Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898
Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898
Edwin G. Burrows, Mike Wallace
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To European explorers, it was Eden, a paradise of waist-high grasses, towering stands of walnut, maple, chestnut, and oak, and forests that teemed with bears, wolves, raccoons, beavers, otters, and foxes. Today, it is the site of Broadway and Wall Street, the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty, and the home of millions of people, who have come from every corner of the nation and the globe.
In Gotham, Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace have produced a monumental work of history, one that ranges from the Indian tribes that settled in and around the island of Manna-hata, to the consolidation of the five boroughs into Greater New York in 1898. It is an epic narrative, a story as vast and as varied as the city it chronicles, and it underscores that the history of New York is the story of our nation. Readers will relive the tumultuous early years of New Amsterdam under the Dutch West India Company, Peter Stuyvesant's despotic regime, Indian wars, slave resistance and revolt, the Revolutionary War and the defeat of Washington's army on Brooklyn Heights, the destructive seven years of British occupation, New York as the nation's first capital, the duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, the Erie Canal and the coming of the railroads, the growth of the city as a port and financial center, the infamous draft riots of the Civil War, the great flood of immigrants, the rise of mass entertainment such as vaudeville and Coney Island, the building of the Brooklyn Bridge and the birth of the skyscraper. Here too is a cast of thousands--the rebel Jacob Leisler and the reformer Joanna Bethune; Clement Moore, who saved Greenwich Village from the city's street-grid plan; Herman Melville, who painted disillusioned portraits of city life; and Walt Whitman, who happily celebrated that same life. We meet the rebel Jacob Leisler and the reformer Joanna Bethune; Boss Tweed and his nemesis, cartoonist Thomas Nast; Emma Goldman and Nellie Bly; Jacob Riis and Horace Greeley; police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt; Colonel Waring and his "white angels" (who revolutionized the sanitation department); millionaires John Jacob Astor, Cornelius Vanderbilt, August Belmont, and William Randolph Hearst; and hundreds more who left their mark on this great city.
The events and people who crowd these pages guarantee that this is no mere local history. It is in fact a portrait of the heart and soul of America, and a book that will mesmerize everyone interested in the peaks and valleys of American life as found in the greatest city on earth. Gotham is a dazzling read, a fast-paced, brilliant narrative that carries the reader along as it threads hundreds of stories into one great blockbuster of a book.
their houses pulled down. Early in May, a party of Sons interrupted the opening performance of the Chapel Street Theater. It was “highly improper that such Entertainments should be exhibited at this Time of public distress, when great numbers of poor people can scarce find subsistence,” they announced. Shouting, “Liberty, Liberty,” they then drove the audience out in a shower of “Brick Bats, sticks and Bottles and Glasses,” stripping many along the way of “their Caps, Hats, Wigs, Cardinals, and
fad for Greek antiquities) had meanwhile sparked a demand among wealthy New Yorkers for buildings designed to look as if they belonged on the Acropolis in ancient Athens. Greek Revival architecture, as it came to be known, seemed particularly well suited to the United States. Its basic elements—massive fluted columns, triangular pediments, heavy cornices—created a highly satisfying sense of kinship with the Athenian citystate famed as the birthplace of Western democracy. The first full-blown
structure farther uptown on a plot bounded by Broadway and Fourth Avenue, 9th and 10th streets, just across Astor Place from Cooper Union. The New Store was of cast iron (produced at the Hudson shoreline by the Cornell Iron Works). Painted white, the building rose five stories around a great rotunda. Its graceful molded arches in the Venetian manner—Stewart compared them to “puffs of white clouds”—also permitted rows upon rows of windows, and the building featured two thousand panes of French
authorize the arrest of the Erie’s directors for contempt of court. Drew, Fisk, and Gould, one jump ahead of the law, gathered together the company records, baled up over seven million dollars’ worth of greenbacks, and literally decamped with the corporation, fleeing by ferry through the fog to Jersey City. There they set up headquarters at Taylor’s Hotel (promptly dubbed “Fort Taylor”), hired policemen and roughs to protect them from Vanderbilt vengeance, and settled in for a lengthy stay. The
business and family connections there. But in the opening years of the eighteenth century the West Indian market became a cornerstone of the city’s economy. By 1720 or so half the ships entering or leaving the port were on their way to or from the Caribbean; another one-quarter to one-third were on their way to or from other North American colonies, moving goods often as not destined for reexport to the Caribbean. Outward bound, New Yorkers hauled the flour, corn, pork, beef, and naval stores