Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: New York Sketches
Author: Williams, Jesse Lynch, 1871-1929
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "New York Sketches" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



NEW YORK SKETCHES


[Illustration: On the Harlem River--University Heights from Fort
George.]



    NEW YORK SKETCHES

    BY

    JESSE LYNCH WILLIAMS

    [Illustration]

    WITH ILLUSTRATIONS

    CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
    NEW YORK           1902



    COPYRIGHT, 1902, BY
    CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

    Published, November, 1902

    Trow Directory
    Printing & Bookbinding Company
    New York



    TO

    Meade Creighton Williams



CONTENTS


                                                                PAGE
    THE WATER-FRONT                                                1

    THE WALK UP-TOWN                                              27

    THE CROSS STREETS                                             63

    RURAL NEW YORK CITY                                           99



ILLUSTRATIONS


    On the Harlem River--University Heights from Fort
        George                                        _Frontispiece_

                                                                PAGE
    Grant's Tomb and Riverside Drive (from the New Jersey
        Shore)                                                     3

    Down along the Battery sea-wall is the place to watch
        the ships go by                                            5

    Old New Amsterdam                                              7

      Just as it has been for years. (Between South Ferry and
          the Bridge.)

    New New York                                                   9

      Not a stone's throw farther up ... the towering white
          city of the new century. (Between South Ferry and
          the Bridge.)

    From the point of view of the Jersey commuter ... some
        uncommon, weird effects                                   11

      (Looking back at Manhattan from a North River
          ferry-boat.)

    Swooping silently, confidently across from one city to
        the other                                                 13

      (East River and Brooklyn Bridge.)

    Looking up the East River from the Foot of Fifty-ninth
        Street                                                    15

    Even in sky-line he could find something new almost
        every week or two                                         17

      The end of the day--looking back at Manhattan from the
          Brooklyn Bridge.

    For the little scenes ... quaint and lovable, one goes
        down along the South Street water-front                   19

      Smacks and oyster-floats near Fulton Market. (At the
          foot of Beekman Street, East River.)

    This is the tired city's playground                           21

      Washington Bridge and the Speedway--Harlem River
          looking south.

    Here is where the town ends, and the country begins           23

      (High Bridge as seen looking south from Washington
          Bridge.)

    The Old and the New, from Lower New York across the
        Bridge to Brooklyn                                        24

      From the top of the high building at Broadway and Pine
          Street.

    The old town does not change so fast about its edges          25

      (Along the upper East River front looking north toward
          Blackwell's Island.)

    ... opposite the oval of the ancient Bowling Green            29

    ... immigrant hotels and homes                                30

    No. 1 Broadway                                                30

    Lower Broadway during a parade                                30

    The beautiful spire of Trinity                                31

    ... clattering, crowded, typical Broadway                     32

    City Hall with its grateful lack of height                    33

    What's the matter?                                            34

    In the wake of a fire-engine                                  35

    No longer to be thrilled ... will mean to be old              37

    Grace Church spire becomes nearer                             39

    Through Union Square                                          40

    ... windows which draw women's heads around                   41

    Instead of buyers ... mostly shoppers                         42

    ... crossing Fifth Avenue at Twenty-third Street              43

    Madison Square with the sparkle of a clear ... October
        morning                                                   44

    In front of the Fifth Avenue Hotel                            45

    Diana on top glistening in the sun                            46

    Seeing the Avenue from a stage-top                            47

    ... people go to the right, up Fifth Avenue                   48

    A seller of pencils                                           49

    It is also better walking up here                             50

    ... those who walk for the sake of walking                    51

    At the lower corner of the Waldorf-Astoria                    52

    ... with baby-carriages                                       53

    This is the region of Clubs                                   54

      (The Union League.)

    ... close-ranked boarding-school squads                       55

    ... the coachmen and footmen flock there                      56

    The Church of the Heavenly Rest                               57

    Approaching St. Thomas's                                      59

    The University Club ... with college coats-of-arms            60

    Olympia Jackies on shore leave                                61

    Down near the eastern end of the street                       65

    Across Trinity Church-yard, from the West                     67

    An Evening View of St. Paul's Church                          69

    The sights and smells of the water-front are here too         71

    An Old Landmark on the Lower West Side                        73

    (Junction of Canal and Laight Streets.)

    Up Beekman Street                                             75

      Each ... has to change in the greatest possible hurry
          from block to block.

    Under the Approach to Brooklyn Bridge                         77

    Chinatown                                                     79

    It still remains whimsically individual and village-like      81

    A Fourteenth Street Tree                                      83

    Such as broad Twenty-third Street with its famous shops
                                                                  85

    A Cross Street at Madison Square                              87

    Across Twenty-fourth Street--Madison Square when the
        Dewey Arch was there                                      88

    Herald Square                                                 91

    As it Looks on a Wet Night--The Circle, Fifty-ninth
        Street and Eighth Avenue                                  93

    Hideous high buildings                                        95

    Looking east from Central Park at night.

    Flushing Volunteer Fire Department Responding to a Fire
        Alarm                                                    103

    A Bit of Farm Land in the Heart of Greater New York          105

      Acre after acre, farm after farm, and never a sign of
          city in sight.

    One of the Farmhouses that have Come to Town                 107

      The old Duryea House, Flushing, once used as a
          head-quarters for Hessian officers.

    East End of Duryea House, where the Cow is Stabled           108

    The Old Water-power Mill from the Rear of the Old
        Country Cross-roads Store                                109

    The Old Country Cross-roads Store, Established 1828          110

      In the background is the old water-power mill.

    Interior of the Old Country Cross-roads Store                111

    The Colony of Chinese Farmers, Near the Geographical
        Centre of New York City                                  112

    Working as industrially as the peasants of Europe, blue
        skirts, red handkerchiefs about their heads              113

    Remains of a Windmill in New York City, Between Astoria
        and Steinway                                             114

    The Dreary Edge of Long Island City                          115

    The Procession of Market-wagons at College Point Ferry
                                                                 116

    Past dirty backyards and sad vacant lots                     117

    New York City Up in the Beginnings of the Bronx
        Regions--Skating at Bronxdale                            119

    Another Kind of City Life--Along the Marshes of Jamaica
        Bay                                                      121

    There is profitable oyster-dredging in several sections
        of the city                                              123

    Cemetery Ridge, Near Richmond, Staten Island                 126

    A Peaceful Scene in New York                                 127

      In the distance is St. Andrew's Church, Borough of
          Richmond, Staten Island.

    A Relic of the Early Nineteenth Century, Borough of
        Richmond                                                 128

    An Old-fashioned, Stone-arched Bridge. (Richmond, Staten
        Island)                                                  129

    An Old House in Flatbush                                     131



THE WATER-FRONT



[Illustration: Grant's Tomb and Riverside Drive (from the New Jersey
Shore).]



THE WATER-FRONT


Down along the Battery sea-wall is the place to watch the ships go by.

Coastwise schooners, lumber-laden, which can get far up the river under
their own sail; big, full-rigged clipper ships that have to be towed
from the lower bay, their topmasts down in order to scrape under the
Brooklyn Bridge; barques, brigs, brigantines--all sorts of sailing
craft, with cargoes from all seas, and flying the flags of all nations.

White-painted river steamers that seem all the more flimsy and riverish
if they happen to churn out past the dark, compactly built ocean liners,
who come so deliberately and arrogantly up past the Statue of Liberty,
to dock after the long, hard job of crossing, the home-comers on the
decks already waving handkerchiefs. Plucky little tugs (that whistle
on the slightest provocation), pushing queer, bulky floats, which bear
with ease whole trains of freight-cars, dirty cars looking frightened
and out of place, which the choppy seas try to reach up and wash. And
still queerer old sloop scows, with soiled, awkward canvas and no shape
to speak of, bound for no one seems to know where and carrying you
seldom see what. And always, everywhere, all day and night, whistling
and pushing in and out between everybody, the ubiquitous, faithful,
narrow-minded old ferry-boats, with their wonderful helmsmen in the
pilot-house, turning the wheel and looking unexcitable....

That is the way it is down around Pier A, where the New York Dock
Commission meets and the Police Patrol boat lies, and by Castle Garden,
where the river craft pass so close you can almost reach out and touch
them with your hand.

The "water-front" means something different when you think of Riverside
and its greenness, a few miles to the north, with Grant's tomb, white
and glaring in the sun, and Columbia Library back on Cathedral Heights.

[Illustration: Down along the Battery sea-wall is the place to watch the
ships go by.]

Here the "lordly" Hudson is not yet obliged to become busy North River,
and there is plenty of water between a white-sailed schooner yacht and
a dirty tug slowly towing in silence--for there is no excuse here for
whistling--a cargo of brick for a new country house up at Garrisons;
while on the shore itself instead of wharves and warehouses and
ferry-slips there are yacht and rowing club houses and an occasional
bathing pavilion; and above the water edge, in place of the broken ridge
of stone buildings with countless windows, there is the real bluff of
good green earth with the well-kept drive on top and the sun glinting on
harness-chains and automobiles.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now, between these two contrasts you will find--you _may_ find, I mean,
for most of you prefer to exhaust Europe and the Orient before you begin
to look at New York--as many different sorts of interests and kinds of
picturesqueness as there are miles, as there are blocks almost.

For instance, down there by the starting-point. If you go up toward
the bridge from South Ferry a block or so and pull down your hat-brim
far enough to hide the tower of the Produce Exchange, you have a bit
of old New Amsterdam, just as it has been for years, so old and so
Amsterdamish, with its long, sloping roofs, gable windows, and even
wooden-shoe-like canal-boats, that you may easily feel that you are in
Holland, if you like. As a matter of fact, it is more like Hamburg, I
am told, but either will do if you get an added enjoyment out of things
by noting their similarity to something else and appreciate mountains
and sunsets more by quoting some other person's sensations about other
sunsets and mountains.

[Illustration: Old New Amsterdam.

Just as it has been for years.

(Between South Ferry and the Bridge.)]

But if you believe that there is also an inherent, characteristic
beauty in the material manifestations of the spirit of our own new,
vigorous, fearless republic--and whether you do or not, if you care to
look at one of these sudden contrasts referred to--not a stone's throw
farther up the water-front there is a notable sight of newest New York.
This, too, is good to look at. Behind a foreground of tall masts with
their square rigging and mystery (symbols of the world's commerce, if
you wish), looms up a wondrous bit of the towering white city of the new
century, a cluster of modern high buildings which, notwithstanding the
perspective of a dozen blocks, are still high, enormously, alarmingly
high--symbols of modern capital, perhaps, and its far-reaching
possibilities, or they may remind you, in their massive grouping, of a
cluster of mountains, with their bright peaks glistening in the sun far
above the dark shadows of the valleys in which the streams of business
flow, down to the wharves and so out over the world.

Now, separately they may be impossible, these high buildings of
ours--these vulgar, impertinent "sky-scrapers;" but, as a group, and
in perspective, they are fine, with a strong, manly beauty all their
own. It is the same as with the young nation; we have grown up so fast
and so far that some of our traits, when considered alone, may seem
displeasing, but they appear less so when we are viewed as a whole and
from the right point of view.

[Illustration: New New York.

Not a stone's throw farther up ... the towering white city of the new
century.

(Between South Ferry and the Bridge.)]

Or, on the other hand, for scenes not representatively commercial, nor
residential either in the sense that Riverside is, but more of the
sort that the word "picturesque" suggests to most people: There are all
those odd nooks and corners, here and there up one river and down the
other, popping out upon you with unexpected vistas full of life and
color. Somehow the old town does not change so fast about its edges as
back from the water. It seems to take a longer time to slough off the
old landmarks.

[Illustration: From the point of view of the Jersey commuter ... some
uncommon, weird effects.

(Looking back at Manhattan from a North River ferry-boat.)]

The comfortable country houses along the shore, half-way up the island,
first become uncomfortable city houses; then tenements, warehouses,
sometimes hospitals, even police stations, before they are finally
hustled out of existence to make room for a foul-smelling gas-house
or another big brewery. Many of them are still standing, or tumbling
down; pathetic old things they are, with incongruous cupolas and dusty
fanlights and, on the river side, an occasional bit of old-fashioned
garden, with a bunker which was formerly a terrace, and the dirty
remains of a summer-house where children once had a good time--and still
do have, different-looking children, who love the nearby water just as
much and are drowned in it more numerously. It is not only by way of
the recreation piers that these children and their parents enjoy the
water. It is a deep-rooted instinct in human nature to walk out to the
end of a dock and sit down and gaze; and hundreds of them do so every
day in summer, up along here. Now and then through these vistas you get
a good view of beautiful Blackwell's Island with its prison and hospital
and poorhouse buildings. Those who see it oftenest do not consider it
beautiful. They always speak of it as "The Island."

For those who do not care to prowl about for the scattered bits
of interest or who prefer what Baedeker would call "a magnificent
panorama," there are plenty of good points of vantage from which to see
whole sections at once, such as the Statue of Liberty or the tops of
high buildings, or, obviously, Brooklyn Bridge, which is so very obvious
that many Manhattanese would never make use of this opportunity were
it not for an occasional out-of-town visitor on their hands. No one
ought to be allowed to live in New York City--he ought to be made to
live in Brooklyn--who does not go out there and look back at his town
once a year. He could look at it every day and get new effects of light
and color. Even in sky-line he could find something new almost every
week or two. In a few years there will be a more or less even line--at
least a gentle undulation--instead of these raw, jagged breaks that
give a disquieting sense of incompletion, or else look as if a great
conflagration had eaten out the rest of the buildings.

[Illustration: Swooping silently, confidently across from one city to
the other....

