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Peculiarities of American Cities, by Willard Glazier. 1886

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Title: Peculiarities of American Cities

Author: Willard Glazier

Release Date: March 14, 2011 [EBook #35575]

Language: English

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Willard Glazier Willard Glazier



American Cities.





No. 723 Chestnut Street.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1883, by
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D. C.

To her

This Volume



It has occurred to the author very often that a volume presenting the peculiar features, favorite resorts and distinguishing characteristics, of the leading cities of America, would prove of interest to thousands who could, at best, see them only in imagination, and to others, who, having visited them, would like to compare notes with one who has made their PECULIARITIES a study for many years.
A residence in more than a hundred cities, including nearly all that are introduced in this work, leads me to feel that I shall succeed in my purpose of giving to the public a book, without the necessity of marching in slow and solemn procession before my readers a monumental array of time-honored statistics; on the contrary, it will be my aim, in the following pages, to talk of cities as I have seen and found them in my walks, from day to day, with but slight reference to their origin and past history.
        22 Jay Street,
  AlbanySeptember 24, 1883.



Portrait of the Author (Steel)Frontispiece.
State Street and Capitol, Albany, N. Y.34
Boston, as Viewed from the Bay38
Soldiers' Monument at Buffalo, N. Y.62
View of Baltimore, from Federal Hill92
View of the Battery, Charleston, South Carolina108
Garden at Mount Pleasant, opposite Charleston, S. C.112
Custom House, Charleston, South Carolina116
Magnolia Cemetery, Charleston, South Carolina120
Public Square and Perry Monument, Cleveland, Ohio150
Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio156
Bird's-eye View of Chicago, from the Lake Side160
Burning of Chicago, the World's Greatest Conflagration164
Grand Pacific Hotel, Chicago170
Woodward Avenue, Detroit, Michigan192
Harrisburg and Bridges over the Susquehanna200
Jackson Square and Old Cathedral, New Orleans274
Mardi Gras Festival, New Orleans278
Bird's-eye View of New York296
New York and Brooklyn Bridge318
Pittsburg and its Rivers336
Night Scene in Market Square, Portland, Maine360
Old Independence Hall, Philadelphia370
Masonic Temple, Philadelphia378
Girard Avenue Bridge, Fairmount Park, Philadelphia394
View of Providence, Rhode Island, from Prospect Terrace400
Tabernacle and Temple, Salt Lake City440
Seal Rocks from the Cliff House, near San Francisco462
Levee and Great Bridge at St. Louis492
Shaw's Garden at St. Louis, Missouri502
University of Toronto, Canada524
East Front of Capitol at Washington538
State, War and Navy Departments, Washington, D. C.546



From Boston to Albany.—Worcester and Pittsfield.—The Empire State and its Capital.—Old Associations.—State Street.—Sketch of Early History.—Killian Van Rensselaer.—Dutch Emigration.—Old Fort Orange.—City Heights.—The Lumber District.—Van Rensselaer Homestead.—The New Capitol.—Military Bureau.—War Relics.—Letter of General Dix.—Ellsworth and Lincoln Memorials.—Geological Rooms.—The Cathedral.—Dudley Observatory.—Street Marketing.—Troy and Cohoes.—Stove Works.—Paper Boats.—Grand Army Rooms.—Down the Hudson.25-37
Geographical Location of Boston.—Ancient Names.—Etymology of the Word Massachusetts.—Changes in the Peninsula.—Noted Points of Interest.—Boston Common.—Old Elm.—Duel Under its Branches.—Soldiers' Monument.—Fragmentary History.—Courtship on the Common.—Faneuil Hall and Market.—Old State House.—King's Chapel.—Brattle Square Church.—New State House.—New Post Office.—Old South Church.—Birthplace of Franklin.—"News Letter."—City Hall.—Custom House.—Providence Railroad Station.—Places of General Interest.38-56
The Niagara Frontier.—Unfortunate Fate of the Eries.—The Battle of Doom.—Times of 1812.—Burning of Buffalo.—Early Names.—Origin of Present Name.—Growth and Population.—Railway Lines.—Queen of the Great Lakes.—Fort Porter and Fort Erie.—International Bridge.—Iron Manufacture.—Danger of the Niagara.—Forest Lawn Cemetery.—Decoration Day.—The Spaulding Monument.—Parks and Boulevard.—Delaware Avenue.—On the Terrace.—Elevator District.—Church and Schools.—Grosvenor Library.—Historical Rooms.—Journalism.—Public Buildings.—City Hall.—Dog-carts and their Attendants.57-71
