New York City Miscellaneous Tid-Bits 1868

  Article Tools

Print This Page

E-mail This Page To A Friend

The Markets

Two thirds of the people of New York deal with "corner groceries" and "provision stores," consequently there are very few markets in the city. The principal are the Fulton Market on East River, at the foot of Fulton street; the Washington, at the end of Fulton street, on North River; the Jefferson, at the corner of Sixth and Greenwich Avenues; and the Tompkins Market, opposite the Cooper Institute. The Washington Market is more of a wholesale than a retail establishment, as is also the Fulton Market. The supplies of meat, fish, and vegetables brought to the city, are originally sent to the wholesale dealers at these markets, to be sold on commission. The dealers will frequently go into the country and engage a truckman's entire crop of vegetables or fruits, and then retail them out to the city dealers at their own prices.

The streets in the vicinity of the markets on the two rivers are always dirty and crowded. The buildings themselves are outwardly dirty and uninviting. The interior, however, presents a sight worth witnessing. In the spring and summer it is filled with the most tempting displays of fruit and vegetables. One can hardly imagine that all this immense quantity will be eaten, but it does not require more than a day to get rid of the whole display. Fruits are high in the city and sell readily. The market is never overstocked. The same may be said of vegetables. Good vegetables are always in demand. All such things have to be brought so far to market, that by the time they reach the consumer's kitchen they are almost half-decayed. Those who can furnish pure fresh vegetables, or animal food, are always sure of doing a profitable business in the city.

Almost anything can be found in the Fulton Market. There are all kinds of provisions, eating-stands abound, bar-rooms are located in the cellars, cheap finery is to be seen in the stalls, books, newspapers, and periodicals are to be had at prices lower than those of the regular stores, ice creams, confections, and even hardware and dry goods are sold in the booths. The oysters sold here have a world-wide reputation. Dorlan's oyster-house is the most popular. It is a plain, rough-looking room, but it is patronized by the best people in the city, for the wares sold here are famous. Ladies in full street dress, and young bloods in all their finery, come here to eat one of the proprietor's splendid stews.

Dorlan began business in New York more than thirty years ago; and has made a handsome fortune. He has done so by keeping the very best goods in the market. He is one of the best-known men in the city, and is deservedly popular. He is conscientious and upright in the minutest particular, and gives his personal attention to every detail of his business. Although wealthy to-day, he may be seen at his stand, in his shirt-sleeves, superintending the operations of his establishment, setting an excellent example to younger men who are seeking to rise in the world.

The Post-Office

The General Post-office of the city is located on Nassau street, between Cedar and Liberty streets. It was formerly the Middle Dutch Church, and was built long before the Revolution. It was in the old wooden steeple of this building that Benjamin Franklin practiced those experiments in electricity, which have made his name immortal. When the British occupied the city, during the War for Independence, they occupied this church for military purposes. The building was very greatly injured by the rough usage to which it was put, by its sacrilegious occupants. The pews and pulpit were broken up for firewood, and the building was used first as a prison, and then as a riding school. It was repaired in 1790, and again used for religious services. Some years later, it was purchased by the Government, and fitted up as a post-office. The growing business of the office has made it necessary to make so many additions to the structure, that it is hard at present to distinguish the original plan of the edifice. The building is much too small to accommodate the business required to be transacted within its walls, and efforts are being made to secure the erection of a larger and handsomer building, at the lower end of the City Hall Park. It is supposed that the movement in this direction will be successful, though the Government would seem, by its delay in the matter, not to consider it a matter of much importance to accommodate the citizens of the metropolis in this respect.

The Post-office being situated so low down in the city, it has been found necessary to establish branches, called "Stations," in the upper part of the island. They are distinguished by the letters "A," "B," "C," etc. Many persons receive and mail their correspondence here. The drop letter system places an immense amount of business in the hands of these stations.

Street boxes, for letters, are scattered through the city. They are never more than a block or two apart, in any of the streets below Fifty-ninth street, and the distances are not very great in the other portions of the island. Letters dropped in these boxes are collected seven or eight times during the day, and there is a delivery of letters and papers by the postman every hour. These are left at the houses of the parties to whom they are addressed, without additional charge. The system is excellent, and is a great convenience to all classes of the population.

