Friday, August 28, 2015

Tidbits About 19th Century New York City

I am in the middle of watching a PBS special done in 1999 about New York. I've watched 4 episodes so far and I'm enjoying them very much. There are times when I've cried as I listened to the actor read a newspaper article and pictures of the fire from the triangle factory had women and girls jumping to their deaths eight stories below. Then there have been tears when hearing the victories of some of the immigrants or their children succeeding in America. It is quite a series as I mentioned. So, I thought I might highlight a few tidbits that happened in NYC during the 19th Century.

1825 Erie Canal was completed and changed NYC into the commerce capitol by being able to bring the goods from middle America to the rest of the world.

1835 the Great Fire of N.Y.

1840's immigrants began pouring into the city.

1841 P.T. Barnum's American Museum was built and housed on the corners of Broadway and Ann Street. It was burned down in 1865. It cost .25 cents to visit the museum. 38 million people visited the museum.

1854 Work on Central Park was started. The intent was a park for all the citizens to mingle, relax and refresh. However, the first parts that opened and the restrictions of travel for some of the lower income folks prevented any mingling and it was more of a upper class gathering spot.

1861 New York actually voted to succeeded from the union because of the value of the slave trade to the businessmen in NYC. However money from the war effort started pouring into the city from steel and trains so they decided to adopt a draft in 1863. This backfired as I'll explain in the next tidbit.

1863 Draft Riots hit the city. They are still cited as some of the most brutal riots to ever hit a city. These were caused because if you could pay $300. you could have yourself removed from the draft. This caused anger in the Irish immigrants and others. Trouble that would not be completely resolved for many years to come. Gettysburg had just happened and the Union soldiers came within a week and took control of the city.

1865 (Around) the statue of Liberty was beginning to be discussed. However, there were problems with folks raising the funds for the statue in time for the 1876 Celebrations. It wasn't until 1886 that it was actually finished. Here's an interesting tidbit you can search and find photos of the hand and torch in NYC for years before it was built.

1869 Roebling designed and began work on the Brooklyn Bridge. The original concept was for growth from Manhattan to migrate and commute from Brooklyn to Manhattan. But that was before they realized how to build a city upward instead of outward. However, it was the plans of the bridge that made folks realize they could go upward. Roebling didn't see the completion of the bridge, that honor fell to his son because Roebling was injured by a boat accidentally ramming the bridge and injuring Roebling's foot. Infection and lockjaw set in before Roebling passed away.

1870 Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded. Opened in 1872.

1880 The Met as it is called today or rather the Metropolitan Opera was founded. Opened in 1883.

1883 Brooklyn Bridge was completed.

1892 Ellis Island Opened.

Skyscraper was actually a term regarding rigging on tall ships.

Well those are just a couple tidbits from the 19th Century. I hope you enjoyed them.

Lynn A. Coleman is an award winning & best-selling author who makes her home in Keystone Heights, Florida, with her husband of 41 years. Lynn's latest novel "The Shepherd's Betrothal" is the third book in her Historical St. Augustine, FL. series.

Check out her 19th Century Historical Tidbits Blog if you like exploring different tidbits of history.


  1. THanks for the insight on the 19th century in New York City.

    1. You're welcome, Kim. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  2. New York is on my bucket list. I have family who live and work there. Thanks for an interesting post.

    1. You've got to go, Linda. It's a great city and full of history. Enjoy!

  3. Been to St. Augustine, FL and really enjoyed the history there. I'm pretty sure we saw a Fort, saw a lighthouse, toured the museum and walked through the historical area. I'd love to read a novel about all this. sm wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com