New York City's Points of Interest 1891 Part II
 

 
 

THE NEW YORK HOTELS, next claim attention as being among the most important of the city's public institutions, inasmuch as they determine the pulse of public activity. It goes without saying that the New York hotel system is the finest in the world, while her hostelries have no equal, either for architectural splendor or appointments, in 'the universe.

THE ASTOR HOUSE, is the oldest first-class hotel in New York to-day, the house standing upon the spot where John Jacob Astor,
its founder, lived during the greater part of his active business life. In the year of 1824, Mr. Astor surrendered this house
to William B. Astor, his son. Mr. Astor's desire to build a hotel here was kept a secret, until he had bought up every lot
upon the block, excepting a lot owned by John G. Costar, who refused to sell until Mr. Astor had agreed to submit the matter
to arbitration. Each selected a friend, and they chose a third, with the understanding that Mr. Astor was to pay $20,000 more
than the valuation named by the three men. The matter was effected and on June 1, 1836, the Astor House was thrown open to
the public. It was then considered as the wonder of the continent as far as hotels went. Besides, it was located at what was
then the extreme northern limits of the business center of the city, and everybody argued that it was too far away to
succeed. If some of those innocent, doubting Thomases could but creep back and take a peep at New York's eighteen miles of
city and her nearly two millions of inhabitants, who can fancy what their sensation would be? True, at that period, Trinity
Church was the center of the town's activity, and courting swains and lasses considered themselves in the wilderness, where
they got as far out as the City Hall Park. The American Hotel where Lafayette was entertained, and the Washington, which is
now occupied by the A. T. Stewart down-town store, were the only two hotels north of the Astor House. No person ever dreamed
that the city would reach out her great arms and shove her head above the city hall: hence the front, upon which the populace
was supposed to ever look, was made of marble, while the rear, which, those wise old knickerbockers said would never be seen,
was built of freestone.

The United States Hotel, at the corner of Fulton and Water Streets was built before the Astor, but its prominence has been
sustained, from the very fact that it never was a head center, owing to its locality.

THE FIFTH AVENUE HOTEL, is one of most notable inns of the city, from the fact that it is the headquarters of the leading
statesmen of America.

THE WINDSOR, is the destiny of all of the distinguished foreign visitors to New York. The total of New York's hotels which
may really be called worthy of mention, is about one hundred twenty-five. The Hoffman, the Brunswick, the Park, the
Sturlevant, the Coleman, the Albemarle, the Everett, the Belvedere, the St. James, the St. Denis, the New York, (a famous old
landmark), the Grand Central, the Glenham, the Brevoort, the Royal, the Vendome, the Marlborough, the Gilsey, the Monopole,
the Continental, the Union Square and Dam, the Morton, Earle's, the Gedney, Rossmore, the St. Cloud, the Buckingham, the
Clarendon, the Grand, and the Lenox, are among the best known houses of long standing, while the grandest hotel in the world
is the Imperial, at the corner of Broadway and Thirty-second Streets. But the Plaza, at the Fifth Avenue entrance to Central
Park is another wonderful building; to eclipse which, William Waldorf Astor -is building the most mammoth hotel in the world
at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Fifty-ninth Streets; while his other house at Fifth Avenue and Thirty-third Street is a
near future certainty.

THE CHURCHES, of New York are part and parcel of the city's grandest, wealthiest, best, most influential and most magnificent
of all of her mighty institutions. Their congregations are extensive and generous ; her ministers learned and eloquent, and
her singers amongst the finest of America's musical artists.

There are more than three hundred fifty churches in this city, the oldest church society being Trinity, the original building
(the present is the third) having been erected in 1697. In point of age of edifices, St. Paul's is the oldest, the
corner-stone of this building having been laid in 1764. At the same time, Trinity Parish is the wealthiest corporation in New
York, and all America.

TRINITY PARISH is of early origin, the land upon which Trinity Church now stands having been granted in 1697.