Brooklyn a Suburb of New York.—A City of Homes.—Public Buildings.—Churches.—Henry Ward Beecher.—Thomas De Witt Talmage.—Theodore L. Cuyler, D.D.—Justin D. Fulton, D.D.—R. S. Storrs, D.D.—Navy Yard.—Atlantic Dock.—Washington Park.—Prospect Park.—Greenwood Cemetery.—Evergreen and Cyprus Hills Cemeteries.—Coney Island.—Rockaway.—Staten Island.—Glen Island.—Future of Brooklyn.72-84
Position of Baltimore.—Streets.—Cathedral and Churches.—Public Buildings.—Educational Institutions.—Art Collections.—Charitable Institutions.—Monuments.—Railway Tunnels.—Parks and Cemeteries.—Druid Hill Park.—Commerce and Manufactures.—Foundation of the City.—Early History.—Bonaparte-Patterson Marriage.—Storming of Baltimore in 1814.—Maryland at the Breaking-out of the Rebellion.—Assault on Sixth Massachusetts Regiment, in April, 1861.—Subsequent Events during the War.—Baltimore Proves Herself Loyal.—Re-union of Grand Army of the Republic in Baltimore, September, 1882.—Old Differences Forgotten and Fraternal Relations Established.85-106
First Visit to Charleston.—Jail Yard.—Bombardment of the City.—Roper Hospital.—Charleston During the War.—Secession of South Carolina.—Attack and Surrender of Fort Sumter.—Blockade of the Harbor.—Great Fire of 1861.—Capitulation in 1865.—First Settlement of the City.—Battles of the Revolution.—Nullification Act.—John C. Calhoun.—Population of the City.—Commerce and Manufactures.—Charleston Harbor.—"American Venice."—Battery.—Streets, Public Buildings and Churches.—Scenery about Charleston.—Railways and Steamship Lines.—An Ancient Church.—Magnolia Cemetery.—Drives near the City.—Charleston Purified by Fire.107-120
Founding of Cincinnati.—Rapid Increase of Population.—Character of its Early Settlers.—Pro-slavery Sympathies.—During [vii]the Rebellion.—Description of the City.—Smoke and Soot—Suburbs.—"Fifth Avenue" of Cincinnati.—Streets, Public Buildings, Private Art Galleries, Hotels, Churches and Educational Institutions.—"Over the Rhine."—Hebrew Population.—Liberal Religious Sentiment.—Commerce and Manufacturing Interests.—Stock Yards and Pork-packing Establishments.—Wine Making.—Covington and Newport Suspension Bridge.—High Water.—Spring Grove Cemetery.121-139
The "Western Reserve."—Character of Early Settlers.—Fairport.—Richmond.—Early History of Cleveland.—Indians.—Opening of Ohio and Portsmouth Canal.—Commerce in 1845.—Cleveland in 1850.—First Railroad.—Manufacturing Interests.—Cuyahoga "Flats" at Night.—The "Forest City."—Streets and Avenues.—Monumental Park.—Public Buildings and Churches.—Union Depot.—Water Rents.—Educational Institutions.—Rocky River.—Approach to the City.—Freshet of 1883.—Funeral of President Garfield.—Lake Side Cemetery.—Site of the Garfield Monument.140-156
Topographical Situation of Chicago.—Meaning of the Name.—Early History.—Massacre at Fort Dearborn.—Last of the Red Men.—The Great Land Bubble.—Rapid Increase in Population and Business.—The Canal.—First Railroad.—Status of the City in 1871.—The Great Fire.—Its Origin, Progress and Extent.—Heartrending Scenes.—Estimated Total Loss.—Help from all Quarters.—Work of Reconstruction.—Second Fire.—Its Public Buildings, Educational and Charitable Institutions, Streets and Parks.—Its Waterworks.—Its Stock Yards.—Its Suburbs.—Future of the City.157-175
Location of Cheyenne.—Founding of the City.—Lawlessness.—Vigilance Committee.—Woman Suffrage.—Rapid Increase of Population and Business.—A Reaction.—Stock Raising.—Irrigation.—Mineral Resources.—Present Prospects.176-181
Detroit and Her Avenues of Approach.—Competing Lines.—London in Canada.—The Strait and the Ferry.—Music on the [viii]Waters.—The Home of the Algonquins.—Teusha-grondie.—Wa-we-aw-to-nong.—Fort Ponchartrain and the Early French Settlers.—The Red Cross of St. George.—Conspiracy of Pontiac.—Battle of Bloody Run.—The Long Siege.—Detroit's First American Flag.—Old Landmarks.—The Pontiac Tree.—Devastation by Fire.—Site of the Modern City.—New City Hall.—Public Library.—Mexican Antiquities.182-193
Decoration Day in Pennsylvania.—Lake Erie.—Natural Advantages of Erie.—Her Harbor, Commerce and Manufactures.—Streets and Public Buildings.—Soldiers' Monument.—Erie Cemetery.—East and West Parks.—Perry's Victory.194-198
A Historic Tree.—John Harris' Wild Adventure with the Indians.—Harris Park.—History of Harrisburg.—Situation and Surroundings.—State House.—State Library.—A Historic Flag.—View from State House Dome.—Capitol Park.—Monument to Soldiers of Mexican War.—Monument to Soldiers of Late War.—Public Buildings.—Front Street.—Bridges over the Susquehanna.—Mt. Kalmia Cemetery.—Present Advantages and Future Prospects of Harrisburg.199-206
