Parades and Funeral Processions on Fifth Avenue Part IV


Founders of the New York Coaching club

The four-in-hand left the Brunswick Hotel at half-past ten every morning and reached Pelham Bridge at noon, passing through Harlem, Mott Haven, Fox Corners, Union Port, West Chester, and Middletown. The return trip began at four o'clock in the afternoon, and the Hotel Brunswick was reached at half-past five. Colonel Kane did not expect to make money out of the venture, but charged three dollars a seat per round trip, box seats costing fifty cents extra and no charge being made for passengers' baggage up to eighty-five pounds. The venture aroused lively interest among the fashionable set of the city, and a coaching club was formed on the model of the London Four-in-Hand Club, Messrs. James Gordon Bennett, Delancey Kane, Thomas Newbold, Frederic Bronson, Leonard Jerome, A. Thorndike Rice, William Jay, William P. Douglas, and S. Nicholas Kane being the founders. The club increased in membership, and coaching was much in vogue among the leisure classes for some ten or a dozen years. On any bright summer afternoon prominent members of New York society could be seen driving their handsome four-in-hands through Central Park and along Fifth Avenue, and the sight never failed to arouse interest.

"Coaching Day" on Fifth Avenue was always the occasion of a grand turnout of the wealth and fashion of the city. It came the last Saturday in May and was the day when the New York Coaching Club held its annual parade. The line of four-in-hand tally-ho coaches formed before the Brunswick Hotel, handsomely decorated in brilliant colors, and with the president of the club leading, moved up Fifth Avenue to 59th Street, and drove through Central Park to Mt. St. Vincent; then returned to the Avenue and down to Washington Square, driving back to the Brunswick for the club's annual dinner.

. The smart coaches were a beautiful sight as they rolled along the Avenue with their handsome horses prancing with arching necks, their boxes filled with richly dressed women flashing in silks and jewels, the club members in bottle-green cut-away coats with brass buttons and tall white hats, while the Avenue echoed with the sweet, mellow call of the tally-ho horns. All the social world lined Fifth Avenue to applaud or envy the glittering pageant, while windows and balconies were filled with pretty faces and the sun shimmered on gay parasols, sparkling gems, lavish bouquets of choicest flowers, and costly dresses of a thousand rainbow hues.

Lincoln's Funeral Procession

The body of Abraham Lincoln was borne through Fifth Avenue from 14th to 34th Streets, on its way from the City Hall, where a hundred and twenty thousand people had seen it lying in state, on April 25, 1865. It was conveyed to the Hudson River depot, whence it was taken to Springfield, Illinois.

The great procession that escorted the body numbered fifty thousand men and was the largest that New York had then ever seen, requiring Procession four hours to pass and extending for five miles. Business was suspended before the cortege left the City Hall at one o'clock in the afternoon, and the entire city was draped in mourning. The Governor of New York, the Mayor, city and state officials, distinguished men from different parts of the country, regiments of soldiery, marines, and blue jackets, civic organizations, societies, and foreign consuls, passed slowly along Fifth Avenue between lines of silent, bareheaded people and buildings decked in black to the tolling of bells, the solemn strains of dirges, and the dull booming of cannon fired at minute intervals.

The funeral car was beautifully constructed, decked with black and silver and draped flags and strewn with flowers, and drawn by sixteen gray horses covered with sable drapery, each led by a groom in mourning. Many heads were bowed in tears as it passed, and New York well bespoke that afternoon the loving tribute of the nation to its great departed President.

Farragut's Funeral

Through Fifth Avenue on September 30, 1870, in a heavy down-pour of rain, moved a splendid procession escorting the remains of Admiral Farragut to the Harlem depot. The body had been brought by sea from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where the Admiral died, and was landed from the naval tug Catalpa at Pier No. 39, at the foot of Canal Street.

The funeral procession was two miles long, and 12,000 troops were in line, each regiment marching behind its band playing a dirge. There were over two hundred carriages in the procession, carrying relatives, naval and military officers, clergymen, judges, businessmen, and state and national dignitaries, among them President Grant, Secretary of War Belknap, Postmaster-General Creswell, Secretary of the Navy Robeson, and several governors. Military and civic organizations and noted men from many cities and states were in line, and the whole made up a solemn spectacle the somberness of which was increased by rain.

