1 The Central Parle, for the purpose of construction, is in
charge of a special Board of Commissioners, consisting of 10
members, who serve without pay, and report annually to the
Common Council. The history of this park is briefly as fol¬
On the 5th of April, 1851, Mayor Kingsland, in a special mes¬
sage to the Common Council, called attention to the importance
of a public park sufficiently ample to meet the growing wants
of the city population. The message was referred to a select
committee, who reported in favor of purchasing the tract of 150
acres between 66th and 75th Sts. and 3d Avenue and the East
River, known as Jones’s Wood. An act was passed July 11,1851,
allowing this to be taken; but, from some errors in the act, tho
Supreme Court refused to appoint Commissioners, and the law
was repealed April 11,1854. On the 5th of August, 1851, a com¬
mittee was appointed to examine whether another more suitable
site for a park could not he found; and the result of the inquiry
was the selection of the site now known as the “Central Park,”
between 5th and Sth Avenues, originally extending from 49th
to 106th Sts., and in 1859 extended to 110th St. The act for
creating this park passed July 23,1853, and an act for its regu¬
lation and government April 17, 1857. The grounds are 2J
miles long by i mile wide, embracing 840 acres, of which 136
are occupied by Croton reservoirs. It will he crossed by 4
thoroughfares, sunk below the -general surface and passing
under the carriage ways and other avenues of the park, so as
not to obstruct the movement of visitors. Access to the grounds
cannot be had from these transverse roads. This park is now
under construction, and will embrace a parade ground 50 acres
in extent, for the maneuver of large bodies of infantry, cavalry,
and artillery; a botanical garden, cricket grounds, playgrounds,
ponds for skating in winter, and every variety of scenery which
a surface naturally rugged and broken can be made to present.
The plan embraces carriage drives and bridle paths, winding
ways for pedestrians, and broad, noble avenues for promenade;
fountains, lawns, terraces, and every variety of woodland
scenery. Ground is reserved for a public hall intended for con¬
certs ; for a large conservatory, and exotic terraces; for a geo¬
metrical flower garden, with wall fountains; for an architectural
terrace, with a large jet and tazza fountain; for public houses
of refreshment; for residences of the Superintendent and head
gardener; for a police station, a zoological garden, and for an
astronomical observatory, chartered in 1859. The grounds now
include the building erected and still used for a State Arsenal,
but sold to the corporation, and the Mount St. Vincent Academy
of the Sisters of Charity. There will be over 25 miles of walks,
5 miles of bridle paths, and 8 miles of carriage road. The main
entrance will be at the corner of 5th Avenue and 59th St.; but
other entrances will be provided at convenient points on 7th
Avenue on both ends, and along 5th and 8th Avenues.
The Battery comprises a tract of about 20 acres at the s. point
of the island, planted with trees and fronting upon the harbor.
It was formerly a place of fashionable resort; but, in the exten¬
sion of commerce, it has lost most of its prestige. It is still at¬
tractive on account of its cool breezes and refreshing shade. The
point, formerly called “ Schreyers Hook,” showed a number of
rocks above water, upon which a platform was built in 1693 for
a battery. This shallow spot wa3 afterward filled in; and in
1853-56 it was further extended so as to embrace its present
limits. It is valued at $3,000,000.
The Bowling Creen is a triangular park between Broadway
and Whitehall St. and Battery Place. It is supplied with a
fountain, but is not open to the public. This Park or Green
formerly fronted the fort upon the Battery. Prior to the Revo¬
lution, a leaden equestrian statue of Geo. III. was placed in it,
which at the commencement of the war was thrown down and
melted into bullets. The Green is valued at $135,000.
The Park is a triangular space of 10^ acres between Broad¬
way, Chatham, and Chamber Sts., near the present center of
com mercial business in the city. The City Hall, Hall of Records,
Rotunda, and New City Hall, used for courts and public offices,
are located upon it. It has a large fountain, which is seldom
used. This tract, formerly called “ The Fields,” or “ The Com¬
mon,” from the beginning has been owned by the city and used
for public purposes. While distant from the settled portion, it
was used as a place of execution; and the victims of the negro plot
proscription were here burned. In the early part of the Revo¬
lution the Sons of Liberty here rallied to assert their rights;
and at a later period it became the scene of cruelty as the prison
aud execution ground of American patriots. The s. gateway
was formerly of marble, beautifully finished, and surmounted
by two marble halls, gifts from the Turkish Government to Com¬
modore Perry, and by him presented to the city. They had
been made for cannon .halls. The foundation of this gateway
was laid with great pomp, the Mayor presiding and depositing
in it various coins, papers, and memorials. The Park is now
partly surrounded by an iron fence, and its sides are open for
some distance to allow the easy passage of pedestrians. Its
central location renders it a favorite place for popular gather¬
ings, and, from the throng constantly passing, an audience can
be swelled to thousands in a brief space of time. This Park is
valued at $3,000,000.
