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) John Jacob Astor established himself in the fur Trade. Became the first regular dealer in Musical instruments in the United States and speculated in New York Realty. * (Century)

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1) The first home of the Bank of New York was in the old mansion of William Walton at 67 St. George (now Franklin) Square. It was founded in 1784.

2) Bank of New York and Trust Company, Consolidation of The Bank of New York was established in 1784.

3) The Lefferts Homestead at Flatbush Avenue near Empire Blvd, Brooklyn, N.Y. The present homestead was erected in 1777. The original house was destroyed during the Battle of Long Island. * (Museums)

4) John Ramsey a member of the St. Andrews Society started a business in 1784 with his brother in law John Florentine Cox as Ramsay & Cox at No. 51 Wall Street in New York City. (old merchants)

5) On May 1, 1784, the Legislature of New York at its first session after the close of the Revolution, in response to a strong appeal from Governor George Clinton in his annual message passed an act creating the University of the State of New York. * (NYS History)

6) The Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick was organized in New York by Irish veterans of the American Revolution. 1784.

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1) Regular stagecoach routes between New York, Boston and Philadelphia are established.

2) The General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen was founded in 1785 with the object to provide mutual help in sickness and distress, aid the widows and orphans of fellow members, and to encourage the mechanic interests of the City.

3) the cornerstone was laid for the first Catholic church in Manhattan, St. Peter's on Barclay Street. St. Peter's Church in New York City is the oldest Catholic parish in New York. * (NYS History) Vol: V

4) John Jay, later Chief Justice was the first President of the New York Society for the Promoting of the Manumission of Slaves organized in 1785. * (Concise)

5) 1785. The Daily Advertiser was started.

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1) In 1786, the Legislature granted to Isaac Van Wyck, Talmage Hall, and John Kenny, all Columbia County men, the exclusive right "to erect, set up and carry on, and drive stage wagons between New York and Albany on the east side of the river, for a period of ten years, forbidding all opposition to them under penalty of two hundred pounds."

2) The Catherine Street Market, was founded in 1786.

3) Charles Gilfert opened the first shop in New York City in 1786 exclusively devoted to musical wares and established the first musical periodical the "American Musical Magazine," afterwards known as " Gilfert's Musical Magazine." * (NYS History) Vol: V

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1) Erasmus Hall Academy receives a state charter, making it the first public school in the country. * (BTL)

2) The first essentially American play on an American theme, and produced by an American professional company was Royall Tyler's "Contrast" staged in New York City's John Street Theater, April 16, 1787. * (Concise)

3) William Dunlap's first comedy was "Modest Soldier or Love in New York in 1787.

4) Jupiter Hammon, american negro poet, In 1787 gave an "Address to the Negroes of the State of New York". It was first delivered before the African Society in New York. * (C.E.)

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1) The New York Medical Society began its career in 1788.

2) John Greenwood, the first American to specialize in the dental profession established himself in practice in New York City. * (NYS
History) Vol: V

3) On the 13th of September, 1788, the adoption of the Constitution was publicly declared, and the city of New York selected as the seat of the general government. * (hocny)

4) The township of Brooklyn was organized by an act passed by the Legislature in 1788, and by the State Census taken two years after, it was found that Brooklyn contained a population of sixteen hundred and three persons, so that the population of the township has increased in sixty years nearly two hundred fold a thing un-paralleled, we think, in the history of any city. Of this 1603, three hundred and two were free white males, five hundred and sixty-five free white females, four hundred and sixty-five free white females, four hundred and five slaves, more than one fourth the entire population, and fourteen others (free colored persons, we suppose.) Of the whole number 224 were freeholders and entitled to vote. "In many places," the writer says, "the land of the township is even and very fertile; in other places the "reverse, though generally inclining to the former. The borders of the township are enliven with many delightful country seats, are very commodious for shipping, and vessels of 500 tons may lay almost at any of the wharves." * (b.d.e. 5/4/1860)

