Along the Hudson River at New York
THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY.
A Magazine of Literature, Science, Art, and Politics.
VOL. XXII.—JULY, 1868. —NO. CXXIX.
VERY rural and tranquil is the vicinity of Spuyten Duyvel Creek, at the head of the island of Manhattan. Standing on the bridge here, it is difficult to realize the fact that one is within three hours’ walk of a great city. The din of it, and the smoke, and the smells, are shut out from this quiet valley by the intervening ridge of Washington Heights. But to and fro on the blue Hudson go the toiling steamers and the white-sailed river craft, linking the gazer to the city by their commercial associations. The inhabitants near this bridge appear to be unsophisticated and primitive in their ways, but they are only superficially so. They dredge their own oysters, which lends an air of selfsupport and independence to the place ; but then they charge New York prices for them, which shows that with them rural simplicity is but skin-deep. One of the two boys who sit there on the stone-faced bank of the creek, fishing, has no clothes on, which heightens the idea of the primitive, certainly; but then the other wears the traditional red shirt of the New York rowdy, and his expletives just now, when he accidentally baited his hook with his ear, were couched in the choicest profanity of Mackerelville. A rustic damsel comes tripping along a lane that leads to the main road. She is not so rustic on a near view. In size and shape her chignon resembles a two-hundred pound conical shell. She wears enormous red ear-rings, and her broad, serviceable feet are bursting through tancolored French boots. Disgusted with the inconsistencies of the place, I leave it, and, turning cityward, take the road that leads by Washington Heights to New York.
This is the most picturesque route to the city from the land side. It winds past villas that stand on sloping lawns, or, like amateur Rhenish castles, frown from lofty peaks down upon the unresenting river. Evidences of wealth and culture meet the eye everywhere. Gate lodges give an air of European aristocracy to the locality. There is a feudal atmosphere about the place ; one can. with due confusion of associations, almost fancy the curfew tolling here at nightfall, from the campanile that crowns yon lofty knoll; though it is not so easy to conceive that the serfs who dwell hereabouts would extinguish their lamps at its bidding. Trim hedges of beautiful flowering shrubs border the gravel-walks that lead from the road to the villas. Cows of European lineage crop the velvet turf in the glades of the copses. Now and then the river is shut out from view, but only to appear again in scenic vistas, with glimpses of the white villages on the New Jersey shore beyond. But the road becomes less and less rural as it leaves the heights and stretches along the more level ground on its way to the city. Soon it assumes the air of a village street. Indeed, it passes through several villages in its course ; and of these it would not be easy to say where any one of them begins and ends, so linked together are they all by a chain of heterogeneous houses. This is a subject on which to be reserved, however, because it might not be safe to confound an inhabitant of Carmansville with one of Manhattanville. It is ever so with “ villes.” They have conflicting interests and sectional jealousies to keep their borders in a blaze. Who, for instance, could imagine a neighborly feeling between some Temperanceville and the Toddyville that jostles its elbow ? Bloomingdale is before us, and from this village the road takes its name,—a name suggestive of buxom damsels and spring blossoms. Bloomingdale is the village nearest to the city, but its surroundings are rural as yet. The banks on either hand are well shaded with trees. Country churches lift their towers at intervals. Large asylums loom up through the old trees, — asylums in which lunatics are cared for, and asylums for orphan children. There are old family mansions that stand away off the road in grounds, — places with more or less family romance in their history no doubt ; and huge sign - boards over the gateways of some of these inform us that they have been debased into public gardens, where people congregate in the summer time to smoke and drink beer. Now the chirping of English sparrows is heard on every side, and small flocks of these insolent birds are seen foraging in the dust of the road, or clustering like brown blossoms on the hibiscus-bushes and other low shrubs that skirt it. It is hardly five years since a few dozen of these birds were imported for Central Park. Within two or three years they increased prodigiously, spreading first over the bosky grounds of the villas along the Bloomingdale Road. Thence they found their way townward, — for the sparrow is essentially a bird about town. Now the eaves of up-town houses are musical with their chirps, and most of the city parks are swarming with them. Calling them English sparrows, I ask some question concerning them of a burly policeman who is patrolling here. At once his brow contracts, and he avers, in the mellifluous accent of seagreen Erin, that there ain’t no English sparrows here, and folks would n’t have ’em; that they are Irish sparrows, descendants of the original ones let loose in Central Park, which, I think he stated, vacated their native egg-shells somewhere in the vicinity of Cork.
