the North River—was " the English School," which had been established and fostered by the Vestry of Trinity Church.

"Trinity Church, in 1770," occupied the same site—surrounded by the memorials of the departed—as that on which she now stands. Within, this ancient edifice was ornamented beyond any other place of public worship in the city. This building was destroyed in the great fire of 1776 ; and the substantial structure which was erected in its place in 1788, in its turn, has given way to the prevailing taste for change—the magnificent edifice (erected in 1840), which is now the parish church of Old Trinity,—representing as truly the spirit of the present age as the old building first referred to did that of the merchants and the people of New York in 1770. "

Immediately in front of Trinity Church, in the olden time, as it still does, Wall street extended from the Broad Way to the East River. In the earlier days of the colony (1653) 'a wall,' or stockade, had been erected along the northern line of this street, for the protection of the town from the hostile Indians—giving a name to the thoroughfare at its base. Portions of this wall still remained in 1700. At an early period, on the lower corner part of Nassau street, where the Custom House (now Sub-Treasury Building) stands—stood the City Hall, which served also as the Municipal and Colonial Court House, the Debtors' and County Jail, and the Capitol of the Province. The old City Hall, finished in 1700, after having passed through many changes (the most important of which was that under the direction of Major L'Enfant, for the reception of the first Federal Congress, under the new Constitution of 1789,) was taken down in 1813,to make way for dwellings and stores, which also, in their turn, have given way to the tine buildings occupied by the United States Government, before referred to.

"Proceeding up the Broad Way, from Trinity Church, the promenade first passed King (now Pine) street on his right, and Stone (now Thames) street on his left—the former extending eastward from the Broad Way to the East River the latter westward from the same central thoroughfare to the North River, which at that time then flowed on the present line of Greenwich street.

"Little Queen (now Cedar) street was next passed on the right, and Little (also Cedar) street on the left—then extending from the North River on the west, as at this time, to Smith (now William) street on the east. Crown (now Liberty) street extended on either hand to the North River on the west and to Maiden Lane on the east—its present limits.

"Maiden Lane and Courtlandt street, both well known to the citizens of the present day, were next passed, the former extending to the East River, the latter to the North River. At the foot of the former, in the wide space that still remains there, was ' the Fly Market,' while the stairs on the river, near by, were one of the termini of the Long Island ferry; at the foot of the latter was the ferry to Powle's Hook (Jersey City), which still retains the same position."

A late writer says: " Outside of city palisades, beyond Wall street, Broadway was called by the Dutch ' Heere- Wegh.' North of Wall street was the 'Maagde-Padtje,' or the Maiden Path, which nomenclature was changed to Maiden Lane about 1700. This lane was, under our Dutch ancestors, a rural shady walk, with a rivulet running through it, and sloping hills on either side. Guuwenberg Hill, on part of the present Pearl, Cliff and John streets, was a favorite place of resort for the citizens on sultry summer afternoons."

"Dey street, on the west side of Broadway, and John street, opposite to Dey street, are still known ; and in 1770, and for nearly three-quarters of a century afterward, they afforded pleasant places of residence for those who thronged the ' business streets' of that portion of the city.

"Proceeding up the Broad Way, from Dey street, the promenade in 1770 next crossed Partition (now Fulton) street, extending westward to the North River ; or Fair (also Fulton) street, which extended eastward only to the present Cliff street.

"On the lower corner of Fair and Dutch streets stood the small frame meeting-house of the Moravian Church, which had been erected in 1751; and in the northeastern corner of Fair and William streets stood the more imposing stone edifice of the North Dutch Church, which still retains its original appearance, and is still used by the same body, as in 1770, and for the same objects.

"On the upper corner of Partition (now Fulton) street and the Broad Way
stood St. Paul's Chapel, which had been dedicated in October, 1766; and it still stands there, surrounded by its crowded graveyard, one of the most interesting of the few landmarks which have been preserved in our city.

Opposite to St. Paul's Chapel, the road to Boston—one of the great outlets from the City—branched off from the Broad Way ; and the present Park Row, and Chatham Street, and the Bowery, indicate the general course which it took; through the suburbs of the city.

"Vesey and Barclay streets, named after two rectors of Trinity Church, Robinson (now Park Place), Murray, Warren, Church, and Chapel Streets, (now West Broadway), on the western side of the Broad Way, with the edifice of the King's (now Columbia) College, at the foot of Robinson street, are too well known to the citizens of New York of the present day to need any particular notice in this place. In 1770, these streets were generally occupied for residences.

"On the eastern side of the Broad Way, opposite the streets referred to, was the Common—an open ground, which is still well known as 'The Park.' Even at the above early day the people had been accustomed to assemble at that place to express their opinions. They had rendezvoused there on the evening of the 31st of October, 1765, and on the following evening preparatory to the celebrated "Stamp Act Riots;" and at the same place, on the following Tuesday, they had re-assembled armed, with the avowed intention to storm the Fort in order to obtain possession of the stamped papers which had been deposited within it.

"On its western margin, nearly opposite Murray Street, the celebrated Liberty pole was erected in June, 1766; and around its base (or those of the poles which from time to time had been erected in the place of those which the soldiers had destroyed) cluster many of the most romantic associations of that interesting era. On the 19th of March, 1767, the fourth pole had been erected on that spot in honor of ' The King, Pitt and Liberty,' and the colors had floated gaily from its summit on the birthday of the sovereign.

Within the area of this Common, our present Park, on the very spot on which now stands the City Hall, stood, in 1770, the Poor-house, in the rear of which was a garden; while on the space between that and the Broad Way trees were planted. Eastward from the Poor-house stood the Debtors' Prison, a rectangular stone building, surmounted by a cupola—a building which, during the subsequent war of the Revolution, was occupied by Cunningham, the Provost Marshal, whose cruelties to the ' rebel' prisoners who were placed under his charge are well known. That building, with modern improvements both interior and exterior, still retains its place in the Park, and is known to all our citizens as ' The Hall of Records.' North from the Poor-house, near the site of the row of buildings known as ' the New City Hall,' more recently occupied, at that time stood the long line of barracks which furnished quarters for the troops whose turbulent spirit produced so much confusion in the city, and whose determination to cut down ' the Liberty-pole' proved so powerful an element in the movements of that period."


Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: Old Landmarks in 1770
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


 BIBLIOGRAPHY: New York As It Was and As It Is; Compiled by John Disturnell, published by D.Van Nostrand 1876
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