Greenwich Village
by Anna Alice Chapin
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Author of "Wonder Tales from Wagner," "Masters of Music," etc.





















Milligan Court Frontispiece

Map of Old Greenwich Village

Oldest Building on the Square

Jefferson Market

The Cradle of Bohemia

Old St. John's

Washington Arch

The Butterick Building

59 Grove Street

Grove Court

The Brevoort House

Grove Street

The Dutch Oven

Patchin Place

Washington Square South

Macdougal Alley

A Greenwich Studio


"'Tis an awkward thing to play with souls,"—and, to my mind, Greenwich Village has a very personal soul that requires very personal and very careful handling. This little foreword is to crave pardon humbly if my touch has not been light, or deft, or sure. There are so many things that I may have left out, so many ways in which I must have erred.

And I want to thank people too,—just here. So many people there are to thank! I cannot simply dismiss the matter with the usual acknowledgment of a list of authorities—to which, by the bye, I have tried to cling as though they were life-buoys in a stormy sea of research!

There are the kindly individuals,—J.H. Henry, Vincent Pepe, William van der Weyde, J.B. Martin, and the rest,—who have so generously placed their own extensive information and collected material at my disposal. And there are the small army of librarians and clerks and secretaries and so on, who have given me unlimited patience and most encouraging personal interest.

And finally, beyond all these, are the Villagers who have taken me in, and made me welcome, and won my heart for all time. Everyone has been so kind that my "thank you" must take in all of Greenwich.

It is said that hospitality, neighbourliness and genuine cordiality are traits of any well-conducted village. Then be sure that our Village in the city is not behind its rustic fellows. For, wherever you stray or wherever you stop within its confines, you will always find the latch-string hung outside.

"Does a bird need to theorise about building its nest, or boast of it when built? All good work is essentially done that way—without hesitation, without difficulty, without boasting.... And now, returning to the broader question, what these arts and labours of life have to teach us of its mystery, this is the first of their lessons—that the more beautiful the art, the more it is essentially the work of people who ... are striving for the fulfilment of a law, and the grasp of a loveliness, which they have not yet attained.... Whenever the arts and labours of life are fulfilled in this spirit of striving against misrule, and doing whatever we have to do, honourably and perfectly, they invariably bring happiness, as much as seems possible to the nature of man."



The Chequered History of a City Square

... I know not whether it is owing to the tenderness of early association, but this portion of New York appears to many persons the most delectable. It has a kind of established repose which is not of frequent occurrence in other quarters of the long, shrill city; it has a riper, richer, more honourable look than any of the upper ramifications of the great longitudinal thoroughfare—the look of having had something of a social history.—HENRY JAMES (in "Washington Square").

There is little in our busy, modern, progressive city to suggest Father Knickerbocker, with his three-cornered hat and knee-breeches, and his old-world air so homely and so picturesque. Our great streets, hemmed by stone and marble and glittering plate glass, crowded with kaleidoscopic cosmopolitan traffic, ceaselessly resonant with twentieth century activity, do not seem a happy setting for our old-fashioned and beloved presiding shade. Where could he fall a-nodding, to dream himself back into the quaint and gallant days of the past? Where would he smoke his ancient Dutch pipe in peace? One has a mental picture of Father Knickerbocker shaking his queued head over so much noise and haste, so many new-fangled, cluttering things and ways, such a confusion of aims and pursuits on his fine old island! And he would be a wretched ghost indeed if doomed to haunt only upper New York. But it happens that he has a sanctuary, a haven after his own heart, where he can still draw a breath of relief, among buildings small but full of age and dignity and with the look of homes about them; on restful, crooked little streets where there remain trees and grass-plots; in the old-time purlieus of Washington Square and Greenwich Village!

The history of old New York reads like a romance. There is scarcely a plot of ground below Fourteenth Street without its story and its associations, its motley company of memories and spectres both good and bad, its imperishably adventurous savour of the past, imprisoned in the dry prose of registries and records. Let us just take a glance, a bird's-eye view as it were, of that region which we now know as Washington Square, as it was when the city of New York bought it for a Potter's Field.

Perhaps you have tried to visualise old New York as hard as I have tried. But I will wager that, like myself, you have been unable to conjure up more than a nebulous and tenuous vision,—a modern New York's shadow, the ghostly skeleton of our city as it appears today. For instance, when you have thought of old Washington Square, you have probably thought of it pretty much as it is now, only of course with an old-time atmosphere. The whole Village, with all your best imaginative efforts, persists—does it not?—in being a part of New York proper.

It was not until I had come to browse among the oldest of Manhattan's oldest records,—(and at that they're not very old!)—those which show the reaching out of the fingers of early progress, the first shoots of metropolitan growth, that the picture really came to me. Then I saw New York as a little city which had sprung up almost with the speed of a modern mushroom town. First, in Peter Minuit's day, its centre was the old block house below Bowling Green; then it spread out a bit until it became a real, thriving city,—with its utmost limits at Canal Street! Greenwich and the Bowery Lane were isolated little country hamlets, the only ones on the island, and far, far out of town. They appeared as inaccessible to the urban dwellers of that day as do residents on the Hudson to the confirmed city people nowadays;—nay, still more so, since trains and motors, subways and surface cars, have more or less annihilated distance for us.

Washington Square was then in the real wilds, an uncultivated region, half swamp, half sand, with the Sand Hill Road,—an old Indian trail,—running along the edge of it, and Minetta Creek taking its sparkling course through its centre. It was many years before Minetta was even spanned by a bridge, for no one lived anywhere near it.

Peter Stuyvesant's farm gave the Bowery its name, for you must know that Bouwerie came from the Dutch word Bouwerij, which means farm, and this country lane ran through the grounds of the Stuyvesant homestead. A branch road from the Bouwerie Lane led across the stretch of alternate marsh and sand to the tiny settlement of Greenwich, running from east to west. The exact line is lost today, but we know it followed the general limit of Washington Square North. On the east was the Indian trail.

Sarah Comstock says:

"The Indian trail has been, throughout our country, the beginning of the road. In his turn, the Indian often followed the trail of the beast. Such beginnings are indiscernible for the most part, in the dusk of history, but we still trace many an old path that once knew the tread of moccasined feet."

Here, between the short lane that ran from the Bouwerij toward the first young sprout of Greenwich, and the primitive Sand Hill (or Sandy Hill) Trail lay a certain waste tract of land. It was flanked by the sand mounds,—part of the Zantberg, or long range of sand hills,—haunted by wild fowl, and utterly aloof from even that primitive civilisation. The brook flowed from the upper part of the Zantberg Hills to the Hudson River, and emptied itself into that great channel at a point somewhere near Charlton Street. The name Minetta came from the Dutch root,—min,—minute, diminutive. With the popular suffix tje (the Dutch could no more resist that than the French can resist ette!) it became Mintje,—the little one,—to distinguish it from the Groote Kill or large creek a mile away. It was also sometimes called Bestavaar's Killetje, or Grandfather's Little Creek, but Mintje persisted, and soon became Minetta.

Minetta was a fine fishing brook, and the adjacent region was full of wild duck; so, take it all in all, it was a game preserve such as sportsmen love. It seems that the old Dutch settlers were fond of hunting and fishing, for they came here to shoot and angle, as we would go into—let us say—the Adirondacks or the Maine woods!

"A high range of sand hills traversed a part of the island, from Varick and Charlton to Eighth and Green streets," says Mary L. Booth, in her history. "To the north of these lay a valley through which ran a brook, which formed the outlet of the springy marshes of Washington Square...."

And here, on the self-same ground of those "springy marshes," is Washington Square today.

The lonely Zantberg,—the wind-blown range of sand hills; the cries of the wild birds breaking the stillness; the quietly rippling stream winding downward from the higher ground in the north, and now and then, in the spring of the year, overflowing its bed in a wilderness of brambles and rushes;—do these things make you realise more plainly the sylvan remoteness of that part of New York which we now know as Downtown?

A glance at Bernard Ratzer's map—made in the beginning of the last half of the eighteenth century for the English governor, Sir. Henry Moore—shows the only important holdings in the neighbourhood at that time: the Warren place, the Herrin (Haring or Harring) farm, the Eliot estate, etc. The site of the Square, in fact, was originally composed of two separate tracts and had two sources of title, divided by Minetta Brook, which crossed the land about sixty feet west of where Fifth Avenue starts today. Westward lay that rather small portion of the land which belonged to the huge holdings of Sir. Peter Warren, of whom more anon.

The eastern part was originally the property of the Herrings, Harrings or Herrins,—a family prominent among the early Dutch settlers and later distinguished for patriotic services to the new republic. They appear to have been directly descended from that intrepid Hollander, Jan Hareng of the city of Hoorn, who is said to have held the narrow point of a dike against a thousand Spaniards, and performed other prodigious feats of valour. In the genealogical book I read, it was suggested that the name Hareng originated in some amazingly large herring catch which (I quote verbatim from that learned book) "astonished the city of Hoorn,"—and henceforth attached itself to the redoubtable fisherman!

The earliest of the family in this city was one Jan Pietersen Haring, and his descendants worked unceasingly for the liberty of the republic and against the Tory party. In 1748, Elbert Haring received a grant of land which was undoubtedly the farm shown in the Ratzer map. A tract of it was sold by the Harring (Herring) family to Cornelius Roosevelt; it passed next into Jacob Sebor's hands, and in 1795 was bought by Col. William S. Smith, a brilliant officer in Washington's army, and holder of various posts of public office.