The City of Publishers.—Its Geographical Location.—The New State House.—Mark Twain and the "None Such."—The "Heathen Chinee."—Wadsworth Atheneum.—Charter Oak.—George H. Clark's Poem.—Putnam's Hotel.—Asylum for Deaf Mutes.—The Sign Language.—A Fragment of Witchcraftism.—Hartford Courant.—The Connecticut.207-215
First Visit to Lancaster.—Eastern Pennsylvania.—Conestoga River.—Early History of Lancaster.—Early Dutch Settlers.—Manufactures.—Public Buildings.—Whit-Monday.—Home of three Noted Persons.—James Buchanan, his Life and Death.—Thaddeus Stevens and his Burial Place.—General Reynolds and his Death.—"Cemetery City."216-221
Rapid Development of the Northwest.—The "West" Forty Years Ago.—Milwaukee and its Commerce and Manufactures.—Grain Elevators.—Harbor.—Divisions of the City.—Public Buildings.—Northwestern National Asylum for Disabled Soldiers.—German Population.—Influence and Results of German Immigration.—Bank Riot in 1862.—Ancient Tumuli.—Mound Builders.—Mounds Near Milwaukee.—Significance of Same.—Early Traders.—Foundation of the City in 1835.—Excelling Chicago in 1870.—Population and Commerce in 1880.222-235
Thousand Islands.—Long Sault Rapids.—Lachine Rapids.—Victoria Bridge—Mont Rèal.—Early History of Montreal.—Its Shipping Interests.—Quays.—Manufactures.—Population.—Roman Catholic Supremacy.—Churches.—Nunneries.—Hospitals, Colleges.—Streets.—Public Buildings.—Victoria Skating Rink.—Sleighing.—Early Disasters.—Points of Interest.—The "Canucks."236-247
From New York to Newark.—Two Hundred Years Ago.—The Pioneers.—Public Parks.—City of Churches.—The Canal.—Sailing Up-Hill.—An Old Graveyard.—New Amsterdam and New Netherlands.—The Dutch and English.—Adventurers from New England.—The Indians.—Rate of Population.—Manufactures.—Rank as a City.248-255
The City of Elms.—First Impressions.—A New England Sunday.—A Sail on the Harbor.—Oyster Beds.—East Rock.—The Lonely Denizen of the Bluff.—Romance of John Turner.—West Rock.—The Judges' Cave.—Its Historical Association.—Escape of the Judges.—Monument on the City Green.—Yale College.—Its Stormy Infancy.—Battle on the Weathersfield Road.—Harvard, the Fruit of the Struggle.256-263
Locality of New Orleans.—The Mississippi.—The Old and the [x]New.—Ceded to Spain.—Creole Part in the American Revolution. Retransferred to France.—Purchased by the United States.—Creole Discontent.—Battle of New Orleans.—Increase of Population.—The Levee.—Shipping.—Public Buildings, Churches, Hospitals, Hotels and Places of Amusement.—Streets.—Suburbs.—Public Squares and Parks.—Places of Historic Interest.—Cemeteries.—French Market.—Mardi-gras.—Climate and Productions.—New Orleans during the Rebellion.—Chief Cotton Mart of the World.—Exports.—Imports.—Future Prosperity of the City.264-280
Early History of New York.—During the Revolution.—Evacuation Day.—Bowling Green.—Wall Street.—Stock Exchange.—Jacob Little.—Daniel Drew.—Jay Cooke.—Rufus Hatch.—The Vanderbilts.—Jay Gould.—Trinity Church.—John Jacob Astor.—Post-Office.—City Hall and Court House.—James Gordon Bennett.—Printing House Square.—Horace Greeley.—Broadway.—Union Square.—Washington Square.—Fifth Avenue.—Madison Square.—Cathedral.—Murray Hill.—Second Avenue.—Booth's Theatre and Grand Opera House.—The Bowery.—Peter Cooper.—Fourth Avenue.—Park Avenue.—Five Points and its Vicinity.—Chinese Quarter.—Tombs.—Central Park.—Water Front.—Blackwell's Island.—Hell Gate.—Suspension Bridge.—Opening Day.—Tragedy of Decoration Day.—New York of the Present and Future.281-318
Arrival in Omaha.—The Missouri River.—Position and Appearance of the City.—Public Buildings.—History.—Land Speculation.—Panic of 1857.—Discovery of Gold in Colorado.—"Pike's Peak or Bust."—Sudden Revival of Business.—First Railroad.—Union Pacific Railroad.—Population.—Commercial and Manufacturing Interests.—Bridge over the Missouri.—Union Pacific Depot—Prospects for the Future.319-325
Ottawa, the Seat of the Canadian Government.—History.—Population.—Geographical Position.—Scenery.—Chaudière Falls.—Rideau Falls.—Ottawa River.—Lumber Business.—Manufactures.—Steamboat [xi]and Railway Communications.—Moore's Canadian Boat Song.—Description of the City.—Churches, Nunneries, and Charitable Institutions.—Government Buildings.—Rideau Hall.—Princess Louise and Marquis of Lorne.—Ottawa's Proud Boast.326-331
