The History of New York State
Book II, Chapter V
Part I

Editor, Dr. James Sullivan

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Pam

 

CHAPTER V

GREATER New York OF TODAY.

If the growth of New York during the nineteenth century was constant and great, the growth of the city during the first quarter of the twentieth century has been phenomenal. The principle might be described as geometric progression, were it not that the uncertain human element is involved, swayed by innumerable attractions and repulsions. But the city has not only been growing greater. It has been growing grander also. Quality has not been lost sight of in the piling up of quantity. It has been in the last twenty-five years that the skyscrapers, which made their appearance at the close of the last century, have taken on the forms of architectural grace and The lines of transportation in those years have been closely knit together and speeded up. The vast thoroughfares of the metropolis have been smoothed and widened. Under the influence of the search for more compactness, more efficiency, more beauty and more economy, the old style of houses, once the pride of the growing city, have been done away with and vast apartment houses, more slender, more restricted, more representative of the art of all the world and of the triumphs of modern science, built to take their place. Power and wealth and good taste have made themselves visible in all the thoroughfares of the city. They are shown in the vast congregations of downtown offices, in the great hotels, in the railroad terminals, in the residential quarters. They are shown, too, in the coming and going of the people, in the lines of automobiles of every make under heaven that pour swiftly and almost noiselessly through the streets; and in the cabs and omnibuses carrying crowds to theatres and other places of entertainment. The prosperity of the city, likewise, shows itself in the fashionable wear of the people who throng the avenues, showing in their faces the sophistication that prosperity has brought and the multiplication of temptation which is one of its fruits. So great and wealthy has New York become that it flows through its minute capillaries as well as in the great arteries of the city, and it would be impossible even to approach the city by road or railway without having borne in on one the sense of a looming vastness as of a great Babylon such as has seldom appeared in human history.

The Greater City--the Federal Census of 1920 put the population of the city at 5, 620,048. The statistician of the Public Service commission of the City of New York estimated the population for the same year as 6,095,563. These figures governed only the governmental limits of the Greater City. As is very clear, the population area included in the actual industrial New York is very much greater. The United States Census Bureau recognize an "economic New York," and fixes its limits to include such populous centers as Newark, Jersey City, Paterson, Yonkers, Elizabeth, Hoboken, Bayonne, Passaic, and other municipalities within the Port Authority District. Outside of this economic area there are tens of thousands of residents who commute to New York and form a part of the day population of the metropolis. #1

The figures for the so-called "economic area" are impressive. The 1920 estimate for this district is 8,228,918. On the strength of these figures, local statisticians hold that New York has overtaken London in population, when calculated on the basis of land areas, and that as a result New York is now the largest city in the world. The last census for the county of London, the area comparable with the Greater New York District, places the English metropolitan population at 4,508,563, but the London Metropolitan Police district, comparable with the economic New York area, contains a total of 7,854,432 people. In either case the English figures are inferior to these developed by statisticians of New York. New York has thus reached the position of being not merely the metropolis of the Western Hemisphere, but also the most important city in the world. The area of the Greater City is 287 square miles over its five boroughs. There is Manhattan Island, with Welfare, Ward's Governor's and Randall's islands, with a total area of twenty-two square miles. Then there is The Bronx, the mainland north of Manhattan Island, with North Brother, South Brother, Riker's, City, Rodman,. Hunter, and Hart's Islands, and these have a total of forty-two square miles. Then there is Brooklyn, a portion of Long Island, which with Coney Island, on which are located the Brighton beaches and Manhattan Beach, and with a number of islands in Jamaica Bay, has a total area of seventy-two square miles. Then there is Queens, a portion of Long Islands, which includes Rockaway Beach and numerous small island in Jamaica Bay, and which has a total area of 108 square miles, Richmond, the fifth borough, has in Staten Island an area of fifty-seven square miles.