There was a Potter's Field, a cemetery for the poor and friendless, far out in the country,—i.e., somewhere near Madison Square,—but it was neither big enough nor accessible enough. In 1789, the city decided to have another one. The tract of land threaded by Minetta Water, half marsh and half sand, was just about what was wanted. It was retired, the right distance from town and excellently adapted to the purposes of a burying ground. The ground, popular historians to the contrary, was by no means uniformly swampy. When filled in, it would, indeed, be dry and sandy,—the sandy soil of Greenwich extends, in some places, to a depth of fifty feet. Accordingly, the city bought the land from the Herrings and made a Potter's Field. Eight years later, by the bye, they bought Colonel Smith's tract too, to add to the field. The entire plot was ninety lots,—eight lots to an acre,—and comprised nearly the entire site of the present square. The extreme western part, a strip extending east of Macdougal Street to the Brook, a scant thirty feet,—was bought from the Warren heirs.

Minetta Lane, which was close by, had a few aristocratic country residents by that time, and everyone was quite outraged by the notion of having a paupers' graveyard so near. Several rich people of the countryside even offered to present the city corporation with a much larger and more valuable plot of ground somewhere else; but the officials were firm. The public notice was relentlessly made, of the purchase of ground "bounded on the road leading from the Bowerie Lane at the two-mile stone to Greenwich."

When you next stroll through the little quiet park in the shadow of the Arch and Turini's great statue of Garibaldi, watching the children at play, the tramps and wayfarers resting, the tired horses drinking from the fountain the S.P.C.A. has placed there for their service and comfort, the old dreaming of the past, and the young dreaming of the future,—see, if you please, if it is not rather a wistfully pleasant thought to recall the poor and the old and the nameless and the humble who were put to rest there a century and a quarter ago?

The Aceldama of the Priests of Jerusalem was "the potter's field to bury strangers in," according to St. Matthew; and in the Syriac version that meant literally "the field of sleep." It is true that when they made use of Judas Iscariot's pieces of silver, they twisted the syllables to mean the "field of blood," but it was a play upon words only. The Field of Sleep was the Potter's Field, where the weary "strangers" rested, at home at last.

There is nothing intrinsically repellent in the memories attached to a Potter's Field,—save, possibly, in this case, a certain scandalous old story of robbing it of its dead for the benefit of the medical students of the town. That was a disgraceful business if you like! But public feeling was so bitter and retributive that the practice was speedily discontinued. So, again, there is nothing to make us recoil, here among the green shadows of the square, from the recollection of the Potter's Field. But there is always something fundamentally shocking in any place of public punishment. And,—alas!—there is that stain upon the fair history of this square of which we are writing.

For—there was a gallows in the old Potter's Field. Upon the very spot where you may be watching the sparrows or the budding leaves, offenders were hanged for the edification or intimidation of huge crowds of people. Twenty highwaymen were despatched there, and at least one historian insists that they were all executed at once, and that Lafayette watched the performance. Certainly a score seems rather a large number, even in the days of our stern forefathers; one cannot help wondering if the event were presented to the great Frenchman as a form of entertainment.

In 1795 came one of those constantly recurring epidemics of yellow fever which used to devastate early Manhattan; and in 1797 came a worse one. Many bodies were brought from other burying grounds, and when the scourge of small-pox killed off two thousand persons in one short space, six hundred and sixty-seven of them were laid in this particular public cemetery. During one very bad time, the rich as well as the poor were brought there, and there were nearly two thousand bodies sleeping in the Potter's Field.

People who had died from yellow fever were wrapped in great yellow sheets before they were buried,—a curious touch of symbolism in keeping with the fantastic habit of mind which we find everywhere in the early annals of America. Mr. E.N. Tailer, among others, can recall, many years later, seeing the crumbling yellow folds of shrouds uncovered by breaking coffin walls, when the heavy guns placed in the Square sank too weightily into the ground, and crushed the trench-vaults.

It would be interesting to examine, in fancy, those lost and sometimes non-existent headstones of the Field,—that is, to try to tell a few of the tales that cling about those who were buried there. But the task is difficult, and after all, tombstones yield but cheerless reading. That the sleepers in the Potter's Field very often had not even that shelter of tombstones makes their stories the more elusive and the more melancholy. One or two slight records stand out among the rest, notably the curious one attached to the last of the stones to be removed from Washington Square. I believe that it was in 1857 that Dr. John Francis, in an address before the Historical Society of New York, told this odd story, which must here be only touched upon.

One Benjamin Perkins, "a charlatan believer in mesmeric influence," plied his trade in early Manhattan. He seems to have belonged to that vast army of persons who seriously believe their own teachings even when they know them to be preposterous. Perkins made a specialty of yellow fever, and insisted that he could cure it by hypnotism. That he had a following is in no way strange, considering his day and generation, but the striking point about this is that, when he was exposed to the horror himself, he tried to automesmerise himself out of it. After three days he died, as Dr. Francis says, "a victim of his own temerity."

And still the gallows stood on the Field of Sleep, and also a big elm tree which sometimes served as the "gallows tree." Naturally, Indians and negroes predominated in the lists of malefactors executed. The redmen were distrusted from the beginning on Manhattan,—and with some basic reason, one must admit;—as for the blacks, they were more severely dealt with than any other class. The rigid laws and restrictions of that day were applied especially rigidly to the slaves. A slave was accounted guilty of heavy crimes on the very lightest sort of evidence, and the penalties imposed seem to us out of all proportion to the acts. Arson, for instance, was a particularly heinous offence—when committed by a negro. The negro riots, which form such an exceedingly black chapter in New York's history, and which horrify our more humane modern standards with ghastly pictures of hangings and burnings at the stake, were often caused by nothing more criminal than incendiarism. One very bad period of this sort of disorder started with a trifling fire in Sir. Peter Warren's house,—the source of which was not discovered,—and later grew to ungovernable proportions through other acts of the same sort.

As late as 1819, a young negro girl named Rose Butler was hanged in our Square before an immense crowd, including many women and young children. Kindly read what the New York Evening Post said about it in its issue of July 9th:

"Rose, a black girl who had been sentenced to be hung for setting fire to a dwelling house, and who was respited for a few days, in the hope that she would disclose some accomplice in her wickedness, was executed yesterday at two o'clock near the Potter's Field."

And in Charles H. Haswell's delightful "Reminiscences," there is one passage which has, for modern ears, rather too Spartan a ring:

"A leading daily paper referred to her (he speaks of Rose) execution in a paragraph of five lines, without noticing any of the unnecessary and absurd details that are given in the present day in like cases; neither was her dying speech recorded...."

Thomas Janvier declares that she was accused of murder, but all other authorities say that poor Rose's "wickedness" had consisted of lighting a fire under the staircase of her master's house, with, or so it was asserted, "a malicious intent." One sees that it was quite easy to get hanged in those days,—especially if you happened to be a negro! The great elm tree, on a branch of which Rose was hanged, stood intact in the Square until 1890. I am glad it is gone at last!

Old Manhattan was as strictly run as disciplinary measures and rules could contrive and guarantee. The old blue laws were stringently enforced, and the penalty for infringement was usually a sharp one. In the unpublished record of the city clerk we find, next to the item that records Elbert Harring's application for a land-grant, a note to the effect that a "Publick Whipper" had been appointed on the same day, at five pounds quarterly.

Public notices of that time, printed in the current press, remind the reader of some of these aforementioned rules and regulations. We read that "Tapsters are forbid to sell to the Indians," and that "unseasonable night tippling" is also tabooed; likewise drinking after nine in the evening when curfew rings, or "on a Sunday before three o'clock, when divine service shall be over."

I wonder whether little old "Washington Hall" was built too late to come under these regulations? It was a roadhouse of some repute in 1820, and a famous meeting place for celebrities in the sporting world. It was, too, a tavern and coffee house for travellers (its punch was famous!) and the stagecoaches stopped there to change horses. At this moment of writing it is still standing, on the south of Washington Square,—I think number 58,—with other shabby structures of wood, which, for some inscrutable reason, have never been either demolished or improved. Now they are doomed at last, and are to make way for new and grand apartment houses; and so these, among the oldest buildings in Greenwich, drift into the mist of the past.

And in that same part of the Square—in number 59 or 60, it is said—lived one who cannot be omitted from any story of the Potter's Field: Daniel Megie, the city's gravedigger. In 1819 he bought a plot of ground from one John Ireland, and erected a small frame house, where he lived and where he stored the tools of his rather grim trade. For three years he dwelt there, smoothing the resting places in the Field of Sleep; then, in 1823, a new Potter's Field was opened at the point now known as Bryant Park, and the bodies from the lower cemetery were carried there. Megie, apparently, lost his job, sold out to Joseph Dean and disappeared into obscurity. It is interesting to note that he bought his plot in the first place for $500; now it is incorporated in the apartment house site which is estimated at about $250,000!

There is a legend to the effect that Governor Lucius Robinson later occupied this same house, but the writer does not vouch for the fact. The Governor certainly lived somewhere in the vicinity, and his favourite walk was on Amity Street,—why can't we call it that now, instead of the cold and colourless Third Street?