5) The city of Olympia was formerly the name of one of the villages of Brooklyn Township, and we cannot, but believe the author of the history we quote from was largely interested in the corner lots thereof, for he carefully sets forth all its advantages. "This tract of land," he says, was surveyed and laid out in streets as long ago as the year 1788, and then intended as a city; its progress has been arranged according to the plan, and it begins to have the appearance of regularity. It lies to the east of Brooklyn ferry, and is bounded by the Wallabout and the East River. The holders of this tract appear to be desirous to encourage the undertaking, by their willingness to dispose of lots and at a reasonable price. When we observe the elevated situations, the agreeable prospects, the salubrity of the atmosphere, and the contiguousness to New York, with many other interesting advantages, which the writer would doubtless have named if he thought the thing would not look too much like an advertisement its adaptability cannot be doubted. *(b.d.e. 5/4/1860)

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1) The Nation's first Capitol, Federal Hall , Nassau and Wall Street was the site of the meeting of the first Congress and the swearing in of George Washington as the first President on April 30, 1789.

2) The first Custom House is opened in New York, which soon becomes the new nation's major port of entry.

3) On May 12, 1789 the Society of Tammany held its first meeting in New York. Its chief founder and first grand sachem was William Mooney. * (eafd)

4) In 1789, the Fire Department of the City of New York was formally incorporated by the State Legislature, obtaining the right to raise funds for itself and for the widows and orphans of firemen.

5) The first inaugural ball was held in New York to honor President and Mrs. George Washington, May 7,1789. *(afp.com)

6) One of the earliest sculptors in New York City was an Irishman, John Dixey, who arrived in 1789. * (NYS History) Vol: V.

7) On May 12, 1789, William Mooney, an upholsterer, who previously had been active as one of the Sons of Liberty, founded in New York, ostensibly as a patriotic and social organization, the secret Society of Saint Tammany or Columbian Order, which in 1805 was regularly incorporated as a fraternal aid association.* (n.i.e.)

8) 1789 - John Jacob Astor buys his first piece of land in New York.

9 ) Founded in 1789 by that famous Patroon, Pieter Van Rensselaer, the Bouwerij has brewed it's own beer and ales for over two centuries.

10) In 1789, the Methodist Book Concern was established in New York City by the Methodist Church to publish religious material and further Christian education.

11) The Gazette of the United States, a celebrated weekly newspaper was established on April 11, 1789 and began publication in New York City. * (eafd)

12) On April 16, 1789 the Contrast is staged in New York City. It is the first comedy produced by a native American playwright, Royall Tyler, who served under General Lincoln in suppressing Shays' Rebellion. * (TBA)

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1) In 1790, the first sidewalks of the city were laid on the west side of Broadway from Vesey to Murray Street, and opposite for the same distance along the Bridewell fence. These were narrow pavements of brick and stone, scarcely wide enough for two people to walk abreast" *(Bwy)

2) A ferry service between Greenpoint and New York was established at the Wood Point Landing in 1790.

3) John Jay was appointed Chief Justice and the Supreme Court held its first session on February 2, 1790, in New York City. * (Concise)

4) On March 1, 1790 the first U.S. Census was authorized by Congress. * (eafd)

5) Daniel McCormick bought the property and built the house on 57 Wall street. The house stood below the present Merchants' Exchange, on the south side, three doors this side of Pearl street, until the great fire. It was forty feet wide. It was built of brick, plastered over to represent stone, and was painted blue. * (Omncy)

6) Duncan Phyfe american cabinet maker. In 1790 he established a shop in New York for the production of furniture after several moves he settled in Partition Street (later changed to Fulton Street). * (c.e.)

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1) The first one-way street was created in New York City, December 17, 1791. *(afp.com)

2) In 1791 the Bank of New York was erected at the corner of William Street in New York City. * (Gaslight)

3) The Long island herald 1791 was the Island's first local paper in Sag Harbor. * (c.e.)

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1) 24 brokers drew up a trading agreement under a button-wood tree at what is now 68 Wall Street. This was the beginning of the New York Stock Exchange. May 17, 1792. * (J.G)

2) The first celebration of Columbus Day in America was held in New York City, October 12,1792. *(afp.com)

3) May 17, 1792 The first officer in United States history, Deputy Sheriff Isaac Smith, of the New York City Sheriff's Office, is killed in the line of duty.

4) Suzanne Vaillande appears in the bird catcher in New York the first ballet presented in the United States.

