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

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"FACTUAL  FIRST"

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The new information mentioned here has been added to its corresponding section page.

FEBRUARY 11

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In 1676 it was decreed that henceforth a watch be set at 8 o'clock, and the watchmen were forbidden to "sweare, drinke, or game" while on duty. The gates were locked at 9 o'clock, and opened "presently after day light."
  Captain Richard Bettes:One of the most important personages in the early history of Newtown was Captain Richard Betts whose services are mentioned on nearly every page of the records for almost fifty years. He took a prominent part in the revolution of 1663, for he was a bitter opponent of Governor Stuyvesant and administered a severe blow to him by purchasing from the Indians the land the settlers at Newtown had planted, and for which Stuyvesant refused to give them patents. After the conquest of New Netherland by the English Betts was a member of the first provincial assembly which met at Hempstead.
  Francis Bloodgood: One of the oldest families in Queens are the Bloodgoods. Francis Bloctgoct, from whom the family descends, which has changed the name, was one of the first settlers of Flushing. In 1674 he was recognized by the Dutch authorities as "chief of the inhabitants of the Dutch nation residing in the villages of Vlissingen, Heemstede, Rudsdorp and Middleborg," and was made
their military commander, being ordered to march with them toward the city should a hostile fleet appear in the Sound.
  The carriage road between this City and Harlem ordered to be laid out anew and a good wagon path to be constructed.
  The corner "waal" or wharf facing of the River shore to be constructed opposite " the house of Long Mary ."

  The overseers of streets have a master Carpenter appointed to assist them.
  The Governor announces his intention to build a tavern for the improvement of the City, on the opposite side of the lane adjacent to the City Hall on condition that he may have a door to go from the upper part of the house into the Court Chamber which was agreed to on the part of the City.
  A silver mace and seven gowns presented with an autograph letter from his Royal Highness the Duke of York to the Mayor and Aldermen.
  Ordinance against erecting hog pens and privies in the streets.
  Soldiers pay ordered to be collected from the Citizens.
  Two militia companies organized on occasion of the departure of Col Richard Nichols.
  Excise on Cider established.
   Three Fire wardens appointed.
  A City Watch of six citizens established.
  Jurors first sit in trying causes in the Courts of New York.
  The City Court Records to be kept in English and Dutch by Nicholas Bayard Clerk.
  Organization of the Court under the English Town Sergeants Claes Van Elsland and Pieter Schabank continued in office.