I find that I have said nothing of Monument Lane,—sometimes called Obelisk Lane,—yet it was quite a landmark in its day, as one may gather from the fact that Ratzer thought it important enough to put in his official map. It ran, I think, almost directly along North Washington Square, and, at one point, formed part of the "Inland Road to Greenwich" which was the scene of Revolutionary manoeuvres. Monument Lane was so called because at the end of it (about Fifteenth Street and Eighth Avenue) stood a statue of the much-adored English general, James Wolfe, whose storming of the Heights of Abraham in the Battle of Quebec, and attendant defeat of the Marquis de Montcalm, have made him illustrious in history. After the Revolution, the statue disappeared, and there is no record of its fate.

With the passing of the old Potter's Field, came many changes. Mayor Stephen Allen (later lost on the Henry Clay), made signal civic improvements; he levelled, drained and added three and a half acres to the field. In short, it became a valuable tract of ground. Society, driven steadily upward from Bowling Green, Bond Street, Bleecker and the rest, had commenced to settle down in the country. What had yesterday been rural districts were suburbs today.

In 1806 there were as many as fifteen families in this neighbourhood rich and great enough to have carriages. Colonel Turnbull had an "out of town" house at, approximately, Eighth and Macdougal streets,—a charming cottage, with twenty acres of garden land which today are worth millions. Growing tired of living in the country, he offered to sell his place to his friend, Nehemiah Rogers; but the latter decided against it.

"It is too far out of town!" he declared.

"But you have a carriage!" exclaimed the Colonel. "You can drive in to the city whenever you want to!"

The distance was too great, however, and Mr. Rogers did not buy.

By 1826, however, the tide had carried many persons of wealth out to this neighbourhood, and there were more and more carriages to be seen with each succeeding month. All at once, high iron railings were built about the deserted Potter's Field,—a Potter's Field no longer,—and on June 27th of that year a proclamation was issued:

"The corporation of the city of New York have been pleased to set apart a piece of ground for a military parade on Fourth Street near Macdougal Street, and have directed it to be called 'Washington Military Parade Ground.' For the purpose of honouring its first occupation as a military parade, Colonel Arcularis will order a detachment from his regiment with field pieces to parade on the ground on the morning of the Fourth of July next. He shall fire a national salute and proclaim the name of the parade ground, with such ceremonies as he shall see fit."

This occasion, an anniversary of American independence, seems to have been a most gorgeous affair, with the Governor, Mayor and other officials present, and a monumental feast to wind up with. The menu included, among other dainties, two oxen roasted whole, two hundred hams ("with a carver at each"), and so many barrels of beer that the chronicler seems not to have had the courage to record the precise number!

1827 seems to have seen a real growth of social life around the Washington Parade Ground. The New York Gazette of June 7th advertised "three-story dwellings in Fourth Street, between Thompson and Macdougal streets, for sale. The front and rear of the whole range is to be finished in the same style as the front of the Bowery Theatre, and each to have a grass plot in front with iron railings."

This promise of theatrical architecture seems a curious inducement, but it must have been effective, for many exclusive families came—no, flocked,—to live in the houses!

In 1830 there was a grand celebration there in joint honour of the anniversary of the British evacuation and the crowning of Louis Philippe in France. Everybody sang patriotic French and American airs, sent off fireworks, fired salutes and had a wildly enthusiastic time. Incidentally, there were speeches by ex-President Monroe and the Hon. Samuel Gouveneur. Enoch Crosby, who was the original of Fenimore Cooper's famous Harvey Birch in "The Spy," was present, and so was David Williams, one of the captors of Major Andre,—not to mention about thirty thousand others!

This year saw, too, the founding of the University of the City of New York, on the east side of the Square,—or rather, the Parade Ground, as it was then. That fine old educational institution came close to having its cornerstones christened with blood, for it was the occasion of the well-known,—shall we say the notorious?—"Stonecutters' Riots." The builders contracted for work to be done by the convicts of Sing Sing Prison, and the city workmen, or Stonecutters' Guild,—already strong for unions,—objected. In fact, they objected so strenuously that the Twenty-seventh Regiment (now our popular Seventh) was called out, and stayed under arms in the Square for four days and nights; after which the disturbance died down.

The next important labour demonstration in the Square was in 1855, when, during a period of "hard times," eight thousand workmen assembled there with drums and trumpets, and made speeches in the most approved and up-to-date agitator style, collecting a sum of money which went well up into four figures!

In 1833 society folded its wings and settled down with something resembling permanence upon the corner of the "Snug Harbour" lands, which formed the famous North Side of Washington Square. Of all social and architectural centres of New York, Washington Square North has changed least. Progress may come or go, social streams may flow upward with as much speed, energy and ambition as they will; the eddies leave one quiet and lovely pool unstirred. That fine row of stately houses remains the symbol of dignified beauty and distinction and an aristocracy that is not old-fashioned but perennial.

Such names as we read associated with the story of Washington Square and its environs! Names great in politics and patriotism, in art and literature, in learning and distinction, in fashion and fame and architecture. Hardly one of them but is connected with great position or great achievement or both. Rhinelander, Roosevelt, Hamilton, Chauncey, Wetmore, Howland, Suffern, Vanderbilt, Phelps, Winthrop,—the list is too long to permit citing in full. Three mayors have lived there, and in the immediate vicinity dwelt such distinguished literary persons as Bayard Taylor, Henry James, George William Curtis, N.P. Willis (Nym Crynkle), our immortal Poe himself, Anne Lynch,—poetess and hostess of one of the first and most distinguished salons of America—Charles Hoffman, editor of the Knickerbocker, and so on. Another centre of wit and wisdom was the house of Dr. Orville Dewey,—whose Unitarian Church, at Broadway and Waverly Place, was the subject of the first successful photograph in this country by the secret process confided to Morse by Daguerre.

Edgar Allan Poe lived with his sick young wife Virginia, on Carmine Street, and lived very uncomfortably, too. The name of his boarding-house keeper is lost to posterity, but the poet wrote of her food: "I wish Kate our cat could see it. She would faint."

Poor Poe lived always somewhere near the Square. Once in a while he moved away for a time, but he invariably gravitated back to it and to his old friends there. It was in Carmine Street that he wrote his "Arthur Gordon Pym," with Gowans the publisher for a fellow lodger; it was on Sixth Avenue and Waverly Place that he created "Ligeia" and "The Fall of the House of Usher." After Virginia's death, he took a room just off the Square, and wrote the "Imp of the Perverse," with her picture (it is said) above his desk. It was at these quarters that Lowell called on him, and found him, alas! "not himself that day." The old Square has no stranger nor sadder shade to haunt it than that of the brilliant and melancholy genius who in life loved it so well.

Poe's friend Willis published many of his stories and articles in the Sun, still a newcomer in the old field of journalism. Willis has his own connection with the tale of the Square, though not a very glorious one. The town buzzed for days with talk of the sensational interview between Nym Crinkle and Edwin Forrest, the actor. Mr. Willis made some comments on Forrest's divorce, in an editorial, and that player, so well adored by the American public, took him by the coat collar in Washington Square and exercised his stage-trained muscles by giving him a thorough and spectacular thrashing.

Somewhere in that neighbourhood, much earlier, another editor, William Coleman, founder of the Evening Post, and Jeremiah Thompson, Collector of the Port, fought a duel to the death. It was indeed to the death, for Thompson was wounded fatally. But duels were common enough in those days; we feel still the thrill of indignation roused by the shooting of Alexander Hamilton by Burr.

The old University of New York—where Professor Morse conducted his great experiments in telegraphy, where Samuel Colt in his tower workroom perfected his revolver, where the Historical Society of New York was first established and where many of our most distinguished citizens received their education—was never a financial success. For a time they tried to make it pay by taking tenants—young students, and bachelors who wished seclusion for writing or research. Then, in the course of time, it was moved away to the banks of the Hudson. On the site now stands a modern structure, where, to be sure, a few of the old University departments are still conducted, but which is chiefly celebrated as being the first all-bachelor apartment house erected in town. It is appropriately called the "Benedick," after a certain young man who scoffed at matrimony,—and incidentally got married!

And a few of the families stay beneath the roofs their forefathers built, watching, as they watched, the same quiet trees and lawns and paths of the most charming square in all New York: De Forest, Rhinelander, Delano, Stewart, De Rham, Gould, Wynkoop, Tailer, Guinness, Claflin, Booth, Darlington, Gregory, Hoyt, Schell, Shattuck, Weekes,—these, and others are still the names of the residents of Washington Square North. Father Knickerbocker, coming to smoke his pipe here, will be in good company, you perceive!

The recollections of many living persons who recall the old Square and other parts of early New York, bring forcibly to us the realisation of the speed with which this country of ours has evolved itself. In one man's lifetime, New York has grown from a small town just out of its Colonial swaddling clothes to the greatest city in the world. These reminiscences, then, are but memories of yesterday or the day before. We do not have to take them from history books but from the diaries of men and women who are still wide-eyed with wonder at the changes which have come to their city!

"The town was filled with beautiful trees," says one man (who remembers Commodore Vanderbilt, with the splendid horses, the fine manner and the unexampled profane eloquence), "but the pavements were very dirty. Places like St. John's Park and Abingdon Square were quiet and sweet and secluded. Where West Fourth Street and West Eleventh Street met it was so still you could almost hear the grass grow between the cobblestones! Everything near the Square was extremely exclusive and fashionable. Washington and Waverly places were very aristocratic indeed."

Waverly Place, by the bye, got its name through a petition of select booklovers who lived thereabouts and adored Sir. Walter Scott. It speaks well for the good taste of the aristocratic quarter, even though the tribute came a bit late,—about twenty years after "Waverley" was published!