(East River and Brooklyn Bridge.)]

The sky-line and its constant change can be watched to best advantage
from the point of view of the Jersey commuter on the ferry; he also has
some wonderful coloring to look at and some uncommon, weird effects,
such as that of a late autumn afternoon (when he has missed the 5.15 and
has to go out on the 6.26) and it is already quite dark, but the city
is still at work and the towering office-buildings are lighted--are
brilliant indeed with many perfectly even rows of light dots. The dark
plays tricks with the distance, and the water is black and snaky and
smells of the night. All sorts of strange flares of light and puffs of
shadow come from somewhere, and altogether the commuter, if he were not
so accustomed to the scene, ought not to mind being late for dinner.
However, the commuter is used to this, too.

That scene is spectacular. There is another from the water that is
dramatic. Possibly the pilots on the Fall River steamers become
hardened, but to most of us there is an exciting delight in creeping up
under that great bridge of ours and daringly slipping through without
having it fall down this time; and then looking rather boastfully back
at it, swooping silently, confidently across from one city to the
other, as graceful and lean and characteristically American in its line
as our cup defenders, and as overwhelmingly powerful and fearless as
Niagara Falls. However much like the Thames Embankment is the bit of
East Fifty-ninth Street in a yellow fog, and however skilful you may be
in making an occasional acre of the Bronx resemble the Seine, our big
bridges cannot very well remind anyone of anything abroad, because there
aren't any others.

[Illustration: Looking up the East River from the Foot of Fifty-ninth
Street.]

For the little scenes that are not inspiring or awful, but simply quaint
and lovable, one goes down along the South Street water-front. Fulton
Market with its memorable smells and the marketeers and 'longshoremen;
and behind it the slip where clean-cut American-model smacks put in,
and sway excitedly to the wash from the Brooklyn ferry-boats, which is
not noticed by the sturdy New Haven Line steamers nearby. On the edge
of the street and the water are the oyster floats, half house and half
boat, which look like solid shops, with front doors, from the street
side until, the seas hitting them, they, too, begin to sway awkwardly
and startle the unaccustomed passer-by.

It is down around here that you find slouching idly in front of
ship-stores, loafing on cables and anchors, the jolly jack tar of
modern days. From all parts of the world he comes, any number of him,
if you can tell him when you see him, for he is seldom tarry and less
often jolly, unless drunk on the very poor grog he gets in the various
evil-looking dives thickly strewn along the water-fronts. Some of these
are modern plate-glass saloons, but here and there is a cosey old-time
tavern (with a step-down at the entrance instead of a step-up), low
ceiling, dark interior, and in the window a thickly painted ship's model
with flies on the rigging.

Farther down, near Wall Street ferry, where the smells of the world
are gathered, you may see the stevedores unloading liqueurs and spices
from tropical ports, and coffees and teas; nearby are the places where
certain men make their livings tasting these teas all day long, while
the horse-cars jangle by.

[Illustration: Even in sky-line he could find something new almost every
week or two.

The end of the day--looking back at Manhattan from the Brooklyn Bridge.]

Old Slip and other odd-named streets are along here, where once the
water came before the city outgrew its clothes; before Water Street,
now two or three blocks back, had lost all right to its name. Here the
big slanting bowsprits hunch away in over South Street as if trying to
be quits with the land for its encroachment, and the plain old brick
buildings huddled together across the way have no cornices for fear of
their being poked off. Queer old buildings they are, sail lofts with
their peculiar roofs, and sailors' lodging-houses, and the shops where
the seaman can buy everything he needs from suspenders to anchor cables,
so that after a ten-thousand mile cruise he can spend all his several
months' pay within two blocks of where he first puts foot on shore and
within one night from when he does so. Very often he has not energy to
go farther or money to buy anything, thanks to the slavery system which
conducts the sailors' lodging-houses across the way. There is nothing
very picturesque about our modern merchant marine and its ill-used and
over-worked sailors; it is only pathetic.

Those are some of the reasons, I think, why East River is more
interesting to most of us than North River. Another reason, perhaps, is
that East River is not a river at all, but an arm of the ocean which
makes Long Island, and true to its nature in spite of man's error it
holds the charm of the sea. The North River side of the town in the old
days had less to do with the business of those who go down to the sea
in ships, was more rural and residential; and now its water-front is so
jammed with railway ferry-houses and ocean-steamship docks that there is
little room for anything else.

[Illustration: For the little scenes ... quaint and lovable, one goes
down along the South Street water-front.

Smacks and oyster-floats near Fulton Market. (At the foot of Beekman
Street, East River.)]

However, these long, roofed docks of famous Cunarders and American and
White Star Liners, and of the French steamers (which have a round-roof
dock of a sort all their own) are interesting in their way, too, and the
names of the foreign ports at the open entrance cause a strange fret to
be up and going; especially on certain days of the week when thick smoke
begins to pour from the great funnels which stick out so enormously
above the top story of the now noisy piers. Cabs and carriages with
coachmen almost hidden by trunks and steamer-rugs crowd in through the
dock-gates, while, within, the hold baggage-derricks are rattling and
there is an excited chatter of good-by talk....

By the time you get up to Gansevoort Market, with its broad expanse of
cobble-stones, the steamship lines begin to thin out and the ferries
are now sprinkled more sparsely. Where the avenues grow out into
their teens, there are coal-yards and lumber-yards. On the warehouses
and factories are great twenty-foot letters advertising soap and
cereals, all of which are the best.... Farther up is the region of
slaughter-houses and their smells, gas-houses and their smells.... And
so on up to Riverside, and across the new bridge to the unknown wildness
of Manhattan's farthest north, and Fort Washington with its breastworks,
which, it is pleasing to see, are being visited and picnicked upon more
often than formerly.

[Illustration: This is the tired city's playground.

Washington Bridge and the Speedway--Harlem River looking south.]

But over on the east edge of the town there is more to look at and more
of a variety. All the way from the Bridge and the big white battle-ships
squatting in the Navy Yard across the river; up past Kip's Bay with its
dapper steam-yachts waiting to take their owners home from business;
past Bellevue Hospital and its Morgue, past Thirty-fourth Street ferry
with its streams of funerals and fishing-parties; Blackwell's Island
with its green grass and the young doctors playing tennis, oblivious to
their surroundings; Hell Gate with its boiling tide, where so many are
drowned every year; East River Park with its bit of green turf (it is
too bad there are not more of these parks on our water-fronts); past
Ward's Island with its public institutions; Randall's Island with more
public institutions--and so, up into the Harlem, where soon, around the
bend, the occasional tall mast looks very incongruous when seen across a
stretch of real estate.

And now you have a totally different feel in the air and a totally
different sort of "scenery." It is as different as the use it is put to.
Below McComb's Dam Bridge, clear to the Battery, it was nearly all work;
up here it is nearly all play.

On the banks of the river, rowing clubs, yacht clubs, bathing
pavilions--they bump into each other, they are so thick; on the
water itself their members and their contents bump into each other
on holidays--launches, barges, racing-shells and all sorts of small
pleasure craft.

[Illustration: Here is where the town ends, and the country begins.

(High Bridge as seen looking south from Washington Bridge.)]

Near the Manhattan end of McComb's Dam Bridge are the two fields famous
for football victories, baseball championships, track games, open-air
horse shows; across the bridge go the bicyclers and automobilists,
hordes of them, brazen-braided bicyclists who use chewing-gum and lean
far over, leather coated chauffeurs with their eyes unnecessarily
protected.

[Illustration: The Old and the New, from Lower New York Across the
Bridge to Brooklyn.

From the top of the high building at Broadway and Pine Street.]

Up the river are college and school ovals and athletic fields; on the
ridges upon either side are walks and paths for lovers. For the lonely
pedestrian and antiquarians, two old revolutionary forts and some good
colonial architecture. Whirly-go-rounds and big wheels for children,
groves and beer-gardens for picnickers; while down on one bank of the
stream upon the broad Speedway go the thoroughbred trotters with their
red-faced masters behind in light-colored driving coats, eyes goggled,
arms extended.

On the opposite banks are the two railroads taking people to Ardsley
Casino, St. Andrew's Golf Club, and the other country clubs and the
public links at Van Cortlandt Park, and taking picnickers and family
parties to Mosholu Park, and regiments and squadrons to drill and play
battle in the inspection ground nearby, and botanists and naturalists
and sportsmen for their fun farther up in the good green country.

[Illustration: The old town does not change so fast about its edges.

(Along the upper East River front looking north toward Blackwell's
Island.)]

No wonder there is a different feeling in the air up along the best
known end of the city's water-front. The small, unimportant looking
winding river, long distance views, wooded hills, green terraces, and
even the great solid masonry of High Bridge, and the asphalt and stone
resting-places on Washington Bridge somehow help to make you feel the
spirit of freedom and outdoors and relaxation. This is the tired city's
playground. Here is where the town ends, and the country begins.

[Illustration]



THE WALK UP-TOWN



[Illustration: ... opposite the oval of the ancient Bowling Green.]



THE WALK UP-TOWN


The walk up-town reaches from the bottom of the buzzing region where
money is made to the bright zone where it is spent and displayed; and
the walk is a delight all the way. It is full of variety, color, charm,
exhilaration--almost intoxication, on its best days.

Indeed, there are connoisseurs in cities who say that of all walks
of this sort in the world New York's is the best. The walk in London
from the city to the West End by way of Fleet Street, the Strand, and
Piccadilly, is teeming with interest to the tourist--Temple Bar, St.
Clement's, Trafalgar Square and all--but, for a walk up-town, a walk
home to be taken daily, it is apt to be oppressive and saddening, even
without the fog; so say many of those who know it best. Paris, with
her boulevards, undoubtedly has unapproachable opportunities for the
_flaneur_, but like Rome and Vienna and most of the other European
capitals, she has no one main artery for a homeward stream of working
humanity at close of day; and that is what "the walk up-town" means.

[Illustration: ... immigrant hotels and homes.]

[Illustration: No. 1 Broadway.]

[Illustration: Lower Broadway during a parade.]

And yet so few, comparatively, of those whose physique and office hours
permit, take this appetizing, worry-dispelling walk of ours; this is
made obvious every afternoon, from three o'clock on, by the surface and
elevated cars, into which the bulk of scowling New York seems to prefer
to push itself, after a day spent mostly indoors; here to get bumped
and ill-tempered, snatching an occasional glimpse of the afternoon paper
held in the hand which does not clutch the strap overhead. It seems a
great pity. The walk is just the right length to take before dressing
for dinner. A line drawn eastward from the park plaza at Fifty-eighth
Street will almost strike an old mile-stone still standing in Third
Avenue, which says, "4 miles from City Hall, New York." The City Hall
was in Wall Street when those old-fashioned letters were cut, and Third
Avenue was the Post Road.

[Illustration: The beautiful spire of Trinity]


I

Many good New Yorkers (chiefly, however, of that small per cent. born in
New York, who generally know rather little about their town except that
they love it) have not been so remotely far down the island as Battery
Park for a decade, unless to engage passage at the steamship offices
which until recently were to be found in the sturdy houses of the good
old Row (though once called "Mushroom Row") opposite the oval of the
ancient Bowling Green, where now the oddly placed statue of Abram de
Peyster sits and stares all day. (Now that these old gable windows and
broad chimneys are gone I wonder how he will like the new Custom-house.)

[Illustration: ... clattering, crowded, typical Broadway]

Now, the grandmothers of these same New Yorkers, long ago, before
there were any steamships, when Castle Garden was a separate island
and Battery Park was a fashionable esplanade from which to watch the
shipping in the bay and the sunsets over the Jersey hills--their
grandmothers, dressed in tight pelisses and carrying reticules, were
wont to take a brisk walk, in their very low-cut shoes, along the
sea-wall before breakfast and breathe the early morning air. They did
not have so far to go in those days, and it was a fashionable thing to
do. To-day you can see almost every variety of humanity on the cement
paths from Pier A to Castle Garden, except that known as fashionable.
But the sunsets are just as good and the lights on the gentle hills of
Staten Island quite as soft and there are more varieties of water-craft
to gaze at in the bristling bay. I should think more people would come
to look at it all.

[Illustration: ... City Hall with its grateful lack of height ...]

I mean of those even who do not like to mingle with other species
than their own and yet want fresh air and exercise. On a Sunday in
winter if they were to come down here for their afternoon stroll they
would find (after a pleasant trip on nearly empty elevated cars) less
"objectionable" people and fewer of them than on the crowded up-town
walks.

What there are of strollers down here--in winter--are representatives of
the various sets of eminently respectable janitors' families (of which
there are almost as many grades as there are heights of the roofs from
which they have descended), and modest young jackies, with flapping
trousers, and open-mouthed emigrants, though more of the latter are
to be seen on those flimsy, one-horsed express wagons coming from the
Barge Office, seated on piles of dirty baggage--with steerage tags still
fresh--whole families of them, bright-colored head-gear and squalling
children, bound for the foreign-named emigrant hotels and homes which
are as interesting as the immigrants. Some of these latter are right
opposite there on State Street, including one with "pillared balcony
rising from the second floor to the roof," which is said to be the
earlier home of Jacob Dolph in Bunner's novel--a better fate surely than
that of the other New York house for which the book was named.

[Illustration: What's the matter?]

Across the park and up and around West Street are more of these
immigrant places, some with foreign lettering and some plain Raines's
law hotels with mirrored bars. One of them, perhaps the smallest and
lowest-ceiled of all, is where Stevenson slept, or tried to, in his
amateur emigranting.