Washington Square, containing 9f acres, formerly the “ Pot¬
ter’s Field,” lies between Waverly Place, McDougal, Fourth, and
Wooster Sts. It is handsomely laid out, and is surrounded with
residences of a superior class. It has a fountain, and i£ a favor¬
ite resort for promenade. It is estimated that 100,000 persona
were buried here before the ground was taken for a park. It is
valued at $816,000.
Union Park is an oval area, with a fine fountain, on Broad¬
way, hounded by University Place, 4th Avenue, 14th and 17th
Sts. It is much frequented in summer by nurses and children.
It is valued at $504,000. Adjoining the park, hut not within
its paling, is the equestrian statue of Washington, in bronze,
by H. K. Browne, erected in 1856 at a cost of over $30,000. It
is 14 feet high, and stands on a granite pedestal of about the
Tompkins Square, formerly a parade ground, is bounded by
Avenues A and B and by 6th and 10th Sts. It is still new; hut
it is well laid out and will become an ornament to the eastern
side of the city. A fountain is under construction, and other
improvements are in progress.
Madison Square, comprising 10 acres, between 5th and Madi¬
son Avenues and 23d and 26th Sts., is beautifully laid out and
planted with trees. The adjoining streets are built up with
first' class dwellings, and it is one of the most fashionable
places of promenade in the city. It is valued at $520,000.
Adjoining this square on the west is a monument to the memory
of General Worth.
Stuyvesant Square lies between 15th and 17th Sts. and 1st
and 3d Avenues, the 2d Avenue passing through it. It has a
fountain on each side of 2d Avenue, and is tastefully laid out
and planted-with trees and shrubs. It was presented to the
corporation by the late Peter G. Stuyvesant, and is valued at
Reservoir Square, adjoining the distributing reservoir, be¬
tween 40th and 42d Sts., on 6th Avenue, from 1851 to 1858 was
occupied by the Crystal Palace. It is valued at $150,000, and is
at present unimproved as a park.
Manhattan Square, between 8th and 9th Avenues and 77th.
and 81st Sts., is a rough, unimproved piece of land, valued at
Hamilton Square, at York ville, between 3d and 5th Avenues
and 68th and 69th Sts.,.has a rollyig surface, mostly above tha
level of adjoining streets, and is uninclosed and unimproved.
The corner stone of a monument to Washington was laid with
pompous ceremonies cin this park Oct. 4,1847; hut the patriot¬
ism that instigated the enterprise was expended in the effort,
and the work was abandoned without further action. The
park is valued at $97,000.
Mount Morris Square, between 120th and 124th Sts., on both
sides of 5th Avenue, not yet laid out, is valued at $40,000.
A square of 17 acres was reserved for a park at Blooming-
dale, between 8th and 9th Avenues and 53d and 57th Sts.; but
the location of the Central Park has led to its abandonment.
In various parts of the city are several small triangular plata
at the intersection of streets, valued at $10,000 to $15,000 each.
The city also contains several parks not belonging to the city,
which .are laid out with great care and are truly ornamental.
St. John’s Park, or Hudson Square, fronting St. John’s Church
and hounded by Hudson, Varick, Beach, and Laigtit Sts., be¬
longs to Trinity Church, and is valued at $400,000. It is kept
for the exclusive use of the inhabitants living near it, who pur¬
chase keys of the keeper at $10 per annum. It contains a
Grammercy Park, between 20th and 21st Sts. and 3d and 4th
Avenues, is owned by those living around it, having been ceded
to them by Samuel B. Buggies. It is inclosed with an iron
railing and a thick hedge of sweet prim, and is planted with
ornamental trees and shrubs. It has a fountain in the center.
2 This department has a Board of Fire- Wardens, consisting
of 14 members, a Chief Engineer and 13 assistants, and 3,700
men, of whom 1,922 are members of engine companies, 1,262
of hose companies, and 502 of hook and ladder companies.
This body of men constitutes a distinct and powerful combina¬
tion, whose services, although gratuitous, are prompt and in
every respect praiseworthy, and whose interests the city author¬
ities find it their policy to protect. The city is divided into 8
fire districts, furnished with 11 district fire alarm bells, all
connected by telegraphic signals. There are 47 engine compa¬
nies, 57 hose companies, 15 hook and ladder companies, and 4
hydrant companies. The first class engines have companies of