City, the great commercial metropolis of the United States, and in population, commerce, and wealth, one of the first cities of the globe, it is situated between 40°42' 40" north, and in longitude 74°1' 8" west from Greenwich, and 3°0' 22" east from Washington, 216 miles southwest of Boston, and 86 miles northeast of Philadelphia.
The city is located on Manhattan island, between Hudson and East rivers, which unite at its southern extremity, forming one of the most admirable harbors for beauty and convenience in the world. The island is 13½ miles long, bounded on the north by Harlem river, formerly Spuytendevil creek, and embraces an area of about 20 square miles. On the south part of this, the compact part of the city is built, extending northward about 4 miles from river to river, and spreading by a rate of progress which will soon cover the whole island. Its admirable position for foreign commerce, with its noble bay, and its remarkable facilities of internal communication with every portion of the Union, have been the unfailing sources of its extraordinary growth and prosperity. Here the noble Hudson, after a course of more than 200 miles, through a rich and populous region, sweeps majestically along, bearing on its bosom the vast commerce of the Erie canal and the west, expands into the upper bay and passes through the "Narrows" into the ocean. Here too, on the opposite side, courses the strong tide of East river, which winding between Long Island and the main land, forms the rocky pass of "Hell Gate" and several islands. This stream, which averages about three fourths of a mile in width and 30 feet in depth, affords a passage for vessels of a large class into Long Island sound and the Atlantic ocean; while those engaged in foreign commerce, as well as in southern coasting trade, usually enter and leave the harbor through the Narrows between Staten and Long islands.
The best anchorage for these is at the wharves along the East river, which is more secure from ice than the Hudson. British packets, coasting vessels, and canal boats generally, lie along the former river; some at Brooklyn, and the Atlantic dock, on the opposite bank; while the Hudson is thickly lined with steamboats and ships from England, France, Spain, Portugal, Holland, Sweden and other foreign countries. On this river also, at the foot of Canal street, is the wharf of the Collins' line of steamers, between Liverpool and New York. The Cunard steamers land at Jersey city, on the opposite side of the river. Other splendid lines run between the city and Southampton, Bremen and Havre, in Europe, Charleston, Savannah, New Orleans, Havana, Chargres, Nicaragua and Panama. Steamboats of different grades, from the magnificent floating palaces of the Hudson, to the lesser propeller and steam ferry boats, are constantly leaving or approaching the city, and animate its waters with the most varied prospect of live and activity. For pleasant, salubrious position, and beauty of surrounding country, New York is as conspicuous as it is for commercial advantages. Entering the outer bay, from the Atlantic, the traveler sees on the left of the broad expanse of water, the blue hills of New Jersey, formerly known as the highlands of Vanesink. Toward the north, the romantic heights of Staten island rise to view, and on the east, the shores of Long island. Following the Narrows, between the two islands, which are defended by strong fortifications, the upper or inner part of the bay opens an enchanting scene. Staten island recedes, and the shores of New Jersey reappear. Long island continues on the right, and after passing Governor's island, with its fortifications, the great city display's its forest of masts and spires; its domes, and its houses, relieved by the green foliage of the "Battery" set like an emerald, in some darker stone. The ground rises from the Battery, and from both rivers, by a gradual ascent, of which Broadway is the ridge or summit. This surface, with the outline of the city, which rapidly widens from its southern point to a breadth of two miles, at Corlear's Hook, on the East river, gives an imposing effect, unequally by almost any in the world.