These are among the few older houses in New York used for the same
purposes as from the beginning. They seem to have been left stranded
down around this earliest part of the town by an eddy in the commercial
current which sweeps nearly everything else to the northward from
its original moorings.... But this is not what is commonly meant by
"down-town," though it is the farthest down you can go, nor is it where
the walk up-town properly begins.

The Walk Up-town begins where the real Broadway begins, somewhat above
the bend, past the foreign consulates, away from the old houses and the
early nineteenth century atmosphere. Crowded sidewalks, a continuous
roar, intent passers-by, jammed streets, clanging cable-cars with
down-towners dodging them automatically; the region of the modern high
business building.

[Illustration: In the wake of a fire-engine.]

Above are stories uncountable (unless you are willing to be bumped
into); beside you, hurried-looking people gazing straight ahead or
dashing in and out of these large doors which are kept swinging back
and forth all day; very heavy doors to push, especially in winter,
when there are sometimes three sets of them. Within is the vestibule
bulletin-board with hundreds of men's names and office-numbers on it;
near by stands a judicial-looking person in uniform who knows them all,
and starts the various elevators by exclaiming "Up!" in a resonant
voice. While outside the crowd still hums and hurries on; it never gets
tired; it seems to pay no attention to anything. It is a matter of
wonder how a living is made by all the newsstands on the corners; all
the dealers in pencils and pipe-cleaners and shoe-strings and rubber
faces who are thick between the corners, to whom as little heed is
given as to the clatter of trucks or the wrangling of the now-blocked
cable-cars, or the cursing truck-drivers, or the echoing hammering of
the iron-workers on the huge girders of that new office building across
the way.

But that is simply because the crowd is accustomed to all these common
phenomena of the city street. As a matter of fact, half of them are
not so terrifically busy and important as they consider themselves.
They seem to be in a great hurry, but they do not move very fast, as
all know who try to take the walk up-town at a brisk pace, and most of
them wear that intent, troubled expression of countenance simply from
imitation or a habit generated by the spirit of the place. But it gives
a quaking sensation to the poor young man from the country who has
been walking the streets for weeks looking for a job; and it makes the
visiting foreigner take out his note-book and write a stereotyped phrase
or two about Americans--next to his note about our "Quick Lunch" signs
which never fail to astonish him, and behind which may be seen lunchers
lingering for the space of two cigars.

An ambulance, with its nervous, arrogant bell, comes scudding down
the street. A very important young interne is on the rear keeping his
balance with arrogant ease. His youthful, spectacled face is set in
stony indifference to all possible human suffering. The police clear the
way for him. And now see your rushing "busy throng" forget itself and
stop rushing. It blocks the sidewalk in five seconds, and still stays
there, growing larger, after those walking up-town have passed on.

The beautiful spire of Trinity, with its soft, brown stone and the green
trees and quaintly lettered historic tombs beneath and the damp monument
to Revolutionary martyrs over in one corner--no longer looks down
benignly on all about it, because, for the most part, it has to look up.
On all sides men have reared their marts of commerce higher than the
house of God.

[Illustration: No longer to be thrilled ... will mean to be old.]

It seems perfectly proper that they should, for they must build in
some direction and see what valuable real estate they have given up to
those dead people who cannot even appreciate it. Here among the quiet
graves the thoughtful stranger is accustomed to moralize tritely on how
thoughtless of death and eternity is "the hurrying throng" just outside
the iron fence, who, by the way, have to pass that church every day, in
many cases three or four times, and so can't very well keep on being
impressed by the nearness of death, etc., about which, perhaps, it is
just as well not to worry during the hours God meant for work. Even
though one cannot get much of a view from the steeple, except down Wall
Street, which looks harmless and disappointingly narrow and quiet at
first sight, Trinity is still one of the show-places of New York, and
it makes a pleasing and restful landmark in the walk up Broadway. It
deserves to be starred in Baedeker.

Now comes the most rushing section of all down-town: from Trinity to
St. Paul's, clattering, crowded, typical Down-Town. So much in a hurry
is it that at Cedar Street it skips in twenty or thirty feet a whole
section of numbers from 119 to 135. The east side of the street is not
so capricious; it skips merely from No. 120 to 128.

The people that cover the sidewalks up and down this section,
occasionally overflowing into the streets, would probably be pronounced
a typical New York crowd, although half of them never spend an entire
day in New York City from one end of the month to the other, and half
of that half sleep and eat two of their meals in another State of the
Union. The proportion might seem even greater than that, perhaps it is,
if at the usual hour the up-town walker should be obliged to struggle up
Cortlandt Street or any of the ferry streets down which the torrents of
commuters pour.

       *       *       *       *       *

Up near St. Paul's the sky-scrapers again become thick, so that the
occasional old-fashioned five or six story buildings of solid walls with
steep steps leading up to the door, seem like playthings beside which
the modern building shoots up--on up, as if just beginning where the
old ones left off. More like towers are many of these new edifices, or
magnified obelisks, as seen from the ferries, the windows and lettering
for hieroglyphics. Others are shaped like plain goods-boxes on end, or
suggest, the ornate ones, pieces of carefully cut cake standing alone
and ready to fall over at any moment and damage the icing.

[Illustration: ... Grace Church Spire becomes nearer.]

Good old St. Paul's, which is really old and, to some of us, more
lovable than ornate, Anglican Trinity, has also been made to look
insignificant in size by its overpowering commercial neighbors,
especially as seen from the Sixth Avenue Elevated cars against the
new, ridiculous high building on Park Row. But St. Paul's turns its
plain, broad, Colonial back upon busy Broadway and does not seem
to care so much as Trinity. The church-yard is not so old nor so
large as Trinity's, but somehow it always seems to me more rural and
church-yardish and feels as sunny and sequestered as though miles
instead of a few feet from Broadway and business.

[Illustration: Through Union Square.]

Now, off to the right oblique from St. Paul's, marches Park Row with
its very mixed crowd, which overflows the sidewalks, not only now at
going-home time, but at all hours of the day and most of the night;
and on up, under the bridge conduit, black just now with home-hurrying
Brooklynites and Long Islanders, we know we could soon come to the
Bowery and all that the Bowery means, and that, of course, is a walk
worth taking. But The Walk Up-town, as such, lies straight up Broadway,
between the substantial old Astor House, the last large hotel remaining
down-town, and the huge, obtrusive post-office building, as hideous
as a badly tied bundle, but which leads us on because we know--or, if
strangers, because we do not know--that when once we get beyond it
we shall see the calm, unstrenuous beauty of the City Hall with its
grateful lack of height, in its restful bit of park. Here, under the
first trees, is the unconventional statue of Nathan Hale, and there,
under those other trees--up near the court-house, I suppose--is where
certain memorable boy stories used to begin, with a poor, pathetic
newsboy who did noble deeds and in the last chapter always married the
daughter of his former employer, now his partner.

By this time some of the regular walkers up-town have settled down to a
steady pace; others are just falling in at this point--just falling in
here where once (not so very many years ago) the city fathers thought
that few would pass but farmers on the way to market, and so put cheap
red sandstone in the back of the City Hall.

[Illustration: ... windows which draw women's heads around.]

Over there, on the west side of the street, still stands a complete row
of early buildings--one of the very few remaining along Broadway--with
gable windows and wide chimneys. Lawyers' offices and insurance signs
are very prominent for a time. Then comes a block or two chiefly of
sporting-goods stores with windows crowded full of hammerless guns,
smokeless cartridges, portable canoes, and other delights which from
morning to night draw sighs out of little boys who press their faces
against the glass awhile and then run on. Next is a thin stratum
composed chiefly of ticket-scalpers, then suddenly you find yourself in
the heart of the wholesale district, with millions of brazen signs, one
over another, with names "like a list of Rhine wines;" block after block
of it, a long, unbroken stretch.

[Illustration: Instead of buyers ... mostly shoppers.]


II

This comes nearer to being monotonous than any part of the walk. But
even here, to lure the walker on, far ahead, almost exactly in the
centre of the cañon of commercial Broadway, can be seen the pure white
spire of Grace Church, planted there at the bend of the thoroughfare, as
if purposely to stand out like a beacon and signal to those below that
Broadway changes at last and that up there are some Christians.

But there are always plenty of people to look at, nor are they all
black-mustached, black-cigared merchants talking dollars; at six
o'clock women and girls pour down the stairs and elevators, and out
upon the street with a look of relief; stenographers, cloak inspectors,
forewomen, and little girls of all ages. Then you hear "Good-night,
Mame." "Good-night, Rachel." "What's your hurry? Got a date?" And off
they go, mostly to the eastward, looking exceedingly happy and not
invariably overworked.

[Illustration: ... crossing Fifth Avenue at Twenty-third Street.]

Others are emissaries from the sweat-shops, men with long beards and
large bundles and very sober eyes, patriarchal-looking sometimes when
the beard is white, who go upstairs with their loads and come down again
and trudge off down the side-street once more to go on where they left
off, by gas-light now.

And all this was once the great Broadway where not many years ago the
promenaders strutted up and down in the afternoon, women in low neck and
India shawls; dandies, as they were then called, in tremendous trousers
with huge checks. Occasionally even now you see a few strollers here by
mistake, elderly people from a distance revisiting New York after many
years and bringing their families with them. "Now, children, you are on
Broadway!" the fatherly smile seems to say. "Look at everything." They
probably stop at the Astor House.

[Illustration: ... Madison Square with the sparkle of a clear ...
October morning.]

As the wholesale dry-goods district is left behind and the realm of the
jobbers in "notions" is reached, and the handlers of artificial flowers
and patent buttons and all sorts of specialties, Grace Church spire
becomes nearer and clearer, so that the base of it can be seen. Here, as
below, and farther below and above and everywhere along Broadway, are
the stoop and sidewalk sellers of candies, dogs, combs, chewing-gum,
pipes, looking-glasses, and horrible burning smells. They seem
especially to love the neighborhood of what all walkers up-town detest,
a new building in the course of erection--with sidewalks blocked, and
a set of steep steps to mount--only, your true walker up-town always
prefers to go around by way of the street, where he is almost run down
by a cab, perhaps, which he forgets entirely a moment later when he
suddenly hears a stirring bell, an approaching roar, and a shrieking
whistle growing louder:

Across Broadway flashes a fire-engine, with the horses at a gallop,
the earth trembling, the hatless driver leaning forward with arms out
straight, and a trail of sparks and smoke behind. Another whizz, and the
long ladder-wagon shoots across with firemen slinging on their flapping
coats, while behind in its wake are borne many small crazed boys, who
could no more keep from running than the alarm-bell at the engine-house
could keep from ringing when the policeman turned on the circuit.
And young boys are not the only ones. No more to be thrilled by this
delight--it will mean to be old.

[Illustration: In front of the Fifth Avenue Hotel.]


III

At last Grace Church, with its clean light stone, is reached; and the
green grass and shrubbery in front of the interesting-looking Gothic
rectory. It is a glad relief. And now--in fact, a little before this
point--about where stood that melancholy building bearing the plaintive
sign "Old London Street"--which was used now for church services and now
prize-fights and had never been much of a success at anything--about
here, the up-town walkers notice (unless lured off to the left by the
thick tree-tops of Washington Square to look at the goodliest row of
houses in all the island) that the character of Broadway has changed
even more than the direction of the street changes. A short distance
below the bend all the stores were wholesale, now they are becoming
solidly retail. Instead of buyers the people along the street are
mostly shoppers. Down there were very few women; up here are very few
men. This is especially noticeable when Union Square is reached, with
cable-cars clanging around Dead Man's Curve in front of Lafayette's
statue. Here, down Fourteenth Street, may be seen shops and shoppers of
the most virulent type; windows which draw women's heads around whether
they want to look or not, causing them to run you down and making them
deaf to your apologies for it. Big dry-goods stores and small millinery
shops; general stores and department stores, and the places where
the sidewalks are crowded with what is known to the trade as "Louis
Fourteenth Street furniture." All this accounts for there being more
restaurants now and different smells and another feeling in the air.

[Illustration: ... Diana on top glistening in the sun.]

From the upper corner of Union Square, with its glittering
jewellery-shops and music-stores and publishers' buildings, and its
somewhat pathetic-looking hotels, once fashionable but now fast becoming
out-of-date and landmarky (though they seem good enough to those who
sit and wait on park benches all day), the open spaciousness of Madison
Square comes into view, the next green oasis for the up-town traveller.
This will help him up the intervening blocks if he is not interested in
the stretch of stores, though these are a different sort of shop, and
they seem to say, with their large, impressive windows, their footmen,
their buttons at the door, "We are very superior and fashionable."

[Illustration: Seeing the Avenue from a stage-top.]

The shoppers, too, are not so rapacious along here, because they have
more time; and the clatter is not so great, because there are more
rubber-tired carriages in the street. Nor are all these people shoppers
by any means, for along this bit of Broadway mingle types of all
the different sorts of men and women who use Broadway at all: nuns,
actors, pickpockets, detectives, sandwich-men, little girls going to
Huyler's, artists on the way to the Players'--the best people and the
worst people, the most mixed crowd in town may be seen here of a bright
afternoon.

When they get up to Madison Square the crowd divides and, as some would
have us think, all the "nice" people go to the right, up Fifth Avenue,
while all the rest go the left, up the Broadway Rialto and the typical
part of the Tenderloin.

But when Madison Square is reached you have come to one of the Places
of New York. It is the picture so many confirmed New Yorkers see when
homesick, Madison Square with the sparkle of a clear, bracing October
morning, the creamy Garden Tower over the trees, standing out clear-cut
against the sky, Diana on top glistening in the sun; a soft, purple
light under the branches in the park, a long, decorative row of cabs
waiting for "fares," over toward the statue of Farragut, and lithe
New York women, wearing clothes as they alone know how to wear them,
crossing Fifth Avenue at Twenty-third Street while a tall Tammany
policeman holds the carriages back with a wave of his little finger.