The celebrated north side of the Square was called, by the society people, "The Row," and was, of course, the last word in social prestige. But, for all its lofty place in the veneration of the world and his wife, its ways were enchantingly simple, if we may trust the tales we hear. In the Square stood the "Pump With The Long Handle," and thence was every bucketful of washing water drawn by the gilt-edged servants of the gilt-edged "Row"! The water was, it is said, particularly soft,—rain, doubtless,—and day by day the pails were carried to the main pump to be filled!

When next you look at the motor stages gliding past the Arch, try, just for a moment, to visualise the old stages which ran on Fifth Avenue from Fulton Ferry uptown. They were very elaborate, we are told, and an immense improvement on the old Greenwich stagecoaches, and the great lumbering vehicles that conveyed travellers along the Post Road. These new Fifth Avenue stages were brightly painted: the body of the coach was navy blue, the running gear white, striped with red, and the lettering and decorations of gold. A strap which enabled the driver to open and close the door without descending from his seat was looked upon as an impressive innovation! Inside, there were oil paintings on panels, small candles in glass boxes for illumination, and straw on the floor to keep your feet warm. These luxuries justified the high rate which was charged. The fare was ten cents!

In very heavy snowstorms the stages were apt to get stalled, so that a few stage sleighs were run in midwinter, but only in the city proper. Their farthest uptown terminal was at Fourteenth Street, so they were not much help to suburbanites!

No single article, or chapter, can even attempt to encompass the complete story of Washington Square. Covering the entire period of the city's history, passing through startling changes and transformations, the scene of great happenings, the background of illustrious or curious lives,—it is probably more typical of the vertiginous development of New York than any single section. The Indians, the Dutch, the English, the Colonials, the Revolutionists, the New Americans, the shining lights of art, science, fashion and the state, have all passed through it, confidently and at home. The dead have slept there; wicked men have died there and great ones been honoured. Belles and beaux have minced on their way beneath the thick green branches,—branches that have also quivered to the sound of artillery fire saluting a mighty nation newborn. Nothing that a city can feel or suffer or delight in has escaped Washington Square. Everything of valour and tragedy and gallantry and high hope—that go to making a great town as much and more than its bricks and mortar—are in that nine and three-quarters acres that make up the very heart and soul of New York.

The lovely Arch first designed by Stanford White and erected by William Rhinelander Stewart's public-spirited efforts, on April 30, 1889, was in honour of the centennial anniversary of Washington's inauguration; it was so beautiful that, happily, it was later made permanent in marble, and in all the town there could have been found no more fitting place for it.

In every really great city there is one place which is, in a sense, sacred from the profanation of too utilitarian progress. However commercialised Paris might become, you could not cheapen the environs of Notre Dame! Whatever happens to us, let us hope that we will always keep Washington Square as it is today,—our little and dear bit of fine, concrete history, the one perfect page of our old, immortal New York!

Father Knickerbocker, may you dream well!


The Green Village

God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb down Greenwich way!—THOMAS JANVIER.

Did you know that "Greenwich Village" is tautology? That region known affectionately as "Our Village" is Greenwich, pure and simple, and here is the "why" of that statement.

The word wich is derived from the Saxon wick, and originally had birth in the Latin vicus, which means village. Hence, Greenwich means simply the Green Village, and was evidently a term describing one of the first small country hamlets on Manhattan. Captain Sir. Peter Warren, on whom be peace and benedictions, is usually given the credit of having given Greenwich its name, the historians insisting that it was the name of his own estate, and simply got stretched to take in the surrounding countryside. This seems rather a stupid theory. The Warrens were undoubtedly among the earliest representative residents in the little country resort, but by no stretch of imagination could any private estate, however ample or important, be called a village. But Greenwich was the third name to be applied to this particular locality.

Once upon a time there was a little settlement of Indians—the tribe was called the Sappocanicon or Sappokanikee. Like other redmen they had a gift for picking out good locations for their huts or wigwams—whatever they were in those days. On this island of Manhattan they had appropriated the finest, richest, yet driest piece of ground to be had. There were woods and fields; there was a marvellous trout stream (Minetta Water); there was a game preserve, second to none, presented to them by the Great Spirit (in the vicinity of Washington Square). There was pure air from the river, and a fine loamy soil for their humble crops. It was good medicine.

They adopted it far back in those beginnings of American history of which we know nothing. When you go down to the waterfront to see the ships steam away, you are probably standing where the braves and squaws had their forest home overlooking the river.

But their day passed. Peter Minuit—who really was a worth-while man and deserved to be remembered for something besides his thrifty deal in buying Manhattan for twenty-four dollars—cast an eye over the new territory with a view to developing certain spots for the Dutch West India Company. He staked out the Sappokanican village tentatively, but it was not really appropriated until Wouter Van Twiller succeeded Minuit as director general and Governor of the island.

Van Twiller was not one of the Hollanders' successes. R.R. Wilson says of him, "Bibulous, slow-witted and loose of life and morals, Van Twiller proved wholly unequal to the task in hand." Representing the West India Company, he nevertheless held nefarious commerce with the Indians—it is even reported that he sold them guns and powder in violation of express regulations—and certainly he was first and forever on the make. But before he was removed from office (because of these and other indiscretions) he had founded Our Village,—so may his soul rest in peace!

Not that he intended to do posterity a favour. He never wanted to help anyone but himself. But, in the first year of his disastrous governorship, he got the itch of tobacco speculation. He knew there was money in it.

He, too, looked over the Indian village above the river, and he, too, found it good. He made it the Company's Farm Number 3, but he did not work it for the company. Not he! He worked it for Wouter Van Twiller, as he worked everything else. He eliminated the Indians by degrees, whether by strategy or force history does not say. R.R. Wilson says it was "rum and warfare." Anyway, they departed to parts unknown and Van Twiller built a farm and started an immense tobacco plantation. As the tobacco grew and flourished the place became known by the Dutch as the Bossen Bouwerie—the farm in the woods. It was one of the very earliest white settlements on the whole island. R.R. Wilson says, "Rum and warfare had before this made an end of the Indian village of the first days. Its Dutch successor, however, grew from year to year."

The names of these first Dutch residents of the Bossen Bouwerie—or Sappocanican as it was still occasionally called—are not known, but it is certain that there were a number of them. In the epoch of Peter Stuyvesant someone mentioned the houses at "Sappokanigan," and in 1679, after the British had arrived, a descriptive little entry was made in one of those delightfully detailed journals of an older and more precise generation than ours. The diary was the one kept by the Labadist missionaries—Dankers and Sluyter—and was only recently unearthed by Henry Murphy at The Hague. It runs as follows:

"We crossed over the island, which takes about three-quarters of an hour to do, and came to the North River, which we followed a little within the woods to Sapokanikee. Gerrit having a sister and friends, we rested ourselves and drank some good beer, which refreshed us. We continued along the shore to the city, where we arrived at an early hour in the evening, very much fatigued, having walked this day about forty miles. I must add, in passing through this island we sometimes encountered such a sweet smell in the air that we stood still; because we did not know what it was we were meeting."

It is odd that the Dutch names in Greenwich have died out as much as they have. There is something in Holland blood which has a way of persisting. They—the old Manhattan Dutch anyway—had a certain stubborn individuality of their own, which refused to give way or compromise. I have always felt that the way the Dutch ladies used to drink their tea was a most illuminating sidelight upon their racial characteristics. They served the dish of tea and the sugar separately—the latter in a large and awkward hunk from which they crunched out bites as they needed them. Now I take it that there was no particular reason for this inconvenient and labourious method, except that it was their way. They were used to doing things in an original and an unyielding fashion. I believe a real old-world Mevrouw would have looked as coldly askance upon the innovation of putting the sugar in the tea, as she looked at the pernicious ingress of the devil-endowed Church of England.

In 1664 came the English rule in what had been New Amsterdam and with it British settlers and a new language. So the Bossen Bouwerie became Green Wich (later clipped in pronunciation to Grinnich), the Green Village, and a peaceful, remote little settlement it remained for many a long year.

Now came the rich and great in search of country air, health, rest or change of scene. Colonial society was not so different from twentieth century society. They, too, demanded occasional doses of rustic scenery and rest cures; and they began to drift out to the green little hamlet on the Hudson where they could commune with nature and fortify themselves with that incomparable air. Captain Warren, Oliver de Lancey, James Jauncey, William Bayard and Abraham Mortier all acquired estates there. The road to Greenwich was by far the most fashionable of all the Colonial drives.

Greenwich Road ran along the line of our present Greenwich Street, and gave one a lovely view of the water. At Lispenard's Salt Meadows (Canal Street) it ran upon a causeway, but the marshes overflowed in the spring, and soon they opened another road known as the Inland Road to Greenwich. This second lane ran from the Post Road or Bowery, westward over the fields and passing close to the site of the Potter's Field. This, I understand, was the favourite drive of the fashionable world a century and a half ago.

If anyone wants to really taste the savour of old New York, let him read the journals of those bygone days. Better than any history books will they make the past live again, make it real to you with its odd perfumes, and its stilted mannerisms, and its high-hearted courage and gallantry.

I know of no quainter literature than is to be found in these very old New York papers. The advertisements alone are pregnant with suggestions of the past—colour, atmosphere, the subtle fragrance and flavour of other days. We read that James Anderson of Broadway has just arrived from London "in the brig Betsy" with a load of "the best finished boot legs." Another gentleman urges people to inspect his "crooked tortoise-shell combs for ladies and gentlemen's hair, his vegetable face powder—his nervous essence for the toothache, his bergamot, lemon, lavendar and thyme"—and other commodities.