Route of the Procession

The route was Canal Street to Broadway to 14th Street to Fifth Avenue, and up the Avenue to 49th Street and Fourth Avenue, where the funeral train was waiting to take the body to Woodlawn Cemetery. The flags on all the ships in the harbor and on public buildings hung at half-mast, many hotels, club-houses, and private residences were draped in black, and the solemn tolling of countless bells mingled with the slow music of the dirges and the dull booming of the minute guns. A platoon of police led the way, followed by Grand Marshal General Alexander Webb with his staff, the marine band from the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and a detachment of marines. Behind the marines came the coffin, carried on the shoulders of eight sailors. It was of rosewood, covered with a pall of black velvet heavily fringed with gold and embroidered with silver anchors and the name "Farragut." A flag was thrown over the pall, and on it rested the dead sea-lord's uniform, admiral's hat, sword, and insignia of rank.

The long line of carriages followed, and then came, plodding slowly through the mud and rain, United States regulars from the forts in the harbor, the First and Second Divisions of the New York National Guard, 3,000 veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic, a brigade of the New York Fire Department, a hundred boys from the Union Home and School for Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphans, and other organizations. And so the long procession wended its way slowly up the Avenue between lines of silent people, to the Harlem depot.

Marked honors were paid the great editor, Horace Greeley, after his death on November 29, 1872, at the home of his friend, Dr. George C. S. Choate, near Tarrytown. The body was conveyed to the house of Mr. Samuel Sinclair on West 45th Street and the day before the funeral it was brought to the Governor's Room of the City Hall, and there lay in state. Mr. A. S. Frissell, who at the time was employed across the street from the City Hall, recalls vividly the great crowd of rich and poor which thronged to see the body. The old and the young, fathers with their little children, maimed soldiers on crutches, generals, merchants, lawyers, and beggars came to take a last look at Greeley's face. It was not so much the greatness of the multitude which made this demonstration impressive, but the purely spontaneous character of the tribute to a good man's memory. Unaffected sorrow stamped the countenance of every one. Dis- Nearly three thousand persons passed through the room every hour. Distinguished Men known far and wide composed the body's guard of honor. They Men in the were: Messrs. William Cullen Bryant, William B. Astor, Peter B°dfs Cooper, Moses H. Grinnell, William M. Evarts, A. T. Stewart, John Honor A. Thurlow Weed, William F. Havemeyer, George W. Varian, William Butler Duncan, Abraham R. Lawrence, William J. Hoppin, Henry Nicol, Thomas E. Stewart, Horatio Seymour, Samuel Tilden, John McKean, Sheppard Knapp, John T. Hoffman, A. Oakley Hall, Charles O'Conor, Emil Sauer, Augustus Schell, William C. Prime, Charles P. Daly, Edward J. Carpenter, and John B. Stuart. Flags all over the city hung at half-mast and signs of mourning were everywhere.

Services were held in the Church of the Divine Paternity, corner of Fifth Avenue and 45th Street, and were attended by a great throng of reverent mourners. Among them were President Grant, Vice President Colfax, Vice-President-elect Wilson, and many other noted men. The church was draped in black, and the clock had black drapery around it and a white floral cross within a green wreath above. It was stopped at the hour of Mr. Greeley's death, ten minutes of seven.

A hundred and twenty-five carriages were in the funeral procession which moved down Fifth Avenue to 14th Street, without music or military guard, mounted police leading the way, followed by Mayor Hall, Superintendent Kelso, detachments of police and firemen, five carriages of pallbearers, President Grant, Vice-President Colfax, and Vice-President-elect Wilson in an open landau, Governor Hoffman and other governors, Editor Manton Marble of the World, the Tribune staff, Typographical Society, Union League Club, Common Council and other city officials, representatives of the Liberal Republican Committee, Union Republican General Committee, Tammany Hall General Committee, Lincoln Club, Simon Cameron Association, Sons of Temperance, members of the Lotos, Arcadian, Farmers', and Rural Clubs, and the American Institute. Despite the lack of banners, music, regalia, and military pomp, it was one of the most impressive processions that* ever passed along Fifth Avenue.

Evening shadows had begun to creep about the vault on Locust Hill at the Greenwood Cemetery when the cortege reached it. A great crowd was gathered about. While relatives wept and the throng stood motionless in silent reverence, a short prayer was said, a blessing given, and the earthly remains of Horace Greeley were lowered into the vault.