In 1705, it received a grant of lands between Vesey and Christopher Streets, which are now very valuable and return an
annual rental of more than half a million dollars. This is used to good advantage, not alone in supporting the churches of
the parish, but St. John's Guild and other charitable organizations. Trinity Church is picturesquely situated amidst that old
and interesting cemetery, on Broadway, opposite to Wall Street. She has a proud daughter in her Twenty-sixth Street Church,
near Broadway; and one of the finest cemeteries in the city is under her charge, bordering Tenth Avenue, near One
Hundred-sixtieth Street. Trinity, the mother church, was built in 1697; destroyed by fire in 1776; rebuilt in 1788, and
replaced by the present beautiful Gothic structure in 1846. Its steeple, which rises to a height of 284 feet, looks proudly
down upon the commercial palaces in her midst that are so rapidly encroaching upon her skirts, which cover the slumbering
bones of so many of the Revolutionary heroes.

ST. PAUL'S CHURCH, is one of the grand sights of interest in New York. It is not alone the oldest edifice, but located so
closely to its sister, Trinity, it is one of the relics of colonial times.

GRACE CHURCH, built in 1845, and the special and beloved charge of Bishop Potter, is one of the worthy children of old
Trinity. Nor must dear old Dr. Houghton's " Little Church Around the Corner" be forgotten. The crowning stroke of the Church
of England in this country will be the building of that grand Cathedral, in the vicinity of Harlem. The society will build
for Time, and an edifice will be erected that will eclipse any cathedral in the United States. Calvary Church, in ' Fourth
Avenue, is the old worship house of A. T. Stewart. St. Bartholomew's Church, in Fifth Avenue is the swell Episcopalian temple
of the city. One of the largest churches in America is Calvary M. E. Church, just dedicated It is located at Seventh Avenue
and 12th Street, and was completed at a cost of $200,000. It has a seating capacity for 2,500 persons. Dr. Deems' Church of
the Strangers in Mercer Street is one of the most interesting points to visit. Then there is the high St. Ignatius Church, in
W. Fortieth Street, a Church of England congregation, with a service almost as high as that of the Catholic. The grand Fifth
Avenue Cathedral is the great American Catholic center. This is one of the finest pieces of architecture in the world. Among
the Baptist churches, that of Dr. Dixon in E. Twenty-third Street is attracting the greatest notice. The Jewish congregations
are among the most noticeable in this city, the highly swell synagogue being that of the Temple Emanuel-El, at No. 521 Fifth
Avenue.

THE COLLEGES, of New York are among the foremost institutions of learning in the world. The oldest school of this sort is
Columbia College, which was founded in 1754. It was endowed with a large estate and is one of the wealthiest and most
prosperous educational institutions in the world. All branches of learning are taught here, notable among which is law. The
college is a fine looking and commodious series of buildings, located between Forty-ninth and Fiftieth Streets and Madison
and Fourth Avenues.

Another fine college is the University of New York, which has in connection with it a finely conducted medical school.

COOPER INSTITUTE, is one of the greatest blessings that has fallen to the lot of New Yorkers. This massive brownstone
building at the junction of Third and Fourth Avenues, was built in 1857, by the late Peter Cooper, at a cost of $630,000. He
endowed it with $150,000 and opened a large free reading-room and library, which have probably been more liberally patronized
than any other institution of the kind in the city. There are also free schools for instruction in the sciences and fine
arts. In the basement is a large hall, in which courses of free lectures are given on travels, science, philosophy, etc. The
library contains a full set of patent office reports and over 20,000 volumes of useful literature.

The other colleges of New York include the Academy of the Holy Cross; Academy of the Sacred Heart; College of the City of New
York; Eclectic; General Theological Seminary of the Protestant Episcopal Church; the Hahnemann Homoeopathic; Home of the
Evangelist; Manhattan ; Women's Medical College (a noble institution); New York College of Dentistry; New York Free Medical
College for Women, (another grand school); College of Pharmacy; College of Physicians and Surgeons; Rutgers' Female College;
St. Francis Xavier's; Union Theological Seminary; University of the City of New York and the Veterinary College.