At the lower and ancient part of the city, the streets are some what irregular, but not unpleasant, being lined with rows of warehouses and stores of the most splendid and solid construction. Many of these are brick, some of free stone, and others of white marble. This is the business part of the city, and embraces comparatively few residences. Wall street is the principle theatre of financial and mercantile operations, and is a broad, straight avenue, leading from East river to Broadway. On either side of this are numerous splendid banking houses, and other public buildings, among which is the Merchants' Exchange, of blue granite, or sienite, 200 feet long, 171 feet wide, and 124 feet high to the top of the dome, with a portico supported by massive solid pillars. Within, the most remarkable apartment is the exchange, a rotunda, 80 feet in diameter, and 80 feet high, lighted from above by the dome, and resting upon eight Corinthian columns of Italian marble. The whole building is of fire proof materials, and is a splendid ornament to the city. The customhouse on the same street, is a beautiful structure of white marble, in Doric architecture, surrounded by rows of Corinthian columns, with a portico extending across the entire front on Wall street. It is 200 feet long, 90 feet wide and 80 feet high, and contains numerous apartments of the different offices, the principle of which is of circular form, 80 feet in diameter, surrounded by columns, and lighted by a beautiful dome. This structure occupies the site of where once stood Federal Hall, where Washington was inaugurated first president of the United States, 30 Apr 1789. At the head of Wall street, fronting on Broadway, stands Trinity church, the most costly and magnificent structure of the kind in America. It is of light brown freestone, in purely Gothic architecture, and is 192 feet deep, 84 feet wide, the walls 60 feet high, and the spire reaching 284 feet above the ground. From the battlements, at the base of the spire, appears a magnificent panorama of New York bay, its islands, New Jersey, and Long island, with Brooklyn, Williamsburg, and other populous towns; while below the feet the giant city spreads east, west, north and south, on each side of Broadway, which for three miles bisects it in nearly a straight direction. This splendid street, which is 80 feet wide, is lined with large and magnificent stores, warehouses, and hotels, built of white marble, freestone, and other durable materials. Below Trinity church, besides a number of fine hotels, there is the United States bonded warehouse. Proceeding northward, successively appear the American Museum, the Astor house, occupying an entire square, built of blue granite, the city hall, the Irving house, opposite to which is Stuart's dry goods palace, a massive structure of white marble, the Society library, City hospital, American institute, St Nicholas hotel, Academy of Design, Metropolitan hotel, and Grace church, f pure white marble, elaborately sculptured. At Tenth street, Broadway makes a small angle and after passing Union and Madison squares, proceeds nearly northward to the upper end of the island. Among the public buildings in the lower part of the city in the city hall, in the "Park," a pleasant triangular enclosure of ten acres. This edifice is of white marble, except in back, which is of brown freestone. Its architecture is a combination of the Ionic, Corinthian and Composite orders. It is 216 feet long, 105 feet deep, and 65 feet high. Upon the roof is a cupola, with a clock, illuminated at night, and an enormous bell, the powerful tones of which send the alarm of fire over an area of many miles. Within are well furnished apartments for different offices of the city government; and in the second story the governor's room, which is decorated with portraits of the presidents, governors of the state, mayors of the city, and many American heroes and statesman. In front of this edifice a splendid fountain rises, from the middle of a circular basin, surrounded by flowers and shrubs. The park also contains the new city hall, the hall of records, and several other public buildings, for the accommodation of the courts, and city business. The hall of justice, often called, from it architecture, the "Egyptian Tombs" is a massive and large building, on Centre street, of light colored granite, 253 feet long, and 200 feet wide. It contains the city prison, and other departments of justice. Columbia College is pleasantly situated westward of the park, fronting a beautiful green, the west side of which once overlooked the Hudson, but is now at a distance of about a fourth of a mile. This institution was founded under George II, in 1754, and has educated some of the most distinguished men of the country. The New York post office occupies the old Middle Dutch church on Nassau, Cedar and Liberty streets. Other prominent buildings worthy of note are Clinton Hall, occupied by the Mercantile library; Odd Fellows hall, a imposing structure of freestone; the New York University, an elegant white marble Gothic structure; the university medical college, on 14th street; the New York college of physicians and surgeons, on Crosby street; the New York medical college; the general theological seminary of the protestant Episcopal church, Union theological seminary; the Free Academy; the Astor library, the in institution for the blind; the deaf and dumb asylum; the New York orphan asylum, upon an attractive slope overlooking the Hudson; the colored orphan asylum for friendless boys; the sailor's home; the colored home and many other noble, charitable institutions, which form a most enviable ornament of pride and honor for the metropolis of American.