How Riverside Drive Was Chosen as the Last Resting Place of General U.S. Grant

How Riverside Drive was chosen as the last resting place of General How U. S. Grant is told by John D. Crimmins: "The morning after the Riverside death of General Grant at Mount McGregor," said Mr. Crimmins, Drive was "I was called from my bed at Great Neck where I was staying at chosen as the time, a short distance from the residence of Mayor Grace, by a reporter from the New York Times, Mr. Riley, who had called on hefting the Mayor and had been directed by him to me. Mr. Riley advised  me that Colonel Fred Grant had been asked where his father was  to be buried and had replied, 'Either in Washington, Springfield, or New York where the people treated my father so generously.' It appealed to me as an opportunity to have the remains of the great General placed within our city, and the question was 'where.' We telegraphed Colonel Grant and he replied, 'In the vicinity of the Mall.' The Park Board was called together and a resolution was passed practically prohibiting any monument within Central Park such as might be expected would be raised to the memory of the General.

"Without advising Colonel Grant of this action, he was requested to come to the city, which he did the following day, and I conveyed him and Major-General Winfield Hancock and Hon. Henry R. Beekman and Mr. M. C. D. Borden, my associates on the Park Board, to a site opposite the Cancer Hospital at 106th Street and Eighth Avenue.

"Realizing that it was not a desirable location, in consequence of it overlooking the Cancer Hospital, the General having died of cancer, we drove to Riverside Drive, where I pointed out the advantages of the present location, that it was in the vicinity of the field where the Battle of Harlem Heights was fought, that it was opposite to Fort Lee, and that a short distance away was Washington Heights, and other Revolutionary forts. The Colonel said the site was satisfactory to him and that he would report to his mother. From him we received a telegram shortly after his return to Mount McGregor, that everything was perfectly satisfactory, provided Mrs. Grant might finally rest beside her husband.

"To this we consented and, having the cordial support of Mayor W. R. Grace, we immediately began the preparation for the temporary tomb, which, through my connection with the building trades and contractors, we were able to have ready for the funeral, although there was at the time no appropriation for the work. Everything was in readiness on time, which was due to the mechanics employed working every hour of the day. The funeral practically for the last time brought together the famous generals who fought opposite sides, on the Union and Confederate. The ceremonies lasted until the late afternoon and after the funeral Mr. Beekman, Mr. Borden, and myself, entertained the invited guests from out of town for luncheon at the Claremont which we had reserved for the occasion. General Hancock and also generals on both sides renewed their army associations. And those from out of town spoke of the excellent selection and when the historical associations were pointed out were enthusiastic."

Grant's Funeral Procession

Fifth Avenue echoed. to the solemn strains of dirges played by many r bands, and to the slow tramp of thousands of marching feet on August 8, 1885, the day on which the great military and civic procession Procession escorted the remains of General and Ex-President Ulysses S. Grant to his tomb overlooking the Hudson. For two days and three nights the body of General Grant had lain in state in the vestibule of the black-draped City Hall, while a constant stream of people, estimated at 250,000, flowed by his coffin.

Entering Fifth Avenue from 14th Street, the procession moved up to 57th Street and then west to Broadway. The clock in the spire of the Brick Presbyterian Church on Fifth Avenue pointed to half-past ten in the morning when Major-General W. S. Hancock, heading the procession with his staff, rode past the church. Not until half-past three in the afternoon—five hours later—did the rear guard of the procession pass by.

Major-General W. S. Hancock and his staff led the procession and following came rank after rank of soldiery, twelve thousand strong. Looking down Fifth Avenue from the crest of Murray Hill, as far as the eye could see stretched a moving mass of blue, the sunlight flashing in a million golden points from rifle-barrels and sword-blades, while regiment after regiment, their colors draped in mourning, tramped slowly by to the measured music of many dirges.

The first division of the procession was composed of regular troops, marines and sailors, New York State Militia, the Old Guard, the Governor's Foot Guards of Hartford, Connecticut, Zouaves, and Italian Guards. It took an hour to pass, and was followed by the second division, composed of militia from different states commanded by Major-General E. L. Molineaux. The division was headed by the Brooklyn regiments. The crack Seventh New York and First Pennsylvania distinguished themselves by their fine bearing.