Entered according to Act of Congress. in the year 1868. by TICKNOR AND FIELDS, in the Clerk’s Office the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.
The Bloomingdale Road is a continuation of Broadway, taking its rural name at the point where the great city thoroughfare touches the southwestern angle of Central Park. It is Broadway run out into the country, in fact, to enjoy a breath of fresh air. Right under the steep, woody bank that slopes to the west from this road runs the Hudson River Railway, and much of the intervening ground is occupied by market-gardens. So is much of the tract lying between the road and Central Park to the east. It is a bright, balmy October day as I pass by these plots, and the odor of fragrant pot-herbs gives a zest to the air. But the dust will soon be stirred up now, for the fast trottinghorse man is the figure that gives life and movement to the Bloomingdale Road, and people of his tribe are already beginning to whirl past. A fat livery-stable keeper in a spider wagon, drawn by a span of strawberry horses, rushes by tugging upon his nags at arms’ length. A sporting butcher in a sulky is on his track. He ejaculates "Hi! hi ! ” to his cream-colored pony, and as he does so his teeth gleam like those of a leopard under the cruel curve that he gives to his black-bristled upper lip. Here, at a more leisurely pace, comes a swell, driving tandem with a team of blood bays. Probably he is a gold broker, or a successful gambler in some other branch of the profession. He drives an English sporting "trap,” on the hind seat of which his groom insecurely sits, and, somewhat ignominiously, faces to the rear. Superb, nevertheless, is this young man, in his claret-colored livery with huge metal buttons, his knee-breeches and topboots, and his shiny hat with a cockade on it. Later in the afternoon the road will be crowded with teams, from the one-horse buggy to the heavy drag driven four-in-hand, — most of them come over from the Park on their way by the Bloomingdale to the Kingsbridge Road.
Nearing the city, the aspect of the scene changes, and changes much for the worse. The market-gardens are smaller now, and many of them lie deep down in hollows, — the roofs of the small dwellings that stand in them sometimes being on a level with the road. To the left are seen the rocky knolls of Central Park. Tall, narrow houses lift their heads singly, at intervals, along the streets that bound the Park, blinking right and left with their wistful windows, as if looking out for the advent of other buildings destined to stand shoulder to shoulder with them in the future. The masses of gray rock to the south of the Park, just where the city begins, are very populous. Log shanties, or shanties made of rough boards, crown every boulder, or stick their stove-pipe chimneys out of clefts in the rock. Some of them have their weather-gables and roofs covered with sheets of rusty iron. Lean and hungry dogs, most of them large-sized, but undistinguishable as to breed, roam about the purlieus. Goats enhance the sub-Alpine effect of the place ; but it would require some stretch of imagination to make the whitewashed hut on the summit of yon rock a Swiss châlet, and the rag-picker who has just emerged from it a chamois-hunter going forth to stalk the familiar kids that cluster on the neighboring peaks. Small children, fluttering with rags, and booted with black mud, riot and tumble everywhere among these free crags. Their parents are mostly away in the city, roaming among the ash-barrels and garbageboxes, out of the depths of which they make their living by hook and by crook. Soon this little colony of half-savages on the rocks will have lapsed into the past. Blasting-powder is already making havoc in the vicinity, and grand mansions with their appurtenances will erelong cover the ground over which this curious hamlet of squatters is now scattered.