Attending Worship Services

In the morning, the various churches are well filled, for New Yorkers consider it a matter of principle to attend morning service. The streets are filled with persons hastening to church, the cars are crowded, and handsome carriages dash by, conveying their wealthy owners to their only hour of prayer.

The churches are nearly all above Bleecker street. Trinity, St. Paul's, the old Dutch Church in Fulton street, and a few seamen's bethels along the river, are the only places of worship left to the dwellers in the lower part of the city, who are chiefly the poor and needy. Little or no care is taken of this part of the population, and yet it would seem good missionary ground. Trinity tries hard to draw them into its fold, but no one else seems to care for them.

The up-town churches are well filled in the morning. The music, the fame of the preacher, the rank of the church in the fashionable world, all these things help to swell the congregation. They are generally magnificent edifices, erected with great taste, and at a great cost. They crowd into fashionable neighborhoods, being often located so close to each other that the music of one will disturb the prayers of the congregation of the other. The plea for this is that the old down town locations were out of the way for the majority of the congregations. Many of the new sites, however, are quite as hard to reach. The pews rent for sums far beyond the purses of persons of moderate means, so that the majority of New Yorkers are compelled to roam about, from church to church, in order to hear the gospel at all. At the majority of the churches, strangers are welcome, and are received with courtesy, but at others they are treated with the utmost rudeness if they happen to get into some upstart's pew, and are not unfrequently asked to give up their seats.

There are intellectual giants in the New York pulpit, but they are very few. The majority of the clergy are men of little intellect, and less oratorical power. They are popular, though, with their own cures, and the most of them are well provided for. They doubtless understand how to "Preach to please the sinners, And fill the vacant pews."

A) Sunday Afternoon

Morning service over, an early dinner follows. Then everybody thinks of enjoying himself if the weather is fine, or of sleeping the afternoon away if the day is too wet to go out. The cars are filled with persons en route for the Park to pass a pleasant afternoon--the drives of that beautiful resort are filled with the elegant equipages of the fashionables, and the churches are comparatively deserted. Almost every livery hack, buggy, or other vehicle in the city, is engaged for Sunday, several days beforehand, and the poor horses have no mercy shown them on that day.

The low class theatres and places of amusement in the Bowery and adjacent streets are opened toward sunset, and vice reigns there triumphant. The Bowery beer gardens sell lemonade and soda water, and such beverages as are not prohibited by the excise law, and the orchestra and orchestrions play music from the ritual of the Roman Catholic church.

The excise law forbids the sale of spirituous or malt liquors on the Sabbath, and the bar rooms are closed from midnight on Saturday until Monday morning. The police have orders to arrest all persons violating this law. There is no doubt, however, that liquor can be obtained by those who are willing to incur the risk necessary to get it; but as the majority do not care to take this trouble, the North river ferries are thronged on Sunday, by persons going over to New Jersey for their beer, wine, and stronger drinks. There is no Sunday law in that State, and Jersey City and Hoboken are only five minutes distant from New York.

At night the churches are better attended than in the afternoon, but not so well as in the morning. Many ministers will not open their churches for afternoon service, because they know they cannot fill a dozen pews at that time. Their congregations are driving in the Park-- the young men, perhaps, in Hoboken, after lager.

Sunday concerts are now becoming a feature in New York life. These are given at the principal halls of the city, and the music consists of selections of sacred gems from the master pieces of the great composers. The performers are known all over the land for their musical skill, and the audiences are large and fashionable. No one seems to think it sinful thus to desecrate God's holy day, and it must be confessed that these concerts are the least objectionable Sunday amusements known to our people.

The reason of all this dissipation on the Sabbath is plain. People are so much engrossed in the pursuit of wealth, that they take no time in the week for rest or amusement. They wait for Sunday to do this, and grudge the few hours in the morning that decency requires them to pass in church.

