Learning About New York Part VII

Greenwood Cemetery, at Gowanus, in the S. part of Brooklyn, about three miles from Fulton Ferry, is an extensive and beautiful ground provided by the cities of New York and Brooklyn, for the burial of their dead. Greenwood contains 330 acres of ground, one half or more of which is covered with wood of the natural forest. The grounds have a varied surface of hill, and valley, and plain. From some of the open elevations extensive views are obtained of the ocean, and of the cities of Brooklyn and New York. The whole cemetery is traversed by about 15 miles of winding avenues and paths, leading through each shaded recess, and to every spot at once hallowed and adorned by the memorials of the dead. Great improvements are continually going on, and every year adds new beauty to this interesting place."

In the cemetery are many beautiful monuments: among these are the Pilot's and Fireman's, the former on an elevation overlooking the bay and harbor of New York. One of the most noted is a marble structure of exquisite beauty to the memory of Miss Canda, a young lady who met an instant death by a fall, in some unknown way, from a cab, on the paving stones of New York. She was at the time alone and unattended on her way home from a party, and was not missed by the driver until his arrival at her father's house. Her corpse was subsequently found in the streets, attired in the costly garments she had worn on the festive occasion. An only child, the monument was erected by her father, at an expense, it is said, of nearly his entire fortune. Another monument amuses by its eccentricity. It was erected by a sailor, a master of a vessel, while living, to his own memory. It is surmounted by a statue of himself, in seaman's attire, with a tarpaulin hat and southwester coat. The figure is that of a hardy, bold featured tar, and is represented with quadrant in hand in the act of taking an astronomical observation.

Miss Canda's Monument, Greenwood Cemetery.

Albany, the capital of New York, is situated on the west bank of Hudson River, 145 miles from the city of New York, 170 from Boston, 296 from Buffalo, 247 from Montreal, and 376 from Washington City. Lat., 42 39' N.; Long, 73 44' 49' W. On the margin of the river is a flat, alluvial tract, from fifteen to one hundred yards wide, back of which the ground rises abruptly and in the course of a mile attains to the height of 220 feet, after which it becomes level. Originally the streets were not very regularly laid out, and some of them are narrow. State-street, the principal street in early times, running west from the river, has a steep ascent, at the head of which is the capitol, in the front of which is the public-square, formed by the capitol parks, which are ornamented with walks, trees and shrubbery; eastward, facing the square, are the state and city halls, the latter being a splendid marble edifice. The other public buildings of note are a medical college, a female academy, the exchange, between sixty and seventy churches, some of which are beautiful structures.

Albany is distinguished for her educational and literary institutions. The University of Albany, intended to be of a higher order than other similar institutions, and national in its character, was incorporated in 1852. A splendid observatory, called the Dudley Observatory, is connected with the University.

The position of Albany necessarily makes it a great thoroughfare. It is the terminus of the Erie and Champlain canals and of several important railroad lines, and as a commercial mart is one of the highest grades. It is, in fact, the eastern entrepot of the commerce of the northern section of the Mississippi Valley and of the great lakes with the seaboard. Two thirds of the emigration westward passes through this city. Its manufactures are various and extensive, including hardware, machinery, railroad cars, carriages, stoves, etc., and its breweries are the most extensive in the Union. The local trade of the city is active, and many of the stores equal those of New York in the splendor and variety of merchandise. Population about 65,000.

Albany is the oldest city--being incorporated such, under Gov. Dongan, in 1686--and next to Jamestown the earliest settlement within the original thirteen United States. Its Indian name was Scagh-negh-ta-da, signifying "the end of the pine woods." The Dutch named Albany "Beaverwyck (i. e., Beavertown), and afterward Willemstadt. It was the fort only that was called Fort Orange. It received its present name in 1664, in honor of the Duke of York and Albany, afterward James II of England.

Albany was probably never visited by a white man until September, 1610, when Hendricke Chrystance, who was sent up the river by Henry Hudson to explore the country, came here; and, as far as can be ascertained by tradition and documentary evidence, he landed somewhere in the present North Market-street. In one or two years afterward a party of the Dutch built a block-house on the north point of Boyd's Island, a short distance below Albany ferry, which, on account of freshets, was soon abandoned, and a more eligible spot somewhere in South Market-street selected.

Until the year 1625, the Dutch did not contemplate any permanent settlements. They merely visited the country in the autumn and winter with a view to the fur trade with the Indians, returning in the spring to Holland. But in that year the Dutch West India Company adopted the plan of colonizing their newly discovered territories, and accordingly offered large appropriations of lands to those who would settle on them. This brought many over, and from that period until 1635 several highly respectable Dutch families arrived, among whom were the ancestors of the Van Schelluyne, Quackenboss, Lansing, Bleeker, Van Ness, Pruyn, Van Woert, Wendell, Van Eps and Van Renssellaer families.

It does not appear that any stone or brick building was built here (the fort excepted) until the year 1647, when a stone building was erected near the fort; and it is stated that on the occasion of celebrating its completion "that eight ankers (128 gallons) of brandy were consumed." Ministers of the Reformed religion were regularly sent out from Holland to the colony. In 1657, the Rev. Gideon Schaats sailed from Amsterdam for the colony, and about the same time the Dutch West India Company wrote a letter stating that they would send a bell and pulpit "for the inhabitants of Fort Orange and the village of Beaverwick for their newly constructed little church."

"The Dutch rule was rigid and arbitrary. It was in the hands of three or more "commissaries," appointed by the governor and council, who usually held their offices for one year. Without the permission of the commissaries, no one was allowed to build houses, buy or sell, or to establish manufactories, stores, shops, taverns or beer-houses. In 1647, Jan La Battie applied for permission 'to build a brewery,' which was granted on his paying yearly six beavers, a duty of perhaps about eighty dollars. The duties were generally farmed out, or sold at auction; and during this year and several years afterward the duties on beer in Beaverwyck exceeded eight hundred dollars. The fines imposed for the violation of ordinances were generally distributed in the sentence in this way: 'One third to the church, one third to the public, and one third to the attorney-general.'

Professor Kalm, who visited Albany in 1749, has left us some facts All the people then understood Dutch. All the houses stood gable end to the street; the ends were of brick, and the side walls of planks or logs. The gutters on the roofs went out almost to the middle of the street, greatly annoying travelers in their discharge. At the stoopes (porches) the people spent much of their time. especially on the shady side, and in the evenings they were filled with both sexes. The streets were dirty by reason of the cattle possessing their free use during the summer nights. They had no knowledge of stoves, and their chimneys were so wide that one could drive through them with a cart and horses. Many people still made wampum to sell to Indians and traders. Dutch manners everywhere prevailed, but their dress in general was after the English form. They were regarded as close in traffic, were very frugal in their house economy and diet. Their women were over-nice in cleanliness, scouring floors and kitchen utensils several times a week, rising very early and going to sleep very late. Their servants were chiefly negroes. Their breakfast was tea, without milk, using sugar by putting a small bit into the mouth. Their dinner was buttermilk and bread, and if to that they added sugar it was deemed delicious."

(Continue Part VIII)


Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: Learning About New York State Part VII
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Our whole country; or, The past and present of the United States, historical and descriptive. In two volumes By John Warner Barber ... and Henry Howe ...Cincinnati, H. Howe, 1861.
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