Down to the right now I take my way, where the railway track runs close by the wharfage along the Hudson River. The country begins to merge into the city here, and there is not much of the rural to be seen. A remnant of it may be discerned, however, about some old mansions that stand between the railway and the river. They are surrounded with gardens, and closely shaded with ancient trees. The old box-bushes in the gardens are yet kept trimmed into formal blocks of dark verdure. Gentility of an old-fashioned kind marks these last connecting links between the country and the city, and there is a suggestion about them of former opulence and family pride. Once, as I walked in a bit of dark and damp woodland that runs from the rear of one of these houses down to the beach of the river, I came upon an old weatherstained stone lion, grasping with one paw a stone globe. This might have been the heraldic device of one of the early lords of the soil. Possibly it might have clone duty in former days as a guardian at the vestibule of some older mansion than the one that now stands there ; and its appearance, as it lay among the dank herbage of the grove, greatly heightened the sense of neglect and decay that hung about the whole place.
Wealth and poverty, enterprise and squalor, clutch at and jostle each other now, as the road gathers itself for its plunge into the city. Columns of tawny smoke rise upward from the huge chimneys of the factories that abound in this district. Every board of the rough fences along the roadside is used as an advertising medium, and so is every bit of rock that crops up from the barren soil. Superscriptions, in great black or white letters, apprise the world of balms, bitters, baby-jumpers, and a hundred other indispensable things in the way of panaceas and labor-saving inventions. Here, just on the margin of the river, is a field strewn with great blocks of brown stone, out of which many stone-cutters are shaping columns and cornices destined to increase the gloom of an architecture that is already sombre to excess. It must be in brown-studies that the architects of New York work out their designs. A grassy road leads down to the river and at the foot of it some small pleasure-boats are moored ; but the place is lonely and still, and no sound is heard save the clink of the stone-cutters’ tools, and the steam-whistles of the tug-boats that puff by each other on the river. Passing on along the front, one is led to reflect on the character of the successive streets that run down to the river. The gradual demoralization of these streets, as they near the manufacturing district, is grievous to the observer. Here is one with which I am well acquainted at points near the central ridge of the city, and in the vicinity of the fashionable avenues. It runs between blocks of stately brown-stone houses there, and is of a deportment at once gracious and reserved. In this locality its associations are of the lowest. The block of houses on the right-hand side, as I follow it toward the river, is of brick ; and the houses are lofty, conweying the impression that the speculator who built them might have been subject to delirious visions of a future genteel neighborhood in this dreary district. A more dismal spectacle than these old rattle-trap tenements now present it would be difficult to conceive. The shattered blinds dangle half off their hinges from the windows, threatening destruction to the wayfarer who treads the unswept sidewalk below. Most of these houses have low barrooms on their ground-floors, with cheap restaurants or oyster-cribs attached. Here and there a few small and meanly appointed shops are to be seen, where miscellaneous goods, ranging from tape to tallow candles, are displayed for sale. The doors of nearly all the houses stand open, revealing dirty, gloomy hall-ways with rickety stairs leading to the upper floors. From many of the windows above pop forth the heads of women and children ; for the houses are tenements, with several families dwelling on each floor. Opposite to this depressing row, the whole length of the block is occupied by an immense gas-work concern, the smoke and coal-dust from which begrime all things around; near this are a station for horse-cars of what is called the “ ’cross-town line,” and a wharf from which ferry-boats ply to Weehawken on the New Jersey side. This ferry is not a pleasant one for passengers who cherish prejudice in favor of quiet lives. From Weehawken the boats come generally loaded with cattle of obstreperous New Jersey breeds. Weehawken, for all its romantic name, is nothing but a huddle of low drinking-shops, to which roughs and robbers of the worst class resort from the city. Respectable persons who are rash enough to venture across the river by this route arc liable to be maltreated and robbed during the trip, —instances of this kind having more than once occurred.