THE CITY CLUBS, are among the most necessary and great institutions of this city. The wealthiest of all of these clubs is the
Manhattan, which has recently moved into the A. T. Stewart palace at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Thirty-fourth Street.
Next, in point of seldom comes the Union Club, Fifth Avenue and Twenty-first Street; then comes the great Union League,
which is the stamping ground of the republican hosts, as the Manhattan is of the democratic. The other clubs, which are
legion .and increasing every year, include in their number the Century; Lamb's (actors); Lotos; Merchant's ; New York Press ;
New York ; Racquet; Bullion ; Calendonian ; Woman's Press ; Sorosis (female); Century; Down Town; Coney Island Jockey;
Harmonic; Jockey; Knickerbocker; Radical; La Armenia ; Liederkranz ; St. Nicholas ; University ; and Turf. No city in the
world has so many GRAND THEATERS as New York, barring, of course, London and Paris. The number of first-class houses is
twenty- seven—the variety houses, music halls and dime museums adding about twenty-five more to this list of places of
amusement. The latest house to be added to the list is Harrigan's new theater in W. Thirty-fifth Street, a grand and
beautiful piece of architecture. To this house we must add the following: Metropolitan, Union Square Theater, Columbus
Theater, Daly's Theater, Grand Opera House, Herrmann's Theater, Harlem Opera House, Casino, Lyceum Theater, Standard Theater, Tony Pastor's, New Park Theater, Proctor's Theater, Amberg's Theater, Niblo's, Fourteenth Street Theater, Windsor Theater, Garden Theater, Bijou Opera House, Palmer's Theater, Star Theater, Madison Square Garden, Broadway Theater, Fifth Avenue Theater, People's Theater, Academy of Music. Other places of amusement are the Eden Musee, and Music Hall just opened,
presented to the city by Andrew Carnegie. There are a number of Art Galleries to visit, among these being the Fifth Avenue
and the American.

THE HOSPITALS, are among those grand institutions that enlist the wide sympathy of the public; and to what extent, may at once
be read in the quick response when any request is made for funds to carry on the good work. The busy hospitals of this city
include the Chambers Street; the New York ; the Roosevelt; St. Luke's; the Hahnemann ; the Jewish Hospitals; St. Mary's ; the
Woman's Hospital and Bellevue, in New York; besides the great institutions on Ward's, Randall's and Blackwell's Islands, in
the East River, including the Typhus Fever and Smallpox Hospitals; the Blind Asylum; Charity Hospital; The Female Lunatic
Asylum; and the Alms- house. One of the most worthy institutions that an attempt is being made to establish, is one where
indigent and incapacitated school teachers may be cared for. The grand and successful fair held at the Lenox Lyceum, in
December, 1890, which resulted in the accumulation of a fund of $50,000 was a most admirable start. The effort will, however,
be extended to raise the amount to $100,000 as there are already forty teachers who are dependent upon the fund, and as not
less than $600 per year will meet the demand in each case, the annual outlay for this cause is at least $24,000 every
twelvemonth. In addition to the institutions named, there is hardly a church but has its charge of one sort or another. There
are also scores of guilds to say nothing of the free soup kitchens and the newsboys homes, free lodging houses, etc.; and it
is a blessed thing to contemplate that no matter who the person is, he or she need not go without food or shelter in this
great city, as either, or both, may be  had for the mere asking, and if failing to ask is failing to receive, then it is the
fault of the sufferer.

