Gazetteer of New York, 1860 & 1861 page 437
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The Commercial Buildings and Private Residences of New York are many
of them on a scale of great magnificence. The first of these are built of marble or a beautiful kind
of brownstone; and in the upper part of the city are numerous streets which for miles present un¬
broken lines of palatial residences. Within the past few years a great improvement has taken
place in the character of the commercial buildings erected, and many of them now in size and ele¬
gance have no superiors in tbe world.1


The Bay of New York was first discovered by Henry Hudson, then in the employ of the Hutch
East India Co., Sept. 12, 1609. A settlement was made upon Manhattan Island by a company of
Dutch traders, under the auspices of the West India Co., in 1612; but no permanent agricultural
occupation began until 1623. During this year 30 families of Walloons from the Flemish frontiers,
and a number of domestic animals, were sent over to form tbe nucleus for the permanent occupa¬
tion of the country. SarahdeRapalje, a child of one of these families, born soon after their arrival,
was the first white child born in New York. In 1626, Peter Minuet, the first Dutch Governor of
the colony, purchased Manhattan Island of the natives for f 24, and during the same year he caused
a fort surrounded by cedar palisades to be erected. A new fort was begun in 1633 and was
finished 2 years after.2 The Colony of New Netherlands increased slowly; but in 1652 a feud arose
between the company and settlers, which continued during the entire period of the Dutch occupa¬
tion. The interest of the company was solely to make money by their operations; and they pur¬
sued their object by the exercise of an arbitrary power and without any regard to the prosperity
of the settlers. This controversy tended greatly to develop democratic sentiments in the hearts of
the people, and prepared them for the events which subsequently happened. In 1664 the colony
fell into the Rands of the English, and a new immigration took place, which materially changed
the character of the population. A city charter, granted in 1652 and confirmed in 1686, secured
many of the privileges since uninterruptedly enjoyed by the people, and formed the basis of all
subsequent enactments. From the English conquest to the Revolution the history of the city is
merged in that of the State and has no features of special interest.

Trade and commerce have been from the first the leading elements of the industry and wealth
of the city, and in colonial times every measure of Government tending to embarrass trade occa-

now within the Central Park, and which has recently been sold
to the Commissioners of the Park for $275,000. It was constructed
very poorly, and was hardly finished before it began to tumble
down. From a part of the proceeds of this property a new
arsenal was built, in 1858, corner of 7th Avenue and 35th St.;
but, before it was finished, the roof, constructed on a novel plan,
fell in by its own weight on the morning of Nov. 19, 1858.

The Post Office occupies the old stone edifice of the Middle
Dutch Church, on Nassau, Pine, and Liberty Sts. It is small
and inconvenient, and poorly adapted for the purposes of a post
office. In the Revolution the pews of the church were broken
up for fuel, and the building was used as a prison, and at one
time as a riding school. The project of a building for a post
office on or near the' Park has been agitated; hut there is at
present no arrangement tending to that result.

The Assay Office occupies an unassuming marble building
adjacent to the Custom House, formerly one of the branches of
the United States Bank. Its operations are elsewhere noticed.
See p. 122.

1 Under the first race of colonists the style of architecture
was an exact copy of that prevailing in Holland; and for many
years NewYork was noted for buildings with peaked gables,
tiled roofs, and high, wooden stoops. After the English con¬
quest, a greater variety in style was introduced. Of Tate years
the march of improvement has completely obliterated the old
style of houses, and scarcely a vestige of the olden time re¬
mains. One of the most interesting relics of the infancy of
NewYork now remaining is a venerable pear tree at the corner
of loth St. and 3d Avenue, formerly on the farm of Governor
Peter Stuyvesant. It is widely known as “The Stuyvesant
Pear Tree.”

2 The first fort was built in the rear of Trinity Church, near
the river, and portions were found in 1751 by some workmen
in digging through a hank. The next fort stood on what is
now the Bowling Green, then a high mound of earth overlook¬
ing the bay and adjacent country. A threatened invasion hy
the forces of Cromwell, in 1053, led to the construction of an
embankment and ditch across the then N. line of the city. This
fortification extended along the present line of Wall St.; and
from it that street derives its name. In 1692 a war with France
occasioned a further attention to the defenses of the city, and
led to the erection of a battery on the rocky point at the s. end

. of the island. A stone fort, with 4 bastions, afterward built at
the same place, included^most of the Government offices, and
bore the name of the reigning sovereign for the time being. It
remained until finally taken down in 1788. In the summer of
1776, while an attack was expected from the British army, the
city was strongly fortified. On the s. point was the Grand
Battery, of 23 guns, with Fort George Battery, of 2 guns, just
above it and near the Bowling Green. McDougall’s Battery, of
4 guns, was built on a little hill near the North River, a little w.
of Trinity Church. The Grenadiers’ or Circular Battery, of 5
guns, was ahove, and the Jersey Battery, of 5 guns, on the left of
the latter. On the
e. of the town were Coenties Battery, of 5
guns, on Ten Eyck’s wharf; Waterbury’s Battery, of 7 guns, at
the shipyards; Badlam’s Battery, of 8 guns, on Rutgers Hill,
near the Jews’ burial ground; Thompson’s Battery, of 9 guns,
at Hoorns Hook,, and the Independence Battery, on Bayards
Mount, corner of Grand and Center Streets. Breastworks were
erected in several places in the city, and fortifications were
erected on Governors Island, Paulus Hook, (Jersey City.)
Brooklyn Heights, and Red Hook. During the War of 1812-15
great apprehension prevailed at several times, and during the
first year bodies of militia were stationed in New Utrecht and
on Staten Island to repel any attempt on the part of the enemy
to land. Subsequently, fortifications were begun at Harlem,
and in Brooklyn volunteer companies were formed, and the
citizens generally became familiar with the discipline of the
camp and the duties of the soldier. In Aug. 1814, for the pur¬
pose of constructing a line of fortifications to prevent the ex¬
pected approach of the enemy, it was arranged that 3 military
companies of Brooklyn should turn out to work on
Monday, 3
military companies and 1 fire company on
Tuesday, the people
of Bushwick on
Wednesday,'of Flatbush on Thursday, of Flat-
lands on
Friday, of Gravesend on Saturday, of New Utrecht
Monday, and the Mechanics’ Society of Brooklyn, the mili¬
tary exempts, and 2 fire companies, on
Tuesday. The patriotic
diggers crossed the ferries every morning with banners and
music, and large parties worked in the night by moonlight.
The citizens of New York were not behind their neighbors in
patriotism, and numerous volunteer associations pressed their
services upon the Committee of Defense, without regard to party
or station in life, and the rich and the poor wrought together
with the most patriotic emulation. Many gave money freely
to the work, and these zealous labors continued so long as
there appeared reason to anticipate danger. During the same
month the General Government made a requisition for 20,000
militia from New York and New Jersey to repel an attack
which was reported to be in preparation. The funds to meet
the expenses were raised hy the city, but were repaid, by the
General Government the next year. Four hundred heavy
cannon were mounted on the various forts, and large quantities
of ammunition were collected. The fleet in charge of Commo¬
dore Decatur was also prepared for tlie emergency; and it i3
probable that these prompt preparations saved the city from an
attack. Toward winter the hostile fleet bore off to the south,
and the enemy closed their operations before New Orleans. On
“Evacuation Day” in 1814 tlie Governor reviewed 25,000 troops
in New York,—a larger number than ever before or since
mustered in one body in America.


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