Thursday, August 12, 2010

NYC Neighborhoods: Jone's Wood (2)

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The riots, murders and scenes of disorder at Hoboken proved this to be true. A further objection was that, after the ledge of rock (between 40 & 50 feet high) was leveled, the water front could be used for commercial purposes and was needed for the development of the metropolis. The pending bill to appoint commissioners of condemnation was opposed by Senator Morgan in that its terms completely deprived the city authorities of all power in the matter and sought to sweep away the property of the owners without redress. He called attention to the remonstrance's of Mayor Westervelt, Comptroller Flagg, the owners and the petitions of ten thousand citizens of New York against it, and stated that only Beekman, the Senator from the Fifth, was in favor, intimating that he was influenced by his ownership of realty in the neighborhood (Commercial Advertiser July 2).

Later in the month President Pierce arrived in order to open the Crystal Palace and on the 16th, in answer to a circular invitation on behalf of the Committee on Encroachments on the Harbor, a large number of citizens, public functionaries and representatives of the army and navy assembled on board the steamboat "Josephine" at the U.S. Barge Wharf, foot of Whitehall Street, to accompany him on an excursion around the Bay. He was met by Palatiah Perit, President of the Chamber of Commerce and Walter R. Jones, President of the Atlantic Mutual Insurance Co. After sailing around Governor's Island and past the Navy Yard the boat proceeded up the East River, while luncheon was served. (Evening Post, July 19th, 1853.)

Haswell states than one of the objects of the trip was to allow the members of the Board of Aldermen to examine the Jones's Wood site from the water side. The reports in the Post, Herald and Commercial Advertiser, however, make no reference thereto. If this was a reason it evidently had little weight with members of the Legislature present for on the following day an act was passed in favor of a Central Park, and Beekman's bill, vesting in the corporation the selection of Jones's Wood, was lost, __ayes 12, nays 10__after a long debate. Later in the day the vote was reconsidered and the bill passed. (Commercial Advertiser, July 22). This act (Chapter 618) authorized the purchase of the land lying between 3rd Avenue and the East River, from 66th Street to 75th Street, including Hamilton Square. Much opposition immediately arose to the project for it was recognized that, however attractive might be the location, it was inaccessible and dangerous because bounded on one side by the swift current of a deep stream. The Aldermen, accordingly, on Oct. 10, directed the Mayor & c. to employ counsel to delay proceedings in order to apply for amendment or repeal of the law. (Pro. Bd. Aldermen. 89). As a result the act was repealed after that action had been recommended, March 6, 1854, by the Committee on Land and Places of the Board.

Now that the project had been abandoned the owners advertised in the Times of October 16th 1855 the sale by A.J. Bleecker, 7 Broad Street, of four hundred of the lots, bounded by 69th and 75th Streets, comprising a part of the "Beautiful property so well known as Jones' Wood," which lots were in "original hands" and free of encumbrance. The records of the Caledonian Club, organized in 1856, refer to the resort as a "convenient and pleasantly situated park between 65th and 70th Streets on the East River" and, after holding its first annual games on the Elysian Fields, Hoboken, it settled on the Wood for its second event which took place there on Thursday, Sept. 23rd, 1858.

Next: Jone's Wood (3)

Source of Information: From My collection of books: Valentine's Manual of the City of New York; edited by Henry Collins Brown; The Old Colony Press. 1917-1918

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