BROADWAY FROM WALL STREET. THE STANDARD OIL AND "STEEL".
Almost directly across the street is that Holy of Holies, the Standard Oil Building, at No. 26. Whole chapters could be written about this one building, perhaps the best known, certainly the most talked of, on Broadway.
As a practical demonstration in the gentle art of making money No. 26 Broadway is surely entitled to all the plaudits it receives.
Notwithstanding the dislike of the family for public notoriety, it remains a fact that young John D. frequently, in fact almost daily, weather permitting, drives to his office in a light gig drawn by two spirited horses. He seems to prefer it to a motor car. Nobody pays any attention except to mention his name as he goes prancing by.
At No. 39 is the site of McComb's Mansion, where Washington lived in 1790, just before the removal of the capital from New York to Philadelphia. A Tablet at No. 41 Broadway marks the site of the first white men's dwellings in Manhattan, built in 1613. They were erected by Adrian Block, a Dutch explorer, and his crew, who had reached the island, but whose ship the Tiger, burned to the water's edge just off the Battery. . Block managed in some miraculous manner, from what little material he saved from the Tiger, to construct another vessel, the Onrest. This site, therefore, marks also the beginning of ship building in New York, an industry which later grew to imposing proportions.
At No. 52 Broadway, below Wall Street, stood until recently a building of more than ordinary interest—the first successful skyscraper erected in New York (1884). It was only eight stories high, but will tower historically higher than any building that will ever stand on the island; it demonstrated the feasibility of skeleton steel construction and caused Manhattan to develop up into the air instead of along the ground. The effect of this invention has been truly remarkable.
No other development in the progress of New York begins to approach it in the magnitude of the tremendous change it wrought, and of the altered conditions it created. Buildings on hundred foot lots now contain the population of a good sized village, and at five o'clock a few blocks will give forth enough residents for a good sized city.
Bradford Lee Gilbert, the architect whose genius gave to New York and the world this remarkable type of building, in telling the story to friends, said that the idea of an iron building had come to him in a dream. He is also remembered for his great interest in Jerry McAuley's Mission, a famous rescue institution, the fore-runner of the present Salvation Army. The history of this wonderful mission forms the one bright chapter in the sordid story of Water Street in the days when it was the resort of sailors and the abode of unspeakable crime and wretchedness.
When Jerry McAuley died in 1884 his wife determined to carry on the work alone and for eight years served as superintendent of the mission. Then her health failed and for a time it seemed she must die. Bradford Lee Gilbert' married her at this time when her health was poor and took care of her. After her marriage she and Mr. Gilbert lived for a time at his country home on the Beaverkill River in Sullivan County.
At No. 56 Broadway are statues by J. Massey Rhind of Clinton, Wolf, Stuyvesant and Hudson, which are of more than passing interest.
Morris Street marks the original public burying ground of New York, and Exchange Place was formerly Tin Pot Alley. It runs into Edgar Street, one of the shortest streets in the City, where from the steps of the Edgar Mansion on Greenwich Street, Daniel Webster made an address to the people on the occasion of the election of the first Mayor of New York, Cornelius Lawrence. This marked an important political change and a further extension of the peoples rights, as before this, Mayors were appointed by the common council.
Just beyond Exchange Place and West of Broadway stood the land occupied by the West India Company as an orchard and farm. Huge office buildings, owned and occupied by the two great Express Companies, Adams and the American, are now on this site. The great Empire Building, which extends from the corner of Broadway along Rector to Church Street, now belongs to the United States Steel Corporation, having been recently purchased by them for office headquarters. It stands directly opposite Trinity Church and is, therefore, to enjoy good light for all time. The price paid for the building and land was $5,000,000, which is considerable money to pay for a place in which merely to keep books and have efficiency conferences.
The next building is by far the most historic and interesting edifice of a religious denomination in our city.
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