[Illustration: ... people go to the right, up Fifth Avenue.]

It is all so typically New York. Over on the north side by the Worth
monument I have heard people exclaim, "Oh, Paris!" because, I suppose,
there is a broad open expanse of asphalt and the street-lights are in a
cluster, but it seems to me to be as New Yorkish as New York can be. It
has an atmosphere distinctively its own--so distinctly its own that many
people, as I tried to say on an earlier page, miss it entirely, simply
because they are looking for and failing to find the atmosphere of some
other place.

[Illustration: A seller of pencils.]


IV

Now this last lap of the walk--from green Madison Square and the new
Martin's up the sparkling avenue to the broad, bright Plaza at the Park
entrance, where the brightly polished hotels look down at the driving,
with their awnings flapping and flags out straight--makes the most
popular part of all the walk.

This is the land of liveried servants and jangling harness, far away,
or pretending to be, from work and worry; this is where enjoyment is
sought and vanity let loose--and that, with the accompanying glitter and
glamour, is always more interesting to the great bulk of humanity.

It is also better walking up here. The pavements are cleaner now and
there is more room upon them. A man could stand still in the middle of
the broad, smooth walk and look up in the air without collecting a crowd
instantaneously. You can talk to your companion and hear the reply since
the welcome relief of asphalt.

Here can be seen hundreds of those who walk for the sake of
walking, not only at this hour but all day long. In the morning,
large, prosperous-looking New Yorkers with side-whiskers and
well-fed bodies--and, unintentionally, such amusing expressions,
sometimes--walking part way, at least, down to business, with partly
read newspapers under their arms; while in the opposite direction go
young girls, slender, erect, with hair in a braid and school-books under
their arms and well-prepared lessons.

[Illustration: It is also better walking up here.]

Then come those that walk at the convenience of dogs, attractive or
kickable, and a little later the close-ranked boarding-school squads and
the cohorts of nurse-maids with baby-carriages four abreast, charging
everyone off the sidewalk. Next come the mothers of the babies and their
aunts, setting out for shopping, unless they have gone to ride in the
Park, and for Guild Meetings and Reading Clubs and Political Economy
Classes and Heaven knows what other important morning engagements,
ending, perhaps, with a visit to the nerve-specialist.

And so on throughout the morning and afternoon and evening hours, each
with its characteristic phase, until the last late theatre-party
has gone home, laughing and talking, from supper at Sherry's or the
Waldorf-Astoria; the last late bachelor has left the now quiet club; the
rapping of his cane along the silent avenue dies away down an echoing
side-street; and a lonely policeman nods in the shadow of the church
gate-post. Suddenly the earliest milk-wagon comes jangling up from the
ferry; then dawn comes up over the gas-houses along East River and it
all begins over again.

[Illustration: ... those who walk for the sake of walking.]

But the most popular and populous time of all is the regular
walking-home hour, not only for those who have spent the day down
toward the end of the island at work, but for those who have no more
serious business to look after than wandering from club to club drinking
cocktails, or from house to house drinking tea.

All who take the walk regularly meet many of the same ones every day,
not only acquaintances, but others whom we somehow never see in any
other place, but learn to know quite well, and we wonder who they
are--and they wonder who we are, I suppose. Pairs of pink-faced old
gentlemen, walking arm-in-arm and talking vigorously. Contented young
couples who look at the old furniture in the antique-shop windows and
who are evidently married, and other younger couples who evidently soon
will be, and see nothing, not even their friends. Intent-browed young
business men with newspapers under their arms; governesses out with
their charges; bevies of fluffy girls with woodcock eyes, especially on
matinée day with programmes in their hands, talking gushingly.

[Illustration: At the lower corner of the Waldorf-Astoria.]

It is a sort of a club, this walking-up-the-avenue crowd; and each
member grows to expect certain other members at particular points in the
walk, and is rather disappointed when, for instance, the old gentleman
with the large nose is not with his daughter this evening. "What can be
the matter?" the rest of us ask each other, seeing her alone.

There is one man, the disagreeable member of the club, a
bull-frog-looking man of middle age with a Germanic face and beard, a
long stride, and a tightly buttoned walking-coat (I'm sure he's proud
of his chest), who comes down when we are on the way up and gets very
indignant every time we happen to be late. His scowl says, as plainly as
this type, "What are you doing way down here by the Reform Club? You
know you ought to be passing the Cathedral by this time!" And the worst
of it is, we always do feel ashamed, and I'm afraid he sees it.

[Illustration: ... with baby-carriages.]

       *       *       *       *       *

This mile and a half from where Flora McFlimsey lived to the beginning
of the driving in the Park is not the staid, sombre, provincial old
Fifth Avenue which Flora McFlimsey knew. Up Fifth Avenue to the Park New
York is a world-city.

Not merely have so many of the brownstone dwellings, with their high
stoops and unattractive impressiveness, been turned over to business or
pulled down altogether to make room for huge, hyphenated hotels, but the
old spirit of the place itself has been turned out; the atmosphere is
different.

The imported smartness of the shops, breeches makers to His Royal
Highness So-and-So, and millinery establishments with the same Madame
Luciles and Mademoiselle Lusettes and high prices, that have previously
risen to fame in Paris and London, together with the numerous clubs
and picture-galleries, all furnish local color; but it is the people
themselves that you see along the streets, the various languages they
speak, their expression of countenance, the way they hold themselves,
the manner of their servants--in a word, it is the atmosphere of the
spot that makes you feel that it is not a mere metropolis, but along
this one strip at least our New York is a cosmopolis.

[Illustration: This is the region of clubs. (The Union League.)]

And the Walk-Up-town hour is the best time to observe it, when all the
world is driving or walking home from various duties and pleasures.

There, on that four-in-hand down from Westchester County comes a group
of those New Yorkers who, unwillingly or otherwise, get their names so
often in the papers. The lackey stands up and blows the horn and they
manage very well to endure the staring of those on the sidewalks.

Here, in the victoria behind them, is a woman who worships them. She
would give many of her husband's new dollars to be up there too, though
pretending not to see the drag. See how she leans back in the cushions
and tries to prop her eyebrows up, after the manner of the Duchess she
once saw in the Row. She succeeds fairly well, too, if only her husband
wouldn't spoil it by crossing his legs and exposing his socks.

Here are other women with sweet, artless faces who do not seem to be
strenuous or spoiled (as yet) by the world they move in, and these are
the most beautiful women in all the world; some in broughams (as one
popular story-writer invariably puts his heroines), or else walking
independently with an interesting gait.

[Illustration: ... close-ranked boarding-school squads.]

Here, in that landau, comes the latest foreign-titled visitor, urbane
and thoughtfully attentive to all that his friends are saying and
pointing out to him. And here is a bit of color, some world-examining,
tired-eyed Maharajah, with silk clothes--or was it only one of the
foreign consuls who drive along here every day.

There goes a fashionable city doctor, who has a high gig, and
correspondingly high prices, hurrying home for his office hours. Surely,
it would be more comfortable to get in and out of a low phaëton; this
vehicle is as high as that loud, conspicuous, advertising florist's
wagon--can it be for the same reason?

Here in that grinding automobile come a man and two women on their way
to an East Side _table d'hôte_, to see Bohemia, as they think; see how
reckless and devilish they look by anticipation! Up there on that 'bus
are some people from the country, real people from the real country,
and their mouths are open and they don't care. They are having much
more pleasure out of their trip than the self-conscious family group
entering that big gilded hotel, whose windows are constructed for seeing
in as well as out (and that is another way of advertising).

[Illustration: ... the coachmen and footmen flock there.]

Here comes a prominent citizen outlining his speech on his way home
to dress for the great banquet to-night, for he is a well-known
after-dinner orator, and during certain months of the year never has a
chance to dine at home with his family. Suppose, after all, he fails of
being nominated!

Here come a man and his wife walking down to a well-known
restaurant--early, so that he will have plenty of time to smoke at
the table and she to get comfortably settled at the theatre with the
programme folded before the curtain rises; such a sensible way. He is
not prominent at all, but they have a great deal of quiet happiness out
of living, these two.

And there goes the very English comedian these two are to see in
Pinero's new piece after dinner, though they did not observe him, to his
disappointment. It is rather late for an actor to be walking down to
his club to dine, but he is the star and doesn't come on until the end
of the first act, and his costume is merely that same broad-shouldered
English-cut frock coat he now has on. We, however, must hurry on.

[Illustration: The Church of the Heavenly Rest.]

       *       *       *       *       *

Because it keeps the eyes so busy, seeing all the people that pass, one
block of buildings seems very much like another the first few times
the new-comer takes this walk, except, of course, for conspicuous
landmarks like that of the new library on the site of the late reservoir
or the Arcade on the site of the old Windsor Hotel, with its ghastly
memories; but after awhile all the blocks begin to seem very different;
not only the one where you saw a boy on a bicycle run down and killed,
or where certain well-known people live, but the blocks formerly
considered monotonous. There are volumes of stories along the way.
Down Twenty-ninth Street can be seen, so near the avenue and yet so
sequestered, the Church of the Transfiguration, as quaint and low and
toy-like as a stage-setting, ever blessed by stage-people for the act
which made the Little Church Around the Corner known to everyone, and by
which certain pharisees were taught the lesson they should have learned
from the parable in their New Testament.

Farther up is a church of another sort, where Europeans of more or
less noble blood marry American daughters of acknowledged solvency,
while the crowd covers the sidewalks and neighboring house-steps.
Here, consequently, other people's children come to be married, though
neither, perhaps, attended this church before the rehearsal, and get
quite a good deal about it in the society column too, though, to tell
the truth, they had hoped that the solemn union of these two souls
would appropriately call forth more publicity. Shed a tear for them
in passing. There are many similar disappointments in life along this
thoroughfare.

Farther back we passed what a famous old rich man intended for the
finest house in New York, and it has thus far served chiefly as a marble
moral. Its brilliance is dingy now, its impressiveness is gone, and
its grandeur is something like that of a Swiss _chalet_ at the base of
a mountain since the erection across the street of an overpowering,
glittering hotel.

This is the region of clubs; they are more numerous than drug-stores,
as thick as florists' shops. But it seems only yesterday that a certain
club, in moving up beyond Fortieth Street, was said to be going
ruinously far up-town. Now nearly all the well-known clubs are creeping
farther and farther along, even the old Union Club, which for long
pretended to enjoy its cheerless exclusiveness down at the corner of
Twenty-first Street, stranded among piano-makers and publishers, and
then with a leap and a bound went up to Fiftieth Street to build its
bright new home.

[Illustration: Approaching St. Thomas's.]

Soon the new, beautiful University Club at Fifty-fourth Street, with the
various college coats of arms on its walls, which never fail to draw
attention from the out-of-town visitors on 'bus-tops, will not seem to
be very far up-town, and by and by even the great, white Metropolitan
will not be so much like a lonely iceberg opposite the Park entrance. I
wonder if anyone knows the names of them all; there always seem to be
others to learn about. Also one learns in time that two or three houses
which for a long time were thought to be clubs are really the homes
of former mayors, receiving from the city, according to the old Dutch
custom, the two lighted lamps for their doorways. This section of the
avenue where, in former years, were well-known rural road-houses along
the drive, is once more becoming, since the residence _régime_ is over,
the region of famous hostelries of another sort.

[Illustration: The University Club ... with college coats of arms.]

There is just one of the old variety left, and it, strangely enough,
is within a few feet of two of the most famous restaurants in
America--the somewhat quaint and quite dirty old Willow Tree Cottage;
named presumably for the tough old willow-tree which still persistently
stands out in front, not seeming to mind the glare and stare of the
tall electric lights any more than the complacent old tumble-down
frame tavern itself resents the proximity of Delmonico's and Sherry's,
with whom it seems to fancy itself to be in bitter but successful
rivalry--for do not all the coachmen and footmen flock there during the
long, wet waits of winter nights, while the dances are going on across
at Sherry's and Delmonico's? Business is better than it has been for
years.

In time, even the inconspicuous houses that formerly seemed so much
alike become differentiated and, like the separate blocks, gain
individualities of their own, though you may never know who are the
owners. They mean something to you, just as do so many of the regular
up-town walkers whose names you do not know; fine old comfortable
places many of them are, even though the architects of their day
did try hard to make them uncomfortable with high, steep steps and
other absurdities. When a "For Sale" sign comes to one of these you
feel sorry, and finally when one day in your walk up-town you see it
irrevocably going the way of all brick, with a contractor's sign out in
front, blatantly boasting of his wickedness, you resent it as a personal
loss.

[Illustration: Olympia Jackies on shore leave.]

It seems all wrong to be pulling down those thick walls; exposing
the privacy of the inside of the house, its arrangement of rooms and
fireplaces, and the occupant's taste in color and wall decorations. Two
young women who take the walk up-town always look the other way when
they pass this sad display; they say it's unfair to take advantage of
the house. Soon there will be a deep pit there with puffing derricks,
the sidewalk closed, and show-bills boldly screaming. And by the time
we have returned from the next sojourn out of town there will be an
office-building of ever-so-many stories or another great hotel. Already
the sign there will tell about it.

