BEDLOES ISLAND. WEST, WASHINGTON AND GREENWICH STREETS.
Bedloe's Island was bought by the city from Captain Kennedy as far back as 1758. It was ceded to the Federal Government in 1800, who made it one of the outer defenses of the city by erecting a small fort upon it, known as Fort Wood.
There is still the suggestion of a fort in the star shaped walls which surround the base of the Statue of Liberty, which, by the way, was a gift from France in 1883. The pedestal of the statue was erected by popular subscription.
Governor's Island, in sight of the Battery, is now military headquarters for the Department of the East and a special permit is required to visit the island. Old "Castle Bill," as Castle William is called, is a huge military prison. The island has a large aviation field, besides other interesting features, and a very interesting museum of war relics.
The three streets at the west, running north from the Battery, are quite interesting; West Street, facing the river, for its immense shipping; Washington Street for its polyglot population, and Greenwich Street because of its one time splendor.
In fact, Greenwich Street in 1825 was called Millionaire's Row and had for residents such families as Brockholst Livingston, John Johnston, James Lenox—the same type, in fact, as occupied exclusive State Street. Many of these old Greenwich Street buildings are still standing and this section is today a very curious quarter of New York, inasmuch as it remains a residential section with, however, a great difference socially.
From the Battery to Vescy Street and from Greenwich to West Street there is a population of about ten thousand. They are crowded into tenements made out of old warehouses and former fashion-able houses now fallen into decay. It is estimated that more than twenty-seven nationalities are represented. The Irish used to dominate, but they have given way to the Poles. Next come Syrians, then Greeks, Armenians and peoples from Palestine and Mesopotamia.
Quite a business is carried on in needlework and some of the lace work is quite interesting, and their merchandise is sold wholesale and retail throughout the United States. Some modern loft buildings have lately made their appearance, all tenanted by firms with unpronounceable names. One enterprising dealer announces branch offices in Athens, Pereus, Salonica, Bagdad, Cairo, Rhodes and Alexandria—quite a brave showing for a little shop in New York.
Naturally the presence of so many families brings with it a corresponding number of children. Both the children and the mothers have found a great friend in the Bowling Green Neighborhood Association, an organization which has voluntarily taken up settlement work. They have provided a playground, a little hall where dances and social affairs can be had; a modest little library; a babies' clinic and other desirable attributes. The infant mortality, from an abnormally high rate, has been reduced to correspond with the average of the city at large, and in other ways the Neighborhood Association has made for itself a warm spot in the heart of these friendless foreigners.
The magnificent office building on Battery Place, just west of Greenwich Street, is the Whitehall Building and houses the Government Weather Bureau. In very hot weather it is always very much cooler up in the tower of this high building, where the temperature is recorded, and the New Yorker sweltering on the parched side-walks six hundred feet below, always adds ten degrees to what the official figures report.
The Whitehall Building is headquarters for shipping, export, coal and oil businesses. Important firms are located here and on the top floor is one of the numerous lunch clubs that abound downtown. The view from the dining room windows presents what is said to be the most perfect marine picture to be found on the whole coast. On clear days it is possible to see far beyond Long Branch on the Jersey Coast and to Rockaway on the East. Incoming liners can be seen hours before they arrive.
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