Our Firemen, The History of the NY Fire Departments

Chapter 56, Part II

By Holice and Debbie

The present new Produce Exchange has been declared to be one of the finest buildings of its class in the world. The building stands in Whitehall Street, facing Bowling Green, and was built on the site of some old brownstone houses which it was at first endeavored to convert into a suitable building. The walls were constructed of red brick, ornamented and embellished with terra cotta trimmings, and are erected upon a series of wooden piles, necessitated by the weak nature of the soil. The style of architecture is Italian Renaissance, and the building, which is three hundred and seven feet long, and one hundred and fifty feet broad, has a handsome clock tower two hundred feet high. In the interior, is a fine hall, used for the purpose of the association, which measures two hundred and fifteen feet long, and one huddled and thirty-four feet wide. Of important buildings erected at later periods, we have a large number of great interest. Foremost among the building devoted to ecclesiastical purposes in the city is that of St. Patrick's Cathedral. It is in the decorated or geometrical style of Gothic architecture, and is being erected--for it will probably be several years to come before it is finished--for the designs and under the superentendance of James Renwick, architect. This building, which was commenced in 1858, is one of the finest erections in America, and present a magnificent appearance. Its cost when finished is calculated will amount of about $2,500.000.

Trinity Church on Broadway, nearly facing Wall Street, was completed in 1846. It stands upon the site of a church erected in 1697, and of others completed afterward. It is admirably located, with an open space surrounding it, and is a very handsome structure. The walls are built of brown stone, and there re fine stained glass windows and a reredos of considerable artistic beauty. In the churchyard us a monument erected in brown stone by the Trinity Corporation in connection with the war of the Revolution.

Another familiar church to the New Yorker is Grace church on Broadway and Tenth Street. this is a very fine building, erected in 1842 in the Gothic Style in white granite and freestone. Various additions have been made to it in the shape of minor buildings in connection from time to time, and lastly, a new stone spire has been place upon it. The interior is elegantly and beautifully carved work. The position of the church is an excellent one, making it conspicuous for some miles down Broadway.

The fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, or as it is sometimes termed, Dr. John Hall's church, is a fine building, measuring 200 feet by 100 feet, and 60 feet high. Two towers, each 100 feet in height, form striking features, and are utilized for ventilation. M. Carl Pfeiffer was the architect of the church, which it has been stated is the most perfectly ventilated building in the city. This is effected by admitting the fresh air into the basement and passing it over pipes attached to the ceiling. It is then admitted into each pew of the church as required, being regulated by the occupant. In the tower are revolved large fans which assist in expelling the vitiated air. In the warm weather ice is substituted for the coil of pipes, and thus the air is admitted into the church at any degree of heat required.

St. Paul's Church, built in 1766, is of great interest, as being the oldest church in the city. Among the modern buildings of this description may be mentioned St. Thomas's, on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Fifty-third Street and the Presbyterian Church on the same avenue on the corner of Fifty-fifth Street.

If any person familiar with New York was asked to name the best-known and most conspicuous building in the city, he would have little difficulty in deciding upon the new buildings of the Post-Office. Located immediately opposite the City Hall, and in the very center of the commercial portion of the city, it is now familiar to the sight of thousands as a beautiful and convenient edifice.

The building was completed in 1875, and certainly forms a magnificent pile, of which New Yorkers may well be proud. It stands upon a quadrangular piece of land, which has a frontage of 340 feet on Broadway, and of 290 feet on the North Side. In its construction no wood whatever has been employed, iron, stone, brick and cement chiefly composing it. The style is Renaissance based upon the Doric order, and the manner in which the general design has been worked out is a very pleasing, as giving the appearance of exception solidity, with a grace and well-considered effect that is to be much commended.

The Grand Central Depot, on Forty-second Street and Madison Avenue, was built by the New York and Harlem and the New haven Roads at a cost of $2,250,000. It measures 695 feet long, and is 240 feet broad, and covers 61 city lots. It admits 150 cars, and includes waiting rooms and the company's offices. The building is erected in red brick, with trimmings of a light-brown stone.

The Masonic Building, on the corner of Twenty-third Street, and sixth Avenue, was erected by the designs of Architect Le Brun. It is five stories high, and has a large sand massive appearance.

It is probably that the present Custom House, located on Wall Street, will not be much longer used for that purpose. With the commercial growth of the city it has become quite inadequate in size, so that it is very probable that a new building will soon be erected. It was formerly the Merchants' Exchange, and consists of a massive pile, chiefly of Quincy granite. A portico runs the whole length of the front, supported by eighteen columns, each of which is 38 feet in height, and 4-1.2 feet in diameter. A flat roof and rotunda cover in the building, the later being borne by a number of fine pillars of solid Italian variegated marble.

On the block bounded by Centre, Elm, Franklin, and Leonard Streets, and occupying a space of 200 feet by 253 feet, is the City Prison, or as it is generally termed, "The Tombs." This building is a most striking one from the unfamiliar style of its architecture, which is of great interest, but, although it has from time to time been much praised from the purity of design, it is doubtful whether the style, rigid, stiff, and severe as it is, could be carried out again with advantage, or whether it accords with the prevailing idea of the fitness of things.

One of the most conspicuous features of the architecture of the city are the numerous large blocks of offices erected in the lower portion of the city. Illustrations of several of the most important of these are included in these pages. As a typical example, the block known as Mill's building, on Wall Street may be taken. This building was completed in 1882 from the designs of Architect George B. Post. It is nine stories in height, exclusive of the basement, which is used as a cellarage. On the first story is a large entrance-hall, lighted from the roof, which also lights a single staircase constructed of wrought iron, with slate treads and landings.

It is characteristic of this purely modern description of construction, that the staircase should be very small, compared to the size of the building and the number of occupants. The reason of this is that nearly the whole of the traffic is conducted by elevators, which are kept running throughout the day. Here, in Mill's Building, there are kept four elevators running at the same time, so that persons wishing to ascend or descend are at the most only kept waiting a few moments. 

Columbia College was founded in 1752, and occupied a building erected in 1755 on the block now occupied with Murray, Church, and Barclay Streets. The present building on forty-ninth Street ws originally erected for an institution for the deaf and dumb, and was fitted up for the purposes of the college in 1857. Previously the buildings were located on the west side of Park Place, quite near to the City Hall.

Since the year 1866 the real architectural history of the city has commenced; but as the period is so recent, most of the buildings erected stand to-day, so that a description of them principal of them, with the dates of their erection, will prove of interest, and will indicate the extent of the development.

The magnificent mansion erected by the late A. T. Stewart, on the corner of Thirty-fourth Street and Fifth Avenue, is one of the most complete and beautiful residences of the city. Its style of architecture and general conception in design is exceedingly striking, carried out as it is, entirely in white marble. The interior is beautifully decorated, and the while residence, which is said to have cost no less than two million dollars, is one of the finest in America. Since the death of Mrs. Stewart it has been proposed by the authorities to purchase this building for the purpose of a headquarters for the municipal government.

On other pages we give engravings of the residences of the Vanderbilt family on Fifth Avenue. Of these fine residences there are four, that on the corner of Fifty-first Street, being built of brown stone, elaborately treated.

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Debbie

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