Thru A Scout's Eyes

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November 2018 - NYC "Urban Hike" Narrative

By Mr. Marr, edited

NYC is an archipelago. There are 40 islands in NYC. NYC was Dutch. They spoke Dutch, not English in the first century of its colonization, not until after the Revolutionary War ended. This was not the first place most English would go, because of the large population of Dutch that was here first. Because of the Manhattan Schist (which is composed of hard rock that is very close to the Earth’s surface), you can build big buildings easily here without fear of collapse.

Sleepy hollow guy (Washington Irving) wrote the first history of New York City. He made it humorous with a made up guy named Knickerbocker. Knicker is short for English pants. Bocker is a Dutch beer. That is why old New Yorkers are called knickerbockers, and how the NY Knicks got their name. The streets are left over from the Dutch. They are narrow and twisty, and have canal names.

The Statue of King George at Bowling Green was torn down after George Washington read the Declaration of Independence to his men at City Hall Park. It was melted down to make the first 40,000 musket balls. This is where Broadway starts, and it goes all the way up to Albany as the Albany post road. It divides in NYC into Bowery street (the Boston post road) and Broadway.

Battery Park was the first immigration station in the USA until Ellis Island.

The Battle of Brooklyn was the first battle of the revolution. You would want high land to defend against battleships, so Washington retreated off of Manhattan Island to Brooklyn.

Evacuation Day is the day that the British left NY and it was a local holiday until Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday. Evacuation Day is often on the same day or within a few days of Thanksgiving, but historians are currently trying to restore this holiday.

Fraunces Tavern was the mansion of the Delancey family. In the 1760s it was sold to Fraunces, where the tavern gets its name from. The Sons of Liberty met here and talked of revolution.

All the cities’ supplies came from the sea, so one way to make money was to become a privateer, or a legal pirate. Many taverns and coffeehouses would want to know about your investments in privateering. You would sell your investments to others. This was the early American stock market. Not like England’s market, which was run by companies which owned New World soil. The American market was buying and selling debts. Fraunces tavern was a hotbed of this type of activity in NYC. After the end of the Revolution there was a big party with all the big figures of early American politics: Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, Ben Franklin, John Adams, etc. Washington gave up his rights to the throne of the new country, and bade farewell to the army here. They toasted to the future of the New USA.

Now there was no more army. “What would the future hold?” the founding fathers thought. “We need to be the advisors for the new nation.” The society of Cincinnatus was created to fulfil this necessity. It was named after a Roman emperor who gave up his rights to be the next emperor of Rome in order to stay as a citizen, after Washington had done the same at Fraunces Tavern. This fraternity of leaders was formed and their first course of action was to think what to do when they get old and die. They decided that their sons would be automatic members of this society and they would pass their wisdom to them. In this way the society has stayed alive until now. The rest of the Founding Fathers who were not accepted into Cincinnatus were angry that they were not included, so they formed their own society named after Tamanend, a Native American. They built Tammany Hall, which became part of the corrupt democratic government in the city. Fraunces Tavern fell into disrepair until it was reformed by the Knickerbockers in 1904. They had to go to Holland and refire bricks to match the originals. The stars built into the brick building are really heads of mechanical screws used to keep the bricks plumb.

Hanover Square is named after the family name of King George. William Bradford (the royal printer) had a paper here. There was a crisis when the Governor General disappeared two days after his wife died. It was believed that he drowned himself but no one knew for sure. The locals appointed Rip Van Dam to be the temporary governor. The new British governor who took over from Van Dam was very corrupt, causing the wealthy families to start taking sides. The Delaney family and British governor controlled the royal paper, while VanDam and his supporters took apprentice John Peter Zenger and started a rival paper. The apprentice was arrested and brought to trial. They had attorney Andrew Hamilton as their lawyer and got Peter Zenger acquitted. This was the very first defense of the freedom of press.

The India House on Hanover Square was owned by a Hanover. It was originally Hanover Bank, but was purchased in 1913 by the India House, a private gentleman’s club. It is clad in brownstone. It has nothing to do with India at all.

NYC is where a lot of businesses made most of their money. In the 1970s everyone was going on strike, causing lots of unrest. NYC had a money crisis - it was broke. Ford took over and still no money came to help NYC. New Jersey offered to house corporations for 20 years with no taxes in order to restore the economy. The businesses did move but not all the customers wanted to go to Jersey to do their business. The latest technology - Fiber optic cable - could not be put into old buildings so the Jersey Building was built and businesses moved back to the city. The old buildings become apartments and hotels.

A bank note was proof that you had money in a bank. American Bank Note was a company that was the specialist to make plates to ensure no forgeries. They taught the federal government how to print money.

The New York Stock Exchange is Roman style (Neoclassical). Federal Hall is Greek revival. This is the birthplace of democracy. NYC was the first national capital. Federal Hall was where George Washington was first sworn in. It remained the national capital from 1790 to 1800. When Washington was sworn in, the building was 100 years old. It became the home for the new Congress. City hall got kicked out and built a new city hall building. In 1840 the Federal Hall became the first customs house.

J.P. Morgan Bank made money squeezing small people. They were all legalistic, ignoring ethics. There was a lot of anger towards the wealthy who made money off the backs of the poor. After a wagon exploded in front of bank, but only caused cosmetic damage to the building, the public said “You can’t take down the house of Morgan”

Alexander Hamilton created a national bank to make sure individual states did not owe different nations money. Hamilton helped create a deal that said that the USA would assume the state’s debts (assumption deal) in exchange for the capital to be moved to the south where states didn’t have debts.

Trinity Church, The Anglican Church.

From 1660-1890 this was the tallest building in NYC. This is where they celebrated New Year’s Eve (until Times Square was built). Longest word in the world: Antidisestablishmentarianism, is the name of the group opposed to getting rid of the Anglican Church.

Robert Fulton brought mechanical blueprints of a steamboat to Napoleon of France but was dismissed because France had no money to fund his ventures. Edward Livingston, who was the ambassador of France, saw Fulton’s design and wanted it to be used to go up and down Hudson River which freezes and can only be used for half a year. Livingston had lots of land upstate.

Broadway was where parades of heroes were done. The tradition started with the Statue of Liberty. Pulitzer was raising money to pay for a 150-foot pedestal for the 150-foot Statue of Liberty. To help people understand what the money was for, the statue’s torch was sent around the city to show people while they were waiting for it to be officially open. It was the first spontaneous parade. Lindbergh got the first official “ticker-tape” parade, named for the ticker tape that people threw out of their windows onto the streets below to celebrate. NYC marks heroes who got a ticker tape parade on the sidewalk of Broadway.

St. Paul's Church is the oldest standing building in the city. It was the first major use of the Manhattan schist. It has withstood the test of time. During 9/11 this was where first responders had their meals and rested. It was a living memorial of the tragedy until the memorial opened.

Woolworth building was the 99-cent store of the day. It was the tallest building in the world when built. The owner paid cash for construction. He yelled at his architect for not spending enough money, and told him to “Make it grander!”

City Hall and Park is where the NYC mayor and city council work. This is where Washington read the Declaration of Independence to his men after the British fled NYC. They got so excited they marched to Bowling Green and tore down the statue of King George.