Thursday, August 12, 2010

NYC Neighborhoods: Jone's Wood (4)

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Sommers, "proprietor of the hotel and park," announced on May 1st the opening of the season of 1862. Always a favorite place for excursions and festivals he would strive to render it even more attractive. The Herald of the 19th, stated in a reading notice that the Wood on the opening day "was visited by several thousand of our Teutonic friends, as there they could, without molestation, ramble about on the grass or join in the many little innocent amusements that are customary to these grounds. The usual number of amateur rifle shooters, scuppers and lager beer drinkers were present and were accommodated, and the hotel having been newly fitted up the visitors found everything they required ready to hand." On August 13th, "the gallant Seventy-Ninth (Highland Guards)" held a festival and events under the auspices of the Thistle Benevolent Association, Burns Club and the New York Caledonian Club, in aid of the widows, orphans and disabled soldiers.

The opening of the season of 1863 took place on May 10th, and was signalized by a very large crowd. Target shooting, scups, hobby horses and the thousand and one other amusements were in full operation. The weather was lovely and the rains had brought forth the leaves on the early trees with some degree of profusion. Because of an explosion which occurred at the Powder Magazine and Cartridge Factory, located at the foot of 78th Street, Sommers advertised on May 15th, for fear of misapprehension, that his resort extended no further north than 71st Street. The disaster was however uncomfortably near and caused severe loss to the buildings in the Wood. And then we have the Pfingst Montag celebration on the 26th. A procession was formed and marched from Orchard Street, through Canal, Bowery, Second Street, Avenue A and Tenth Street at the foot of which the various societies embarked on steamboats. The above list of events certainly proclaims the popularity of the resort at this period.

One of the famous picnics of later days was held on August 24th 1872 by the printers. The affair was attended chiefly by attaches of newspapers__editors, reporters and compositors. "Big Six" was out in force. Horace Greeley, the Presidential candidate of the Liberal Republican-Democratic coalition, was there in the evening and made an address which was among the last that he ever delivered, as he died three weeks after the election. Thus a dash of historic interest was added to the picnic. Charles M. Harvey of St. Louis, Mo. related, the above particulars under date of August 17th 1912 and continued in the Sun as follows:

"Before that date I had heard Greeley talk several times on several subjects but I never saw him in such a happy mood as then. Regarding the political outlook he was bubbling over with confidence. Nearly all his hearers, Republicans and Democrats alike, were his supporters in his campaign, and he believed, as most of them did, that he would carry the country in November. As he was among old friends his address was in a familiar conversational strain. He was interrupted by questions frequently but the answers always came promptly and good naturedly. When he recognized the questioner, as he often did, he would mention him by name. Neither before nor since did I ever see a large assemblage permeated with such a spirit of geniality and comaraderie as that gathering showed after Greeley made his appearance there."

Next: Jone's Wood (5)

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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