The port of New York embraces the largest body of sheltered waters of any port in the world, with an aggregate shore line approximately 587 miles for the Greater City, and a total of 800 miles for the metropolitan district. Half of the foreign commerce of the country is handled by the port of New York, and its docking facilities for both foreign and domestic steamships are magnificent. More than 200 ocean steamship companies and agencies operate to foreign ports, and at least sixty lines are employed in coastwise and river trade. In all, about 8,000 steamships carry in and out of the port over 45,000,000 tons of freight each year. Over half a million people are directly occupied in constant employments on the waterfront. Twelve trunk-line railroads being into, and take out of, the district over 75,000,000 tons of fright each year, the amount of foodstuffs alone needed to supply the annual demands of the metropolitan district amounting roughly to 4,000,000 tons.

The manufacturing and merchandising interests centered in New York are in keeping with the magnitude of its area and population. The city, which boasts little more then five per cent of the country's population, produces in value ten per cent of its manufactures. Fifty per cent of all the clothing manufactured in the United States, seventy per cent of the women's garments, sixty-six per cent of all millinery and laces, sixty-six per cent of furs, and eighty-six per cent of all artificial flowers and feathers are manufactured in New York. There are over forty-seven factories, capitalized at about $3,000,000,000, which employ nearly 850,000 persons, and produce goods annually valued at $5,250,000,000. The retail dry goods business comprises about 5,000 stores, which employ more then 150,000 persons. #2

The transportation system is in keeping with the great area of the city and the volume of traffic and is being steadily developed. The five boroughs have a total of 3,738 miles of streets, a mileage sufficient to stretch to Los Angeles in one highway and to Quebec in another. The number of people who pass any given points in this street each day exceeds the number perhaps in any other city in the world. This is even more the case with regard to vehicles. A daily average of 40,000 to 50,000 vehicles is not unusual at certain points in the city where a number of important thoroughfares meet. The surface, elevated and subway lines of the metropolis carry several times as many passengers annually as do all the steam railroads of the country, and that, too, with a remarkable regularity and safety.

In no city in the world at the present time is there anything like this amount of new building construction that goes on incessantly in New York There were, in 1924, more then 484,934 buildings in the city, many of them large enough to accommodate all the inhabitants of early New York at different stags in its history. Old buildings are constantly being demolished to make room for new and more modern edifices. Structures that would be the pride of even some pretentious cities are in New York ruthlessly razed for some lofty office building or apartment hotel, equipped with the last device known to modern art and science. In the year 1921 a total of 37,105 buildings were constructed at a cost of $431,830,628, an average of seventeen new buildings completed every working hour. The assessed value of the land and buildings of New York was set at $10,466,121,527 in the tax books for 1923, an increase of $642,626,807 over the assessment of 1922.

In the last quarter of a century New York has still further established itself as the financial center of the country and even for the world, not a little of its more recent preeminence being due in a large part to the World War. Indeed, in recent years, the United States has been the world's harbor, with investments amounting to $9,500,000,000 in foreign lands; and the great financial affairs of the country are centered within a small district of downtown Manhattan. In 1920, sales on the Stock Exchange included 223,931,350 shares of stock and $3,955,036,900 worth of bonds. There are fifty-two clearing institutions, comprising twenty-four National banks, twelve State banks, fourteen trust companies, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and the Clearing House City Collections Department. Average daily clearings are $713,028,009.32 and the total clearings in 1923 amounted to $214,430,306,71.