Sales were advertised of such mixed assortments as the following:

"For Sale: "A negro wench. "An elegant chariot. "Geneva in pipes, cloves, steel, heart and club, scale beams, cotton in bales, Tenerisse wines in pipes, and quarter casks."

In several old papers you find that two camels were to be seen in a certain stable, at a shilling a head for adults and sixpence for children. The camels were a novelty and highly popular.

Take this item, for instance, from the good old Daily Advertiser, chronicler of the big and little things of Manhattan's early days. It gives a fine example of old-style journalism. Observe the ingenuity with which a page of narrative is twisted into the first sentence. The last two are the more startling in their abrupt fashion of leaving the reader high and dry. The cow is starred; obviously the man appears a minor actor:

"On Thursday afternoon, as a man of genteel appearance was passing along Beekman Street, he was attacked by a cow, and notwithstanding his efforts to avoid her, and the means he used to beat her off, we are sorry to say that he was so much injured as to be taken up dead. The cow was afterward killed in William Street. We have not been able to learn the name of the deceased"!!

Some of the items contain genuine if unconscious humour,—such as the record of the question brought up before the City Council: "Whether attorneys are thought useful to plead in courts or not?" Answer: "It is thought not."

Then there is the proclamation that if any Indian was found drunk in any street, and it could not be ascertained where he got the liquor, the whole street was to be fined!

Among the earlier laws duly published in the press was that hogs should not be "suffered to goe or range in any of the streets or lands." In 1684 eight watchmen were appointed at twelve-pence a night. But read them for yourselves,—they are worth the trouble you will have to find them!

There were many queer trades in New York, and all of them, or nearly all, advertised in the daily journals. In column on column of yellowed paper and quaint f-for-s printing, we read exhortations to employ this or that man, most of them included in the picturesque verse whose author I do not know:

"Plumbers, founders, dyers, tanners, shavers, Sweepers, clerks and criers, jewelers, engravers, Clothiers, drapers, players, cartmen, hatters, nailers, Gaugers, sealers, weighers, carpenters, and sailors!"

And read the long-winded, yet really beautiful old obituary notices; the simple news of battles and high deeds; the fiery, yet pedantic, political editorials. Oh, no one knows anything about Father Knickerbocker until he has read the same newspapers that Father Knickerbocker himself read,—when he wasn't writing for them!

The Revolution had passed and Greenwich was a real village, and growing with astonishing rapidity, even in that day of lightning development.

In 1807 they started to do New York over, and they kept at it faithfully and successfully until 1811. Then began the laying out of streets according to numbers and fixed measurements, instead of by picturesque names and erratic cow-path meanderings. Gouverneur Morris, Simeon de Witt and John Rutherford were appointed by the city to take charge of this task, and, as one writer points out, they did not do it as badly as they might have done, nor as we are inclined to think they did when we try to find our way around lower New York today. The truth is that Greenwich had grown up, and always has grown up ever since, in an entirely independent and obstinate fashion all its own. There was not the slightest use in trying to make its twisty curlicue streets conform to any engineering plan on earth; so those sensible old-time folk didn't try. William Bridges, architect and city surveyor, entrusted with the job, mentions "that part of the city which lies south of Greenwich Lane and North Street, and which was not included in the powers vested in the commissioners." And so Our Village remains itself, utterly and arrogantly untouched by the confining orthodoxy of the rest of the town!

The passing of the British rule was the signal for variously radical democratic changes, not only in customs and forms, but in nomenclature. After they had melted up a leaden statue of King George and made it into American bullets, they went about abolishing every blessed thing in the city which could remind them of England and English ways. The names of the streets were, of course, nearly all intrinsically English. A few of the old Dutch names persisted—Bleecker, Vandam, and so on—but nearly every part of the town was named for the extolling of Britain and British royalty. Away then, said New York, with the sign manuals of crowns and autocracy!

In 1783, when the English evacuated Manhattan, the Advertiser published: "May the remembrance of this DAY be a lesson to princes!" and in this spirit was the last vestige of imperial rule systematically expunged from the city. Crown Street was a red rag to the bull of Young America; it was called Liberty, and thus became innocuous! Queen Street doffed its ermine and became homely and humble, under the name of Cedar. King Street was now Pine. King George Street was abolished altogether, according to the chronicles. One is curious to know what they did with it; it must be difficult to lose a street entirely! A few streets and squares named for individual Englishmen who had been friendly to America were left unmolested—Abingdon Square, and also Chatham Street, which had been given its appellation in honour of the ever popular William Pitt, Earl of Chatham; Chatham Square, indeed, exists to this day.

Greenwich was at all times a resort for those who could afford it, an exclusive and beautiful country region where anyone with a full purse could go to court health and rest among the trees and fields and river breezes. It was destined to become the most popular, flourishing and prosperous little village that ever grew up over night. Those marvellously healthy qualities as to location and air, that fine, sandy soil, made it a haven, indeed, to people who were afraid of sickness. And in those days the island was continually swept by epidemics—violent, far-reaching, and registering alarming mortality. Greenwich seemed to be the only place where one didn't get yellow fever or anything else, and terrorised citizens began to rush out there in droves, not only with their bags and their baggage, and their wives and children, but with their business too!

John Lambert, an English visitor to America in 1807, writes:

"As soon as yellow fever makes its appearance, the inhabitants shut up their shops and fly from their homes into the country. Those who cannot go far on account of business, remove to Greenwich, situate on the border of the Hudson about two or three miles from town. The banks and other public offices also remove their business to this place and markets are regularly established for the supply of the inhabitants."

Things went so fast for Greenwich during the biggest of the yellow fever "booms" that one old chronicler (whose name I regret not being able to find) declares he "saw the corn growing on the corner of Hammond Street (West Eleventh) on a Saturday morning, and by the next Monday Niblo and Sykes had built a house there for three hundred boarders!"

Devoe says that:

"The visits of yellow fever in 1798, 1799, 1803 and 1805 tended much to increase the formation of a village near the Spring Street Market and one also near the State Prison; but the fever of 1882 built up many streets with numerous wooden buildings for the uses of the merchants, banks (from which Bank Street took its name), offices, etc."

"'The town fairly exploded,'" quotes Macatamney,—from what writer he does not state,—"'and went flying beyond its bonds as though the pestilence had been a burning mine.'"

It was in 1822 that Hardie wrote:

"Saturday, the 24th of August our city presented the appearance of a town beseiged. From daybreak till night one line of carts, containing boxes, merchandise and effects, was seen moving towards Greenwich Village and the upper parts of the city. Carriages and hacks, wagons and horsemen, were scouring the streets and filling the roads; persons with anxiety strongly marked on their countenances, and with hurried gait, were hustling through the streets. Temporary stores and offices were erecting, and even on the ensuing day (Sunday) carts were in motion, and the saw and hammer busily at work. Within a few days thereafter the custom house, the post office, the banks, the insurance offices and the printers of newspapers located themselves in the village or in the upper part of Broadway, where they were free from the impending danger; and these places almost instantaneously became the seat of the immense business usually carried on in the great metropolis."

Bank Street got its name in this way, the city banks transferring their business thither literally overnight, ready to do business in the morning.

Miss Euphemia M. Olcott in her delightful recollections of the past in New York, gives us some charming snapshots of a still later Greenwich as she got them from her mother who was born in 1819.

"She often visited in Greenwich Village, both at her grandfather's and at the house of Mr. Abraham Van Nest, which had been built and originally occupied by Sir. Peter Warren. But she never thought of going so far for less than a week! [She lived at Fulton and Nassau streets.] There was a city conveyance for part of the way, and then the old Greenwich stage enabled them to complete the long journey. This ran several times a day, and when my mother committed her hymn:

"'Hasten, sinner, to be wise, Ere this evening's stage be run'

she told us that for some years it never occurred to her that it could mean anything in the world but the Greenwich stage."

In further quoting her mother, she tells of Sir. Peter's house itself—then Mr. Van Nest's—as a square frame residence, with gardens both of flowers and vegetables, stables and numbers of cows, chickens, pigeons and peacocks. In the huge hall that ran through the house were mahogany tables loaded with silver baskets of fresh-made cake, and attended by negroes.

In our next chapter we are going back to meet this house a bit more intimately, and find out something of those who built it and lived in it, that fine gentleman, Sir. Peter Warren and his beautiful lady,—Susannah.

But let us not forget.

Greenwich was not exclusively a settlement of the rich and great nor even solely a health resort and refuge. There were, besides the fine estates and the mushroom business sections, two humbler off-shoots: Upper and Lower Greenwich. The first was the Skinner Road—now Christopher Street; the second lay at the foot of Brannan Street—now Spring. To the Upper Greenwich in 1796 came a distinction which would seem to have been of doubtful advantage,—the erection of the New York State Prison. It stood on Amos Street, now our Tenth, close to the river and was an imposing structure for its time—two hundred feet in length with big wings, and a stone-wall enclosure twenty feet in height.

Strange to say the Greenwichers did not object to the prison. They were quite proud of it, and seemed to consider it rather as an acquisition than a plague spot. No other village had a State Prison to show to visitors; Greenwich held its head haughtily in consequence.