The explorer who extends his investigations to the edge of the river here will now and then discover that his footsteps have not fallen in pleasant places. At times warning whiffs are wafted to him from some huge wooden abattoir, urging him to pass on, nor seek to penetrate too curiously the mysteries of the place. The sickly stench peculiar to a community of swine conies up here from a great range of sheds along the road by which I go toward the river. On either hand the lots are covered with pens, in which sheep and other market animals await unconsciously the last offices of the butcher. The sheep are crowded together in long sheds on one side of the road ; they are very dirty and bedraggled muttons, recalling no pastoral associations of Arcadian shepherdesses with blue-ribboned straw hats on their coquettish heads, and flageolets at their kissable lips. The spruce Verboeckhoven could hardly paint such untidy, demoralized sheep as these, though Jules Breton perhaps might. The space on the opposite side of the road is flooded with feculent ooze, — a Dead Sea of swill, over which a turkey-buzzard might love to hover, perhaps ; but no pure dove could fly over it without falling stifled into its pungent slush. The gray, unpainted boards of the immense sheds in which the pigs are kept do not tend to relieve the monotony of the scene. Further on, close by the wharf belonging to the concern, are the slaughter-houses, where passing glimpses may be had of many butchers at work on long rows of carcasses that hang from the beams. It is not a pleasant spot to linger near. Leave the butchers to their tasks ; but reflect, as you go, that to be human is to be carnivorous, and let your sentiment for the occasion be, “ No butcher, no festive board.”
Not much farther on do you go before the place alluringly announced as the “Free Dumping-Ground” appeals to your senses in more ways than one. Worse than the horrible odors of the swine-pens are the fumes that hang over this disgusting acre of city garbage and filth. Pestilence appears to brood upon the place. And yet, in this noisome acre there is a mine of wealth and beauty and health. Fields and market-gardens shall yet rejoice and grow exuberant under the influence of its fertilizing composts. Flowers and grains will be all the richer for it. Man and beast will derive renewed power from it; and so through innumerable channels its benefits will be extended to the painted butterfly and the piping bird.
A black, unsightly tract is that in which the depot of the Hudson River Railway stands, with its grimy buildings and bewildering network of rails. Old men waving flags confuse one with abstruse signals. Wheezy locomotives rush out from enclosures, make short, jerking trips without any obvious purpose, stop suddenly, as though they had forgotten something, — the key to the signals made by the old men, perhaps, — and then run grunting back to the points from which they started. Interminable trains are coming and going, the blackest and dirtiest of them laden with rows of immense tubs. You pass all these, and great mountains of coal piled up within strongly fenced enclosures, where it flashes like steel in the bright sunshine. The posts and chains and cradles of the complicated arrangements for hoisting it stand out sharply against the sky. At the piers near by coal-vessels are discharging their cargoes, the apparatus for which is worked by horses or mules, driven round circular platforms by whistling, unconcerned boys. About the gates of the coal-yards dirty old women lie in wait, watching the carts that go out loaded with coal, the droppings of which they eagerly snatch from the road, and thrust into omnivorous bags, in which they also carry broken victuals, rags, and such rubbish as they can gather from the gutters and garbage-boxes. Old men, armed with shovels, carry on an uncivil war against these, — old men whose function it is to follow the carts to a short distance from the coal-yard gates, and recover such bits of the black diamond as may fall to the ground. The rough clay road now leads through an immense tract of lumber, piled in towering layers upon the ground that lies between town and river. The perfume of the fresh pine boards is ambrosial after the exhalations of the pigpens and dumpinggrounds. Some of these great piles of lumber slope from the perpendicular, like towers of Pisa, and suggest danger to the wight who would seek shelter to the leeward of them in a gale of wind. The buzz of the planingmills vibrates on the ear, and huge oilstores vitiate with their odors the woodland perfume of the pine. Here lies a fleet of ice-barges, — or, rather, of floating ice-houses,—-rigged out with a forest of little masts fitted with ropes and pulleys for hoisting the ice. Horses are at work making short journeys with this hoisting-tackle ; and the clean, prismatic blocks of ice are packed into heavy wagons, in which they are carried through the city. Near by is the ice-office, along the street in front of which a great number of ice-wagons may be seen ranged before and after the working hours of the day. Here, too, are the stables in which the horses of the company are kept. Looking up at this structure, the gazer is apt to be startled by the apparition of horses’ heads thrust out of secondstory windows. But the ups and downs of equine life are nowhere more marked than in New York, where horses take their ease in cellars, as well as in the more airy apartments up stairs.