In the year 1790, when the first Federal Census was taken, the city limits of New York included the entire island of Manhattan, but only the area south of Canal Street was divided into city blocks. The rest of the island was occupied by farms and a few small villages. The vast expansion which has since taken place, has its root-causes largely in the attraction which New York as the world metropolis and center of fashion and art exerts over the people living in the interior States, and the influx of hard-working immigrants dreaming of fabulous wealth that may some day reward their efforts. Out of the lowest figures given as the population of New York, namely, the Federally rated population of 5,620,048, it is estimated that 3,467,916 are native white persons. Of these native whites 1,164,834 are of native parentage. On the other hand, the foreign-born whites numbered, in 1920, altogether, 1,1991,547; the Negroes, 152,467; and the inhabitants of the yellow races, Indian, Chinese, etc., 8,118. Every country in the world had contributed to the population of New York City; but out of the foreign whites the largest number at present is credit to Russia, 479,797. Italy comes next, with 390,832; and after that Ireland, Germany, Poland, Austria, and Great Britain, with various totals. While the population of New York is mixed it is greatly creditable to her. The foreigner coming within the gates seems usually to justify his presence and shows an ability to make the most of the advantages that are here offered to him. It would be hard to put one nationality above another in respect to what they succeed in accomplishing in their new environment, and whatever superiority one may claim over the other is largely based on prepossession and is, in fact, infinitesimal. Out of 4,522,629 persons over ten years of age, only 281, 121 are listed as illiterates among the inhabitants of the city. New York has to congratulate itself over, moreover, on a rapidly decreasing death rate. For the year ending 1919 the births totaled 130,377; and the deaths, 74,433. The birth rate is estimated at 21.7 per 1,000, and the death rate of 12.4. Figures such as these indicate a strong increase in population, even apart from immigration.

Center of World's Finance--Perhaps in no other way does the city of New York impress the imagination of the world as it does in its character as the leading center of the world's finance. To recite the story of its financial activities would be almost to recite the financial history of the Nation. New York is the shore on which the tides of the Nation's commercial existence beat. For more than a century the city as served as the financial capital of the Untied States. It is a remarkable story this, of the financial growth of the city, from the time when its first European inhabitants used clamshells and periwinkles as media of exchange, to the present time when the daily clearances in Wall Street are estimated to total $713,028,009. In the interim we have the days of Alexander Hamilton, whose financial genius aid the corner-stone of credit on which the Untied States was later to build its commercial prosperity. Hamilton proposed that the United States government should pay the full national debt and that it assume responsibility for the state debts also. To obtain the necessary money he advocated a National banking system, which he succeeded in putting through. The First Bank of the United States was chartered and authorized to receive as deposits all funds of the United States customs and from sales of public lands. Hamilton's scheme of National revenue provided also for a bank for each State. This move helped to weld the thirteen State governments into a political unity, held together by financial interests, and created a public opinion whereby could be enforced the much needed reform currency.

There was a great many new banks established following the outcome of the War of 1812, and from that era several of the important bank of the city. following the Civil War the National banking legislation was inline with the theory of Hamilton that Federal control was vital to the banking operations of the country. Under the National Bank Act of 1863, passed as a war measure, and several times amended, the banking area of the United States was divided into twenty-five regional groups, each under an examiner. I order to create a market for government bonds, each bank, upon entering the National system, was required to invest at least one-fourth of its capital in United States bonds. Upon depositing these bonds with the treasury, they were permitted to issue notes to the amount of twenty per cent of their bond holdings. By imposing a tax of ten per cent on notes issued by State banks the Federal government proposed to bring about the discontinuance of issue by State financial institutions and give to national banks a monopoly of the issue privilege. After the war this monopoly was gradually accomplished. The First National Bank of New York was organized in 1863 as a product of the new law. The next great development was the Federal Reserve system. Just as the relations of the banks to the government under the National Banking Act may be likened to the loose confederation of the colonies under the Continental Congress, so their firm organization under the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, may be compared to the organic unity of the States under the Constitution.