Cheap Lodging Houses

The Bowery and eastern section of the city are full of cheap lodging houses, which form a peculiar feature of city life. "There is a very large and increasing class of vagrants who live from hand to mouth, and who, beneath the dignity of the lowest grade of boarding houses, find a nightly abode in cheap lodgings. These establishments are planned so as to afford the greatest accommodation in point of numbers with the least in point of comfort. The halls or rather passages are narrow, and the rooms are small, dark, dirty and infested with vermin. The bedding consists of a straw pallet and coarse sheets, and a coverlet of a quality too poor to be an object of luxury. In some houses no sheets or coverlet are afforded, but even with the best of these accommodations the lodger suffers from cold in the winter, while in the summer he is devoured with bed-bugs. For such accommodations in a room which half a dozen may share, the lodger pays ten cents, though it is said there is a lower depth where they sleep on the floor and pay half the above-mentioned price. The profit of this business may be inferred from the fact that one hundred and fifty lodgings, and in some cases a much larger number, are sold by each house, making a net receipt of $15 per night, to which is to be added the profits of a bar, where the vilest whiskey is retailed in 'dime nips.'

The business of a lodging house seldom commences before ten o'clock, and its greatest rush is just after the closing of the theatres; but all through the night, till three o'clock in the morning, they are receiving such of the outcast population as can offer the price of a bed. To any one interested in the misery of the city, the array presented on such an occasion is very striking. One sees every variety of character, runaway boys, truant apprentices, drunken mechanics and broken-down mankind generally. Among these are men who have seen better days. They are decayed gentlemen who appear regularly in Wall street, and eke out the day by such petty business as they may get hold of, and are lucky if they can make enough to carry them through the night. In all lodging houses the rule holds good 'first come, first served,' and the last man in the room gets the worst spot. Each one sleeps with his clothes on and his hat under his head to keep it from being stolen. At eight o'clock in the morning all oversleepers are awakened and the rooms got ready for the coming night. No one is allowed to take anything away, and if the lodger has a parcel he is required to leave it at the bar. This prevents the theft of bed-clothes. As the expenses connected with lodging houses are very light, they are generally profitable, and in some instances large fortunes have been made at the business. The one recently burned was a correct illustration of the vices and miseries of the poor; a lodging house up stairs and in the basement a concert-saloon, so that the poverty engendered by the one could be sheltered by the other."


The old graveyards of New York were located in what is now the heart of the city; and, with the exception of the churchyards, have all passed away. There are now, with the exception of the cemetery of Trinity Church, which is located near Washington Heights, no graveyards in use on the island. Interments are made either on the main land, or on Long Island. The principal, and best known cemetery, is Greenwood.

A) Greenwood

These beautiful grounds are situated in the extreme south-eastern part of Brooklyn, on Gowanus Heights. The entrance gate is about two and a half miles from the South Ferry, and three from the Fulton Ferry, with lines of horse-cars from both ferries. The cemetery is beautifully laid out, and from its heights a view of the bay and the surrounding country is obtained. The situation is naturally attractive, and large sums of money have been expended in ornamenting the grounds, until they are now second to none of the famous cemeteries of the Old World. The monuments are numerous and many of them are of the most costly and elegant nature. The contrast between these pure white shafts, and the dark green of the sward and foliage, is both striking and beautiful, while, in the far distance, the gazer, turning from this scene of silence and death, lovely as it is, may behold the bright waters of the Bay or Sound, covered with the life and activity of the commerce of this great country, and the Metropolis itself lies almost at his feet.

Admission to the cemetery can be obtained during any week-day, by means of tickets, which may be procured from any undertaker. On Sunday the grounds are opened only to the proprietors, their families, or those who come with them.

B) The Evergreens

Four or five miles east of Brooklyn is the cemetery of the Evergreens. It is very beautiful, but does not compare with Greenwood, in either its natural or artificial attractions.

C) Cypress Hills

These grounds lie near the Evergreens, and are very handsome. Great care has been bestowed upon them, and they are amongst the most attractive in the neighborhood of the city.

D) Woodlawn

This cemetery is only a few years old. It is in Westchester county, immediately on the Harlem railway. It is about seven miles from the city, and several trains stop at the main entrance during the day. The company also run funeral trains when desired. The main avenue, or boulevard, from the Central Park to White Plains, will run through these grounds; and in a few years, when the upper part of the island is more thickly settled, Woodlawn will be one of the principal cemeteries of the city. In ten years more it will rival Greenwood.
Website: The History
Article Name: New York City Miscellaneous Tid-Bits 1868
Researcher/Preparer/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: The Secrets of the Great City: A Work Descriptive of the Virtues and the Vices, the  Mysteries, Miseries and Crimes of New York City, by James Dabney McCabe Published: Philadelphia, Chicago, Jones Brothers & Co., 1868
Time & Date Stamp: