NEW YORK BROAD STREET.THE CURB MARKET.
The Continental Congress was virtually the outgrowth of the work of the Committee on Correspondence which met and conducted its labors from this building. Governor Clinton gave a banquet on Evacuation Day to General Washington and many of his military staff. In 1844 the last important event occurred but one—the founding of the New York Yacht Club.
After 1844 it fell upon evil days and became a saloon patronized by teamsters and longshoremen. It seemed well on the way to an ignominious ending when a renaissance of the Revolutionary spirit was suddenly aroused in 1883 by the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Washington's Farewell. As a result a new society was formed—and in the same identical room in which the event occurred which they were celebrating. This was the Sons of the Revolution, a patriotic organization, devoted to the purpose of keeping alive the best traditions of the spirit of '76, now having members in every city and known all over the union.
The Society had not been long in existence before it began to agitate for the preservation by the city of this historic building and to plead for its restoration to its former state of grandeur. The City was still considering the subject when the Sons of the Revolution, through a generous bequest left by Mr. Frederick Samuel Tallmadge, one of its members, and a descendant of Col. Tallmadge, was enabled to secure the building for itself.
With this importation consummation achieved the Society at once prepared plans for a complete restoration of the building. In this it has been fully successful; the tavern today is exactly as it was in Washington's time.
It is quite popular as a resort for "Honeymooners". The Society gladly welcomes visitors and a restaurant has been provided so that strangers may dine there while inspecting the famous old Tavern. An attendant in powdered wig, knee breeches, silk stockings and slippers imparts quite a Colonial atmosphere which is much enjoyed by the visitor. Prices at the restaurant are no higher than elsewhere and a lunch or dinner here provides an additional pleasant experience that will long be remembered in your red letter day of your visit to New York.
Coming out of the Tavern and its memories of bygone days, we are almost startled by the sudden transition into modern life. This is emphasized by the appearance of the famous "Curb" market, that curious assemblage of outdoor brokers whose market place is not far from the old Tavern. Day in and day out, rain or shine, business proceeds without interruption in the open air by this novel organization. Costumes change, according to the vagaries of the weather, but nothing interferes with business. The buildings on both sides of the street directly opposite the crowd are filled with clerks signaling orders or receiving messages from the Curb. Dozens of telephones with an attendant at each can be plainly seen from the sidewalk and the frantic motions of the operators trying to deliver urgent orders form one of the illuminating features of life on the Curb.
The first phenomenon that piques the curiosity of the innocent wayfarer is the meaning and purpose of the finger signs. For the most part, they denote price. They do not convey the full prices. That is supposed to be known. If a stock is selling at 89 1/8, all that will be indicated by the hands will be the eighth. The hand turned up means "bid" or what somebody is willing to pay for the stock; the hand turned down means "offered," or what somebody is willing to sell it for. The index finger, pointing up, means one-eighth of a point bid; two fingers a quarter; three fingers, three eights, and so on to more complicated signals. Pointing down, the fingers indicate the fraction of a point offered.
The multi-colored hats worn by these people are not adopted as a mark of eccentricity, but for the severely practical purpose of making recognition easy by any individual in the windows of the firm whom he represents.
Romance is thick these days on the Curb. Men have gone there poor, wrecks, failures, borrowing quarters and dimes for lunch; have bought some engraved certificates that nobody else wanted, have prospered, put on good clothes, worn diamonds, driven automobiles, dined in the finest hotels, kept chauffeurs and country estates and yachts, kept on trading and gone back again to borrowing quarters and dimes for lunch.
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