Pittsburg at Night.—A Pittsburg Fog.—Smoke.—Description of the City.—The Oil Business.—Ohio River.—Public Buildings, Educational and Charitable Institutions.—Glass Industry.—Iron Foundries.—Fort Pitt Works—Casting a Monster Gun.—American Iron Works.—Nail Works.—A City of Workers.—A True Democracy.—Wages.—Character of Workmen.—Value of Organization.—Knights of Labor.—Opposed to Strikes.—True Relations of Capital and Labor.—Railroad Strike of 1877.—Allegheny City.—Population of Pittsburg.—Early History.—Braddock's Defeat.—Old Battle Ground.—Historic Relics.—The Past and the Present.332-347
The Coast of Maine.—Early Settlements in Portland.—Troubles with the Indians.—Destruction of the Town in 1690.—Destroyed Again in 1703.—Subsequent Settlement and Growth.—During the Revolution.—First Newspaper.—Portland Harbor.—Commercial Facilities and Progress.—During the Rebellion.—Great Fire of 1866.—Reconstruction.—Position of the City.—Streets.—Munjoy Hill.—Maine General Hospital.—Eastern and Western Promenades.—Longfellow's House.—Birthplace of the Poet.—Market Square and Hall.—First Unitarian Church.—Lincoln Park.—Eastern Cemetery.—Deering's Woods.—Commercial Street.—Old-time Mansion.—Case's Bay and Islands.—Cushing's Island.—Peak's Island.—Ling Island.—Little Chebague Island.—Harpswell.348-365
Early History.—William Penn.—The Revolution.—Declaration of Independence.—First Railroad.—Riots.—Streets and Houses.—Relics of the Past.—Independence Hall.—Carpenters' Hall.—Blue Anchor.—Letitia Court.—Christ Church.—Old Swedes' Church.—Benjamin Franklin.—Libraries.—Old Quaker Almshouse.—Old Houses in Germantown.—Manufactures.—Theatres.—Churches—Scientific [xii]Institutions.—Newspapers.—Medical Colleges.—Schools.—Public Buildings.—Penitentiary.—River Front.—Fairmount Park.—Zoölogical Gardens.—Cemeteries.—Centennial Exhibition.—Bi-Centennial.—Past, Present and Future of the City.366-398
Origin of the City.—Roger Williams.—Geographical Location and Importance.—Topography of Providence.—The Cove.—Railroad Connections.—Brown University.—Patriotism of Rhode Island.—Soldiers' Monument.—The Roger Williams Park.—Narragansett Bay.—Suburban Villages.—Points of Interest.—Butter Exchange.—Lamplighting on a New Plan.—Jewelry Manufactories.399-404
Appearance of Quebec.—Gibraltar of America.—Fortifications and Walls.—The Walled City.—Churches, Nunneries and Hospitals.—Views from the Cliff.—Upper Town.—Lower Town.—Manufactures.—Public Buildings.—Plains of Abraham.—Falls of Montmorenci.—Sledding on the "Cone."—History of Quebec.—Capture of the City by the British.—Death of Generals Wolfe and Montcalm.—Disaster under General Murray.—Ceding of Canada, by France, to England.—Attack by American Forces under Montgomery and Arnold.—Death of Montgomery.—Capital of Lower Canada and of the Province of Quebec.405-414
Geographical Position and History of Reading.—Manufacturing Interests.—Population, Streets, Churches and Public Buildings.—Boating on the Schuylkill.—White Spot and the View from its Summit.—Other Pleasure Resorts.—Decoration Day.—Wealth Created by Industry.415-420
Arrival in Richmond.—Libby Prison.—Situation of the City.—Historical Associations.—Early Settlement.—Attacked by British Forces in the Revolution.—Monumental Church.—St. John's Church.—State Capital.—Passage of the Ordinance of Secession.—Richmond the Capital of the Confederate States.—Military Expeditions against the City.—Evacuation of Petersburg.—Surrender of the City.—Visit of President Lincoln.—Historical [xiii]Places.—Statues.—Rapid Recuperation After the War.—Manufacturing and Commercial Interests.—Streets and Public Buildings.—Population and Future Prospects.421-432
Early History of Saint Paul.—Founding of the City.—Public Buildings.—Roman Catholics.—Places of Resort.—Falls of Minnehaha.—Carver's Cave.—Fountain Cave.—Commercial Interests.—Present and Future Prospects.433-487
The Mormons.—Pilgrimage Across the Continent.—Site of Salt Lake City.—A People of Workers.—Spread of Mormons through other Territories.—City of the Saints.—Streets.—Fruit and Shade Trees.—Irrigation.—The Tabernacle.—Residences of the late Brigham Young.—Museum.—Public Buildings.—Warm and Hot Springs.—Number and Character of Population.—Barter System before Completion of Railroad.—Mormons and Gentiles.—Present Advantages and Future Prospects of Salt Lake City.438-447
San Francisco.—The Golden State.—San Francisco Bay.—Golden Gate.—Conquest of California by Fremont, 1848.—Discovery of Gold.—Rush to the Mines, 1849.—"Forty-niners."—Great Rise in Provisions and Wages.—Miners Homeward Bound.—Dissipation and Vice in the City.—Vigilance Committee.—Great Influx of Miners in 1850.—Immense Gold Yield.—Climate.—Earthquakes.—Productions.—Irrigation.—Streets and Buildings.—Churches.—Lone Mountain Cemetery.—Cliff House.—Seal Rock.—Theatres.—Chinese Quarter.—Chinese Theatres.—Joss Houses.—Emigration Companies.—The Chinese Question.—Cheap Labor.—"The Chinese Must Go."—Present Population and Commerce of San Francisco.—Exports.—Manufactures.—Cosmopolitan Nature of Inhabitants.448-472
