Leaving the City Hall we walk a short distance to Chambers Street, where stands the workshop of the city, to which we have just referred, and which is officially known as the Municipal Building. Some 7,500 city clerks are employed here.
It is a huge structure, 450 by 300 feet. It is 40 stories high, or 564 feet. It cost about twelve million dollars. A wide vaulted passage allows for the continuation of Chambers Street through the building. It is striking architecturally, and its massive sculpture is very impressive.
It has not much attraction for the sightseer, as it is strictly a business office building and devotes all its time to the work of the day. The Marriage License Bureau and the marrying facilities are all that is out of the usual.
Beyond the great New York Municipal Building is another quaint little bit of the city's oddities—the little red brick Catholic Church of St. Andrews, the rector of which is also Chaplain of the City Prison. Every morning at 2 A. M. mass is said here for the benefit of night workers in this neighborhood and a goodly attendance is the general rule.
To those unacquainted with this phase of metropolitan existence, the great number of persons who work at night and sleep in the day is a matter of great surprise. Bryan once made a speech to this class of our population and was surprised to find an audience that filled Printing House Square and extended well back into City Hall Park. St. Andrew's is a land mark downtown and greatly beloved. The residence of Governor Alfred E. Smith is within a short distance from St. Andrew's, which he occasionally attends.
At present a large clear space extends from St. Andrew's back several blocks. This is the site chosen for the new County Court House. The accepted design shows a building modeled after the Coliseum at Rome. and when carried out New York will have a civic centre of great beauty. Nothing can be done, however, to carry out this scheme till the ugly post office is removed.
Toward the bridge entrance is another tablet to mark the former site of another of New York's famous Revolutionary buildings, removed to make room for the subway—the old Register's Office, built in 1758 as a debt-ors' prison. During the Revolution this building was used as a military prison by the British, among whom was no less a personage than Ethan Allen, conqueror of Ticonderoga. It was torn down in 1903 and thus disappeared another old landmark.
Back of the City Hall still stands Bill Tweed's six million dollar Court House. A meaner looking building for the money was never built. It ought to come down. The room is needed and surely if we can afford to dispense with a historic structure like the Register's Office we can afford to be without a reminder of the swindling activities of the Tweed Ring. With this building and the Post Office removed, the park would be restored to its graceful proportions of Colonial days.
Another municipal structure, the new Hall of Records, on Chambers Street, opposite the City Hall, is conspicuous by the statues of Duane, Colden, Hine, Heath-cote, Stuyvesant, De Vries and Clinton—all eminent New Yorkers of bygone days. The allegorical groups represent the purchase of Manhattan in 1626 and consolidation of the greater city in 1898. The interior of the building is of great interest. The records cover practically every phase of the city's history since the beginning. Its collection of old Dutch maps and other items of earliest days is very complete. Inspection of these old documents is readily permitted.
The large building west of the Hall of Records is the old store of New York's first Merchant Prince, A. T. Stewart. In the 40's this was the retail store, but later the establishment at Broadway and Ninth Street was erected. In its day the Stewart business was unique for size and earning capacity. Stewart is buried in old St. Mark's Church. His body was stolen shortly after it was interred and the crime was the sensation of the day. The building was recently purchased by Mr. Frank A. Munsey, the publisher, who will soon erect upon it a building to house the Sun and his other publications. The Emigrant Industrial Savings Bank, east of the Stewart Building, is a very rich and conservative institution. The Martin B. Brown Co., a famous city printer, who prints election ballots, etc., has the adjoining establishment.
North of the City Hall along Centre Street are some important public buildings that are worth a visit. In the block facing Centre, Leonard, Lafayette and Franklin Streets is the Tombs or City Prison. The span connecting the buildings is popularly known as the "Bridge of Sighs," as prisoners after receiving sentence return over this bridge and get their last glimpse of freedom from here. A permit to visit the prison may be obtained upon application to the Department of Correction, 221, Leonard Street. Some interesting mural decorations are contained in the rooms of the Supreme Court.
Just above the Tombs is the Headquarters of the Police Department, which contains the famous Rogues' Gallery and the room where the daily lineup of criminals takes place so that the detectives may scan their features for future reference. Other rooms are for the usual requirements of such a department. A large mural painting over the judge's desk in the trial room portrays the same site in early times.
This building stands on the site of what was formerly a miniature lake—the Collect Pond. It was 60 feet deep and on it John Fitch sailed the first model of a steam-boat while Fulton and Livingston viewed the trial from the bank. Fulton's attempt succeeded while Fitch's failed, but many persons believed that the idea was the latter's originally, but he did not secure the financial backing necessary to develop his plans, while Fulton did.
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