Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898

Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898

Edwin G. Burrows, Mike Wallace

Language: English

Pages: 1424

ISBN: 0195140494

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

To European explorers, it was Eden, a paradise of waist-high grasses, towering stands of walnut, maple, chestnut, and oak, and forests that teemed with bears, wolves, raccoons, beavers, otters, and foxes. Today, it is the site of Broadway and Wall Street, the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty, and the home of millions of people, who have come from every corner of the nation and the globe.

In Gotham, Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace have produced a monumental work of history, one that ranges from the Indian tribes that settled in and around the island of Manna-hata, to the consolidation of the five boroughs into Greater New York in 1898. It is an epic narrative, a story as vast and as varied as the city it chronicles, and it underscores that the history of New York is the story of our nation. Readers will relive the tumultuous early years of New Amsterdam under the Dutch West India Company, Peter Stuyvesant's despotic regime, Indian wars, slave resistance and revolt, the Revolutionary War and the defeat of Washington's army on Brooklyn Heights, the destructive seven years of British occupation, New York as the nation's first capital, the duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, the Erie Canal and the coming of the railroads, the growth of the city as a port and financial center, the infamous draft riots of the Civil War, the great flood of immigrants, the rise of mass entertainment such as vaudeville and Coney Island, the building of the Brooklyn Bridge and the birth of the skyscraper. Here too is a cast of thousands--the rebel Jacob Leisler and the reformer Joanna Bethune; Clement Moore, who saved Greenwich Village from the city's street-grid plan; Herman Melville, who painted disillusioned portraits of city life; and Walt Whitman, who happily celebrated that same life. We meet the rebel Jacob Leisler and the reformer Joanna Bethune; Boss Tweed and his nemesis, cartoonist Thomas Nast; Emma Goldman and Nellie Bly; Jacob Riis and Horace Greeley; police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt; Colonel Waring and his "white angels" (who revolutionized the sanitation department); millionaires John Jacob Astor, Cornelius Vanderbilt, August Belmont, and William Randolph Hearst; and hundreds more who left their mark on this great city.

The events and people who crowd these pages guarantee that this is no mere local history. It is in fact a portrait of the heart and soul of America, and a book that will mesmerize everyone interested in the peaks and valleys of American life as found in the greatest city on earth. Gotham is a dazzling read, a fast-paced, brilliant narrative that carries the reader along as it threads hundreds of stories into one great blockbuster of a book.


















His Majesty’s forces, and the presence of a revolutionary army had completed the shift to radical rule. There, in the words of Hugh Hughes, “the people are constantly treading on their leaders’ heels, and, in a hundred cases, have taken the lead of them.” Suspected Tories were forced to recant in public, then tarred and feathered, ridden through town on rails, or forced to parade the streets holding candles. The well-organized and militant Mechanics Committee (soon referring to itself as the

markets. Some took in washing as independent entrepreneurs. But the vast majority continued to perform the same heavy domestic work, albeit for wages, that they had done as slaves—and in much the same circumstances too, living in the garrets, cellars, or outbuildings of white households. Two-thirds of the free black community, however, resided in independent black households, headed by men who for the most part earned their livelihoods as laborers. Perhaps one in four retained artisanal skills

Irving’s was the first American book so favorably received abroad. It put the United States—and New York City—on Europe’s cultural map. And Irving really had provided Manhattan with a past, of sorts. “Cities of themselves” Knickerbocker told his readers, tongue only partly in cheek, “are nothing without an historian,” and Irving believed that creating his book had been an act of the highest civic patriotism. Although his version of colonial New Amsterdam was a burlesque, and deeply resented by

Active as well as prosperous, Leisler was a deacon of the Reformed Church, captain of the militia, justice of the peace, and—thanks to close family and personal connections with the international Huguenot community—a respected figure among New York’s French Protestants. It was largely through Leisler’s efforts, in fact, that a settlement of Huguenots had been started in 1687 at New Rochelle (named after La Rochelle, the epicenter of French Protestantism). Leisler never quite made it into the

depression. The rail-spurred prosperity of 1844-57 was interrupted by the Panic of 1857, reignited by the Gvil War, then snuffed out by the Panic of 1873, which inaugurated a lengthy period of hard times. Industrialization-based resurgence in the 1880s gave way to depression in the 1890s. Corporate consolidation and war with Spain ushered in prosperity in the 1900s, which subsided after the Panic of 1907. World War I and a consumer goods revolution led to the 1920s boom, which collapsed into the

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