First Visit to Savannah.—Camp Davidson.—The City During the War.—An Escaped Prisoner.—Recapture and Final Escape.—A "City of Refuge."—Savannah by Night.—Position of the [xiv]City.—Streets and Public Squares.—Forsyth Park.—Monuments.—Commerce.—View from the Wharves.—Railroads.—Founding of the City.—Revolutionary History.—Death of Pulaski.—Secession.—Approach of Sherman.—Investment of the City by Union Troops.—Recuperation After the War.—Climate.—Colored Population.—Bonaventure, Thunderbolt, and Other Suburban Resorts.473-486
Valley of the Connecticut.—Location of Springfield.—The United States Armory.—Springfield Library.—Origin of the Present Library System.—The Wayland Celebration.—Settlement of Springfield.—Indian Hostilities.—Days of Witchcraft.—Trial of Hugh Parsons.—Hope Daggett.—Springfield "Republican."487-491
Approach to St. Louis.—Bridge Over the Mississippi.—View of the City.—Material Resources of Missouri.—Early History of St. Louis.—Increase of Population.—Manufacturing and Commercial Interests.—Locality.—Description of St. Louis in 1842.—Resemblance to Philadelphia.—Public Buildings.—Streets.—Parks.—Fair Week.—Educational and Charitable Institutions.—Hotels.—Mississippi River.—St. Louis During the Rebellion.—Peculiar Characteristics.—The Future of the City.492-510
Glimpses on the Rail.—Schenectady.—Valley of the Mohawk.—"Lover's Leap."—Rome and its Doctor.—Oneida Stone.—The Lo Race.—Oneida Community.—The City of Salt.—The Six Nations.—The Onondagas.—Traditions of Red Americans.—Hiawatha.—Sacrifice of White Dogs.—Ceremonies.—The Lost Tribes of Israel.—Witches and Wizards.—A Jules Verne Story.—The Salt Wells of Salina.—Lake Onondaga.—Indian Knowledge of Salt Wells.—"Over the Hills and Far Away."—A Castle.—Steam Canal Boats.—Adieux.—Westward Ho!511-521
Situation of Toronto.—The Bay.—History.—Rebellion of 1837.—Fenian [xv]Invasion of 1866.—Population.—General Appearance.—Sleighing.—Streets.—Railways.—Commerce.—Manufactures.—Schools and Colleges.—Queen Park.—Churches.—Benevolent Institutions.—Halls and Other Public Buildings.—Hotels.—Newspapers.—General Characteristics and Progress.522-527
Situation of the National Capital.—Site Selected by Washington.—Statues of General Andrew Jackson, Scott, McPherson, Rawlins.—Lincoln Emancipation Group.—Navy Yard Bridge.—Capitol Building.—The White House.—Department of State, War and Navy.—The Treasury Department.—Patent Office.—Post Office Department.—Agricultural Building.—Army Medical Museum.—Government Printing Office.—United States Barracks.—Smithsonian Institute.—National Museum.—The Washington Monument.—Corcoran Art Gallery.—National Medical College.—Deaf and Dumb Asylum.—Increase of Population.—Washington's Future Greatness.528-558



From Boston to Albany.—Worcester and Pittsfield.—The Empire State and its Capital.—Old Associations.—State Street.—Sketch of Early History.—Killian Van Rensselaer.—Dutch Emigration.—Old Fort Orange.—City Heights.—The Lumber District.—Van Rensselaer Homestead.—The New Capitol.—Military Bureau.—War Relics.—Letter of General Dix.—Ellsworth and Lincoln Memorials.—Geological Rooms.—The Cathedral.—Dudley Observatory.—Street Marketing.—Troy and Cohoes.—Stove Works.—Paper Boats.—Grand Army Rooms.—Down the Hudson.
An exceedingly cold day was February fourth, 1875, the day which marked our journey from Boston to Albany. My inclination to step outside our car and tip my hat to the various familiar places along the route was suddenly checked by a gust of cutting, freezing, zero-stinging air. A ride of between one and two hours brought us to Worcester, a stirring town of about forty thousand inhabitants. Worcester is noted principally for its cotton factories, and as a political center in Eastern Massachusetts.
Springfield, Westfield and Pittsfield follow in succession along the route, in central and Western Massachusetts, the first of which has been made the subject of a special chapter in this book. The last I remember chiefly as the place where, in the summer of 1866, I took my first steps in a new enterprise. Pittsfield has large cotton mills, is a summer resort, and is the nearest point, by rail, to the Shaker community at Lebanon, five[Pg 26] miles distant. At Westfield the Mount Holyoke Railroad joins the main line, and semi-annually conveys the daughters of the land to the famous Holyoke Female Seminary.