New York is well furnished with educational and literary privileges, and manifests its high interest in mental culture, by the number and excellence of its libraries, schools, colleges, lectures, and journals, the latter of which are, in general, superior to those of any other city in the Union, for intrinsic merits, dispatch, and for every requisite of newspaper literature.
The public grounds of New York are numerous, but scarcely commensurate with its greatness and wealth. The "Battery," at the south extremity, is an airy and delightful resort in summer, carpeted with greensward, shaded with large trees, and fanned by the breezes of the bay. At the southwest side, built up from the water, is Castle Garden, once a fortification, but now used for public gatherings, and for the magnificent annual fairs of the American Institute. Its vast amphitheatre will contain 10,000 persons. Not far from the battery, at the foot of Broadway, is the "Bowling Green," a small elliptical enclosure, containing a fountain and lofty trees. Here before the Revolution, stood a gilded leaden statute of George III, which was converted by the patriots into bullets, to be fired at the troops of the king, whom it represented. The park has been already noticed. Union square is a pleasant oval ground, adorned with flowers, grass, trees, and a fountain. Washington square, formerly a potter's field, lies westward of Broadway, and affords a pleasant promenade. Tompkins, Stuyvesant and Madison squares, are the other public grounds, none of which are sufficiently ample for the wants of the city. St John's and Grammercy, are beautiful private parks.
It remains to notice a work which, in grandeur of design and magnificent execution, is truly worthy of the commercial metropolis of America; the Croton water works, the most extensive and costly structure of the kind in the country and probably in the world, if we except those at Marseilles, in France. A dam across Croton river, 40 miles north of the city hall, creates an exhaustless and beautiful lake of about 400 acres in area, five miles in circumference, and capable of containing, 550,000,000 gallons of water. The aqueduct extends from this point to Harlem river, without interruption, conveying the water through a conduit of mason work, which has a descent of about one foot to a mile, is six feet three inches wide at the bottom, seven feet eight inches at the top, and eight feet five inches high. It passes Harlem river upon the "High Bridge" which has been pronounced equal to the most magnificent structures, of a similar kind in ancient Rome. Fourteen piers of solid masonry support arches, upon which rests the bridge, 1,450 feet long, and 114 feet above tidewater. After crossing the river, the aqueduct conveys the water to the receiving reservoir, 836 feet wide, 1,825 feet long, and containing 150,000,000 gallons. The water is separated by a partition of masonry, forming two divisions, which may be alternately full and empty, or both full at the same time. The whole area of the surface of the water is equal to 35 acres. From this basin the water is conveyed through iron pipes to the distributing reservoir, two miles southward, whence it is distributed through iron pipes under ground, enters the houses, and cleanses the streets, administering comfort, beauty, and health, to the city, and its citizens. The area of the latter reservoir is equal to four acres; its capacity is 20,000,000 gallons. The water works can supply 60,000,000 gallons daily; the average quantity is 30,000,000. The cost of the aqueduct and reservoirs was over $12,000,000.
The manufacturers of New York, like its commerce, are more extensive than those of any other American city. Ship building and machinery are among the branches most largely carried on. Here are built the magnificent ocean steamers, packets, and steamboats, that are the glory of New York.
The principal streets are traversed in various directions by omnibus lines, connecting the important points. Ferries communicate with Hoboken, Jersey City, Staten Island, Brooklyn, Williamsburg and Astoria. The railroads diverging from New York are, the Harlem; Hudson River to Albany; the New York & New Haven; the Camden and Amboy; the Philadelphia; the New Jersey Central; the Morris & Essex; the Paterson & Ramapo; the Erie: and the Long Island. Not all of these enter the city; many communicate by steamboats from different distances.
The population in 1653 was 1,120; in 1661 was 1,743; in 1675 was 2,580; in 1696 was 4,455; in 1730 was 8,256; in 1756 was 10,530; in 1774 was 22,861; in 1786 was 23,688; in 1790 was 33,131; in 1800 was 60,489; in 1810 was 96,373; in 1820 was 123,706; in 1825 was 166,136; in 1830 was 202,589; in 1835 was 270,089; in 1840 was 312,710; in 1845 was 371,280 and in 1850 was 515,507.