THE CITY PRISONS, of New York are undoubtedly the most extensive of any in this country. Of course the great historical
prison is the Tombs, in Centre Street—a dull, low, gloomy Egyptian V pile, something after the style of the Bank of England.
Behind the massive walls of Admiral Farraght-Madison Square, the Tombs, some of the most noted American criminals have
lingered. The structure is built of white granite and was erected under a resolution of the Common Council passed in the year
1835. The original appropriation was $250,000. The end that the Tombs serves, are those of a jail and a house of detention.
The cells, which are small, are lighted by an oblique cut in the wall, which prevents the common prisoner from looking out.
The Tombs is the sure destination of New York rowdyism, and many a young hoodlum who attempted to run his course in the face
of the law has wound up here, not alone in a cell, but by an ignominous death upon the gallows, for prior to the law
compelling the death penalty to be meted out by electricity, all criminals sentenced to death in New York were hanged here.
Even as great a scoundrel as Tweed was incarcerated here, until removed to Ludlow Street Jail. Within the Tombs is a court
room, where the preliminary examination of murderers and all other criminals is heard. From this court room many a man and
woman is hurled across the river to "The Island" to "do time" in lieu of a fine. Blackwell's Island, where the Penitentiary
and work house are located, is fed from the Tombs, the Essex Market Court, Jefferson Market Court and the other districts
over which the Police Justices preside.

One of the proudest institutions of New York, is her grand POLICE FORCE which is rightly characterized as "The Finest." It
has truthfully been said that "no city in the world, has a police force which in efficiency, discipline and character, equals
that of New York." This great institution, however, was by no means built up without an effort and numerous experiments;
changes and years of effort only served to perfect the system. Prior to the year of 1844, a force of men known as

OLD LEATHER-HEADS, guarded the city in the lamp-lighted districts. Their numbers were recruited from laborers, stevedores,
cart drivers and porters, who did not constitute a regularly organized force, but undertook their labors out of a sense of
duty of self-protection. Their head-gear consisted of a leather hat after the style of the old firemen's cap without a front
piece. This was made of leather—hence the names of the wearers, Leather-heads.

A UNIFORM REFORM, was effected under Mayor Westervelt and Recorder Tilton, and soon the force appeared in regulation garb.
The Metropolitan Police system was soon effected, with Captain Pilsbury as Superintendent of the force. In 1860, John
Alexander Kennedy was made Superintendent. The rapid growth of the force has been most marvelous. To-day " the finest" is
recognized as a power in this city and under the wise officership of Superintendent Murray, every criminal stands in mortal
terror of the police baton. There are at present about two thousand five hundred well-drilled, noble looking fellows in the
ranks; and their annual march up Broadway, together with the efficient company of mounted police, is a spectacle grand and
imposing. The force is governed by a Superintendent, and a Board of Commissioners and inspectors under which come the
captains, sergeants, roundsmen, and patrolmen.

THE DETECTIVE FORCE, under the firm hand of Inspector Byrnes, is one of the most perfectly conducted institutions of the
world. This system was introduced at the time that the Metropolitan Police Force was organized, the number then comprising
what were known in Mr. Matsell's day, as "shadows." The plan was modeled after the London Detective, or Scotland Yard system.
In 1857, the force was first increased to twenty-five men, with Captain Young as their Chief. The terror to criminals in
those days was Jacob Hays, High Constable of New York, commonly known as "Old Hays," and lucky was the man who escaped his
clutches, if suspected of any crime. The detective force of New York to-day is one of the most completely organized institutions in the world and has no superior. The headquarters of the chief is in Mulberry Street, the central quarters of the Metropolitan Police Force. The men and women engaged in ferreting out crime after the " shadow" fashion embrace some of the cleverest detectives in the world and here every man with a stain upon his name is marked from the moment he enters the city and never makes a move that is not known by some one or more of Inspector Byrnes' men. There are criminals who are not permitted to cross a certain down town line unless they gain the permission of the detective chief. These are criminals who are known as " limit men," as they are kept within the limits, their visits to the money precincts of the lower city being suspected of bearing a significance upon future safe-cracking expeditions. A grand set of fellows are known as "BERGH'S MEN," these being the guardians along the streets and avenues who look after the interests of that great institution, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Many is the brutal driver whom these police have sent to a well-deserved cell, and the amount of good they do cannot be over estimated.