Leaving Pittsfield we soon reached the State line between New York and Massachusetts. I sometimes think that after a residence in almost every State of the Union, I ought to feel no greater attraction for my native State than any other, yet I cannot repress a sentiment of stronger affection for good, grand old New York than any other in the united sisterhood. The Empire State has indeed a charm for me, and a congenial breeze, I imagine, always awaits me at its boundary.
A ride of another hour brings to view the church spires of Albany, and with them a long line of thrilling memories come rushing, like many waters, to my mind. Here, in 1859, I entered the State Normal School; here I resolved to enter the army; and here the first edition of my first book was published, in the autumn of 1865. The work, therefore, of presenting this chapter upon the peculiar features of the Capital City of New York, may be regarded as one of the most agreeable duties I have to perform in the preparation of these pages.
The traveler now entering Albany from the east crosses the Hudson on a beautiful iron railroad bridge, which, in the steady march of improvements, has succeeded the old-time ferry boat. He is landed at the commodious stone building of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad, which is conveniently sandwiched between the Delavan House and Stanwix Hall, two large, well known and well conducted hotels.[Pg 27]
My first night in a city and a hotel was spent here, at the old Adams House, located at that time on Broadway just opposite the Delavan. I was awakened in the morning by the roll and rattle of vehicles, and the usual din and confusion of a city street. The contrast to my quiet home in the Valley of the St. Lawrence was so marked, I can never forget the impression I then received, and as I walked up State street toward the old Capitol, I almost fancied that such a street might be a fit road to Paradise. Albany was the gate through which I entered the world, and to my boyish vision the view it disclosed was very wide, and the grand possibilities that lay in the dim distance seemed manifold. It is the oldest city, save Jamestown, Va., in the Union, having been settled in the very babyhood of the seventeenth century, somewhere about 1612 or 1614. It was originally, until the year 1661, only a trading post on the frontier, the entire region of country to the westward being unexplored and unknown, except as the "far west." The red warriors of the Mohegans, Senecas, Mohawks and the remaining bands of the "Six Nations" held undisputed possession of the soil, and kindled their council fires and danced their "corn dances" in peace, unmolested as yet by the aggressive pale-faces.
The baptismal name of the embryo city of Albany was Scho-negh-ta-da, an Indian word meaning "over the plains." The name was afterwards transferred to the outlying suburban town now known as Schenectady. An immense tract of land bordering the Hudson for twenty-four miles, and reaching back from the river three times that distance, included Albany within its jurisdiction, and was originally owned by a rich[Pg 28] Dutch merchant, one Killian Van Rensselaer, from Amsterdam. The land was purchased from the Indians for the merest trifle, after the usual fashion of white cupidity when dealing with Indian generosity and ignorance. Emigrants were sent over from the old country to people this wide domain, and thus the first white colony was established, which subsequently grew into sufficient importance to become the Capital city of the Empire State.
Before the purchase of Killian Van Rensselaer, a fort was built somewhere on what is now known as Broadway, and was named Fort Orange, in honor of the Prince of Orange, who was at that time patroon of New Netherlands, as New York was at first called. Old Fort Orange afterwards went by various names, among which were Rensselaerwyck, Beaverwyck and Williamstadt. In 1664 the sovereignty of the tract passed into the hands of the English, and was named Albany, in compliment to the Duke of Albany. In 1686 the young city aspired to a city charter, and its first mayor, Peter Schuyler, was then elected. In 1807 it became the Capital of the State. As an item of interest, it may be mentioned that the first vessel which ascended the river as far as Albany was the yacht Half Moon, Captain Hendrick Hudson commanding.
Albany, like ancient Rome, sits upon her many hills, and the views obtained from the city heights are beautiful in the extreme. The Helderbergs and the Catskill ranges loom blue and beautiful towards the south, Troy and the Green Mountains of Vermont can be seen from the north, while beyond the river, Bath-on-the-Hudson and the misty hill tops further away, rim the[Pg 29] horizon's distant verge. The city has a large trade in lumber, and that portion of it which is known as the "lumber district" is devoted almost exclusively to this branch. One may walk, of a summer's day, along the smooth and winding road between the river and the canal, for two miles or more, and encounter nothing save the tasteful cottage-like offices, done in Gothic architecture, of the merchant princes in this trade, sandwiched between huge piles of lumber, rising white and high in the sun, and giving out resinous, piney odors. Not far from this vicinity stands the old Van Rensselaer homestead, guarded by a few primeval forest trees that have survived the wreck of time and still keep their ancient watch and ward. The old house, I have been told, is now deserted of all save an elderly lady, one of the last of the descendants of the long and ancient line of Van Rensselaer. Numerous points of interest dot the city in all directions, from limit to limit, and claim the attention of the stranger. Among the most prominent of these is, of course, the new Capitol building now in process of construction at the head of State street. A very pretty model of the structure is on exhibition in a small wooden building standing at the entrance to the grounds, which gives, I should judge, a clever idea of what the future monumental pile is to be like. Its height is very imposing, and the tall towers and minarets which rise from its roof will give it an appearance of still greater grandeur. It is built of granite quarried from Maine and New Hampshire, and is in the form of a parallelogram, enclosing an open court. Had I a sufficient knowledge of architecture to enable me to talk of orders, of pilasters, columns, entablatures and[Pg 30] façades, I might perhaps give my readers a clearer idea of the magnificence of this new structure, which will stand without a rival, in this country at least, and may even dare to compete with some of the marvellous splendors of the old world.