A hotel keeper in 1811 put this "ad." in the Columbia:

"A few gentlemen may be accommodated with board and lodging at this pleasant and healthy situation, a few doors from the State Prison. The Greenwich stage passes from this to the Federal Hall and returns five times a day."

Janvier says that the prison at Greenwich was a "highly volcanic institution." They certainly seemed never out of trouble there. Behind its walls battle, murder and sudden death seemed the milder diversions. Mutiny was a habit, and they had a way of burning up parts of the building when annoyed. On one occasion they shut up all their keepers in one of the wings before setting fire to it, but according to the Chronicle "one more humane than the rest released them before it was consumed."

Hugh Macatamney declares that these mutinies were caused by terrible brutality toward the prisoners. It is true that no one was hanged in the jail itself, the Potter's Field being more public and also more convenient, all things considered, but the punishments in this New York Bridewell were severe in the extreme. Those were the days of whippings and the treadmill,—a viciously brutal invention,—of bread and water and dark cells and the rest of the barbarities which society hit upon with such singular perversity as a means of humanising its derelicts. The prison record of Smith, the "revengeful desperado" who spent half a year in solitary confinement, is probably of as mild a punishment as was ever inflicted there.

In the grim history of the penitentiary there is one gleam of humour. Mr. Macatamney tells it so well that we quote his own words:

"A story is told of an inmate of Greenwich Prison who had been sentenced to die on the gallows, but at the last moment, through the influence of the Society of Friends, had his sentence commuted to life imprisonment, and was placed in charge of the shoe shop in the prison. The Quakers worked for his release, and, having secured it, placed him in a shoe shop of his own. His business flourished, and he was prominently identified with the progress of the times. He had an itching palm, however, and after a time he forged the names of all his business friends, eloped with the daughter of one of his benefactors and disappeared from the earth, apparently. 'Murder will out' A few years after the forger returned to the city, and established himself under an assumed name in the making of shoes, forgetting, however, to maintain complacency, and thinking that no one would recognise him. In a passion at what he considered the carelessness of one of his workmen regarding the time some work should have been delivered, he told the man he should not have promised it, as it caused disappointment. 'Master,' said the workman, 'you have disappointed me worse than that.' 'How, you rascal?' 'When I waited a whole hour in the rain to see you hanged.'"

In 1828 and 1829 the prisoners were transferred to Sing Sing, and the site passed into private hands and the Greenwich State Prison was no more. I believe there's a brewery there now.

It is an odd coincidence that the present Jefferson Market Police Court stands now at Tenth Street,—though a good bit further inland than the ancient State's Prison. The old Jefferson Market clock has looked down upon a deal of crime and trouble, but a fair share of goodness and comfort too. It is hopeful to think that the present regime of Justice is a kindlier and a cleaner one than that which prevailed when the treadmill and the dark cell were Virtue's methods of persuading Vice.

Someone, I know not who, wrote this apropos of prisons in Greenwich:

"In these days fair Greenwich Village Slept by Hudson's rural shores, Then the stage from Greenwich Prison Drove to Wall Street thrice a day— Now the sombre 'Black Maria' Oftener drives the other way."

But I like to think that the old clock, if it could speak, would have some cheering tales to tell. I like to believe that ugly things are slipping farther and farther from Our Village, that honest romance and clean gaiety are rather the rule there than the exception, and that, perhaps, the day will sometime dawn when there will be no more need of the shame of prisons in Greenwich Village.

The early social growth of the city naturally centred about its churches. Even in Colonial days conservative English society in New York assembled on Sunday with a devotion directed not less to fashion than to religion. We must not forget that America was really not America then, but Colonial England. A graceful militarism was the order of the day, and in the fashionable congregations were redcoats in plenty. The Church of England, as represented and upheld by Trinity Parish, was the church where everyone went. If one were stubborn in dissenting—which meant, briefly, if one were Dutch—one attended such of those sturdy outposts of Presbyterianism as one could find outside the social pale. But one was looked down upon accordingly.

It is not hard to make for oneself a colourful picture of a typical Sunday congregation in these dead and gone days. Trinity was the Spiritual Headquarters, one understands; St. Paul's came later, and was immensely fashionable. Though it was rather far out from Greenwich the Greenwich denizens patronised it at the expense of time and trouble. A writer, whose name I cannot fix at the moment, has described the Sabbath attendance:—ladies in powder and patches alighting from their chaises; servants, black of skin and radiant of garment; officers in scarlet and white uniforms (Colonel "Ol" de Lancey lost his patrimony a bit later because he clung to his!)—a soft, fluttering, mincing crowd—most representative of the Colonies, and loathed by the stiff-necked Dutch.

Trinity got its foothold in 1697, and the rest of the English churches had holdings under the Trinity shadow. St. Paul's (where Sir. Peter Warren paid handsomely for a pew, and which is today perhaps the oldest ecclesiastic edifice in the city, and certainly the oldest of the Trinity structures) was built in 1764, on the street called Vesey because of the Rev. Mr. Vesey, its spiritual director. The "God's Acre" around it held many a noted man and woman. Yet, as it is so far from the ground in which we are now concerning ourselves, it seems a bit out of place perhaps. But one must perforce show the English church's beginnings, soon to find a more solid basis in St. John's Chapel, dear to all New Yorkers even nowadays when we behold it menaced by that unholy juggernaut, the subway.

St. John's was begun in 1803 and completed in 1807. It was Part of the old King's Farm, originally granted to Trinity by Queen Anne, who appears to have done quite a lot for New York, take it all in all. It was modelled after St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, in London, and always stood for English traditions and ideals. This did not prevent the British from capturing the organ designed for it and holding it up for ransom in the War of 1812. The organ was made in Philadelphia, but was captured en route by the British ship Plantagenet, a cruiser with seventy-four guns, which was in the habit of picking up little boats and holding them at $100 to $200 each. Luckily the church bell had been obtained before the war!

In regard to the organ, the Weekly Register of Baltimore has this to say:

"A great business this for a ship of the line.... Now a gentleman might suppose that this article would have passed harmless."

St. John's Park, now obliterated and given over to the modernism of the Hudson River Railroad Company, used, in the early fifties, to be still fashionable. Old New Yorkers given to remembrance speak regretfully of the quiet and peace and beauty of the Old Park—which is no more. But St. John's is still with us, "sombre and unalterable," as one writer describes it, "a stately link between the present and the past."

And doubtless nearly everyone who reads these pages knows of St. John's famous "Dole"—the Leake Dole, which has been such a fruitful topic for newspaper writers for decades back.

John Leake and John Watts, in the year 1792, founded the Leake and Watts' Orphan House and John Leake, in so doing, added this curious bequest:

"I hereby give and bequeathe unto the rector and inhabitants of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the State of New York one thousand pounds, put out at interest, to be laid out in the annual income in sixpenny wheaten loaves of bread and distributed on every Sabbath morning after divine service, to such poor as shall appear most deserving."

This charity has endured through the years and is now the trust of St. John's. I have been told—though I do not vouch for it—that the bread is given out not after divine service but very early in the morning, when the grey and silver light of the new day will not too mercilessly oppress the needy and unfortunate, some of them once very rich, who come for the Dole.

In 1822 St. Luke's was built—also a part of the elastic Trinity Parish, and probably the best-known church, next to old St. John's, that stands in Greenwich Village today.

The prejudices of the English Church in early New York prevented the Catholics from gaining any sort of foothold until after the British evacuation. In 1783 St. Peter's, the first Roman Catholic Church, was erected at Barclay Street, and much trouble they had, if account may be relied on. The reported tales of an escaped nun did much to inflame the bigoted populace, but this passed, and today St. Joseph's, which was built in 1829, stands on the corner of Washington Place and Sixth Avenue.

It is not far away, by the bye, that the old Jewish cemetery is to be found. Alderman Curran quaintly suggested that an unwarned stranger might easily stub his toe on the little graveyard on Eleventh Street. It is Beth Haim, the Hebrew Place of Rest, close to Milligan Lane. The same Eleventh Street, which (as we shall see later) was badly handicapped by "the stiff-necked Mr. Henry Brevoort" cut half of Beth Haim away. But a corner of it remains and tranquil enough it seems, not to say pleasant, though almost under the roar of the Elevated.

The Presbyterian churches got a foothold fairly early;—probably the first very fashionable one was that on Mercer Street. Its pastor, the Reverend Thomas Skinner, is chiefly, but deservedly, renowned for a memorable address he made to an assembly of children, some time in 1834. Here is an extract which is particularly bright and lucid:

"Catechism is a compendium of divine truth. Perhaps, children, you do not know the meaning of that word. Compendium is synonymous with synopsis"!!!

The old Methodist churches were models of Puritanism. In the beginning they met in carpenter shops, or wherever they could. When they had real churches, they, for a long time, had separate entrances for the sexes.

It was after I had read of this queer little side shoot of asceticism that I began to fully appreciate what a friend of mine had said to me concerning the New Greenwich.

"The Village," he said, "is a protest against Puritanism." And, he added: "It's just an island, a little island entirely surrounded by hostile seas!"

The Village, old and new, is a protest. It is a voice in the wilderness. Some day perhaps it will conquer even the hostile seas. Anyway, most of the voyagers on the hostile seas will come to the Village eventually, so it should worry!

