THE POST OFFICE, THE ASTOR HOUSE, THE WOOLWORTH BUILDING.
Next comes the post-office, which is directly opposite the Woolworth Building. Inside the street corridor is a bronze bust and memorial to Postmaster Pearson, who did much to remove this branch of the public business from political spoilsmen. Near the Western entrance is a tablet to commemorate the site of the old Liberty Pole, erected by the Sons of Liberty in 1765.
It stood just North of the post-office. The present building was completed in 1876, but is already superseded by an up-to-the-minute structure opposite the Pennsylvania Station on Eighth Avenue, and the building you are now looking at may soon be a thing of the past.
A movement to remove the post office and to re-erect the old Liberty Pole which stood in the park in Revolutionary days, as a war memorial to the Liberty Boys of 1918 is also underway. A group of ol 1 New Yorkers has the project in charge. A more detailed account of this important undertaking is given in a special chapter.
Emerging from the post-office and continuing up Broadway, we pass the old Astor House, for more than half a century the wonder of New York and the best-known hotel in this part of the world. It is now an office building. Across the street is perhaps the most beautiful and impressive building ever erected for purely commercial purposes, the Woolworth Building. No greater tribute to the worth of small things could be devised, for all the world knows that it was built out of the profits of the five-and-ten-cent stores, and that within thirty days after completion it was free and clear of all debts or liabilities of any kind. It is supposed to have cost between seven and eight millions.
While we are in this building we might speak of the genuine pleasure that the tourist may derive from a visit to any of the numerous towers in certain high buildings which are now available. Constructed originally for ornament, these towers have turned out to be the best revenue producers contained in the building. Some are said to earn a hundred thousand dollars a year. The individual fee, however, is very slight, fifty cents, and the visitor can nowhere receive so much for his money as in a visit to either the Singer, Metropolitan or Woolworth Towers.
It is a veritable airplane trip with none of the dangers of the real thing. We are many hundred feet up in the air, and it will give you something really interesting to talk about for the rest of your days. This ascent is made in regular passenger elevators part way, from which point you change for another set of elevators that carry you the remaining distance to the top.
What happens when you step out on to the balcony of the tower and gaze at the city in the distance below is something that is not easily described. If the weather happens to be one of those wonderfully beautiful days, clear and without a cloud in the sky, as so frequently happens in New York, the scene is bewildering.
There is first an uncanny quietness all about you—the roar and the noise of the street completely disappear. Roads. that seemed packed with people now seem to have quite considerable patches of space between the crowds, and the figures are dwarfed till they look like little ants running hither and thither. It is quite a thrilling experience.
Opposite the Post Office on the East side is the huge 30-story Park Row Building, which stands on the site of one of New York's oldest theatres—the Park. An alley at the rear, still called Theatre Alley, was originally the stage passage to the theatre. Junius Brutus Booth, Edmund Kean, Edwin Forrest, Fanny Elssler, Fanny Kemble, and other noted stars were seen here. A grand ball was given to Charles Dickens during his visit. in 1842. Its memory is still kept green in New York.
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