You quicken your pace as you draw near the Park; some of the up-town
walkers who live along here have already reached the end of their
journey and are running up the steps taking out door-keys. The little
boy in knickerbockers who seems responsible for lighting Fifth Avenue
has already begun his zigzag trip along the street; soon the long double
rows of lights will seem to meet in perspective. A few belated children
are being hurried home by their maids from dancing-school; their white
frocks sticking out beneath their coats gleam in the half light. Cabs
and carriages with diners in them go spinning by, the coachmen whip up
to pass ahead of you at the street-crossing; you catch a gleam of men's
shirt-bosoms within and the light fluffiness of women, with the perfume
of gloves. Fewer people are left on the sidewalks now--those that are
look at their watches. The sun is well set by the time you reach the
Plaza, but down Fifty-ninth Street you can see long bars of after-glow
across the Hudson.

In the half-dark, under the Park trees, comes a group of Italian
laborers; their hob-nailed shoes clatter on the cement-walk, their blue
blouses and red neckerchiefs stand out against the almost black of the
trees; they, too, are walking home for the night. The Walk Up-town is
finished and the show is over for to-day.



THE CROSS STREETS



[Illustration: Down near the eastern end of the street.]



THE CROSS STREETS


A city should be laid out like a golf links; except for an occasional
compromise in the interest of art or expediency it should be allowed to
follow the natural topography of the country.

But this is not the way the matter was regarded by the commission
appointed in 1807 to lay out the rural regions beyond New York, which
by that time had grown up to the street now called Houston, and then
called North Street, probably because it seemed so far north--though, to
be sure, there were scattered hamlets and villages, with remembered and
forgotten names, here and there, all the way up to the historic town
of Haarlem. The commissioners saw fit to mark off straight street after
shameless straight street with the uncompromising regularity of a huge
foot-ball field, and gave them numbers like the white five-yard lines,
instead of names. They paid little heed to the original arrangements
of nature, which had done very well by the island, and still less to
man's previous provisions, spontaneously made along the lines of least
resistance--except, notably, in the case of Greenwich, which still
remains whimsically individual and village-like despite the attempt to
swallow it whole by the "new" city system.

This plan, calling for endless grading and levelling, remains to this
day the official city chart as now lived down to in the perpendicular
gorges cut through the hills of solid rock seen on approaching Manhattan
Field; but the commissioners' marks have not invariably been followed,
or New York would have still fewer of its restful green spots to gladden
the eye, nor even Central Park, indeed, for that space also is checkered
in their chart with streets and avenues as thickly as in the crowded
regions above and below it.

[Illustration: Across Trinity Church-yard, from the West.]

However, anyone can criticise creative work, whether it be the plan
of a play or a city, but it is difficult to create. Not many of us
to-day who complacently patronize the honorable commissioners would
have made a better job of it if we had lived at that time--and had been
consulted. For at that time, we must bear in mind, even more important
foreign luxuries than golf were not highly regarded in America, and
America had quite recently thrown off a foreign power. That in itself
explains the matter. Our country was at the extreme of its reaction
from monarchical ideals, and democratic simplicity was running into
the ground. In our straining to be rid of all artificiality we were
ousting art and beauty too. It was so in most parts of our awkward young
nation; but especially did the materialistic tendency of this dreary
disagreeable period manifest itself here in commercial New York, where
Knickerbocker families were lopping the "Vans" off their names--to the
amusement of contemporaneous aristocracy in older, more conservative
sections of the country, and in some cases to the sincere regret of
their present-day descendants.

[Illustration: An Evening View of St. Paul's Church.]

Now, the present-day descendants have, in some instances, restored the
original spelling on their visiting cards; in other cases they have
consoled themselves with hyphens, and most of them, it is safe to say,
are bravely recovering from the tendency to over-simplicity. But the
present-day city corporation of Greater New York could not, if it so
desired, put a Richmond Hill back where it formerly stood, southwest of
Washington Square and skirted by Minetta River--any more than it can
bring to life Aaron Burr and the other historical personages who at
various times occupied the hospitable villa which stood on the top of it
and which is also gone to dust. They cannot restore the Collect Pond,
which was filled up at such great expense, and covered by the Tombs
prison and which, it is held by those who ought to know, would have
made an admirable centre of a fine park much needed in that section, as
the city has since learned. They cannot re-establish Love Lane, which
used to lead from the popular Bloomingdale road (Broadway), nearly
through the site of the building where this book is published, and so
westward to Chelsea village.

They wanted to be very practical, those commissioners of 1807. They
prided themselves upon it. Naturally they did not fancy eccentricities
of landscape and could not tolerate sentimental names. "Love Lane? What
nonsense," said these extremely dignified and quite humorless officials;
"this is to be Twenty-first Street." They wanted to be very practical,
and so it seems the greater pity that with several years of dignified
deliberation they were so unpractical as to make that notorious mistake
of providing posterity with such a paucity of thoroughfares in the
directions in which most of the traffic was bound to flow--that is, up
and down, as practical men might have foreseen, and of running thick
ranks of straight streets, as numerously as possible, across the narrow
island from river to river, where but few were needed; thus causing
the north and south thoroughfares, which they have dubbed avenues, to
be swamped with heterogeneous traffic, complicating the problem for
later-day rapid transit, giving future generations another cause for
criticism, and furnishing a set of cross streets the like of which
cannot be found in any other city of the world.


[Illustration: The sights and smells of the water-front are here too.]

I

These are the streets which visitors to New York always remark; the
characteristic cross streets of the typical up-town region of long
regular rows of rectangular residences that look so much alike, with
steep similar steps leading up to sombre similar doors and a doctor's
sign in every other window. Bleak, barren, echoing streets where
during the long, monotonous mornings "rags-an-bot'l" are called for,
and bananas and strawberries are sold from wagons by aid of resonant
voices, and nothing else is heard except at long intervals the welcome
postman's whistle or the occasional slamming of a carriage door.
Meantime the sun gets around to the north side of the street, and the
airing of babies and fox-terriers goes on, while down at the corner
one elevated train after another approaches, roars, and rumbles away
in the distance all day long until at last the men begin coming home
from business. These are the ordinary unromantic streets on which live
so few New Yorkers in fiction (it is so easy to put them on the Avenue
or Gramercy Park or Washington Square), but on which most of them seem
to live in real life. A slice of all New York with all its layers of
society and all its mixed interests may be seen in a walk along one of
these typical streets which stretch across the island as straight and
stiff as iron grooves and waste not an inch in their progress from one
river, out into which they have gradually encroached, to the other river
into which also they extend. It is a short walk, the island is so narrow.

[Illustration: An Old Landmark on the Lower West Side.

(Junction of Canal and Laight Streets.)]

Away over on the ragged eastern edge of the city it starts, out of
a ferry-house or else upon the abrupt water-front with river waves
slapping against the solid bulwark. Here are open, free sky, wide
horizon, the smell of the water, or else of the neighboring gas-house,
brisk breezes and sea-gulls flapping lazily. The street's progress
begins between an open lot where rival gangs of East Side boys meet to
fight, on one side, and, on the other, a great roomy lumber-yard, with
a very small brick building for an office. A dingy saloon, of course,
stands on the corner of the first so-called avenue. Away over here the
avenues have letters instead of numbers for names. Across the way--and
it is easily crossed, for on some of these remote thoroughfares the
traffic is so scarce that occasional blades of grass come up between the
cobble-stones--is a weather-boarded and weather-beaten old house of sad
mien, whose curtainless gable windows stare and stare out toward the
river, thinking of other days.... Some warehouses and a factory or two
are usually along here, with buzz-saws snarling; then another lettered
avenue or two and the first of the elevated railroads roars overhead.
This is now several blocks nearer the splendor of Fifth Avenue, but the
neighborhood does not look it, for here is the thick of the tenement
district, with dingy fire-escapes above, and below in the street,
bumping against everyone, thousands of city children, each of them with
at least one lung. The traffic is more crowded now, the street darker,
the air not so good. Above are numerous windows showing the subdivisions
where many families live--very comfortably and happily in numerous
cases; you could not induce them to move into the sunshine and open of
the country. Here, on the ground floor of the flat, is a grocery with
sickening fruit out in front; on one side of it a doctor's sign, on the
other an undertaker's. The window shows a three-foot coffin lined with
soiled white satin, much admired by the wise-eyed little girls.

[Illustration: Up Beekman Street. Each ... has to change in the greatest
possible hurry from block to block.]

As each of these succeeding avenues is crossed, with its rush and
roar of up-town and down-town traffic, the neighborhood is said to
be more "respectable," meaning more expensive; more of the women
on the sidewalks wear hats and paint, and there are fewer children
without shoes; private houses are becoming more frequent; babies less
frequent; there is more pretence and less spontaneity. The flats are
now apartments; they have ornate, hideous entrances, which add only
to the rent.... So on until here is Madison Avenue and a whole block
of private houses, varied only by an occasional stable, pleasant,
clean-looking little stables, preferable architecturally to the houses
in some cases. And here at last is Fifth Avenue; and it seems miles
away from the tenements, sparkling, gay, happy or pretending to be,
with streams of carefully dressed people flowing in both directions;
New York's wonderful women, New York's well-built, tight-collared young
men; shining carriages with good-looking horses and well-kept harness,
mixed with big, dirty trucks whose drivers seem unconscious of the
incongruity, but quite well aware of their own superior bumping ability.
Dodging in and out miraculously are a few bicycles.... And now when the
other side of the avenue is reached the rest is an anti-climax. Here
is the trades-people's entrance to the great impressive house on the
corner, so near that other entrance on the avenue, but so far that it
will never be reached by that white-aproned butcher-boy's family--in
this generation, at least. Beyond the conservatory is a bit of backyard,
a pathetic little New York yard, but very green and cheerful, bounded
at the rear by a high peremptory wall which seems to keep the ambitious
brownstone next door from elbowing its way up toward the avenue.

[Illustration: Under the Approach to Brooklyn Bridge.]

These next houses, however, are quite fine and impressive, too, and
they are not so alike as they seem at first; in fact, it is quite
remarkable how much individuality architects have learned of late years
to put into the eighteen or twenty feet they have to deal with. The
monotony is varied occasionally with an English basement house or a tall
wrought-iron gateway and a hood over the entrance. Here is a white
Colonial doorway with side-lights. The son of the house studied art,
perhaps, and persuaded his father to make this kind of improvement,
though the old gentleman was inclined to copy the rococo style of the
railroad president opposite.... Half-way down the block, unless a
wedding or a tea is taking place, the street is as quiet as Wall Street
on a Sunday. Behind us can be seen the streams of people flowing up and
down Fifth Avenue.

By the time Sixth Avenue is crossed brick frequently come into use in
place of brownstone, and there are not only doctors' signs now, but
"Robes et Manteaux" are announced, or sometimes, as on that ugly iron
balcony, merely Madame somebody. By this time also there have already
appeared on some of the newel-posts by the door-bell, "Boarders,"
or "Furnished Rooms"--modestly written on a mere slip of paper, as
though it had been deemed unnecessary to shout the words out for the
neighborhood to hear. In there, back of these lace-curtains, yellow,
though not with age, is the parlor--the boarding-house parlor--with
tidies which always come off and small gilt chairs which generally
break, and wax wreaths under glass, like cheeses under fly-screens in
country groceries. In the place of honor hangs the crayon portrait of
the dear deceased, in an ornate frame. But most of the boarders never go
there, except to pay their bills; down in the basement dining-room is
where they congregate, you can see them now through the grated window,
at the tables. Here, on the corner, is the little tailor-shop or
laundry, which is usually found in the low building back of that facing
the avenue, which latter is always a saloon unless it is a drug-store;
on the opposite corner is still another saloon--rivals very likely in
the Tammany district as well as in business, with a policy-shop or a
pool-room on the floor above, as all the neighbors know, though the
local good government club cannot stop it. Here is the "family entrance"
which no family ever enters.

[Illustration: Chinatown.]

Then come more apartments and more private residences, not invariably
_passé_, more boarding-houses, many, many boarding-houses, theatrical
boarding-houses, students' boarding-houses, foreign boarding-houses;
more small business places, and so on across various mongrel avenues
until here is the region of warehouses and piano factories and finally
even railway tracks with large astonishing trains of cars. Cross these
tracks and you are beyond the city, in the suburbs, as much as the
lateral edges of this city can have suburbs; yet this is only the
distance of a long golf-hole from residences and urbanity. Here are
stock-yards with squealing pigs, awful smells, deep, black mire, and
then a long dock reaching far out into the Hudson, with lazy river
barges flopping along-side it, and dock-rats fishing off the end--a hot,
hateful walk if ever your business or pleasure calls you out there of a
summer afternoon. There the typical up-town cross street ends its dreary
existence.


II

Down-town it is so different.

Down-town--"'way down-town," in the vernacular--in latitude far south
of homes and peace and contemplation, where everything is business
and dollars and hardness, and the streets might well be economically
straight, and rigorously business-like, they are incongruously crooked,
running hither and thither in a dreamy, unpractical manner, beginning
where they please and ending where it suits them best, in a narrow,
Old-World way, despite their astonishing, New-World architecture.
Numbers would do well enough for names down here, but instead of concise
and business-like street-signs, the lamp-posts show quaint, incongruous
names, sentimental names, poetic names sometimes, because these streets
were born and not made.

[Illustration: It still remains whimsically individual and village-like.]