Vacant lots where stagnant pools lie reeking have now to be traversed. The ground is covered with heaps of rubbish, — ashes, old iron, rags, decaying animal and vegetable matter, and that omnipresent element of rubbish-heaps, the tangled hoop arrangement of wire by which the lovely feminine shape is even yet sometimes assimilated to the form of the volcanic peak. Round the heaps are squatted groups of ragged children, occupied in sifting cinders from the promiscuous mass. One half of the world may here guess how the other half scantily warms itself. These poor children are expected to be good and honest, of course; and would n’t the old man of the coal-yard chop the fingers off any one of them with his shovel, if a dive were made by the shivering, dirty little hand to lift the smallest nugget of his coal ?
Such things be ; and the sky looks bright and pleasant riverward, and pleasant to watch are the white seagulls as they describe concentric circles on their wide wings. Tug-boats are puffing to and fro on the river, towing vessels freighted with lumber. Schooners are discharging their cargoes of cord-wood at the piers. Great sea-going steamers loom up black and grim in the stream. Mean by comparison with these are the canal-boats packed like sardines in the docks, —their lazy hands smoking on their decks, and exchanging scurrilous jokes about the gang of smartly dressed French manof-war’s men passing down the wharf. Sloops loading with stable-manure exhale their fragrance upon the air. Shipsmithies abound, with signs setting forth that therein are “ Anchors made and repaired.” Old iron chains, and ship iron of all sorts, are scattered around their thresholds. Here is a shipwright and calker, whose sign announces that he also deals in wines, liquors, and cigars. Sloop-stores and rectifying distilleries; spars and masts; blocks and pumps ; steering-gear, oars, handspikes, and other things in which mariners take an interest, — all these increase more and more as the street leads on past the busier piers. Haybarges, like great barns somehow got adrift, are discharging their cargoes of litter and fodder, carts for the conveyance of which to the stables throughout the city are crowding to the wharf. The horses that draw the carts appear to take great interest in their job ; but more interesting to the human drudge are the long rows of oyster-barges that are moored permanently along the wharves at certain points. Villages of oysterhouses, rather, are they, very compactly built and closely ranged, and painted white. Sloops loaded with oysters are continually arriving for the supply of these depots. On the pier, in front of the gangways that lead to the barges, groups of men sit upon stools, busily engaged in opening the bivalves, which they throw into pails. On inquiry, I find that large quantities of these oysters are “kagged,”as my informant expressed it, for the Western market. They will keep for a couple of weeks, he says, in the neat little ashen kegs in which they are put up. He was a rough, but civil man was the oysteropener to whom I addressed myself for information, and his grim features relaxed into a smile when I told him how the passengers in a railway train that was snowed up on a Western prairie, some years ago, might have been starved to death but for the fact that one of the cars was freighted with oysters thus put up in kegs. His professional pride was tickled by this, and he tendered me an oyster with native, though untutored, affability. The poetry that tinges the life even of the oyster-opener is observable in the old horseshoes nailed to most of the gangways ; for superstition is poetry, and there is something mystic and pleasing in the idea of thus exorcising the nocturnal goblins by whom the fresh oysters might be spoiled. Among the heaps of shells accumulated behind the openers unlaved boys of epicurean “proclivities” forage for the oysters that may have been rejected for their suspicious tang.