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OCTOBER 26

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  Increasing facilities of communication with New York paved the way for the growth of a village on the side of the river where formerly all had been farmers or fishermen, and Brooklyn village, which was twenty-eight years younger than the township, was incorporated on April 12, 1816, having been previously created a fire district by the legislature of 1801.
  In 1800, according to a scrapbook compiled by General Jeremiah Johnson, Kings county had 4,495 inhabitants, of whom 621 were electors; 930 free white males, of 10 and upward; 760 free white males under that age; 1,449 free white females; 1,432 slaves and 46 free persons not enumerated. The inhabitants were chiefly of Dutch extraction. The slaves were treated well, but the opinion relative to their freedom was wholly influenced by pecuniary motives.
  An act passed in 1816 empowered the trustees of the village to elect such fire wardens and firemen as they migh from time to time deem necessary.In accordance with this act, three engines and one hook and ladder company were organized. Of the ninety-three members elected three or four still survive. Among the members of engine one we find the name of John Murphy, father of the Hon. Henry C. Murphy.The first Chief Engineer was John Doughty, elected in 1816.
Section: 1 8 1 8 - 1 8 2 7
  The old village, which was laid out in streets in 1819, included part of the First and Second wards and the Fourth and Fifth wards. When the century opened the two most important land owners in the vicinity of the ferry were Comfort and Joshua Sands, whose farms included all of the Fifth and about half of the Fourth wards, and were bounded by the river, Fulton street, the navy yard and Concord street. The Sands property was broken up about 1802, when the owners began subdividing it into building lots. They argued that the hill, since so fashionable and exclusive, was too steep and difficult of access to be available for residence purposes.
  Probably the first entertainment of a theatrical character given in Brooklyn, was that by George Frederick Handel (George Handel Hill) in a hotel in Front near James street, about 1825-8. Handel, or Hill, afterward famous as Yankee Hill, was then locally noted as a very clever comic singer and dancer. His entertainment consisted of songs and dances, the Indian war dance, then "new and popular," being an attraction. The pecuniary success of this entertainment is very doubtful, but as Hill shortly after received and accepted an offer from the manager of a traveling company on the strength of it, I infer that it was otherwise artistically considered.
  In December, 1825, a colored comedian, Mr. Hewlett, quite a celebrity at that time, gave an entertainment at Duilon's famous Military Garden, at the junction of Fulton and Joralemon streets (the site of the present Kings County Court House). The Long Island Star, December 22d, 1825, informs us that Mr. Hewlett was "a native of our own dear Island of Nassau. Rockaway being said to be the place of his birth. He was announced (in Kean's style) as "Shakespeare's proud representative." Mr. Hewlett recited Shakespeare and other standard authors and dramatists, indulging in imitations of Kean, Matthews, Phillips and other eminent actors. The Star says he had a good voice and figure.
  In 1821 engines four and five were organized and in 1827 companies six, seven and eight and the first hose company were formed.
Section: 1 8 2 8 - 1 8 3 5
  The Brooklyn Amphitheatre, a fine, large frame building on the east side of Fulton, just below Concord street, was erected in the spring of 1828, by the proprietors of the Lafayette and Mount Pitt "establishments" in New York, and opened in July by an equestrian company. From a notice in the L.I. Star I learn that the still popular melo-drama of the "Broken Sword" was the initial bill, and that it was finely mounted, appointed and performed, and "attracted the silent and orderly attention of the audience." The Star remarks, depreciatingly, that "nothing but a higher species of gratification, combining intellect with show, can be expected to succeed' in Brooklyn.
  In 1829, at the solicitation of Mr. Edwin, comedian, from Niblo's Garden, the large refreshment saloon at Duflon's Military Garden was converted into a theatre, capable of comfortably accommodating some eight hundred people. The theatre was opened on the 19th of June with much eclat. The entertainment commenced with a grand vocal and instrumental concert, in which the following artists participated; Mr. Beargfelt, first violin; Mr. Koights, second violin; Mr. Jackson, tenor; Mr. D. Contra, basso; Mr. Senio, flute; Mr. C. Centra, clarionet; Mr. P. Torse, bugle; Mr. Boynson, trumpet; Mr. E.C. Petre, ditto Mr. Marino, ditto, and Mr. G. Dago, trombone; after which Mons. Chekin's pupils danced Madarin pas de Quatre; a new vaudeville was then performed, when the entertainment was closed with a superb display of fireworks.
Section: 1 8 3 6 - 1 8 4 5
  The South Brooklyn Presbyterian Church (new school) was organized September 18, 1842, with seventy-two members, and the Rev. Samuel T. Spear, pastor, May 14, 1843. Their first place of worship was a school house on Pacific street, which they purchased and occupied until their beautiful edifice on Clinton, corner of Amity street, was completed in August, 1845. Its dimensions were 60 by 115 feet, including a lecture room in the rear, and its whole cost was $28,000. In 1875 it was consolidated with the First Presbyterian Church (old school) and the new society took the name of the Clinton Street Presbyterian Church."
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  In 1850 Mr. John E. Cammeyer erected a fine large building on the corner of Fulton and Orange streets for a museum and theatre. There are, perhaps, few of my Brookly7n readers who do not remember the museum. The "museum," which was obn the second floor (the first being occupied by stores) contained a fine collection of stuffed birds, old pennies and other coin, musty coats, deformed skeletons, wax figures, "wild animals," &c. The museum, which was fitted up at an expense of $10,000 (so the bills said), was opened on Monday night, July 1st, 1850.
Section: 1 8 5 1 - 1 8 5 5
  The Antheneum on the corner of Atlantic and Clinton streets, was founded in 1852. Both dramatic and operatic performances have been given there, although the stage is ill adapted to either, being small and incapable of scenic display.
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  Academy of Music was opened in January, 1861, with great eclat, a prominent citizen, in the dedicatory address invoking the divine blessing upon the institution. As its name would imply, the Academy of Music was originally intended only for operatic and musical performances, chiefly those of the Philharmonic Society, but it had not been opened many months before the late Mr. Rarey gave a "horse show" there, and wiser and more liberal counsels prevailing, ere the expiration of the year, after much debate, to be sure, it was thrown open to the drama. Manager Jarrett was the first to catch the worm; he took the house for one week, commencing December 23d, and played Wallack and Davenport.
Section: 1 8 6 2 - 1 8 6 8
  The Park Theatre was opened on September 14, 1863 by Mr. Gabriel Harrison, a sincere friend of the nobler drama, an actor of acknowledged ability, and ca citizen of some years' standing. A better selection could not have been made, and his failure, after a short season, was a matter of universal regret. Mrs. F.B. Conway assumed the management on April 2d, 1864. She still has it being now in her fifth season.
Section: 1 8 8 1 - 1 8 8 5
  The Brooklyn Base Ball Association was organized in the Spring of 1883, and that year the club joined the Inter State Association, which included the Merritt Club, of Camden, N.J.; the Harrisburg, of Harrisburg, Pa.; the Active, of Reading, P a.; the Quickstep, of Wilmington, Del.; the Anthracite, of Pottsville, Pa., and the Trenton, of Trenton, N.J.

