Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 6


Saturday. November 1 1834.

“The Activity of Competition Glares,” Broadway, New York, 1834–1835 facing or following page 108[unavailable]

The two views of New York City are illustrative of the kaleidoscopic scene that presented itself to Charles Francis Adams on his brief visit in November 1834. Both are from the I. N. Phelps Stokes Collection of American Historical Prints in the New York Public Library and appear as illustrations in Stokes’ Iconography of Manhatten Island, 6 vols., New York, 1918, plates 103b and 113. The view of La Grange Terrace, Lafayette Place, is a line engraving by J. H. Dakin, published by Peabody & Co., 219 Broadway, New York, and appeared, along with thirty-seven other views, in T. S. Fay’s Views in New York and its Environs [The Peabody Views], London, 1831. “Broadway, New York” [The Hornor View], “Shewing each Building from the Hygeian Depot corner of Canal Street to beyond Niblo’s Garden,” is an aquatint, in colors, drawn and etched by T. Hornor, acquatinted by J. Hill, and printed by W. Neale. It was published by Joseph Stanley & Co. and copyrighted 26 January 1836. The view is of Broadway from Canal Street northward almost to Houston Street, Niblo’s Garden being between Prince and Houston streets.

La Grange Terrace, whose name was afterward changed to Colonnade Row, was the grandest of the structures occupying Lafayette Place, which extended from Fourth to Eighth Street between Broadway and Bowery. Other buildings within the area were Tompkins Market, Vaux Hall, and three churches: Dutch Reformed, Presbyterian, and St. Bartholomew’s. La Grange Terrace consisted of nine mansions of white marble, or granite, constructed en bloc, with a common portico at the second level, from which rose noble Corinthian columns two stories in height. Among the notable figures who made their residence there at various times were Washington Irving and John Jacob Astor. In the “intermixture of fashion and poverty” that Charles Francis Adams found on his morning’s walk, the “famous block of Marble houses” was surely the exemplar of the fashionable (p. 6–7, below).


Hornor’s depiction of Broadway with its many and varied vehicles, its shops of all sorts and sizes, its street peddlars and hawkers, its blatant advertising, has the same flavor as Adams’ description of the street on which a man “builds a house to the clouds that his printed letters may be seen for half a mile glaring over the intervening houses.... Here is a great house and there a ginshop, or a tailor’s or a grocery. Such is the character of New York” (p. 7, below).

Courtesy of the Prints Division, New York Public Library.