You now pass the Hoboken ferryhouses, to and from which crowds of men, women, and children are hurrying pell-mell. Stout Germans, dragging their stout wives after them, come thundering down street to catch the boat that will not leave her dock for five minutes yet. People always run to catch ferry-boats, and always try to jump off them before they come within six feet of the wharf. The large fronts of premises belonging to various great steamship companies now display their wild architecture at brief intervals along the street. In some of the docks about these, men in boats are engaged in dragging the turbid waters as I pass. Yesterday there was an awful explosion here at noon. The steam-engine used in hoisting to and from the Liverpool steamers burst, hurling in fragments into the air a wooden building of great size, together with the blacksmith’s shop and out-houses attached. Eight unfortunate men, who happened to be on the premises at the time, were blown and scattered far away; some of them falling scalded and shrieking into the water, others coming down in mangled pulp on the neighboring wharves and heaps of coal. As one of the victims swam wildly about in the dock, screaming and yelling in his intense agony, the blood of the spectators ran cold, and many of them had to turn away from the terrible sight. Had the accident not occurred during the dinner hour, when most of the men employed about the pier were absent, the loss of life must have been very great.
Yonder, upon a clumsy tub of a barge, there hangs a sign-board announcing “ Boats and Groves for Excursions.” And queer picnic parties they are that make up these excursions, and sickly are the groves on the Jersey and Long Island shores to which the excursionists resort! Classical was the grove of Academe. Birnam Wood has memories about it that time cannot kill; in the “Let us haste to Kelvin Grove, bonnie lassie O,” of the Scottish singer there are sweet suggestions of love-making under green and whispering leaves ; but to the groves provided for the gay excursionists of New York none of these associations belong, as the present writer, from actual experiences, can aver.
The sailmaking trade looks very flourishing hereabouts. It ought to be flourishing, for see the thousands of white-winged schooners and other craft that are flitting to and fro upon the river. Many clothing-stores for mariners also hang out their attractive goods. Yellow oil-skin jackets, heavy tarpaulin overcoats, with “ souwester” hats to match, and coarse flannel shirts, are flapping everywhere from the rafters of the wooden awnings that jut out over the greasy sidewalk. Here, too, the oddest little oystershops abound. Entering one of these, which presents externally the appearance of a deserted dog-kennel, I find it to be a cell of about twelve feet by eight. There are three small tables in it, clothless, but kept very neat and clean. Over these presides a stout, florid woman. Through a side door there is a glimpse of a little stall of a kitchen beyond, revealing the culinary artist of the establishment, —a leisurely bewhiskered gentleman in Cardigan jacket and checked apron, who reads a newspaper with one eye, while he keeps the other on a simmering oyster-stew. Canaries that pipe in their cages under the low roof impart an element of refinement to this little retreat, and for bouquets there are numerous bundles of aromatic potherbs suspended from the ceiling and on the walls. Leavingall these allurements, I pass on along the wharves. In one of the slimy docks, a “ free church for seamen and boatmen ” goes undulating up and down to the movement of the lazy tide. It is a very dingy-looking old structure, provided with a belfry and bell. An inscription on its weather-beaten gable informs the observer that the church is open for services on Wednesday and Friday afternoons ; but one feels an assurance that the rickety bridge leading to the duck-like old edifice will never be broken down by a rush. The name and address of the watery-grave sexton are also lettered on the hull. Has he a grave-digger in his pay ? or does he sew up in heavily shotted hammocks the inanimate forms that come to him in the way of business, and heave them overboard ?