By this time the head of the procession was out of sight, and now appeared score upon score of carriages bearing distinguished mourners. First came clergymen and General Grant's physicians, then the pallbearers, two in each carriage, their carriages being driven two abreast. Following the pallbearers marched members of George C. Meade Post No. 1, G. A. R., the Philadelphia post to which General Grant belonged, bearing sixteen battle flags torn with shot and shell. Directly behind these was the catafalque, drawn by twenty-four black horses with sable trappings, each horse with a black-garbed groom holding its bit. The body's guard of honor, a detachment from General U. S. Grant Post of Brooklyn, walked on both sides of the catafalque, with two companies of regulars as a bodyguard.

The casket was in plain sight, resting beneath a black canopy. As it passed a hush fell upon the crowds lining the Avenue and every head was bared in silent tribute. More carriages rolled by, and then President Cleveland appeared. He was applauded heartily as he drove by, but he gravely refused to acknowledge the applause. Other carriages contained Secretary Bayard and other cabinet officers, General Grant's old staff, United States senators and representatives, ex-cabinet officers, supreme court judges, members of the diplomatic corps under President Grant, Ex-Presidents Hayes and Arthur, and state governors with their staffs.

Following the carriages of the state dignitaries drove General Sickles, at the head of a division of members of veteran associations, 18,000 strong, who marched with a splendid swing. The fourth and last division was composed of civic organizations, having some 8,000 men in line.

President Arthur's Funeral

The funeral of Ex-President Chester A. Arthur was held at the Arthur s Church of the Heavenly Rest on Fifth Avenue, November 22, 1886.His family desired a quiet and so far as possible a private funeral, but the ceremonies, while free from undue pomp, were very impressive.

Famous men from all over the country gathered to pay honor to the dead statesman, among them President Cleveland, the only living Ex-President, Hayes, justices of the supreme court, cabinet officers, senators, representatives, etc. The body was taken from No. 123 Lexington Avenue to the Church of the Heavenly Rest at nine o'clock in the morning. Outside the church on Fifth Avenue was a military and naval guard of honor composed of six batteries of the Fifth United States Artillery from Governor's Island, and five companies of bluej ackets and a company of marines from the navy yard. When the services were ended, a procession was formed and moved down Fifth Avenue to the Grand Central station, the soldiers and sailors leading. A special train carried the body to the cemetery at Albany.

General Sherman's Funeral

Seldom has so dense a mass of humanity packed the sidewalks, Sherman's roof-tops, and windows along the Avenue as on the afternoon of Funeral February 19, 1891. Even the spires of St. Patrick's Cathedral were filled with sight-seers. The occasion which drew thousands to Fifth Avenue was the funeral of General Sherman, who had died on February 14 and whose body, lying in state at his 71st Street house, had been viewed by great multitudes.

The military and civic procession included over eleven thousand marchers, many of them the General's old soldiers. Strangely enough, the route traversed was almost exactly the same, only in the opposite direction, over which the dead commander had passed in the Washington Centenary parade, of April 30, 1889, but this time the buildings along the way were draped in mourning.

The Fifth Avenue Hotel, its roof lined with spectators and its windows filled, was most handsomely draped in mourning, while the display on the Hoffman House near by was also very elaborate and artistic. The mourning decorations were also very striking on the Union League Club house, the Century, the Knickerbocker, the quarters of the Seventh Regiment Veterans and the Ohio Society, the Buckingham, Langham, Victoria, Brevoort, Berkeley, and Brunswick Hotels, and the Sickles, Butterfield, Wilson, Vanderpoel, Whitney, Goelet, and Vanderbilt houses.

The General's body was borne in military style on a caisson in a casket draped with flags. The grounds of the Catholic Orphan Asylum next to the Cathedral on 50th Street were filled with people, and on a little eminence was drawn up the institution's cadet corps in full uniform at present arms. None of these youngsters was over twelve years old, and they were an impressive sight as they stood rigidly there with solemn faces.

As the procession moved toward its destination, the Pennsylvania ferry, many of the older G. A. R. veterans were forced to drop out of the line, the tramp proving too much for their years, so that it was with lessened numbers that the procession was finally disbanded.


Website: The History
Article Name: Parades and Funeral Processions On Fifth Avenue Part IV
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Fifth Avenue Events Printed for The Fifth Avenue Bank of New York 1916 copyright The Fifth Avenue Bank of New York
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