The Green Village is green no longer, except in scattered spots where the foliage seems to bubble up from the stone and brick as irrepressibly as Minetta Water once bubbled up thereabouts. But it is still the Village, and utterly different from the rest of the city. Not all the commissioners in the world could change the charming, erratic plan of it; not the most powerful pressure of modern business could destroy its insistent, yet elusive personality. The Village has always persistently eluded incorporation in the rest of the city. Never forget this: Greenwich was developed as independently as Boston or Chicago. It is not New York proper: it is an entirely separate place. At points, New York overflows into it, or it straggles out into New York, but it is first and foremost itself. It is not changeless at all, but its changes are eternal and superbly independent of, and inconsistent with, metropolitan evolution.

There was a formative period when, socially speaking, the growth of Greenwich was the growth of New York. But that was when Greenwich was almost the whole of fashionable New York. Later New York plunged onward and left the green cradle of its splendid beginnings. But the cradle remained, still to cherish new lives and fresh ideals and a society profoundly different, yet scarcely less exclusive in its way, than that of the Colonies. It has been described by so many writers in so many ways that one is at a loss for a choice of quotations. Perhaps the most whimsically descriptive is in O. Henry's "Last Leaf."

"In a little district west of Washington Square the streets have run crazy and broken themselves into small strips called 'places.' These 'places' make strange angles and curves. One street crosses itself a time or two. An artist once discovered a valuable possibility in this street. Suppose a collector with a bill for paint, paper and canvas should, in traversing this route, suddenly meet himself coming back, without a cent having been paid on account!"

And Kate Jordan offers this concerning Waverly Place:

"Here Eleventh and Fourth streets, refusing to be separated by arithmetical arrangements, meet at an unexpected point as if to shake hands, and Waverly Place sticks its head in where some other street ought to be, for all the world like a village busybody who has to see what is happening around the corner."

But what of the spirit of Greenwich? The truth is that first and foremost Greenwich is the home of romance. It is a sort of Make Believe Land which has never grown up, and which will never learn to be modern and prosaic.

It is full of romance. You cannot escape it, no matter how hard you try to be practical. You start off on some commonplace stroll enough—or you tell yourself it will be so; you are in the middle of cable car lines and hustling people and shouting truck drivers, and street cleaners and motors and newsboys, and all the component parts of a modern and seemingly very sordid city—when, lo and behold, a step to the right or left has taken you into another country entirely—I had well-nigh said another world. Where did it come from—that quaint little house with the fanlight over the door and the flower-starred grassplot in front? Did it fall from the skies or was it built in a minute like the delectable little house in "Peter Pan"? Neither. It has stood there right along for half or three-quarters of a century, only you didn't happen to know it. You have stepped around the corner into Greenwich Village, that's all.

"In spots there is an unwonted silence, as though one were in some country village," says Joseph Van Dyke. "... There are scraps of this silence to be found about old houses, old walls, old trees."

Here, as in the fairy tales, all things become possible. You know that a lady in a mob-cap and panniers is playing inside that shyly curtained window. Hark! You can hear the thin, delicate notes quite plainly: this is such a quiet little street. A piano rather out of tune? Perish the thought! Dear friend, it is a spinet,—a harpsichord. Almost you can smell pot-pourri.

Perhaps it was of such a house that H.C. Bunner wrote:

"We lived in a cottage in old Greenwich Village, With a tiny clay plot that was burnt brown and hard; But it softened at last to my girl's patient tillage, And the roses sprang up in our little backyard;"

The garden hunger of the Village! It is something pathetic and yet triumphant, pitiful and also splendid. It is joyous life and growth hoping in the most unpromising surroundings: it is eager and gallant hope exulting in the very teeth of defeat. Do you remember John Reed's—

"Below's the barren, grassless, earthen ring Where Madame, with a faith unwavering Planted a wistful garden every spring,— Forever hoped-for,—never blossoming."

Yet they do blossom, those hidden and usually unfruitful garden-places. Sometimes they bloom in real flowers that anyone can see and touch and smell. Sometimes they come only as flowers of the heart—which, after all, will do as well as another sort,—in Greenwich Village, where they know how to make believe.

Here is how Hugh Macatamney describes Greenwich:

"A walk through the heart of this interesting locality—the American quarter, from Fourteenth Street down to Canal, west of Sixth Avenue—will reveal a moral and physical cleanliness not found in any other semi-congested part of New York; an individuality of the positive sort transmitted from generation to generation; a picturesqueness in its old houses, 'standing squarely on their right to be individual' alongside those of modern times, and, above all else, a truly American atmosphere of the pure kind."

He adds:

"Please remember, too, that in 1816 Greenwich Village had individualism enough to be the terminus of a stage line from Pine Street and Broadway, the stages 'running on the even hours from Greenwich and the uneven hours from Pine Street.'"

You walk on through Greenwich Village and you will expect romance to meet you. Even the distant clang of a cable car out in the city will not break the spell that is on you now. And if you have a spark of fancy, you will find your romance. You cannot walk a block in Greenwich without coming on some stony wall, suggestive alley, quaint house or vista or garden plot or tree. Everything sings to you there; even the poorest sections have a quaint glamour of their own. It gleams out at you from the most forbidding surroundings. Sometimes it is only a century-old door knocker or an ancient vine-covered wall—but it is a breath from the gracious past.

And as you cannot go a step in the Village without seeing something picturesque so you cannot read a page of the history of Greenwich without stumbling upon the trail of romance or adventure. As, for example, the tale of that same Sir. Peter Warren, whose name we have encountered more than once before, as proper a man as ever stepped through the leaves of a Colonial history and the green purlieus of Old Greenwich!


The Gallant Career of Sir. Peter Warren

"... Affection with truth must say That, deservedly esteemed in private life, And universally renowned for his public conduct, The judicial and gallant Officer Possessed all the amiable qualities of the Friend, the Gentleman, and the Christian...."

From the epitaph written for Sir. Peter's tomb in Westminster Abbey by Dr. Samuel Johnson.

The sea has always made a splendid romantic setting for a gallant hero. Even one of moderate attainments and inconsiderable adventures may loom to proportions that are quite picturesque when given a background of tossing waves, "all sails set," and a few jolly tars to sing and fight and heave the rope. And when you have a hero who needs no augmenting of heroism, no spectacular embellishment as it were,—what a gorgeous figure he becomes, to be sure!

Peter Warren, fighting Irish lad, venturesome sailor, sometime Admiral and Member of Parliament, and at all times a merry and courageous soldier of the high seas, falls heir to as pretty and stirring a reputation as ever set a gilded aureole about the head of a man. Though he was in the British navy and a staunch believer in "Imperial England," he was so closely associated with New York for so many years that no book about the city could be written without doing him some measure of honour. No figure is so fit as Sir. Peter's to represent those picturesque Colonial days when the "Sons of Liberty" had not begun to assemble, and this New York of ours was well-nigh as English as London town itself. So, resplendent in his gold-laced uniform and the smartly imposing hat of his rank and office, let him enter and make his bow,—Admiral Sir. Peter Warren, by your leave, Knight of the Bath, Member of Parliament, destined to lie at last in the stately gloom of the Abbey, with the rest of the illustrious English dead.

He came of a long line of Irishmen, and certainly did that fine fighting race the utmost credit. From his boyhood he was always hunting trouble; he dearly loved a fight, and gravitated into the British navy as inevitably as a duck to water. He was scarcely more than an urchin when he became a fighting sailor, and indeed one could expect no less, for both his father and grandfather had been officers in the service, and goodness knows how many lusty Warrens before them! For our friend Peter was a Warren of Warrenstown, of the County Meath just west of Dublin, and let me tell you that meant something!

The Warrens got their estates in the days of "Strongbow," and held them through all the vicissitudes of olden Ireland. They were a house called "English-Irish," and "inside the pale," which means that they stood high in British favour, and contributed heroes to the army or navy from each of their hardy generations. They had no title, but to be The Warren of Warrenstown, Meath, was to be entitled to look down with disdain upon upstart baronets and newly created peers. Sir. Christopher Aylmer's daughter, Catherine, was honoured to marry Captain Michael Warren, and her brother, Admiral Lord Aylmer, only too glad to take charge of her boy Peter later on.

Peter was the youngest of a family, composed with one exception of boys, and the most ambitious of the lot. When he was nine years old (he was born in 1703, by the bye), his father, Captain Michael, died, and three years later the oldest son, Oliver, decided to send Peter to his uncle Lord Aylmer to be trained for the service. Is it far-fetched to assume that Oliver found his small brother something of a handful? If Peter was one-quarter as pugnacious and foolhardy at twelve as he was at forty, there is small wonder that a young man burdened with the cares of a large estate and an orphaned family would be not unwilling to get rid of him,—or at least of the responsibility of him. Their uncle, the Admiral, apparently liked his little Irish nephew, and proceeded to train him for a naval career, with such vigourous success that at fourteen our young hero volunteered for His Majesty's service,—a thing, we may take it, which had been the high dream of his boyish life.

And it was real service too. Boys turned into men very quickly in those days. In Southern and African waters young Peter saw plenty of action. He had such adventures as our modern boys sit up at night to read of. For there were pirates to be encountered then, flesh-and-blood pirates with black flags and the rest of it. And deep-sea storms meant more in those days of sails and comparatively light vessels than we can even imagine today. So swiftly did Peter grow up under this stern yet thrilling education with the English colours, that after four short years he was a lieutenant. And in another six, at an age when most young men are barely standing on the threshold of their life-work, he was posted a full captain and given his first command!