The Old Capitol and the State Library stand just in front of the new building, and obscure the view from the foot of State street. The Senate and Assembly chambers in the old building have an antiquated air, with their straight-backed chairs upholstered in green and red, and the rough stairways leading to the cupola, through an unfurnished attic, are suggestive of accident. In this cupola, once upon a time, in the year 1832, a certain Mr. Weaver, tired of life and its turmoil, swung himself out of it on a rope. So the cupola has its bit of romance. In this neighborhood, on State street, above the Library, is located the Bureau of Military Statistics, which is well worth a visit from every New Yorker who takes a pride in the military glory of his native State. One is greeted at the entrance with a host of mementos of our recent civil war, which bring back a flood of patriotic memories. Here is a collection of nine hundred battle flags, all belonging to the State, most of them torn and tattered in hard service, and inscribed with the names of historic fields into which they went fresh and bright, and out of which they came smoked and begrimed, and torn with the conflict of battle. Here are old canteens which have furnished solace to true comrades on many occasions of mutual hardship. Here, too, is the Lincoln collection, with its sad reminders of the nation's loved and murdered President; and in a corner of the same room the Ellsworth[Pg 31] collection is displayed from a glass case. His gun and the Zouave suit worn by him at the time of his death hang side by side, and there, too, is the flag which, with impetuous bravery, he tore down from the top of the Marshall House at Alexandria, Virginia. In the same case hangs the picture of his avenger, Captain Brownell, and the rifle with which he shot Jackson. In another part of the room may be seen the original letter of Governor, then Secretary, Dix, which afterwards became so famous, and which created, in a great measure, the wave of popularity that carried him into the gubernatorial chair.
The letter reads as follows:—
"Treasury Department,
January, 29th, 1861.
"Tell Lieutenant Caldwell to arrest Captain Breshwood, assume command of the cutter, and obey the order I gave through you. If Captain Breshwood, after arrest, undertakes to interfere with the command of the cutter, tell Lieutenant Caldwell to consider him as a mutineer and treat him accordingly. If any one attempts to haul down the American flag, shoot him on the spot.
"John A. DixSecretary of the Treasury."
The captured office chairs used by Jeff. Davis, in Richmond, the lock from John Brown's prison door at Harper's Ferry, pieces of plate from the monitors off Charleston, torpedoes from James River, the bell of the old guard-house at Fort Fisher, captured slave chains, miniature pontoon bridges, draft boxes and captured Rebel shoes, may be mentioned as a few among the many curiosities of this military bureau. Here, too,[Pg 32] may be seen the pardon, from Lincoln, for Roswell Mclntire, taken from his dead body at the battle of Five Forks; and near by hangs the picture of Sergeant Amos Humiston, of the 154th New York Regiment, who was identified by means of the picture of his three children, found clasped in his hand as he lay dead on the field of Gettysburg. In this room, also, is the Jamestown, New York, flag, made by the ladies of that place in six hours after the attack on Sumter, and which was displayed from the office of the Jamestown Journal. Mr. Daly, the polite janitor of the building, is always happy to receive visitors, and will show them every courtesy.
The Geological Rooms, on State street, are also well worthy the time and attention of the visitor. Large collections of the various kinds of rock which underlie the soil of our country are here on exhibition, as, also, the coral formations and geological curiosities of all ages. In an upper room towers the mammoth Cohoes mastodon, whose skeleton reaches from floor to ceiling. This monster of a former age was accidentally discovered at that place by parties who were excavating for a building. In these rooms, also, there are huge jaws of whales, which enable one to better understand the disposition of the Bible whales, and how easy it must have been for them to gulp down two or three Jonahs, if one little Jonah should fail to appease the delicate appetite of such sportive fishes. I couldn't help thinking of the lost races that must have peopled the earth when this old world was young—when these fossils were undergoing formation, and these mastodons made the ground tremble beneath their tread.[Pg 33]
Where are these peoples now, and where their unrevealed histories? Shall we never know more of them than Runic stones and mysterious mounds can unfold? These reminders of the things that once had an existence but have now vanished from the face of the earth, and well nigh from the memory of men—these things are full of suggestion, to say the least, and are quite apt to correct any undue vanity which may take possession of us, or any large idea of future fame. We may, perhaps, create a ripple in the surface of remembrance which marks the place where our human existence went out, and which, at the furthest, may last a few hundred years. But who can hope for more than that, or hoping, can reasonably expect to find the wish realized? "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in our philosophy."
