Monday, April 7, 2008

A Little Taste Of History (3)

Happenings During The 1600s in NYC. #2

The city fathers, at that primitive period, appear to have exercised a truly paternal care over their municipal charge. It was ordered that "the watch should be set at eight o'clock every evening, after ringing the bell, and the gates locked at nine, and opened again at daylight." To prevent the possibility of a surprise by the Indians, it was directed that" every citizen should have a musket, and powder and balls, constantly in readiness for use." Especial care was taken that the city should be properly provided with public houses; and as if there was danger that there would be some lack of regard to the wants of those for whom such houses are provided, it was further ordered that " all persons who keep public houses shall sell beere, as well as wyne and other liquors, and keep lodgings for strangers," and a tariff of prices for each article of refreshment was fixed by authority. To facilitate building, it was ordered that " the land in the city convenient to build on, if the parties who own the same do not speedily build thereon, may be valued and sold to those who are willing to build." The streets were to be cleaned every Saturday, and the cartmen were required to carry away the dirt, or forfeit their license. No butchering was allowed to be done within the city, but a public slaughter-house was built over the water, beyond the wall, in " the Smith's Vley." To the denizens of this metropolis such laws as these read strangely. This was probably that " good old time " so often referred to by querulous old people. (4)

In 1676 a law was passed providing for paving some of the principal streets. That now known as Whitehall-street was the first to receive this attention. Soon after the great canal was ordered to be filled up, and changed to a street, and named Broad-street, which was also immediately paved. Previous to this the water had come up to Garden-street, (now Exchange Place,) and the ferry-boats landed their passengers near the upper part of the canal. A few years after, a street was opened between this and Broadway, called New-street, by Adrian Waters, for which contribution to the public interest he was exempted from paying taxes for six years. " Beaver graft" was also doomed to the same treatment that had been awarded to "de Heere graft," and the road in the Smith's " Vley was regulated and paved as a street of the city. (4)

Progress of "Breukelen."

A town had been planted just across the East River at an early period of the history of New-Netherland, which, from the unevenness of the surface of the surrounding country, was called Breukelen, or Broken-land, a name since softened into the less significant but more euphonious word Brooklyn. This town was regarded more favorably than that on the shore of New-Jersey, and was treated rather as a younger sister than a dangerous rival. By an early regulation of the corporation of New-York, cooperating with the authorities of Brooklyn, " a fayre and market was held in Breukelen on the first Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and in New-York on the three succeeding days." A regular ferry between the two places had been maintained for many years, under the control of the corporation of New-York. The rates of ferriage were fixed by law,—" for a single person eight stivers, in wampum, or a silver twopence; each person in company, half that price; or if after sunset,double price." This ferry at an early period became a source of revenue to the city. For several years previous to 1698 it was rented out at one hundred and forty pounds a year; and that year it was leased for seven years, at an annual rent of one hundred and sixty-five pounds. The lessee, in this case, was the celebrated Rip Van Dam, an individual who figured largely in his times in the affairs of both the city and the province. (4)

Sources Utilized to Document A Little Taste Of History


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