The plan of the Federal Reserve system divided the United States into twelve districts, each containing a reserve city with a central bank, to which the banks of the district were to subscribe capital. The minimum capital required for opening a Reserve Bank was set at $4,000,000, and all National Banks were required to join the system. State and other types of banks and trust companies might, of their own volition, enter the Reserve System upon complying with its conditions of membership. New York City was the natural center for District No. 2 in the Federal Reserve System, which includes New York State, twelve counties in Northern New Jersey, and the border county of Fairfield, Connecticut. The manifested character of the banking operations carried on in New York, the extent to which these operations are traceable to interior and western points, and the continual growth in work and number of the institutions that constitute the ganglions and motor channels of the operations, being into continually stronger relief New York's position as the financial capital of the Nation. During a single week in May, 1924, the stocks of sixty railroads were on the active list and 332 industrials were capitalized through the selling of their stock in Wall Street. On a typical day in 1924, the number of stocks sold was 624,777; railroad bonds, $4,752,000; State, municipal and foreign bonds, $1,440,000; and United States bonds, $2,633.000. The financing of public service corporations developed from $200,000,000, invested in 1890, to $20,000,000,000, in 1915, and these sums mounted steadily during the decade that followed.

A third of the total business of the Federal Reserve system passes through its New York branches. The capital invested in manufacturing in New York City in 1922 aggregated $3,000,000,000. During 1921 the department stores of the metropolis did a business of $350,00,000. On order to handle the vast volume of credit and cash exchanges, New York City possessed, in 1924, 52 National Banks, 153 State banks and trust dealer and brokers. In the meantime over 50 foreign banking agencies were functioning in New York City. In 1923 the business handled through the New York Clearing House, when written in cold figures reached the total of $214,621,430,

Commerce and Manufacture--Almost from the beginning of its history New York's leading concern has been with commerce. The early prosperity of the community was built on that foundation by merchants, who dealt, moreover, in ship loads of merchandise of every description. In course of time manufacturing became important also. In 1850 the census credited New York with a total of 3,387 lines of manufacture, employing 83,260 persons. Manufactures increased as the population increased. In 1920 there were employed in Greater New York twelve per cent of all the wage-earners engaged in factory work in the United States, while the borough of Brooklyn, with its 8,000 factories, was the fourth industrial center of the United States. In many cases the plants, formerly in New York, have been removed to the Jersey shore, within the metropolitan district, while the offices have been maintained in the city, and, in addition, great numbers of industries have maintained their financial and commercial headquarters in New York, even though the actual manufacturing may be carried on elsewhere. Silk, for example, is made almost entirely in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, with office in New York, just as cotton mills scattered through several States are owned by corporations which have their offices in the city.

In 1922 the Manufacturers' Association issued an analysis of the manufacturing census of 1919. According to this analysis the clothing industry came first in point of money value and the number of people employed. In that year, 1919, 253,685 people in 1,143 factories of various sizes, made clothing which was valued at $1,844,764,042. In the same year there were 5,006 factories for food products and tobacco, in which the services of 82,677 persons were required. The value of the products was $749,866,241, and they included bread and other bakery products. The third industry of importance was comprised of metals and metal products, which included babbit metal, brass and bronze and copper products, typewriters, and cash registers, can calculating machines; cutlery and edge tools; electrical machinery, apparatus and supplies, all of the which were manufactured in large quantities. Over twenty-eight per cent of the iron and steel shutters, window frames and doors made in the whole country are produced within the district of Greater New York. Steam fittings, steam and hot water apparatus, needles and pins, and sewing machines are representative of the various lines of manufacture in the city. almost ninety-six per cent of the paper patterns used by the women of the United States and Canada, who sew at home are made in New York, at a yearly value of $1,461,648. New York's lapidary work, which is ninety per cent of the total of that industry in the United States, was valued, in 1919, at $27,032,138. Drugs and chemicals and paints and varnishes combined required 825 factories, in which 26,370 persons were engaged to produce their yearly output, valued in 1919 at $242,482,973.