They were born of the needs or whims of the early population, including
cows, long before the little western city became self-conscious about
its incipient greatness, and ordered a ready-made plan for its future
growth. It was too late for the painstaking commissioners down here. One
little settlement of houses had gradually reached out toward another,
each with its own line of streets or paths, until finally they all
grew together solidly into a city, not caring whether they dovetailed
or not, and one or the other or both of the old road names stuck fast.
The Beaver's Path, leading from the Parade (which afterward became
the Bowling Green) over to the swampy inlet which by drainage became
the sheep pasture and later was named Broad Street, is still called
Beaver Street to this day. The Maiden Lane, where New York girls used
to stroll (and in still more primitive times used to do the washing)
along-side the stream which gave the street its present winding shape
and low grading, is still called Maiden Lane, though probably the only
strollers in the modern jostling crowd along this street, now the
heart of the diamond district, are the special detectives who have a
personal acquaintance with every distinguished jewellery crook in the
country, and guard "the Lane," as they call it, so carefully that not
in fifteen years has a member of the profession crossed the "dead-line"
successfully. There is Bridge Street, which no longer has any stream to
bridge; Dock Street, where there is no dock; Water Street, once upon
the river-front but now separated from the water by several blocks and
much enormously valuable real estate; and Wall Street, which now seems
to lack the wooden wall by which Governor Stuyvesant sought to keep New
Englanders out of town. His efforts were of no permanent value.

[Illustration: A Fourteenth Street Tree.]

Nowadays they seem such narrow, crowded little runways, these down-town
cross streets; so crowded that men and horses share the middle of them
together; so narrow that from the windy tops of the irregular white
cliffs which line them you must lean far over in order to see the busy
little men at the dry asphalt bottom, far below, rapidly crawling
hither and thither like excitable ants whose hill has been disturbed.
And in modern times they seem dark and gloomy, near the bottom, even
in the clear, smokeless air of Manhattan, so that lights are turned on
sometimes at mid-day, for at best the sun gets into these valleys for
only a few minutes, so high have the tall buildings grown. But they
were not narrow in those old days of the Dutch; seemed quite the right
width, no doubt, to gossip across, from one Dutch stoop to another, at
close of day, with the after-supper pipe when the chickens and children
had gone to sleep and there was nothing to interrupt the peaceful,
puffing conversation except the lazy clattering bell of an occasional
cow coming home late for milking. Nor were they gloomy in those days,
for the sun found its way unobstructed for hours at a time, when they
were lined with small low-storied houses which the family occupied
upstairs, with business below. Everyone went home for luncheon in those
days--a pleasant, simple system adhered to in this city, it is said,
until comparatively recent times by more than one family whose present
representatives require for their happiness two or three homes in
various other parts of the world in addition to their town house. This
latter does not contain a shop on the ground floor. It is situated far
up the island, at some point beyond the marsh where their forebears went
duck-shooting (now Washington Square), or in some cases even beyond
the site of the second kissing bridge, over which the Boston Post road
crossed the small stream where Seventy-seventh Street now runs.

[Illustration: Such as broad Twenty-third Street with its famous shops.]

Now, being such a narrow island, none of its cross streets can be very
long, as was pointed out, even at the city's greatest breadth. The
highest cross-street number I ever found was 742 East Twelfth. But
these down-town cross streets are much shorter, even those that succeed
in getting all the way across without stopping; they are so abruptly
short that each little street has to change in the greatest possible
hurry from block to block, like vaudeville performers, in order to show
all the features of a self-respecting cross street in the business
section. Hence the sudden contrasts. For instance, down at one end of
a certain well-known business street may be seen some low houses of
sturdy red brick, beginning to look antique now with their solid walls
and visible roofs. They line an open, sunny spot, with the smell of
spices and coffee in the air. A market was situated here over a hundred
years ago, and this broad, open space still has the atmosphere of a
marketplace. The sights and smells of the water-front are here, too,
ships and stevedores unloading them, sailors lounging before dingy
drinking-places, and across the cobble-stones is a ferry-house, with
"truck" wagons on the way back to Long Island waiting for the gates
to open, the unmistakable country mud, so different from city mire,
still sticking in cakes to the spokes, notwithstanding the night spent
in town. Nothing worth remarking, perhaps, in all this, but that the
name of the street is Wall Street, and all this seems so different
from the Wall Street of a stone's-throw inland, with crowded walks,
dapper business men, creased trousers, tall, steel buildings, express
elevators, messengers dashing in and out, tickers busy, and all the
hum and suppressed excitement of the Wall Street the world knows, as
different and as suddenly different as the change that is felt in
the very air upon stepping across through the noise and shabby rush
of lower Sixth Avenue into the enchanted peace of Greenwich village,
with sparrows chirping in the wistaria vines that cover old-fashioned
balconies on streets slanting at unexpected angles.

[Illustration: A Cross Street at Madison Square.]

[Illustration: Across Twenty-fourth Street--Madison Square when the
Dewey Arch was there.]

The typical part of these down-town cross streets is, of course, that
latter part, the section more or less near Broadway, and crowded to
suffocation with great businesses in great buildings, commonly known as
hideous American sky-scrapers. This is the real down-town to most of the
men who are down there, and who are too busy thinking about what these
streets mean to each of them to-day to bother much with what the streets
were in the past, or even to notice how the modern tangle of spars and
rigging looks as seen down at the end of the street from the office
window.

Of course, all these men in the tall buildings, whether possessed
of creative genius or of intelligence enough only to run one of the
elevators, are alike Philistines to those persons who find nothing
romantic or interesting in our modern, much-maligned sky-scrapers,
which have also been called "monuments of modern materialism," and even
worse names, no doubt, because they are unprecedented and unacademic,
probably, as much as because ugly and unrestrained. To many of us,
however, shameless as it may be to confess it, these down-town streets
are fascinating enough for what they are to-day, even if they had no
past to make them all the more charming; and these erect, jubilant young
buildings, whether beautiful or not, seem quite interesting--from their
bright tops, where, far above the turmoil and confusion, Mrs. Janitor
sits sewing in the sun while the children play hide-and-seek behind
water-butts and air-shafts (there is no danger of falling off, it is a
relief to know, because the roof is walled in like a garden), down to
the dark bottom where are the safe-deposit vaults, and the trusty old
watchmen, and the oblong boxes with great fortunes in them, along-side
of wills that may cause family fights a few years later, and add to
the affluence of certain lawyers in the offices overhead. Deep down,
thirty or forty feet under the crowded sidewalk, the stokers shovel
coal under big boilers all day, and electricians do interesting tricks
with switchboards, somewhat as in the hold of a modern battle-ship.
In the many tiers of floors overhead are the men with the minds that
make these high buildings necessary and make down-town what it is, with
their dreams and schemes, their courage and imagination, their trust and
distrust in the knowledge and ignorance of other human beings which are
the means by which they bring about great successes and great failures,
and have all the fun of playing a game, with the peace of conscience
and self-satisfaction which come from hard work and manly sweat.

Here during daylight, or part of it, they are moving about, far up
on high or down near the teeming surface, in and out of the numerous
subdivisions termed offices, until finally they call the game off for
the day, go down in the express elevator, out upon the narrow little
streets, and turn north toward the upper part of the island. And each,
like a homing pigeon, finds his own division or subdivision in a long,
solid block of divisions called homes, in the part of town where run the
many rows of even, similar streets.


III

These two views across two parts of New York, the two most typical
parts, deal chiefly with what a stranger might see and feel, who came
and looked and departed. Very little has been said to show what the
cross-streets mean to those who are in the town and of it, who know the
town and like it--either because their "father's father's father" did,
or else because their work or fate has cast them upon this island and
kept them there until it no longer seems a desert island. The latter
class, indeed, when once they have learned to love the town of their
adoption, frequently become its warmest enthusiasts, even though they
may have held at one time that city contentedness could not be had
without the symmetry, softness, and repose of older civilizations,
or even that true happiness was impossible when walled in by stone and
steel from the sight and smell of green fields and running brooks.

[Illustration: Herald Square.]

He who loves New York loves its streets for what they have been and are
to him, not for what they may seem to those who do not use them. They
who know the town best become as homesick when away from it for the
straightness of the well-kept streets up-town as for the crookedness
and quaintness of the noisy thoroughfares below. The straightness, they
point out complacently, is very convenient for getting about, just as
the numbering system makes it easy for strangers. On the walk up-town
they enjoy looking down upon the expected unexpectedness of the odd
little cross streets, which twist and turn or end suddenly in blank
walls, or are crossed by passageways in mid-air, like the Bridge of
Sighs, down Franklin Street, from the Criminal Court-house to the Tombs.
But farther along in their walk they are just as fond of looking down
the perspective of the straight side streets from the central spine of
Fifth Avenue past block after block of New York homes, away down beyond
the almost-converging rows of even lamp-posts to the Hudson and the
purple Palisades of Jersey, with the glorious gleam and glow of the
sunset; while the energetic "L" trains scurry past, one after another,
trailing beautiful swirls of steam and carrying other New Yorkers to
other homes. None of this could be enjoyed if the cross streets tied
knots in themselves like those in London and some American cities. Even
outsiders appreciate these characteristic New York vistas; and nearly
every poet who comes to town discovers its symbolic incongruity afresh
and sings it to those who have enjoyed it before he was born, just as
most young writers of prose feel called upon to turn their attention the
other way and unearth the great East Side of New York.

[Illustration: As it Looks on a Wet Night--The Circle, Fifty-ninth
Street and Eighth Avenue.]

There is no such thing as a typical cross street to New Yorkers.
Individually, each thoroughfare departs as widely from the type as the
men who walk along them differ from the figure known in certain parts of
this country as the typical New Yorker. In New York there is no typical
New Yorker. These so-called similar streets, which look so much alike
to a visitor driving up Fifth Avenue, end so very differently. Some of
them, for instance, after beginning their decline toward the river and
oblivion, are redeemed to respectability, not to say exclusiveness,
again, like some of the streets in the small Twentieths running out
into what was formerly the village of Chelsea; and those who know New
York--even when standing where the Twentieth Streets are tainted with
Sixth Avenue--are cognizant of this fact, just as they are of the peace
and green campus and academic architecture of the Episcopal Theological
Seminary away over there, and of the thirty-foot lawns of London
Terrace, far down along West Twenty-third Street.

There are other residence streets which do not decline at all, but are
solidly impressive and expensive all the way over to the river, like
those from Central Park to Riverside Drive. And your old New Yorker
does not feel depressed by their conventional similarity, their lack
of individuality; he likes to think that these streets and houses no
longer seem so unbearably new as they were only a short time ago, but
in some cases are at last acquiring the atmosphere of home and getting
rid of the odor of a real-estate project. Then, of course, so many cross
streets would refuse to be classed as typical because they run through
squares or parks, or into reservoirs or other streets, or jump over
railroad tracks by means of viaducts, burrow under avenues by means of
tunnels, or end abruptly at the top of a hill on a high embankment of
interesting masonry, as at the eastern terminus of Forty-first Street--a
spot which never feels like New York at all to me.

[Illustration: Hideous high buildings.

Looking east from Central Park at night.]

Some notice should be taken also of those all-important up-town cross
streets where business has eaten out residence in streaks, as moths
devour clothes, such as broad Twenty-third Street with its famous
shops, and narrow Twenty-eighth Street, with its numerous cheap _table
d'hôtes_, each of which is the best in town; and 125th Street, which is
a Harlem combination of both. These are the streets by which surface-car
passengers are transferred all over the city. These are the streets
upon which those who have grown up with New York, if they have paid
attention to its growth as well as their own, delight to meditate.
Even comparatively young old New Yorkers can say "I remember when" of
memorable evenings in the old Academy of Music in Fourteenth Street off
Union Square, and of the days when Delmonico's had got as far up-town as
Fourteenth Street and Fifth Avenue.

Furthermore, it could easily be shown that, for those who love old New
York, there is plenty of local historical association along these same
straight, unromantic-looking cross streets--for those who know how to
find it. For that matter one might go still further and hold that there
would not be so much antiquarian delight in New York if these streets
were not new and straight and non-committal looking. If, for instance,
the old Union Road, which was the roundabout, wet-weather route to
Greenwich village, had not been cut up and mangled by a merciless city
plan there wouldn't be the fun of tracing it by projecting corners
and odd angles of houses along West Twelfth Street between Fifth and
Sixth Avenues. It would be merely an open, ordinary street, concealing
nothing, and no more exciting to follow than Pearl Street down-town--and
not half so crooked or historical as Pearl Street. There would not be
that odd, pocket-like courtway called Mulligan "Place," with a dimly
lighted entrance leading off Sixth Avenue between Tenth and Eleventh
Streets. Nor would there be that still more interesting triangular
remnant of an old Jewish burying-ground over the way, behind the old
Grapevine Tavern. For either the whole cemetery would have been allowed
to remain on Union Road (or Street), which is not likely, or else they
would have removed all the graves and covered the entire site with
buildings, as was the case with a dozen other burying-grounds here and
there. If the commissioners had not had their way we could not have all
those inner rows of houses to explore, like the "Weaver's Row," once
near the Great Kiln Road, but now buried behind a Sixth Avenue store
between Sixteenth and Seventeenth Streets, and entered, if entered at
all, by way of a dark, ill-smelling alley. Nor would the negro quarter,
a little farther up-town, have its inner rows which seem so appropriate
for negro quarters, especially the whitewashed courts opening off
Thirtieth Street, where may be found, in these secluded spots, trees and
seats under them, with old, turbanned mammies smoking pipes and looking
much more like Richmond darkies than those one expects to see two blocks
from Daly's Theatre. Colonel Carter of Cartersville could not have
found such an interesting New York residence if the commissioners had
not had their way, nor could he have entered it by a tunnel-like passage
under the house opposite the Tenth Street studios. Even Greenwich would
not be quite so entertaining without those permanent marks of the
conflict between village and city which resulted in separating West
Eleventh Street so far from Tenth, and in twisting Fourth Street around
farther and farther until it finally ends in despair in Thirteenth
Street. If the commissioners had not had their way we should have had no
"Down Love Lane" written by Mr. Janvier.

