BROADWAY FROM BOWLING GREEN TO WALL STREET AND TRINITY CHURCH
BENEDICT ARNOLD AND THE BOWLING GREEN BUILDING.
We have now quite thoroughly explored Battery Park and vicinity and will resume our tour up Broadway, starting at Bowling Green in front of the Custom House. It marks the beginning of the Main Street of our village.
This ancient Colonial Park was once the heart of New Amsterdam and the resort of its leisure class when bowling was the baseball of that day. It is popularly believed that this is the exact site on which Peter Minuit purchased Manhattan Island from the Indians. It looms large in the history of these early days, being first used as a parade ground and afterwards as the weekly market place and annual fair. During the sessions of the last named function all persons were exempt from arrest for debt; so this celebration was highly popular. In 1732 it was ordered to be fenced in by the common council and was leased at one pepper-corn a year to three citizens for a private bowling green, the lease being renewed a second term for 20 shillings per annum. It subsequently became our first public park.
The Stamp Act Riot centered here in 1765, when Governor Colden's coach containing his effigy was burned. A leaden statue of George III. on horesback, also erected here, was torn down during the Revolution and sent to Gov. Wolcott of Litchfield, Conn., whose wife and daughter melted it into 42,000 bullets for the patriots. The tail and parts of the flank of the horse were spared, and can be seen in the rooms of the New York Historical Society. The iron fence around the green was made in England and originally had iron crowns ornamenting the posts. Most of these were broken off during the Revolution. Washington reviewed the great Federal procession to commemorate the ratification by New York State of the Federal Constitution from this point in 1787.
Conspicuous in the parade was a huge float drawn by six horses carrying a replica of a 32-gun frigate named the Ship of State, and made by the ship carpenters of New York. In 1794 another riot occurred here to protest against the Jay treaty; altogether Bowling Green has had quite a busy existence. It is now for the time being, in repose. There is an effective bronze statue of Abraham De Peyster facing south, one of the original Dutch settlers who was Mayor in 1691.
The Washington Building, No. 1 Broadway, stands on the site which is notable in this city of frequent changes for a record of stability rare in its annals. Since the first grant of land was made of this plot of ground in 1643 to the present, only three buildings have stood upon it; first a little Dutch tavern, much frequented by the soldiers in the fort opposite; then the Kennedy House, 1760-1882, and now the Washington Building—at one time the tallest building in the city.
It was from the Kennedy House that Andre set out upon his ill-fated journey to meet Arnold. As British Headquarters during the Revolution it sheltered Clinton, Howe, Carlton and others. It was never occupied by the Americans though Cyrus W. Field, projector of the Atlantic Cable, who erected the building now standing, named it after Washington in the mistaken idea that he once made the old house his headquarters. Robert Fulton died in a house in the rear of this site. When New York was the capital, this house was the residence of the Spanish Minister Don Drego de Gardoqui. This gentleman evidently had a unique experience with a New York crowd as the following item clipped from the New York Gazette, 1786, would indicate:
The Spanish Minister returns thanks to the citizens for their alacrity in extinguishing the fire that happened at his house. He observed many persons of the first distinction actively employed and although the doors were open to all and the house filled with people, none of his effects were missing; everything carried out having been restored."
In later years it became a hotel. The building bids fair to remain in its present condition for some time to come.
The Bowling Green Building at No. 9, now owned by the Goulds, is quite closely connected with a dramatic incident of the Revolution.
After Arnold at Tarrytown had delivered to Major Andre the papers that were to betray `Vest Point into the hands of the British, he repaired to the house of his friend, Beverly Robinson nearby. There he met his bride of a little more than a year, Peggy Chew, one of the belles of Philadelphia. He had hardly embraced his wife when Robinson entered with the exciting news that a British spy had been captured, and that the plan of the defenses of West Point had been found upon him.
Arnold alone of the three knew what the fateful news portended. With a face blanched with fear he made the excuse of being obliged to return to look after the spy. He clasped his wife in his arms, looked upon the face of his sleeping baby for an instant, and was gone. He never saw them again.
He escaped on the man-of-war Vulture and joined the British in New York. It is at this point that the Bowling Green Building comes in. He was quartered at the King's Arms, a tavern which formerly occupied this site, and it was here that a daring plan was made by Sergeant Champe of "Light Horse" Harry Lee's Dragoons. This intrepid soldier decided to join Arnold's "American Legion" as a deserter from the patriots. He observed that Arnold walked in the gardens of the Tavern every evening, and planned to kidnap him with the help of confederates and make off before assistance could arrive. Sudden orders compelled both Arnold and Champe to proceed South before the evening agreed upon and the attempt came to nothing. Champe finally succeeded in rejoining the American forces. It was a bold attempt and worthy of a better fate. A beautiful stained glass window by Edwin A. Abbey, representing the Dutch playing ninepins is one of the sights of this building and worth a visit.
Numbers 17 and 19 were once the British Consulate, and here for a time lived Daniel Webster. At 21 and 27 stood the Steven's House, a noted hotel, where Jenny Lind and P. T. Barnum stopped, besides other well known personages.
And he stopped at an inn that is known very well, "Delmonico's" once—now "Stevens Hotel";
And, to venture a pun which I think rather witty, There's no better inn in that inn-famous city.
—J. G. Saxe.
It is now the site of the splendid offices of the Cunard Steamship Co. It was originally the site of the first Delmonico retaurant.
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