Products made of wood included baskets, rattan, and willow and wooden furniture, cooperage, billiard tables, and bowling alleys, refrigerators, wooden vessels, coffins, and lead pencils. These were valued at $141,282,753, during that year. the combined industries in wood require 1,005 factories and the work of 30,821 persons. In these figures the cabinet-making for pianos, organs and phonographs is included. The making of these instruments alone is a large item and amounts to over twenty-six per cent of the total number produced in the United States. The leather industry gives employments to 24,399 persons in 833 factories, to the value of $123,280,584, are produced. Printing and publishing needed the work of 81,454 people in 3,167 establishments., this work included books and job work, steel and cooper plate engraving, wood engraving and photo engraving, lithographing, newspapers and periodicals. Miscellaneous industries include textiles, notions, vehicles, stone, clay and glass products, dental goods, photographic materials, rubber tires and tubes, umbrellas, and canes, all of which keep 7,227 factories busy, and employ 212,620 persons, producing an output valued at $1,332,484.

Shipbuilding may be described as the first industry, after agriculture and hut building, to be developed in New York. The burning of Adriaen Block's
Tiger," off Manhattan, in 1613, and the building of the "Onrust," to replace it, may be said to mark the beginning of the industry. The "Onrust," was a sixteen-ton vessel, and decked. The little colony continued building vessels in the face of great difficulties, among them the limitations imposed by the Dutch West India Company and the operations of pirates. It was a far cry from those small vessels to the greyhounds of the clipper period and the transatlantic liners of the present day, though for various causes the shipbuilding industry following the Civil War has not prospered as other industries in the country have prospered. In most of the other industries there can be traced a line of continuity in manufacture from the early days of the colonization of Manhattan to the present time. Thus the Dutch settlers on the island produced good earthenware not unlike the noted delft of the Netherlands, and the development of ceramics, glass and china from that period has been constant. In 1852 the Tilton, Peper and Scudder company, of Brooklyn, made an unsuccessful attempt to manufacture plate glass. It is said that their product, a feldspar base, was regarded as almost perfect when made in the laboratory, but that their commercial product was a failure. In 1880 the city had nine manufacturers of window glass, some of green glass, and others of fine glass. New York has become noted in this line for an artistic glass known as favrile, which was first made by Louis Tiffany, and of which the secret remains with the Tiffany house. Colored glass, stained glass windows, opalescent glass and other artistic glass works of the country are maintained at points close to the sources of the raw materials and the fuel which they consume. The principal ingredient, silica sand, is mined in great quantities in the Berkshires, but a good substitute is obtained on a large scale with power excavators in the vicinity of Glasboro, New Jersey. The first china decorators in the vicinity of Thomas Maddoclus and William Leigh, who came from England in 1847 and became established in business in Spruce Street. In 1853 they decorated the dinner service made for the White House during the Pierce administration. Twenty years later Thomas Maddoclus established the earliest successful sanitary ware pottery in America and thus founded an important industry in the country.

A similar continuity may be assumed in the metal industry. The forge and the blacksmith were known to the Dutch colonist of New Amsterdam, though even 100 years later the ironmonger's trade remained small, despite numerous other branches of his trade. Since then the steam engine, the typewriter, the automobile, and a hundred other inventions, embodying the miraculous knowledge and skill of the extraordinary age in which we live, have flowered a from the stem planted in the early time. It would take a series of volumes to describe all the various products which the metal industries now turn out, varying and improving them year by year. It is to be noted that, apart from new products, new processes all the time are being introduced in fabrication. The homely garbage pail from the department store is only possible because of its quantity production as a quickly stamped and spot-welded product. The 1,200-ton built oil barge build by the New York Corporation at its Newburgh yard early in 1917 was the first sea-going vessel ever constructed without a rivet in any of its principal strength members. They were electrically welded throughout, and the vessel had not only a very successful voyage to Mexico, but later continued its regular service without mishap. It would appear that this noiseless form of construction is superseding riveting for both plate work and structural members, and the judgment now appears to be that it is stronger and more durable.