       *       *       *       *       *

Looked at from the point of view of use and knowledge, every street,
like every person, gains a distinct personality, some being merely more
strongly distinguished than others. And just as every human being,
whatever his name or his looks may be, continues to win more or less
sympathy the more you know of him and his history and his ambitions, so
with these streets, and their checkered careers, their sudden changes
from decade to decade--or in still less time, in our American cities,
their transformation from farm land to suburban road, and then to
fashionable city street, and then to small business and then to great
business. Such, after all, is the stuff of which abiding city charm is
made, not of plans and architecture.



RURAL NEW YORK CITY



[Illustration]



RURAL NEW YORK CITY


There is pretty good snipe shooting within the city limits of New York,
and I have heard that an occasional trout still rises to the fly in one
or two spots along a certain stream--which need not be made better known
than it is already, though it can hardly be worth whipping much longer
at any rate.

A great many ducks, however, are still shot every season in the city,
by those who know where to go for them; and as for inferior sport,
like rabbits--if you include them as game--on certain days of the year
probably more gunners and dogs are out after rabbits within the limits
of Greater New York than in any region of equal extent in the world,
though to be sure the bags brought in hardly compare with those of
certain parts of Australia or some of our Western States. Down toward
Far Rockaway, a little this side of the salt marshes of Jamaica Bay, in
the hedges and cabbage-patches of the "truck" farms, there is plenty of
good cover for rabbits, as well as in the brush-piles and pastures of
the rolling Borough of Richmond on Staten Island, and the forests and
stone fences of the hilly Bronx, up around Pelham Bay Park for instance.
But the gunners must keep out of the parks, of course, though many
ubiquitous little boys with snares do not.

In such parts of the city, except when No Trespassing signs prevent,
on any day of the open season scores of men and youths may be seen
whose work and homes are generally in the densest parts of the city,
respectable citizens from the extreme east and west sides of Manhattan,
artisans and clerks, salesmen and small shopkeepers, who, quite
unexpectedly in some cases, share the ancient fret and longing of the
primitive man in common with those other New Yorkers who can go farther
out on Long Island or farther up into New York State to satisfy it. To
be sure, the former do not get as many shots as the latter, but they get
the outdoors and the exercise and the return to nature, which is the
main thing. And the advantage of going shooting in Greater New York is
that you can tramp until too dark to see, and yet get back in time to
dine at home, thus satisfying an appetite acquired in the open with a
dinner cooked in the city.

[Illustration: Flushing Volunteer Fire Department Responding to a Fire
Alarm.]

Once a certain young family went off to a far corner of Greater New York
to attack the perennial summer problem. By walking through a hideously
suburban village with a beautifully rural name they found, just over the
brow of a hill, quite as a friend had told them they would, tucked
away all alone in a green glade beside an ancient forest, a charming
little diamond-paned, lattice-windowed cottage, covered thick with vines
outside, and yet supplied with modern plumbing within. It seemed too
good to be true. There was no distinctly front yard or back yard, not
even a public road in sight, and no neighbors to bother them except the
landlord, who lived in the one house near by and was very agreeable. All
through the close season they enjoyed the whistling of quail at their
breakfast; in their afternoon walks, squirrels and rabbits and uncommon
song-birds were too common to be remarked; and once, within forty yards
of the house, great consternation was caused by a black snake, though it
was not black snakes but mosquitoes that made them look elsewhere next
year, and taught them a life-lesson in regard to English lattice-windows
and American mosquito-screens.

But until the mosquitoes became so persistent it seemed--this
country-place within a city, or _rus in urbe_, as they probably enjoyed
calling it--an almost perfect solution of the problem for a small family
whose head had to be within commuting distance of down-town. For though
so remote, it was not inaccessible; two railroads and a trolley line
were just over the dip of the hill that hid them, so that there was time
for the young man of the house to linger with his family at breakfast,
which was served out-of-doors, with no more objectionable witnesses
than the thrushes in the hedges. And then, too, there was time to get
exercise in the afternoon before dinner. "It seemed an ideal spot," to
quote their account of it, "except that on our walks, just as we thought
that we had found some sequestered dell where nobody had come since the
Indians left, we would be pretty sure to hear a slight rustle behind us,
and there--not an Indian but a Tammany policeman would break through the
thicket, with startling white gloves and gleaming brass buttons, looking
exactly like the policemen in the Park. Of course he would continue on
his beat and disappear in a moment, but by that time we had forgotten to
listen to the birds and things, and the distant hum of the trolley would
break in and remind us of all things we have wanted to forget."

[Illustration: A Bit of Farm Land in the Heart of Greater New York.

"Acre after acre, farm after farm, and never a sign of city in sight."]


I

In a way, that is rather typical of most of the rurality found within
the boundaries of these modern aggregations or trusts of large and
small towns, and intervening country, held together (more or less)
by one name, under one municipal government, and called a "city" by
legislature. There is plenty that is not at all city-like within the
city walls--called limits--there is plenty of nature, but in most cases
those wanting to commune with it are reminded that it is no longer
within the domain of nature. The city has stretched out its hand, and
the mark of the beast can usually be seen.

You can find not only rural seclusion and bucolic simplicity, but the
rudeness and crudeness of the wilderness and primeval forest; indeed,
even forest fires have been known in Greater New York. But the trouble
is that so often the bucolic simplicity has cleverly advertised lots
staked out across it; the rural seclusion shows a couple of factory
chimneys on the near horizon. The forest fire was put out by the fire
department.

There are numerous peaceful duck-ponds in the Borough of Queens, for
instance, as muddy and peaceful as ever you saw, but so many of them are
lighted by gas every evening. Besides the fisheries, there is profitable
oyster-dredging in several sections of this city; and in at least one
place it can be seen by electric light. There are many potato-patches
patrolled by the police.

[Illustration: One of the Farmhouses that Have Come to Town.

The old Duryea House, Flushing, once used as a head-quarters for Hessian
officers.]

Not far from the geographical centre of the city there are fields where,
as all who have ever commuted to and from the north shore of Long Island
must remember, German women may be seen every day in the tilling season,
working away as industriously as the peasants of Europe, blue skirts,
red handkerchiefs about their heads, and all: while not far away, at
frequent intervals, passes a whining, thumping trolley-car, marked
Brooklyn Bridge.

[Illustration: East End of Duryea House, where the Cow is Stabled.]

In another quarter, on a dreary, desolate waste, neither farm land,
nor city, nor village, there stands an old weather-beaten hut, long,
low, patched up and tumbled down, with an old soap-box for a front
doorstep--all beautifully toned by time, the kind amateurs like to
sketch, when found far away from home in their travels. The thing that
recalls the city in this case, rather startlingly, is a rudely lettered
sign, with the S's turned the wrong way, offering lots for sale in
Greater New York.

It is not necessary to go far away from the beaten paths of travel in
Greater New York to witness any of these scenes of the comedy, sometimes
tragedy, brought about by the contending forces of city and country.
Most of what has been cited can be observed from car-windows. For
that matter, somewhat similar incongruity can be found in all of our
modern, legally enlarged cities, London, with the hedges and gardens
of Hampstead Heath, and certain parts of the Surrey Side, or Chicago,
with its broad stretches of prairie and farms--the subject of so many
American newspaper jokes a few years ago.

[Illustration: The Old Water-power Mill from the Rear of the Old Country
Cross-roads Store.]

[Illustration: The Old Country Cross-roads Store, Established 1828.

In the background is the old water-power mill.]

[Illustration: Interior of the Old Country Cross-roads Store.]

But New York--and this is another respect in which it is different from
other cities--our great Greater New York, which is better known as
having the most densely populated tenement districts in the world, can
show places that are more truly rural than any other city of modern
times, places where the town does not succeed in obtruding itself at
all. From Hampstead Heath, green and delightful as it is, every now
and then the gilded cross of St. Paul's may be seen gleaming far below
through the trees. And in Chicago, bucolic as certain sections of it
may be, one can spy the towers of the city for miles away, across the
prairie; even when down in certain wild, murderous-looking ravines there
is ever on high the appalling cloud of soft-coal smoke. But out in the
broad, rolling farm lands of Long Island you can walk on for hours and
not find any sign of the city you are in, except the enormous tax-rate,
which, by the way, has the effect of discouraging the farmers (many of
whom did not want to become city people at all) from spending money for
paint and improvements, and this only results in making the country
look more primitive, and less like what is absurdly called a city.

[Illustration]

[Illustration: The Colony of Chinese Farmers, Near the Geographical
Centre of New York City.]

But the best of these rural parts of town cannot be spied from
car-windows, or the beaten paths of travel.


II

Make a journey out through the open country to the southeast of
Flushing, past the Oakland Golf Club, and over toward the Creedmoor
Rifle Range, after a while turn north and follow a twisting road that
leads down into the ravine at the head of Little Neck Bay, where a few
of the many Little Neck clams come from. All of these places are well
within the eastern boundary of the city, and this little journey will
furnish a very good example of a certain kind of rural New York, but
only one kind, for it is only one small corner of a very big place.

[Illustration: Working as industrially as the peasants of Europe, blue
skirts, red handkerchiefs about their heads....]

As soon as you have ridden, or walked--it is better to walk if there is
plenty of time--beyond the fine elms of the ancient Flushing streets,
you will be in as peaceful looking farming country as can be found
anywhere. But the interesting thing about it is that here are seen not
merely a few incongruous green patches that happen to be left between
rapidly devouring suburban towns--like the fields near Woodside where
the German women work--out here one rides through acre after acre of
it, farm after farm, mile after mile, up hill, down hill, corn-fields,
wheat-fields, stone fences, rail fences, no fences, and never a town in
sight, much less anything to suggest the city, except the procession of
market-wagons at certain hours, to or from College Point Ferry, and they
aren't so conspicuously urban after all.

[Illustration: Remains of a windmill in New York City, Between Astoria
and Steinway.]

Even the huge advertising sign-boards which usually shout to passers-by
along the approaches to cities are rather scarce in this country,
for it is about midway between two branches of the only railroad on
Long Island, and there is no need for a trolley. There is nothing
but country roads, with more or less comfortable farm-houses and
large, squatty barns; not only old farm-houses, but what is much more
striking, farm-houses that are new. Now, it does seem odd to build a new
farm-house in a city.

[Illustration: The Dreary Edge of Long Island City.]

Out in the fields the men are ploughing. A rooster crows in the
barn-yard. A woman comes out to take in the clothes. Children climb
the fence to gaze when people pass by. And one can ride for a matter
of miles and see no other kind of life, except the birds in the hedge
and an occasional country dog, not suburban dogs, but distinctly farm
dogs, the kind that have deep, ominous barks, as heard at night from
a distance. By and by, down the dusty, sunny, lane-like road plods a
fat old family Dobbin, pulling an old-fashioned phaëton in which are
seated a couple of prim old maiden ladies, dressed in black, who try to
make him move faster in the presence of strangers, and so push and jerk
animatedly on the reins, which he enjoys catching with his tail, and
holds serenely until beyond the bend in the road.

[Illustration: The Procession of Market-wagons at College Point Ferry.]

Of course, this is part of the city. The road map proves it. But there
are very few places along this route where you can find it out in any
other way. The road leads up over a sort of plateau; a wide expanse of
country can be viewed in all directions, but there are only more fields
to see, more farm-houses and squatty barns, perhaps a village church
steeple in the distance, a village that has its oldest inhabitant and
a church with a church-yard. Away off to the north, across a gleaming
strip of water, which the map shows to be Long Island Sound, lie the
blue hills of the Bronx. They, too, are well within Greater New York.
So is all that country to the southwest, far beyond the range of the
eye, Jamaica, and Jamaica Bay and Coney Island. And over there, more to
the west, is dreary East New York and endless Brooklyn, and dirty Long
Island City, and, still farther, crowded Manhattan Island itself. Then
one realizes something of the extent of this strange manner of city. It
is very ridiculous.

[Illustration: Past dirty backyards and sad vacant lots.]

When at last the head of Little Neck Bay is reached, here is another
variety of primitive country scene. The upland road skirting the hill,
beyond which the rifles of Creedmoor are crashing, takes a sudden turn
down a steep grade, a guileless-looking grade, but very dangerous for
bicyclists, especially in the fall when the ruts and rocks are covered
thick with leaves for days at a time. Then, after passing a nearer view
(through a vista of big trees) of the blue Sound, with the darker blue
of the hills beyond, the road drops down into a peaceful old valley,
tucked away as serene and unmolested as it was early in the nineteenth
century, when the country cross-roads store down there was first built,
along-side of the water-power mill, which is somewhat older. In front
is an old dam and mill-pond, called "The Alley," recently improved,
but still containing black bass; in the rear Little Neck Bay opens out
to the Sound beyond, one of the sniping and ducking places of Greater
New York. The old store, presumably the polling-place of that election
district of the city, is where prominent personages of the neighborhood
congregate and tell fishing and shooting stories, and gossip, and talk
politics, seated on boxes and barrels around the white-bodied stove, for
the sake of which they chew tobacco.

It is one of those stores that contain everything--from anchor-chains to
chewing-gum. There are bicycle sundries in the show-case and boneless
bacon suspended from the old rafters, but the best thing in the place
is a stream of running water. This is led down by a pipe from the side
of the hill, acts as a refrigerator for a sort of bar in one corner of
the store--for this establishment sells a greater variety of commodities
than most department stores--and passes out into Long Island Sound in
the rear.