The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, on Eagle street, is one of the finest church structures in Albany. It is built of brown freestone, in the Gothic style of architecture, and its two towers are each two hundred-and-eighty feet in height. Its cost was six hundred thousand dollars. The interior decorations are beautiful, and the rich stained glass windows are the gifts of sister societies. On Easter mornings the Cathedral is sure to be crowded by people of all sects and creeds, brought there to witness the joyous Easter services which terminate the long fast of Lent.
About a mile and a half from the city, on Patroon's Hill, is situated the Dudley Observatory, where on clear summer nights Albanians come to gaze at the stars and the moon, through the large Observatory refractor.[Pg 34] The structure is built in the form of a cross, eighty-six feet long and seventy feet deep.
One of the first peculiarities which attracts the attention of the non-resident of Albany is the appearance of the business portion of State street, in the forenoon, from eight o'clock until twelve. Any time between these hours the street, from the lower end of Capitol Park down to Pearl street, is transformed into a vast market-place. Meat-wagons, vegetable carts, restaurants on wheels, and all sorts of huckstering establishments, are backed up to the sidewalk, on either side, blocking the way and so filling the wide avenue that there is barely room for the street-car in its passage up and down the hill. The descendants of Killian Van Rensselaer and the aristocratic Ten Eycks and Van Woerts, of Albany, should exhibit enterprise enough, I think, to erect a city market and spare State street this spectacle.
The manufacturing interest of Albany consists largely of stove works, in which department it competes with its near neighbor, Troy. This flourishing city, of about forty-eight thousand souls, is seven miles distant from Albany, up the river, and is in manifold communication with it by railroads on both sides of the Hudson, as well as by street railway. Steam cars run between Albany and Troy half hourly, during the day and far into the night, and one always encounters a stream of people between these two places, whose current sets both ways, at all times and seasons. Troy is at the head of navigation on the Hudson and communicates by street car with Cohoes, Lansingburg and Waterford. Cohoes is a place [Pg 35]of great natural beauty, and the Cataract Falls of the Mohawk River at that place add an element of wild grandeur to the scenery. One of the large, rocky islands in the river, known as Simmons' Island, is a popular resort for picnic excursions, and is a delightful place in summer, with its groves of forest trees, and the pleasant noise of waters around its base. The place seems haunted by an atmosphere of Indian legend, and one could well imagine the departed warriors of the lost tribes of the Mohawk treading these wild forest paths, and making eloquent "talks" before their red brothers gathered around the council fire.
The Mohawk and Hudson rivers unite at Troy, and seek a common passage to the sea. Mrs. Willard's Seminary for young ladies is located in this city, and is a standard institution of learning. Many of the streets of Troy are remarkably clean and finely shaded, and handsome residences and business blocks adorn them. The city is also a headquarters for Spiritualism in this section of the country. The Spiritualistic Society has, I am told, a flourishing, progressive Lyceum, which supersedes, with them, the orthodox Sunday school, and the exercises, consisting in part of marches and recitations, are conducted in a spirited and interesting manner.
Foundries for hollow-ware and stoves constitute the leading branch of manufacture in the city of Troy. To one not familiar with the process by which iron is shaped into the various articles of common use among us, a visit to the foundries of Troy or Albany would be full of interest and instruction. Piles of yellow sand are lying in the long buildings used as foundries, while on either side the room workmen are busily engaged fashioning the[Pg 36] wet sand into moulds for the reception of the melted iron. Originally the sand is of a bright yellow color, but it soon becomes a dingy brown, by repeated use in cooling the liquid metal.
Each moulder has his "floor," or special amount of room allotted him for work, and here, during the forenoon, and up to three or four o'clock in the afternoon, he is very busy indeed, preparing for the "pouring" operation. Pig iron, thrown into a huge cauldron or boiler, and melted to a white heat, is then poured, from a kettle lined with clay, into the sand-moulds, and in a remarkably short space of time the greenish-white liquid which you saw flowing into a tiny, black aperture is shaken out of the sand by the workmen, having been transformed into portions of stoves. These go to the polishing room, and thence to the finishing apartment, where the detached pieces are hammered together, with deafening noise.
Troy rejoices also in a paper boat manufactory—the boats being made especially for racing and feats of skill. They find sale principally in foreign markets, and at stated seasons divide the attention of the English with the "Derby." The boats are made of layers of brown paper put together with shellac.
There is a large society of Grand Army men in Albany, one Post numbering five or six hundred members. Their rooms are tastefully decorated, and hung with patriotic pictures, which make the blood thrill anew, as in the days of '61. A miniature fort occupies the centre of the room, and emblematic cannon and crossed swords are to be seen in conspicuous places.
A trip down the Hudson, in summer, from Albany to New York, is said to afford some of the finest scenery[Pg 37] in the world, not excepting the famous sail on the castled Rhine; and the large river boats which leave Albany wharf daily, for our American London, are, indeed, floating palaces. The capital city of the Empire State is not, therefore, without its attractions, despite the fact that it was settled by the Dutch, and that a sort of Rip Van Winkle sleep seems, at times, to have fastened itself upon the drowsy spirit of Albanian enterprise.

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