Floating steam-mills now tower up from the docks, faced with huge placards advertising “ Meal, oats, corn, rye, and general feed.” The marine stores begin to swarm along the street, and everything is characteristic of the great seaport town. Numbers of those amphibious beings known as ’longshore-men are working or lounging about the piers. There are stores, on the door-posts of which one reads that such fascinating things as “ steam vacuums ” and “ cop waste ” are kept for sale within. There are ship-chandlers, whose establishments are blockaded with ships’ compasses, fenders, pullies, blocks, quadrants, binnacles, handspikes, telescopes, and all things that salt and boaty be. There are provision stores, the open fronts and thresholdsof which are cumbered with enormous hams sewed up in canvas painted yellow ; with herrings in kegs; with boxes of palm-soap and other soaps ; with saleratus, smoked fish, “ extra cider vinegar,” fresh Turkey prunes, molasses, and all other such necessaries and luxuries as are specially laid in for those who “ go down to the sea in ships.” At the corners of the streets are planted semicircular lunch-tables, from behind which morose proprietors dispense flyblown oysters and bits of mouldy pic in little plates. Here is a wooden structure over the door of which a board with the word “Dining-Room” painted on it is fixed. Curious in regard to this concern, I inspect it more closely, and find that it is quite full when there is one diner in it at a time. All along the sidewalks are glass-covered cases in which street merchants display their mixed wares. Counterfeit watches, mock jewelry, cheap cutlery, — that would be dear at any price, — brierwood pipes carved from pine-knots, daggers, pistols, braces, violins, and everything else that can make life tolerable, are to be had at these wonderful street bazaars. Here and there, close by the doors of eating-houses, small cigar cells belonging to the establishments are open to the street. Splendid is the attire of some of the young men who attend to these, with their ambrosial locks, and with their sky-blue cravats, the ends of which are passed through bright metal bands.
Washington Market is a feature of the river-front here, — an old and intricate pile of rickety wooden galleries, and sheds and stalls. It lies on both sides of the street; the portion to riverward being a sort of village of provision stalls, intersected by alleys. The husk of the old place is decayed and shattered to a sad extent, but the kernel is sound. Householders prefer it to most of the other markets of the city, as well for the excellence as for the comparative cheapness of its produce. Inwardly, it is made as much of as circumstances permit. Outwardly, it would be a disgrace to a community of nest-building apes. Along its festering walls crazy little parasitical stalls grow out everywhere, like the wens on diseased trees. The perennial rat has it much his own way here at all seasons, and in summer the place is rendered noxious by myriads of bloated flies. At the cellar doors that yawn along the walls of the structure outside sit frowzy, sluttish old women, watching over the tinware and crockery laid out for sale. They smoke short but admirably colored pipes, and pass esoteric jokes with old men who come forth from their burrows under the market, every now and then, to sweep out the gutters. The sidewalks of the market square are lumbered up everywhere with barrels of all the edible roots and fruits of the season. The street is thronged with market vehicles of every description. Carts bearing large lath-work cribs full of living fowls for the table are standing by the stalls, and geese poke up their long necks between the laths, and cackle querulously for their native puddles. Round the newspaper stands, planted here and there, idle men and women are grouped, improving their minds between intervals of business by the inspection and perusal of the flash police papers and other obscene trash of the kind by which the city is deluged. Glaring posters, announcing pugilistic encounters and other refined entertainments, are stuck everywhere upon the timbers and boards. The whole place, with its intricate nooks, and crannies, and huge, dirty wooden chests, does not look like one in the purlieus of which it would be safe to pass the night. It is notorious as a resort for pickpockets ; and that manly, interesting variety of kleptomaniac known to the police as a "sneak, thief” finds in the crowded and tumultuous environs of Washington Market a fertile field for the exercise of his enviable talents.
The shipping and steamship trade along the piers is expanding here, and the view across the broadened river to the Jersey shore is obstructed by forests of masts and spars and smoke-stacks. Bales of cotton are piled along the wharves, or trundled by busy warehousemen to the scales beside which the impartial weighers watch. And now that bald and unsightly conglomerate called Castle Garden looms upon the viewy, — Castle Garden of the many vicissitudes, where the notes of the Swedish Nightingale first vibrated upon the charmed American ear; where now the wondering emigrants from far-off lands first take their impressions of that Columbia which they have come to hail; and around which the skeleton trees of the Battery point with their ghastly fingers at the jobbers who have allowed a once pleasant resort to go to ruthless ruin and decay.