Press of the City--As important a role as any in the life of New York of today is played by the daily newspapers. The "Evening Post" is the oldest of the surviving newspapers in the city, having issued its first number on November 16, 1801, when the city had only about 60,000 inhabitants. The paper was then printed on a hand press similar to that used by Benjamin Franklin. William Coleman, a Massachusetts lawyer, was its first proprietor and editor, and during the first twenty years of its existence its discussions of public questions were brief and for a time it suffered financial embarrassment. The first great change of ownership came in 1881, when Henry Villard purchased the paper and put it under the editorial direction of General Carl Shurz, Horace White, and E. L. Godkin. Under this editorial triumvirate it championed low tariff and the gold standard and energetically opposed Tammany in local contests. It made a strenuous fight for the abolition of the spoils system and for civil service reform. After 1899 Oswald Garrison Villard became president of the Evening Post Publishing Company, representing the Villard and Garrison interests. Thomas W. Lamont, member of the firm of J. P. Morgan & Company, purchased the paper in 1921, placing its management in the hands of Edwin F. Gay, a former Harvard professor, who had achieved distinction as director the War Finance Corporation in the World War. Mr. Lamont not long after surrendered the property to a syndicate composed of between thirty and forty persons, who combined to save the paper from threatened purchase by Frank a. Munsey for absorption in his holdings. The syndicate's tenure was also brief and on January 1, 1924, Cyrus H. K. Curtis, of Philadelphia, publisher of the "Ledger" and "Saturday Evening Post" of that city, and other publications, bought the "New York Evening Post," made it a five-cent paper, and returned its editorial support to the Republican party.

The "New York World" first appeared on June 14, 1860, as an eight-page paper, and had the backing of strong capital. Alexander Cummings, editor of the Philadelphia "North American," and afterwards Governor of Colorado, was head of the enterprise, which had its home at the corner of Park Row and Beekman Street. the projectors were men of large means, who conceived the idea of a paper that would represent the thought of the evangelical portion of the public. Thus theatrical advertisement were shut out. The experience of a few months ,made it clear that there was no real demand for a paper which did not promptly print a record of all events of contemporaneous human interest. After $200,000 had been sunk the business passed into other hands, and the "World," was made into a real newspaper. The "World" changed hands many timers and had reached its lowest ebb, entailing a loss of $100,000 a year merely to keep it alive, when it was bought by Joseph Pulitzer, who had made a success of the St. Louis "Post-Dispatch." He took charge in May, 1883, and announced that the "World," under his management, would be entirely different: "There is not room in this great and growing city for a journal that is not only cheap but bright, not only bright but large, not only large but truly democratic; one dedicated to the cause of the people, rather than that of purse potentates; devoted more to the news of the New than Old World; that will expose all fraud and sham, fight all public evils and abuses, and that will serve and battle for the people with earnest sincerity." Success was immediate and the circulation jumped from 15,000 to 200,00 in two years. The Sunday edition was greatly improved and the "Evening World," which was started on October 10, 1887, won immediate favor. The corner-stone of the World Building, at Park Row, and Frankfort Street, notable for its gilded dome, was laid on October 10, 1889. When the building was completed on November 10, 1890, the average daily circulation of the paper had reached 316,636. The building was enlarged and rededicated to public service on May 9, 1908, that being the twenty-fifth anniversary of Mr. Pulitzer's purchase of the paper. When the elder Pulitzer died, in 1911, the "World" and the "Post-Dispatch" came under the control of the sons, Ralph and Joseph and Herbert Pulitzer.

The "New York Times" has also a good deal of history behind it. It was founded in 1851 by Henry J. Raymond, George Jones and E. B. Wesley. After the Civil War the paper advocated a policy of reconciliation as opposed to reconstruction. Under the editorship of Louis J. Jennings the paper exposed the Tweed ring. The Star Route exposure in 1881, and the thwarting of Jay Gould's attempt to gain control of the Manhattan Elevated Railway by the paper excited nation-wide interest.

 

The History of New York State, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., 1927

This book is owned by Pam Rietsch and is a part of the Mardos Memorial Library

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

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