Horace Greeley: Printer, Editor, Crusader

By Henry Luther Stoddard | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER III
New York City in Greeley's Day

WHO OF THE present time can picture in his mind the city into which Greeley wandered alone one hundred and fifteen years ago? Or who, at Greeley's beginning in that city, could have dreamed of its skyscrapers, subways, art, music, science and other cultural centers of today? Who could possibly have foreseen those few square miles of squalor and cleanliness, of poverty and plenty, spread over short, narrow, winding streets -- only Fulton Street extending from river to river -- south from Canal Street to the Battery as the world's conceded center of finance and commerce? Foreign cities had proper pride in their centuries-old buildings, cathedrals and famous leaders, but in 1831 Manhattan Island -- only twelve miles long from tip to tip and two and a half miles across at its widest -- was chiefly dense woods, high stony hills and small farms between the Hudson River, the East River and Harlem River as well as Spuyten Duyvil. It had no past to match old world cities; it could only dream of a future -- but surely not of such a future as has come in a century! The canal that flowed through much of what is now Canal Street was in fact the northern limit of city life; its sloping banks of lawn were an afternoon parade ground for those who lived so far uptown. At the southern end, only one mile and a half distant, was Battery Park -- the pride of the city "with a view of the waters more beautiful than Naples"; fashionable folk living on State Street, Bowling Green or Greenwich Street looked upon it as equal to London's Pall Mall or the Champs Elysées in Paris;

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