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1) The first daily newspaper to be established in New York after the Revolution was the "Minerva". Its founder was Noah Webster.

2) In 1793 Houses were numbered systematically for the first time.

3) James Kent, American jurist. In 1793 Kent moved to New York City where his reputation for learning established him as first professor of Law at Columbia College. * (c.e.)

4) William Edgar was the treasurer of the first insurance company started in 1793, "Mutual". * (Monyc)

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1) The typographical Society of New York was founded. * (Concise)

2 Fort Jay in Governor's Island. The first permanent fortification on Governor's Island was begun in 1794 because of a threat of war with France. Fort Jay was extensively rebuilt in 1806 with stronger materials. * (Museums)

3) In 1794-95 Benjamin Core an Englishman who settled in New York city as a music teacher composed a musical setting for "Macbeth." * (NYS History)

4) Suydam & Heyer commenced business in 1794 at 67 Front street. in New York City. * (Old Merchants)

5) The City Hotel first opened in 1794 at 115 Broadway. It was the largest hotel in New York until 1813. Operated for a time as Burns Coffee House, it was a hotbed of revolutionary conspiracy and later a military headquarters. The City Hotel catered to the rich, the stylish, the leaders of New York's artistic, literary, and scientific circles. The City Hotel took its last bow in 1849 and was replaced by a five-story business building.* (ftw)

6) Christ's Church: This church was founded in the year 1794, and was the second Episcopal Church organized in this city, Trinity Church, with its chapels, St. George's and St. Paul's, only preceding it. An edifice was erected of stone, sixty feet wide, and eighty deep, standing on Ann Street, a few doors cast of Nassau street, where a considerable congregation assembled, and in about ten years they numbered three hundred in communion. * (hocadnyc)

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1) Artists in New York also showed ability in the production of panoramas and the painting of scenery for the theatre. A panorama of London exhibited in Greenwich street in 1795 by William Winstanley is said to have been the first picture of the kind seen in this country. * (NYS History) Vol: V

2) On May 5, 1795, the cornerstone was laid for the Park Theatre. America's first outstanding playhouse. * (epic)

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1) Law of 1796 which established the first state prison in New York, in Greenwich Village. This law mitigated the extreme harshness of the penal code. For example: The use of capital punishment was restricted, prison sentences being prescribed for offenses hitherto punishable with death.

2) Montauk Point Lighthouse --east end of Long Island, was the first landmark to greet generations of immigrants. Located on Turtle Hill.

3) Rutgers Riverside Presbyterian Church is at Seventy-third Street. It was first organized in 1796 under the name of Rutgers Presbyterian Church and had its origin in the desire of expansion on the part of the New York Presbytery after the recovery of the city by the Americans from the British. * (Bwy)

4) The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, negro protestant denomination. It was founded in 1796 by negro members of the Methodist Episcopal church in New York City and was organized as a national body in 1821. * (c.e.)

5) The stage establishment of Brower & Anderson, under the directorship of James Carr, was, in 1796, situated in the block between Cedar and Liberty streets.* (mccny)


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1) The first such New York City-operated state prison was Newgate, opened 1797 in Greenwich Village.

2) 1797 John Doghty frees slave Caesar Foster. This is the first recorded act of manumission in Brooklyn. * (BTL)

3) The Lady's Society for the relief of Poor Widows with Small Children was established in New York City in 1797 to help surviving dependents of fever victims.* (nyges)

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1) Park Theater opened in New York City in 1798. During the Park's first season, Dunlap's most popular play "Andre" was presented. * (Bwy)

2 The Bayard east farm above Canal Street was laid out by a Frenchman named Delacroix, in 1798, as the Vauxhall Garden, and was for some years a popular resort with its mead booths, flying horses, fireworks, concerts, etc. * (Bwy)

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1) Brooklyn's first newspaper, the Long Island Courier, is published. * (BTL)

2) The first attempt at periodical literature in New York was that of Charles Brockden Brown in 1799 who then issued the New York Monthly Magazine. * (NYS History)

3) Abigail Adams Smith House at 421 East 61st Street, this Federal-style stone stable was built in 1799 has been converted into a museum and headquarters for the Colonial Dames of America. * (Museums)

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