His ship was H.M.S. Grafton, of seventy guns,—no small honour for a boy of hardly twenty-four,—and it proved to be no empty honour either. No sooner had he been posted captain than he was ordered into action. At that time there were signal and violent differences of opinion between England and other countries,—notably Spain and France. Gibraltar was the subject of one of them, it may be recalled. It was to Gibraltar that Captain Warren and his good ship Grafton were ordered. And when Sir. Charles Wager seized that historic bone of contention, Peter was with the fleet that did the seizing.

From that moment he was in the thick of trouble wherever it was to be found, like the dear, daredevil young Irishman that he was! Just a moment let us pause to try to visualise this youthful adventurer of ours, with the courtly manners, the irrepressible boyish recklessness and the big heart. Our only authentic descriptions of him are of a Peter Warren many years older; our only even probable likenesses are the same. But let us take these, and reckoning backward see what a man of such characteristics must have been like in his early twenties.

A delightful old print ostensibly representing him at forty, shows him to have been a round-faced, more or less portly gentleman, with a full, pleasant mouth and very big and bright eyes. His wig is meticulously curled and powdered, and he is, plainly, a very fine figure of a man indeed. Roubilliac's bust of him in Westminster makes him much better looking and not nearly, so stout. Thomas Janvier, who has written delightfully about our captain, disturbs me by insisting that he was a little man,—nay, his insult goes deeper: he says a little, fat man! I simply will not accept such a distressing theory!

Edward de Lancey, descended from the family of the girl Peter married, describes him as being "... Of attractive manners, quick in perception and action, but clear-headed and calm in judgment." And the historian Parkman declares that at forty-two he had "the ardour of youth still burning within him." Reverse the figures. What do you suppose that ardour was like when he was not forty-two but twenty-four?

At the time of our hero's first command and first naval engagement on his own ship, things were quite exciting for his King and country, though we have most of us forgotten that such excitements ever existed. England had a host of enemies, some of them of her own household. It was even whispered that the American possessions were not entirely and whole-heartedly loyal! This seemed incredible, to be sure, but the men in high places kept an eye on them just the same. Captain Warren's first official post was the station of New York, and in 1728 he made his first appearance in this harbour.

He was then just twenty-five, and gloriously adventurous. One can imagine with what a thrill he set sail for a new country, new friends, new excitements! I wonder if he guessed that the lady of his heart awaited him in that unknown land, as well as the dear home where, for all his sea-roving taste, he was to return again and again through twenty rich years? He was in command of the frigate Solebay then, and in the old papers we read many mentions of both ship and officer. From almost the first Peter loved the Colonies and the Colonies loved him. In between his cruises and battles he kept coming back like a homing bird, and every time he came he seemed to have won a little more glory with his various ships,—the sloop Squirrel, the frigate Launceston, and the big ship Superbe with sixty guns. It is said that no man save only the Governor himself made so fine an appearance as young Captain Warren, and fair ladies vied with each other for his attentions! Nevertheless, his social successes at this time were nothing to what was to come, when he had more money to spend!

Two years after his first introduction to New York, the Common Council of the city voted to him "the freedom of the city," from which one gathers some idea of his standing in public favour! And in another year,—of course,—he got married, and to one of the prettiest girls in the town, Susanna de Lancey!

Janvier says that the marriage did not take place until 1744, but other authorities place it at thirteen years earlier. It is much more probable that Peter got married at twenty-eight than at forty-one; I scarcely think that he could have escaped so long!

Susanna's father was Monsieur Etienne de Lancey, a Huguenot refugee, who had fled from Catholic France to the more liberal Colonies, and settled here. He soon changed the Etienne to Stephen, married the daughter of one of the old Dutch houses (Van Cortlandt) and went into business. Just what his occupation was is not clear, but later he acted as agent for Captain Warren in the disposal of his war prizes. His sons, James and Oliver, were intimate friends of Peter's through life, and, as will be seen, they worked together most zestfully when in later years the captain's boundless energies took a turn at politics.

So gallant Irish-English Peter and lovely French-Dutch Susanna were married and, we believe, lived happily ever after. They lived in New York town proper, but I conceive that, like other young lovers, they made many a trip out into the country, and that it was their dream to live there one day when they should be rich. Certain it is that as soon as our hero did get a little money at last he could hardly wait to buy the farm land far out of town on the river. But that time was not yet.

Needless to say, Peter's married life, happy as it was, could not keep him long on shore. We keep finding his name and the names of his ships in the delicious old newspapers of his day: Captain Warren has just arrived; Captain Warren's ship has "gone upon the careen" (i.e., is being repaired); Captain Warren is sailing next week, and so on, and so on. The New York Gazette for May 31, 1736, states that: "On Saturday last, Captain Warren in His Majesty's ship the Squirrel arrived here in eight weeks from England." One perceives that this was record time, and worth a journalistic paragraph!

Troubles becoming more rife with Spain in 1739, Peter begged for active service and got it. This probably was the beginning of his great prosperity, though his wealth did not become sensational until nearly five years later. Fortunes were constantly being made in prize ships in those days, and you may be sure that our enterprising sea-fighter was not behind other men in this or in anything else calling for initiative and daring! At all events the records seem to show that he bought his lands in the Green Village,—Greenwich,—about 1740, when he was thirty-seven. Whether he built his house at that early date is not clear, but he probably didn't have money enough yet, for when he did build, it was on a magnificent scale. In 1744, however, came his golden harvest time!

It was a little after midwinter of that year that Sir. Chaloner Ogle made him commodore of a sixteen-ship squadron in the waters of the Leeward Islands where there was decidedly good hunting in the way of prize ships. Off Martinique were many French and Spanish boats simply waiting, it would almost seem, to be eaten alive by the enemy's cruisers; and Captain Peter who had the sound treasure-hunting instinct of your born adventurer, proceeded to gobble them up! In the four months that rolled jovially by between the middle of February and the middle of June, the Captain captured twenty-four of these prizes, one alone with a plate cargo valued at two hundred and fifty thousand pounds! Ah, but those were the rare days for a stout-hearted seafaring man, with a fleet of strong boats and an expensive taste!

Captain Warren brought his prizes to New York and handed them over to his father-in-law's firm,—advertised in the old papers as "Messieurs Stephen de Lancey and Company,"—who acted as his agents in practically all of what Janvier disrespectfully styles "his French and Spanish swag"! Governor Clinton had exempted prizes from duty, so it was all clear profit. With the proceeds of the excellent deals which De Lancey made for him, he then proceeded to cut the swathe for which he was by temperament and attributes so well fitted.

There never was an Irishman yet, nor a sailor either, who could not spend money in the grand manner. Our Captain was no exception, be certain! He figures superbly in the social accounts of the day; it is safe to assert that he set the pace after a fashion, and fair Mistress Susanna was a real leader of real Colonial dames! He appears to have been a genuinely and deservedly popular fellow, our Peter Warren, throwing his prize money about with a handsome lavishness, and upholding the honour of the British navy as gallantly in American society as ever he had in hostile waters abroad.

And now for that dream of a country home! Warren had lands on the Mohawk River and elsewhere, but his heart had always yearned for the tract of land in sylvan Greenwich. In that quiet little hamlet on the green banks of the Hudson the birds sang and the leaves rustled, and the blue water rested tired eyes. Peter at this time owned nearly three hundred acres of ground there and now that he had money in plenty, he lost no time in building a glorious dovecote for himself and Mistress Susanna—a splendid house in full keeping with his usual large way of doing things.

Stroll around the block that is squared by the present Charles, Perry, Bleecker and Tenth streets some day, look at the brick and stone, the shops and boarding-houses,—and try to dream yourself back into the eighteenth century, when, in that very square of land, stood the Captain's lovely country seat. In those days it was something enormous, palatial, and indeed was always known as the Mansion or Manse. This is, of course, the basis for the silly theory that Greenwich got its name from the estate. Undoubtedly the Warren place was the largest and most important one out there, and for a time to "go out to visit at Greenwich," meant to go out to visit the Manse. For years the Captain and the Captain's lady lived in this beautiful and restful place with three little daughters to share their money, their affections and their amiable lives. Thomas Janvier's description of the house as he visualises it with his rich imagination is too charming not to quote in part:

"The house stood about three hundred yards back from the river, on ground which fell away in a gentle slope towards the waterside. The main entrance was from the east; and at the rear—on the level of the drawing-room and a dozen feet or so above the sloping hillside—was a broad veranda commanding the view westward to the Jersey Highlands and southward down the bay to the Staten Island Hills." The fanciful description goes on to picture Captain Warren sitting on this veranda, "smoking a comforting pipe after his mid-day dinner; and taking with it, perhaps, as seafaring gentlemen very often did in those days, a glass or two of substantial rum-and-water to keep everything below hatches well stowed. With what approving eye must he have regarded the trimly kept lawns and gardens below him; and with what eyes of affection the Launceston, all a-taunto, lying out in the stream!"

I have called the description of the house "fanciful," but it is really not that, since the old house fell into Abraham Van Nest's hands at a later date, and stood there for over a century, with the poplars, for which it was famous, and the box hedges, in which Susanna had taken such pride, growing more beautiful through the years. Not until 1865 was the lovely place destroyed by the tidal wave of modern building.

The Captain kept his town house as well,—the old Jay place, on the lower end of Broadway, but it was at the Manse that he loved best to stay, and the Manse which was and always remained his real and beloved home. In 1744 his seaman's restlessness again won over his domestic tranquillity and he was off once more in search of fresh adventures and dangers. Says the Weekly Post Boy, of August 27th, in that year:

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