Social New York under the Georges, 1714-1776: Houses, Streets, and Country Homes, with Chapters on Fashions, Furniture, China, Plate, and Manners

By Esther Singleton | Go to book overview

IV
COUNTRY-SEATS AND FARMS

ATTRACTIVE and delightful as the city itself undoubtedly was, the country beyond must have been still more charming. Manhattan Island as well as Staten Island, the Jersey shore and Long Island were dotted with country-seats, mansions and farm-houses pleasantly situated in fine grounds. In many cases these estates were comparatively small in area, as their owners did not depend on farming for a living, but had offices, shops or counting-houses in New York. They could come to town by boat, or drive, reaching their places of official or commercial business from 10 to 11 A. M. and leaving in time to dine from 2 to 3 P. M.

The great majority of the wealthy citizens were interested in the shipping business directly or indirectly. Even if they did not build or own trading ships, or privateers, they were generally direct importers. Everybody tried to make money, and ladies of the best families had shops of their own. Ease and luxury at home were cultivated, and in most cases the mansions were situated within reach of all that earth, forest and sea could yield. This will be made plain by a few descriptions of this class of real estate:

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