The fact that they are in Greater New York does not seem to bother them
much down in this happy valley, at least it hasn't changed their mode of
life apparently. The last time we were there a well-tanned Long Islander
was buying some duck loads; he said he was merely going out after a few
snipe, but he ordered No. 5's.

[Illustration: New York City Up in the Beginnings of the Bronx
Regions--Skating at Bronxdale.]

"Have you a policeman out here?" we asked him.

"Oh, yes, but he doesn't come around very often."

"How often?"

"Oh, I generally catch a glimpse of him once a month or so," said the
gunner. "But then, you see, these here city policemen have to be pretty
careful, they're likely to get lost."

"Down near Bay Ridge," a man on the cracker-barrel put in as he
stroked the store-cat, "one night a policeman got off his beat and
floundered into the swamp, and if it hadn't been that some folks of the
neighborhood rescued him, he'd have perished--of mosquitoes."

"We don't have any mosquitoes here on the north shore," put in the
other, addressing us without blinking. He is probably the humorist of
the neighborhood.

       *       *       *       *       *

This is only one of the many pilgrimages that may be made in Greater New
York, and shows only one sort of rurality. It is the great variety of
unurban scenes that is the most impressive thing about this city. Here
is another sort, seen along certain parts of Jamaica Bay:

Long, level sweeps of flat land, covered with tall, wild grass that
the sea-breezes like to race across. The plain is intersected here and
there with streams of tide-water. At rare intervals there are lonely
little clumps of scrub-oaks, huddled close together for comfort. Away
off in the distance the yellow sand-dunes loom up as big as mountains,
and beyond is the deep, thrilling blue of the open sea, with sharp-cut
horizon.

The sun comes up, the wonderful color tricks of the early morning are
exhibited, and the morning flight of birds begins. The tide comes
hurrying in, soon hiding the mud flats where the snipe were feeding.
The breeze freshens up, and whitecaps, like specks, can be seen on the
distant blue band of the ocean.... The sun gets hot. The tide turns.
The estuaries begin to show their mud-banks again. The sun sinks lower;
and distant inlets reflect it brilliantly. The birds come back, the
breeze dies down, and the sun sets splendidly across the long, flat
plain; another day has passed over this part of a so-called city and no
man has been within a mile of the spot. The nearest sign of habitation
is the lonely life-saving station away over there on the dunes, and,
perhaps, a fisherman's shanty. Far out on the sky-line is the smoke of a
home-coming steamer, whose approach has already been announced from Fire
Island, forty miles down the coast.

[Illustration: Another Kind of City Life--Along the Marshes of Jamaica
Bay.]

Then, here is another sort: A rambling, stony road, occasionally passing
comfortable old houses--historic houses in some cases--with trees and
lawns in front, leading down to stone walls that abut the road. The
double-porticoed house where Aaron Burr died is not far from here. An
old-fashioned, stone-arched bridge, a church steeple around the bend, a
cluster of trees, and under them, a blacksmith shop. Trudging up the
hill is a little boy, who stares and sniffles, carrying a slate and
geography in one hand, and leading a little sister by the other, who
also sniffles and stares. This, too, is Greater New York, Borough of
Richmond, better known as Staten Island. This borough has nearly all
kinds of wild and tame rurality and suburbanity. Its farms need not be
described.


III

Pointing out mere farms in the city becomes rather monotonous; they are
too common. But there is one kind of farm in New York that is not at
all common, that has never existed in any other city, so far as I know,
in ancient or modern times. It is situated, oddly enough, in about the
centre of the 317 square miles of New York--so well as the centre of a
boot-shaped area can be located.

[Illustration: There is profitable oyster-dredging in several sections
of the city.]

Cross Thirty-fourth Street Ferry to Long Island City, which really
does not smell so bad as certain of our poets would have us believe;
take the car marked "Steinway," and ride for fifteen or twenty minutes
out through dreary city edge, past small, unpainted manufactories,
squalid tenements, dirty backyards, and sad vacant lots that serve as
the last resting-place for decayed trucks and overworked wagons. Soon
after passing a tumble-down windmill, which looks like an historic old
relic, on a hill-top, but which was built in 1867 and tumbled down
only recently, the Steinway Silk Mills will be reached (they can be
distinguished by the long, low wings of the building covered with
windows like a hothouse). Leave the car here and strike off to the left,
down the lane which will soon be an alley, and then a hundred yards or
so from the highway will be seen the first of the odd, paper-covered
houses of a colony of Chinese farmers who earn their living by tilling
the soil of Greater New York.

At short distances are the other huts crouching at the foot of big
trees, with queer gourds hanging out in front to dry, and large unusual
crocks lying about, and huge baskets, and mattings--all clearly
from China; they are as different from what could be bought on the
neighboring avenue as the farm and farmers themselves are different
from most Long Island farms and farmers. Out in the fields, which are
tilled in the Oriental way, utilizing every inch of ground clean up to
the fence, and laid out with even divisions at regular intervals, like
rice-fields, the farmers themselves may be seen, working with Chinese
implements, their pigtails tucked up under their straw hats, while the
western world wags on in its own way all around them. This is less than
five miles from the glass-covered parade-ground of the Waldorf-Astoria.

They have only three houses among them, that is, there are only three
of these groups of rooms, made of old boards and boxes and covered with
tar paper; but no one in the neighborhood seems to know just how many
Chinamen live there. The same sleeping space would hold a score or more
over in Pell Street.

Being Chinamen, they grow only Chinese produce, a peculiar kind of bean
and some sort of salad, and those large, artistic shaped melons, seen
only in China or Chinatown, which they call something that sounds like
"moncha," and which, one of them told me, bring two cents a pound from
the Chinese merchants and restaurateurs of Manhattan. For my part, I
was very glad to learn of these farms, for I had always been perplexed
to account for the fresh salads and green vegetables, of unmistakably
Chinese origin, that can be found in season in New York's Chinatown.
Under an old shed near by they have their market-wagon, in which,
looking inscrutable, they drive their stuff to market through Long
Island City, and by way of James Slip Ferry over to Chinatown; then back
to the farm again, looking inscrutable. And on Sundays, for all we know,
they leave the wagon behind and go to gamble their earnings away in Mott
Street, or perhaps away over in some of the well-known places of Jersey
City. Then back across the two ferries to farming on dreary Monday
mornings.


IV

Even up in Manhattan there are still places astonishingly unlike what
is expected of the crowded little island on which stands New York
proper. There is Fort Washington with tall trees growing out of the
Revolutionary breastworks, land, under their branches, a fine view up
the Hudson to the mountains--a quiet, sequestered bit of public park
which the public hasn't yet learned to treat as a park, though within
sight of the crowds crossing the viaduct from the Grant Monument on
Riverside. There are wild flowers up there every spring, and until quite
recently so few people visited this spot for days at a time that there
were sometimes woodcock and perhaps other game in the thickly wooded
ravine by the railroad. Soon, however, the grass on the breastworks will
be worn off entirely, and the aged deaf man who tends the river light on
Jeffreys Hook will become sophisticated, if he is still alive.

[Illustration: Cemetery Ridge, Near Richmond, Staten Island.]

It will take longer, however, for the regions to the north, beyond
Washington Heights, down through Inwood and past Tubby Hook, to look
like part of a city. And across the Spuyten Duyvil Creek from Manhattan
Island, up through the winding roads of Riverdale to Mount St. Vincent,
and so across the line to Yonkers, it is still wooded, comparatively
secluded and country-like, even though so many of the fine country
places thereabouts are being deserted. Over to the eastward, across
Broadway, a peaceful road which does not look like a part of the same
thoroughfare as the one with actors and sky-scrapers upon it, there are
the still wilder stretches of Mosholu and Van Cortlandt Park, where,
a year or two ago, large, well-painted signs on the trees used to say
"Beware of the Buffaloes."

[Illustration: A Peaceful Scene in New York.

In the distance is St. Andrew's Church, Borough of Richmond, Staten
Island.]

The open country sport of golf has had a good deal to do with making
this rural park more generally appreciated. Golf has done for Van
Cortlandt what the bicycle had done for the Bronx and Pelham Bay Parks.
There are still natural, wild enough looking bits, off from the beaten
paths, in all these parks, scenes that look delightfully dark and sylvan
in the yearly thousands of amateur photographs--the camera does not
show the German family approaching from the rear, or the egg-shells and
broken beer-bottles behind the bushes--but beware of the police if you
break a twig, or pick a blossom.


V

Those who enjoy the study of all the forms of nature except the highest
can find plenty to sigh over in the way the city thrusts itself upon
the country. But to those who think that the haunts and habits of the
Man are not less worthy of observation than those of the Beaver and
the Skunk, it is all rather interesting, and some of it not so deeply
deplorable.

[Illustration: A Relic of the Early Nineteenth Century, Borough of
Richmond.]

There are certain old country taverns, here and there, up toward
Westchester, and down beyond Brooklyn and over on Staten Island--not
only those which everybody knows, like the Hermitage in the Bronx and
Garrisons over by the fort at Willets Point, but remote ones which have
not yet been exploited in plays or books, and which still have a fine
old flavor, with faded prints of Dexter and Maud S. and much earlier
favorites in the bar-room. In some cases, to be sure, though still
situated at a country cross-roads, with green fields all about, they are
now used for Tammany head-quarters with pictures of the new candidate
for sheriff in the old-fashioned windows--but most of them would have
gone out of existence entirely after the death of the stage-coach, if it
had not been for the approach of the city, and the side-whiskered New
Yorkers of a previous generation who drove fast horses. If the ghosts
of these men ever drive back to lament the good old days together, they
must be somewhat surprised, possibly disappointed, to find these rural
road-houses doing a better business than even in their day. The bicycle
revived the road-house, and though the bicycle has since been abandoned
by those who prefer fashion to exercise, the places that the wheel
disclosed are not forgotten. They are visited now in automobiles.

[Illustration: An Old-fashioned Stone-arched Bridge. (Richmond, Staten
Island.)]

There are all those historic country-houses within the city limits, well
known, and in some cases restored, chiefly by reason of being within
the city, like the Van Cortlandt house, now a part of the park, and the
Jumel mansion standing over Manhattan Field, a house which gets into
most historical novels of New York. Similarly Claremont Park has adopted
the impressive Zabriskie mansion; and the old Lorillard house in the
Bronx might have been torn down by this time but that it has been made
into a park house and restaurant. Nearly all these are tableted by the
"patriotic" societies, and made to feel their importance. The Bowne
place in Flushing, a very old type of Long Island farm-house, was turned
into a museum by the Bowne family itself--an excellent idea. The Quaker
Meeting-house in Flushing, though not so old by twenty-five years as
it is painted in the sign which says "Built in 1695," will probably be
preserved as a museum too.

[Illustration: An Old House in Flatbush.]

Another relic in that locality well worth keeping is the Duryea place,
a striking old stone farm-house with a wide window on the second floor,
now shut in with a wooden cover supported by a long brace-pole reaching
to the ground. Out of this window, it is said, a cannon used to point.
This was while the house was head-quarters for Hessian officers, during
the long monotonous months when "the main army of the British army lay
at Flushing from Whitestone to Jamaica;" and upon Flushing Heights
there stood one of the tar-barrel beacons that reached from New York to
Norwich Hill, near Oyster Bay. The British officers used to kill time
by playing at Fives against the blank wall of the Quaker Meeting-house,
or by riding over to Hempstead Plains to the fox-hunts--where the
Meadowbrook Hunt Club rides to the hounds to-day. The common soldiers
meanwhile stayed in Flushing and amused themselves, according to the
same historian, by rolling cannon-balls about a course of nine holes.
That was probably the nearest approach to the great game at that time
in America, and it may have been played on the site of the present
Flushing Golf Club.

These same soldiers also amused themselves in less innocent ways, so
that the Quakers and other non-combatants in and about this notorious
Tory centre used to hide their live stock indoors over night, to keep
it from being made into meals by the British. That may account for the
habit of the family occupying the Duryea place referred to; they keep
their cow in a room at one end of the house. At any rate it is not
necessary for New Yorkers to go to Ireland to see sights of that sort.

Those are a few of the historic country places that have come to town.
There is a surprisingly large number of them, and even when they are not
adopted and tableted by the D. A. R. or D. R., or S. R. or S. A. R.,
they are at least known to local fame, and are pointed out and made much
of.

But the many abandoned country houses which are not especially historic
or significant--except to certain old persons to whom they once meant
home--goodly old places, no longer even near the country, but caught
by the tide well within the city, that is the kind to be sorry for.
Nobody pays much attention to them. A forlorn For Sale sign hangs out
in front, weather-beaten and discouraged. The tall Colonial columns
still try to stand up straight and to appear unconscious of the faded
paint and broken windows, hoping that no one notices the tangle of
weeds in the old-fashioned garden, where old-fashioned children used to
play hide-and-seek among the box-paths, now overgrown or buried under
tin cans.... Across the way, perhaps, there has already squatted an
unabashed row of cheap, vulgar houses, impudent, staring little city
homes, vividly painted, and all exactly alike, with highly ornamented
wooden stoops below and zinc cornices above, like false-hair fronts.
They look at times as though they were putting their heads together to
gossip and smile about their odd, old neighbor that has such out-of-date
fan-lights, that has no electric bell, no folding-beds, and not a bit of
zinc cornicing.

Meanwhile the old house turns its gaze the other way, thinking of days
gone by, patiently waiting the end--which will come soon enough.

[Illustration]



Transcriber's Notes:

Simple typographical errors were corrected.

Punctuation and spelling were made consistent when a predominant
preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not changed.

Page 8, first line: "manifestations of the spirit" could be "or".





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "New York Sketches" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home