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.
(where boys still filched pears from trees planted by old Petrus), and the thirty-acre Phelps estate at Kip’s Bay between 29th and 31st streets, all the way up to Archibald Gracie’s lovely Federal-style mansion between 86th and 90th streets. By the 1820s these regions had so many permanent inhabitants that St. James’s Church—a wooden Trinity outpost at 69th and Lexington—began year-round worship. The isolation that wealthy New Yorkers sought in their uptown encampments made travel into the city
the soldiers slew three or four Indians and tortured the sachem’s brother “in his private parts with a piece of split wood,” the infuriated Raritans fell upon De Vries’s plantation, killed four of his people, and burned all the buildings. To the nervous inhabitants of New Amsterdam this Pig War, as it came to be known, was entirely Kieft’s fault (De Vries himself charged that company soldiers, not Indians, had killed his pigs). In a bid to placate the critics, Kieft invited the heads of families
in Clinton Hall (at Nassau and Beekman streets), it was no surprise that twice as many Presbyterian students registered as those of any other denomination. Three years later, the university moved into its first permanent home, a white marble Gothic Revival building on Washington Square designed by A. J. Davis. SPIRIT VERSUS SPIRITS By the mid-1820s the massive growth of western grain production, combined with improved technologies of distillation and ever more efficient means of transportation,
contractor from Newburgh—generating substantial profits for Commodore Vanderbilt. Every farmhouse and country home within a thirty-mile radius was soon filled with lodgers. By the end of the first week in July, almost all who could afford to flee had fled; by the Post’s estimate of August 6, that figure eventually reached 100,000, roughly half the population. Of the other half, 3,513 died, most of them horribly, the lucky ones swiftly. The young editor Henry Dana Ward wrote his parents that some
block. When added to inaction on the garbage and sewage fronts, the result (said a legislative committee) was that “death is making an alarming inroad upon [our] population.” Cholera raced through the tenements again in 1852. Typhus, an immigrant disease of dirt and overcrowding, grew endemic, then turned epidemic in 1852. Deaths from consumption (tuberculosis) soared in the black and immigrant communities. Between 1845 and 1854 the city wide mortality rate hovered at an all-time high of forty