OCTOBER 15

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   The first governor of this colony was Wouter Van Twiller, who entered on the duties of his office in June, 1629, and continued in office nine years.
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   The rapidity with which the early settlements spread to all parts of the county may be inferred from the fact that Gravesend received a Dutch charter in 1645 and an English charter in 1665.
   Brooklyn: tobacco was raised along the Wallabout in 1638, which was the year of the purchase from the Indians by the Dutch West India Company of all the lands within the limits of Kings County. This territory was soon sub-divided and assigned by patents to various individuals, from whose deeds all real estate titles in Brooklyn take their origin.
  On June 12, 1646, the little group of colonists organized as a village, receiving a Dutch charter in 1653 and an English charter in 1665. This latter grant continued in force throughout the colonial and revolutionary period.
  The first City Hall, Stadt House, or Tavern, was erected in 1644, on the corner of Pearl-street and Coenties' slip, and continued for many years the seat of the courts, and all the public meetings of the citizens.
Section: 1 6 5 1 - 1 6 6 1 
  New Utrecht was given a Dutch charter in 1654, and in 1655 this town and Flatlands received their English charters.
   Bushwick was granted a patent in 1660 and organized as a town in 1661.
   The first public school was established in City hall, in 1653.
   In 1656, a market-house was built near the present corner of Pearl and Broad streets; and the city then contained 120 houses, and 1000 inhabitants, including the garrison.
   The first map of the city was constructed in 1660, and sent to Holland by Governor Stuyvesant.
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   In 1662, a windmill was erected, near the present City Hotel.
   The first mayor, after the conquest, (1664) was Thomas Willet, Esq., a respectable merchant of that day, who usually resided at Swanzey, at the head of Narraganset Bay, who had trading-houses established from kennebec to the Delaware; and particularly at New Amsterdam, (New York,) and Fort Orange, (Albany.)
   In 1673, the first post-rider began his trips to and from Boston, once in three weeks. In July of this year, the Dutch retool the city, and the forst was surrendered by Captain Manning, its commander, without firing a shot, and Antonio Colves was appointed governor; but, in the next year, it was restored to the English, and Manning was tried by a court-martial for treachery and cowardice, and sentenced to have his sword broke over his head.
   In 1675, the streets were to be cleaned every Saturday, or oftener, and cartmen obliged to carry away the dirt, or forfeit their license.
   In 1676, a law passed to pave streets. The Heeren Gracht, or Broad-street, was filled up, (with the exception of a narrow canal in the middle,) levelled, and paved. Before this, the water came up to Garden-street, through which the ferry-boats passed.
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   The first House of Representatives convened in 1683.
   On the 16th of July, 1684, the first city watch was appointed, consisting of twelve persons,a t 12 pence a night.
   In 1688, the assessors' valuation of property in the several wards, which were called West, South, East, and Dock Wards, together with Harlaem and the Bowery, amounted to 78,2311. Of this sum, 29, 2541 was in the South Ward.
   The first order for lighting the city was passed November 23d, 1697, by which the owners of houses were required to put lights in their windows fronting the streets, under penalty of nine pence for each night of default; and on the 2d of December following, it was ordered, "that every seventh house do hang out a pole with a lantern and candle; and the said seven houses do pay an equal portion of the expense."
   In 1684, the rates of ferriage to Nassau Island, (Long Island) were, for a single person, 8 stivers in wampum, or a silver two pence. Persons in company, half the above; or if after sunset, double price. Each horse or least one shilling, if single, or nine pence, in company. Rip Van Dam, being the "fairest bidder" for the ferry, had it on a lease of 7 years, at 165l per annum.
   In 1691, surveyors were appointed to lay out streets and lots, and to have six shillings each. July 7th, " Ordered, that the poisonous and stinking weeds within this city, before every one's door, be forthwith pluckt up, upon the forfeiture 01 three shillings for the neglect thereof."!
   1n 1692, one wharf was built, fronting King-street, (now is Pine-street,) of thirty feet wide; and two other wharves, ! of twelve feet wide, on each side of Maiden-slip, running to high-water mark, which was then, probably, as far up as William-street.
  I n 1693, eighty-six cords of wood, at 13 shillings a cord, were ordered for stockades, and to make a platform for a
battery, on the outermost rocks, before the fort.

SEPTEMBER 29

Section: 1 6 5 1 - 1 6 6 1 

  The earliest ordinance for the prevention of fires in what is now the City of New York reads as follows: "Whereas, The Burgomasters of the City of Amsterdam, in the New Netherlands, have observed that within this city there is but little attention paid to the subject of fire and to the necessity of keeping the chimneys clean, in consequence of which there have already occurred several fires, and further dangers are to be apprehended, from the reason that the greater part of the houses in this town are built of wood, and among them some are covered with reeds and have wooden or platted chimneys:

""Therefore have we, with the approbation of the Director-general and Councilors of New Netherlands, appointed as Fire Wardens, Hendrick Hendrickson Kip, Govert Loockerman, and Christian Barents, who are hereby authorized to visit all the houses and chimneys within the city jurisdiction and to perform their duties as Fire Wardens according to the custom of our fatherland. Done this 26th day of February, 1656."  
  An exhaustive investigation of the first charter granted to new York City has just been completed. The question was raised as to a statement made in the Eagle Almanac for 1901 to this effect: "The original charter of the City of new Amsterdam was granted by the Dutch government in 1657." When the correctness of that statement, which is generally accepted as true, was questioned the matter was referred to William C. De Witt, the eminent lawyer and charter authority. Mr. De Witt has completed an elaborate investigation of the subject and finds that the first charter of the municipality was granted by legislative authority in 1652 and conferred upon the people of New Amsterdam by Governor Stuyvesant on February 2, 1653.
  In 1657 new troubles arose over the appearance of the Quakers, who emigrated from Massachusetts colony to escape Puritan persecution only to find it renewed under Stuyvesant, who succeeded in driving them from his colony.
Section: 1 6 8 3 - 1 6 9 9
   In March, 1683, a law establishing the office of "viewers and searchers of chimneys and fire-hearths" inflicted a penalty of twenty shillings for defects in the construction of the wooden chimneys or the fire-hearths; and directed "that no person shall lay hay or straw or other combustible matter within their dwelling-houses, and that provision he made for hooks, ladders, and buckets," inflicting a fine of fifteen shillings upon "every person who shall suffer his chimney, to be on fire." 
   In 1686, "by reason of great damage done by fire," it was ordered, first, "that every person having two chimneys to his house provide one bucket;" secondly, "that every house having more than two hearths provide two buckets;" and, thirdly, "that brewers shall have six buckets, and all bakers six buckets, under penalty of six shillings for every bucket wanting."  
  In February, 1689, "fire-ladders, with sufficient hooks thereto," were "ordered to be made;" and, having gone so far, the city fathers proceeded to appoint "brandt meisters," or fire masters, the "chief engineers" of later days. 
  In December, 1697, it was ordered that, because of "the danger that may happen by fire for want of a due inspection made to cleaning of chimneys and mending of hearths within the city, two sufficient persons in every ward of this city be appointed as viewers of chimneys and hearths, to view the same once a week; upon finding a defect, to give notice that such be repaired; if a person refuse, he to forfeit the sum of three shillings, one-half to the city, the other half to the viewers." Still farther we read that "if any person's chimney be on fire after such notice, he shall forfeit the sum of forty shillings; if the viewers neglect to perform their duty, they forfeit the sum of six shillings, and others shall be appointed in their place." This is the first record of a paid Fire Department in the city of New York. "Viewers" and "overseers" there were already; but now arrangement was made for paying, for fining, and for discharging them; and also a systematic performance of duty was required: they were to view the chimneys and hearths once a week.
  The first bridge over the Harlem River was built under a franchise for 99 years, granted in June, 1693, to Fredryck Flypsen or Philipse, to build and maintain at his own expense a bridge over the Spuyten Duyvil Creek, and to collect certain "easy and reasonable tolls" from such passengers as might cross it. The bridge was to be twenty-four feet wide and provided with a draw of sufficient size to permit the passage of small craft. It was further stipulated that it should be free for the passage of the King's forces, and should be called King's Bridge. This bridge was built during the same year, a little to the east of the site of the present structure which bears the same name. It remained in the hands of Philipse's descendants down to Revolutionary times, when it was forfeited to the State on account of the adherence of the family to the English Crown.
Section: 1 6 3 1 - 1 6 5 0
  The first ferry in New York waters was established in 1642, on the exact route of the old Fulton Ferry to Brooklyn, and was operated as an individual speculation until 1654, when a regular ferry was established and made a source of revenue to the city. After the British took possession of the city they assumed control over the waters of the North and East Rivers, and made the ferry pay toll to the city government. This was looked upon by the people as an assumption of the private right to ferry themselves and their neighbors across the rivers, and so formidable did this opposition become that the lessees of the regular ferry abandoned their enterprise. Several individual attempts were made after this, but all who were engaged in them were compelled to give up in despair, from the fact that they could claim no jurisdiction over the neighboring waters.
  A noted Indian massacre took place in 1643 and for two years following bitter warfare was waged under the leadership of Captain John Underhill, a famous Indian fighter. So great was the popular alarm that Director Kieft called a popular meeting, the first ever held in the colony, at which a council of twelve men was chosen to advise him in the conduct of the war.
The Dutch were not neglectful of the benefits of education even in the early days, as in 1633 they took pains to establish a school which still exists the School of the Collegiate Reformed Church, the oldest institution of learning in the United States.
  The first purchase of lands north of the Harlem River was made by the West India Company in 1639. Two years later Herr Jonas Bronet or Bronx arrived from Holland in his ship, the Fine of Troy, and purchased a tract of land corresponding to the territory now known as Morrisania. it is from this pioneer that the newly erected Borough of the Bronx gets its name.
  In 1646 Adriaen Van der Donck secured title to a tract sixteen miles along the Hudson River, north of Manhattan island, and extending east to the Bronx River. This tract now takes in the City of Yonkers and the entire southwestern part of Westchester County.
The far eastern portion of the present Borough of the Bronx skirting Long island sound and including Pelham Neck was settled by Anne Hutchinson and her husband, William, English stock, who came from Boston in 1634. Eight years later Throggs neck was settled by John Throckmorton and thirty-five families who came from new England to escape the cruelty of the Puritans. The north of what is now Westchester County was purchased directly from the Indians by Stephanus van Cortlandt, who thus became one of the first patroons of New Amsterdam. These were the chief pioneers of Westchester and their sturdy stock still hold sway in the territory acquired from the Indians.
Section: 1 6 6 2 - 1 6 8 0
  In 1676 a law was passed providing for paving some of the principal streets. That now known as Whitehall-street was the first to receive this attention. Soon after the great canal was ordered to be filled up, and changed to a street, and named Broad-street, which was also immediately paved. Previous to this the water had come up to Garden-street, (now Exchange Place,) and the ferry-boats landed their passengers near the upper part of the canal. A few years after, a street was opened between this and Broadway, called New-street, by Adrian Waters, for which contribution to the public interest he was exempted from paying taxes for six years. " Beaver graft" was also doomed to the same treatment that had been awarded to "de Heere graft," and the road in the Smith's " Vley was regulated and paved as a street of the city.
The large increase of houses in the city, noticed in a former section, necessarily caused an increased demand for building lots, and accordingly we find frequent mention of sales of public property for that purpose. A few years previous to the time now under notice, a portion of the old burying-ground in Broadway was ordered to be laid out in lots of twenty-five feet front, and " sold at public outcry." This is the first case on record of the sale of real estate at auction in this city. In 1689 fourteen lots, " near the Countess's Quay," were sold at auction for about thirty-five pounds each, and eleven others at twenty-seven pounds each. A little later public surveyors were appointed to lay out streets and lots; and frequent grants of land were made by the corporation for trifling considerations.
  In 1696, Teunis De Kay petitioned the corporation for leave " to open a carte way" from the head of Broad-street toward the city Common, "by the pye-woman's," offering to do all the work necessary at his own expense, if he could have " the soil." Probably at that time there was an opening in the wall at the head of Broad-street, allowing the egress and ingress of teams and vehicles, as it is known there was no gate at that place. The petition was granted, and the beginning of Nassau-street was the result. At first, indicating the professed design of the projector of the enterprise, it was called " Horse-and-cart-street," and afterward " Kip-street," till it received its present name.
  In July, 1673, a Dutch squadron, under command of Admirals Evertsen and Binckes, appeared off New York and forced the surrender of the old fort. They inaugurated a new Dutch government under Captain Anthony Colve, which continued but a year and a quarter, when under a new treaty the colony was surrendered by the Dutch to Sir Edmund Andrus, the British representative, who was succeeded shortly in command by Thomas Dongan, the author of the Dongan Charter, much of which has come down to our day. Governor Dongan's rule was signalized by the granting of the "Duke's Charter," in 1683, which was repealed two years later. This granted four great reforms equal taxation, trial by jury, the obligation of military duty and freedom of religion to all Christians.(38)
Section: 1 5 2 4 - 1 6 3 0
  Early in the history of the colony the patroon system was introduced. By an act passed in 1628 it was provided that any man bringing out fifty souls should receive a grant of land and the hereditary title of patroon.

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