THE NEW YORK FIRE DEPARTMENT, next claims attention, standing as it does among the greatest and most necessary of all of the institutions of this city. The history of an association to get the better of the fiery elements by an organized force of men
dales back to 1648, at the time that Petrus Stuyvesant, " the one-legged Dutchman," as they named him, was the director of
New Amsterdam. These men possessed merely a few buckets and hooks and fought the flames as best they might when occasion
demanded. However, in 1731, a real fire engine house was improvised and the dignity of the fire force was elevated by the
importation of two fire engines from London. They were of the hand style which prevailed until about twenty- five years ago.
From the year of 1731, until 1850, there was little progress made in the fires. The first demand came from the insurance
companies, who felt that they were entitled to more protection.

FIRE MARSHAL, was established in June, 1854, the expenses being paid by the insurance companies. In 1848,Paul Hodges had built a fire engine, but it proved too cumbersome and had to be abandoned. The introduction of new ideas and improvements was seriously opposed at this time and it was not until 1856 that the Common Council ordered two engines to be built. In 1859, November 27, the insurance companies presented the Exempt Engine Company with an engine. In 1861, there were eleven engines in working order. Those were the good old days, when the boys "run with the machine" and upon the arrival of two competing companies, "the boys" would drop their work and while the fire raged, fight out their factional prejudices, aided and egged on by the
hoodlums and hangers on about the neighborhood. By 1864, there were twenty-seven engines in operation.

THE PAID FIRE DEPARTMENT, which swept the romantic past from beneath the feet of the Harry Howards and other good, old-time fellows, was established by an act of the legislature, March 3, 1865. The act which was fought against rigidly, was
pronounced constitutional by the Court of Appeals, June 21, 1865, and the paid Metropolitan Fire Department became a reality.
Names of old volunteers to the number of 3,810 were sponged from the tablet of the past and the Governor appointed a Board of
Fire Commissioners in the persons of Charles C. Pinkney, James W. Booth, Martin Brown and Philip W. Engs.

To-day, the New York Fire Department has not its equal in the world. The force constitutes a small army of the best disciplined men, brave, noble fellows, whose only action is strict obedience to duty. The horses are the best trained in the universe and the engines and fire- fighting paraphernalia the most complete. The force is the admiration of New York and together with the police force, it holds first place in the estimate of the people.

A GRAND MONUMENT, to the past rests in Eighth Street, near Fourth Avenue, the headquarters of the Veteran Firemen's
Association. It is a floor 25 x 100 feet, and constitutes a club, of which the members comprise the surviving volunteer
firemen and their sons. One of ...the great characters of this place is Harry Howard, the whilom Chief of the Volunteer
Department.

The club room is a veritable museum, crammed from one end to the other with old-time firemen's trophies, helmets, hooks,
buckets, medals, ladders, flags, badges, uniforms and the relics of the good days gone by. Here the survivors meet and talk
over old times and call up the memories over which the rushing, racing Present has tried to drop its curtain. But the mind of
these old fellows will, somehow or other, bowl down through Time's long alleys and bump up against many an incident that jars
the mist of sorrow to the eyes. All glory to "the boys who run with the machine." Although now " hors de combat," the old
fellows talk over their early battles against the elements to their sons, and when the clay comes for them to say " hie
jacet" father, the sons will no doubt keep alive the incidents that have occurred by relating the wonderful tales to their
children as they gather about the fireside.

Alas! how the good old days make our hearts long for their return once more, when New York was the romantic Gotham, and our
fathers made history for their sons to chat and marvel over it.

 

Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: New York City's Points of Interest 1891 Part II
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina

Source:

BIBLIOGRAPHY: History and Commerce of New York, 1891 Second Edition published by American Publishing and Engraving Co.
Time & Date Stamp: