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

PART Vl
AMUSEMENTS

I
OUTDOOR SPORTS

AT all seasons of the year, the New Yorker was fond of both outdoor and indoor amusements. The traditional sour-visaged Puritan would have been out of place here. There was singing, dancing and feasting all the year round. In the winter there was shooting, skating and sleighing. In 1704, Madame Knight noticed the pleasure-loving character of the town:

"They are not strict in keeping the Sabbath as in Boston and other places where I had been. . . . They are sociable to one another, and courteous and civil to strangers and fare well in their houses. . . . Their diversion in the winter is riding sleys about three miles out of town, where they have houses of entertainment at a place called the Bowery; and some go to friends' houses, who handsomely treat them. Mr. Borroughs carry'd his spouse and daughter and myself out to one Madame Dowe's, a gentlewoman that lived at a farm-house who gave us entertainment of five or six dishes, and choice beer and methegolin, cyder, etc. all which she said was the product of her farm.

"I believe we met fifty or sixty sleys that day; they fly with great swiftness, and some are so furious that they'll turn out of the path for none but a loaden cart. Nor do they spare for any diversion the place affords, and sociable to a

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