CHRONOLOGY OF NEW YORK CITY'S FACTUAL "FIRST" 1524-1999
Researched and Compiled by Miriam Medina

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*Please note this is a work in progress. New researched information will be added periodically.

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1) In 1731 the city was divided into seven wards in conformity with the provisions of the Montgomerie charter. In the same year, the first steps were taken towards organizing a Fire Department on a permanent basis. Hitherto, the means for extinguishing fires had been of the most primitive kind__a few leather buckets, a couple of fire-hooks and poles, and seven or eight ladders constituting the sum total.* (hocny)

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1) The city's first theater opened on December 6, 1732. A Dutchman named Rip Van Dam owned a warehouse at Maiden Lane and Pearl Street and this was converted into a playhouse. * (EPIC)

2) In 1732, another market-house was erected at the foot of Fulton street on the North River side for the accommodation of country-men from Jersey. * (hocny)

3) First Fire Engines: December, 1732. The first fire occurred at which fire engines were used. Two fire engines had recently been imported from England, and companies were formed which became the foundation of the New York Fire Department. Their
efficiency was found greatly to exceed the former method of lines of bucket men passing the water from hand to hand from the nearest wells or from the river.* (Shannon)

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1) The first poor-house was erected on the site of the present county court-house. It was forty-six feet long, twenty-four feet wide, and two stories high, with a cellar___all of gray stone. It was furnished with spinning-wheels, leather and tools for shoemaking, knitting needles, flax, etc., for the employment of the inmates. * (Bway)

2) In 1734 Zenger was imprisoned in the first important libel suit in New York. * (NYS History)

3) The first public Institution for "the employing of Poor and Indigent People" was established in New York City in 1734 and opened two years later under the naes "House of Correction, Workhouse and Poor House.". *(nyges)

4) Below the Commons, on the east side of the city, was "the Swamp," in the vicinity of Ferry street, a low ground, covered with tangled briers. This tract was sold in 1734 for two hundred pounds to Jacobus Roosevelt, who laid out the ground into fifty lots and established several tanneries on it. This was indicative of its future destiny, for it has ever since remained the seat of the leather business of New York. * (hocny)


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1) Peter Zenger Trial, the first instance in New York of an attack on the Liberty of press and the discomfiture of those who attacked it. *NYS History

2) The Battery: July, 1735. The first stone of the platform of the new battery on White-hall rocks was laid by his Excellency the Governor (Cosbgy) who named the battery after his son-in-law the "George Augustus Royal Battery." At the close of the ceremonies one of the cannon burst by which three persons were killed, viz., John Symes, Esq., High Sheriff, Miss Courtland, daughter of
Colonel Courtland, one of the members of His Majesty's Council, and a son-in-law of Alderman Romer.* (Shannon)

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1) In 1736, an engine-house was built in Broad street, and a contract made with Jacobus Turk to keep the engines clean and in good order for the sum of ten pounds per annum.* (hocny)

2) The City's first musical concert was held on January 21, 1736 in the home of a Vintna named Robert Todd. * (EPIC)

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On December 16, 1737, the colony's General Assembly created the New York Fire Volunteer Fire Department, appointing 30 men who would remain on call in exchange for exemption from jury and militia duty. The city's first official firemen were required to be "able, discreet, and sober men who shall be known as Firemen of the City of New York, to be ready for service by night and by day and be diligent, industrious and vigilant." Anyone who neglected to answer a fire alarm was fined 12 shillings. The new force of 35
men was in charge of defending 1200 homes and nearly 9000 people from fire.

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1) In 1738, a sort of quarantine was established at Bedlow's Island. The small pox was raging in South Carolina as it had raged in New York seven or eight years before, and the citizens, alarmed at the danger, entreated that all suspected vessels should anchor at Bedlow's Island nor be suffered to discharge their cargoes until they had first been visited and examined by physicians. This was accordingly done, and the panic soon ceased. * (hocny)

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1) The Guyon-Lake-Tysen House in Richmondtown, Staten Island, N.Y. was built about 1740 by Joseph Guyon.

2) 1740 New York--reputed first use of ox carts for carrying of passengers.

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1) In 1741, probably the first organ built in the colonies. The organ for Trinity Church in New York City was completed by Philadelphian Johann Gottlob Klemm.

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1) The Washington hotel, at the corner of Broadway, fronting the Battery was the oldest building on Broadway. Sir Peter Warren built it for his town residence in 1742, and Archibald Kennedy, at one time collector of the port, and afterward the Scotch Earl of Cassilis, also lived in it. Washington and his staff occupied it for some time and when the British held possession of the city, it was Howe's headquarters. Major John Andre lived there, and in that old building was concocted the scheme of Benedict Arnold's treason, which was to result in the surrender of West Point. The house was torn down some four years ago, and the Field Building erected on its site.

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1) In January, 1743, James Parker, an apprentice of Bradford, had commenced a new weekly called the New York Gazette or Weekly Postboy, and this speculation proving successful, had published a monthly styled the American Magazine and Historical Chronicle, in October of the same year. * (hocny)

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1) The Scots Society of New York, immediate progenitor of the Saint Andrew's Society of New York was formed in 1744 and functioned until 1753. * (Heritage)

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1) In 1746, an act of the Provincial Assembly authorized the holding of a lottery to raise a sufficient sum of money for the advancement of learning within the colony, "and Towards the Founding a College with the same." It took many lotteries and many excise moneys before a sufficient sum was obtained for the establishment of the desired college. Religious controversies arose as to the management, the Presbyterian and the Reformed Dutch Churches objecting to the prospective control of the college by the Established Church when all of the colonists were to be taxed for its support. * (bwy)

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1) The New York Bar Association, the first legal society in America was organized by lawyers of New York City in 1747, to defend themselves against attacks by Lt. Gov. Cadwallader Colden. * (eafd)

2) The oldest cattle ranch in the US was started in 1747 at Montauk on Long Island. *(50S)

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1) The Dyckman House at 4881 Broadway (204th Street) in New York City. William Dyckman inherited the estate from his grandfather who built the first house here in 1748. * (Museums)

2) The Van-Cortlandt House Museum at Van Cortlandt Park Broadway at 242nd Street in New York City was built in 1748 with his own labor force-carpenters, masons and blacksmiths. * (Museums)

3) As early as 1748, the increasing population of the city rendered it expedient to erect a church edifice, on what was then called "Chapel Hill," from that circumstance, and the street "Chapel street," now Beekman street, at the corner of Cliff street, then called "Van Cliff's street." This was called "St. George's Chapel," and was a part of the collegiate charge of Trinity Church. The edifice was completed, and opened for worship, July 1st, 1752. It was a noble structure for the day in which it was built, being 104 feet long, and 72 feet wide, with a tall pointed spire, and was considered a great ornament to that part of the city. Thus it stood for more than sixty years, when, in 1814, it was burnt out, leaving the walls of stone standing. * (hocadnyc)

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1) The first resident professional theater troupe, operated by a pair of English actors, Walter Murray and Thomas Kean, opened its first production, Shakespeare's "Richard III," in 1750 at the Theater in Nassau Street. * (newsday)

2) By 1750 Harpsichords were made in New York of sufficient excellence to justify their use in public. Tremaine became New York City's first musical director, which played in the John Street Theatre in 1750. * (NYS History)

3) The earliest theatricals in New York were in a store on Cruger's Wharf, near Old Slip, where a number of young men used to meet and amuse themselves with amateur performances. The first regular theater was a stone building, erected in 1750 in the rear of the Dutch Church in Nassau Street. * (hocny)

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