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A Magazine of Literature, Science, Art, ,
VOL. XXII. - JULY, 1868. — NO. CXXIX.
ALONG THE HUDSON RIVER AT NEW YORK.
cinity of Spuyten Duyvel Creek, at couched in the choicest profanity of the head of the island of Manhattan. Mackerelville. A rustic damsel comes Standing on the bridge here, it is diffi- tripping along a lang that leads to cult to realize the fact that one is with- the main road. She is not so rustic in three hours' walk of a great city. on a near view.
In size and shape The din of it, and the smoke, and the her chignon resembles a two-hundred smells, are shut out from this quiet val- pound conical shell. She wears enorley by the intervening ridge of Wash- mous red ear-rings, and her broad, serington Heights. But to and fro on the viceable feet are bursting through tanblue Hudson go the toiling steamers colored French boots. Disgusted with and the white-sailed river craft, linking the inconsistencies of the place, I leave the gazer to the city by their commer- it, and, turning cityward, take the road cial associations. The inhabitants near that leads by Washington Heights to this bridge appear to be unsophisticated New York. and primitive in their ways, but they are This is the most picturesque route to only superficially so. They dredge their the city from the land side. It winds own oysters, which lends an air of self- past villas that stand on sloping lawns, support and independence to the place; or, like amateur Rhenish castles, frown but then they charge New York prices from lofty peaks down upon the unfor them, which shows that with them resenting river. Evidences of wealth rural simplicity is but skin-deep. One and culture meet the eye everywhere. of the two boys who sit there on the Gate lodges give an air of European stone-faced bank of the creek, fishing, aristocracy to the locality. There is a has no clothes on, which heightens the feudal atmosphere about the place; one idea of the primitive, certainly; but can, with due confusion of associations, then the other wears the traditional red almost fancy the curfew tolling here shirt of the New York rowdy, and his at nightfall, from the campanile that expletives just now, when he acciden- crowns yon lofty knoll; though it is
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1868, by TICKNOR AND Fields, in the Clerk's Office
of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts VOL. XXII. — No. 129.
not so easy to conceive that the serfs and small flocks of these insolent birds who dwell hereabouts would extinguish are seen foraging in the dust of the their lamps at its bidding. Trim hedges road, or clustering like brown blossoms of beautiful flowering shrubs border the on the bibiscus-bushes and other low gravel-walks that lead from the road to shrubs that skirt it. It is hardly five the villas. Cows of European lineage years since a few dozen of these birds crop the velvet turf in the glades of the were imported for Central Park. Withcopses. Now and then the river is shut in two or three years they increased out from view, but only to appear again in prodigiously, spreading first over the scenic vistas, with glimpses of the white bosky grounds of the villas along the villages on the New Jersey shore be- Bloomingdale Road. Thence they found yond. But the road becomes less and their way townward, — for the sparrow less rural as it leaves the heights and is essentially a bird about town. Now stretches along the more level ground the eaves of up-town houses are musion its way to the city. Soon it assumes cal with their chirps, and most of the the air of a village street. Indeed, it city parks are swarming with them. passes through several villages in its Calling them English sparrows, I ask course ; and of these it would not be some question concerning them of a easy to say where any one of them be- burly policeman who is patrolling here. gins and ends, so linked together are At once his brow contracts, and he they all by a chain of heterogeneous avers, in the mellifluous accent of seahouses. This is a subject on which to green Erin, that there ain't no English be reserved, however, because it might sparrows here, and folks would n't have not be safe to confound an inhabitant 'em ; that they are Irish sparrows, deof Carmansville with one of Manhattan- scendants of the original ones let loose ville. It is ever so with “villes.” They in Central Park, which, I think he stated, have conflicting interests and sectional vacated their native egg-shells somejealousies to keep their borders in a where in the vicinity of Cork. blaze. Who, for instance, could imag- The Bloomingdale Road is a continuaine a neighborly feeling between some tion of Broadway, taking its rural name Temperanceville and the Toddyville at the point where the great city thorthat jostles its elbow? Bloomingdale is oughfare touches the southwestern anbefore us, and from this village the road gle of Central Park. It is Broadway takes its name, - a name suggestive of run out into the country, in fact, to enbuxom damsels and spring blossoms. joy a breath of fresh air. Right under Bloomingdale is the village nearest to the steep, woody bank that slopes to the city, but its surroundings are rural the west from this road runs the Hudas yet. The banks on either hand son River Railway, and much of the are well shaded with trees. Country intervening ground is occupied by marchurches lift their towers at intervals. ket-gardens. So is much of the tract Large asylums loom up through the old lying between the road and Central trees, -asylums in which lunatics are Park to the east. It is a bright, balmy cared for, and asylums for orphan October day as I pass by these plots, children. There are old family man- and the odor of fragrant pot-herbs gives sions that stand away off the road in a zest to the air. But the dust will soon grounds, – places with more or less be stirred up now, for the fast trottingfamily romance in their history no horse man is the figure that gives life doubt ; and huge sign - boards over and movement to the Bloomingdale the gateways of some of these inform Road, and people of his tribe are alus that they have been debased into ready beginning to whirl past. A fat public gardens, where people congre- livery-stable keeper in a spider wagon, gate in the summer time to smoke and drawn by a span of strawberry horses, drink beer. Now the chirping of Eng- rushes by tugging upon his nags at lish sparrows is heard on every side, arms' length. A sporting butcher in a sulky is on his track. He ejaculates quire some stretch of imagination to “ Hi! hi!” to his cream-colored pony, make the whitewashed hut on the sumand as he does so his teeth gleam like mit of yon rock a Swiss chålet, and the those of a leopard under the cruel curve rag-picker who has just emerged from that he gives to his black-bristled upper it a chamois-hunter going forth to stalk lip. Here, at a more leisurely pace, the familiar kids that cluster on the comes a swell, driving tandem with a neighboring peaks. Small children, team of blood bays. Probably he is a Auttering with rags, and booted with gold broker, or a successful gambler in black mud, riot and tumble everywhere some other branch of the profession. among these free crags. Their parents He drives an English sporting “ trap," are mostly away in the city, roaming on the hind seat of which his groom among the ash-barrels and garbageinsecurely sits, and, somewhat igno- boxes, out of the depths of which they miniously, faces to the rear. Superb, make their living by hook and by crook. nevertheless, is this young man, in his Soon this little colony of half-savages claret-colored livery with huge metal on the rocks will have lapsed into the buttons, his knee-breeches and top- past. Blasting-powder is already makboots, and his shiny hat with a cockade ing havoc in the vicinity, and grand on it. Later in the afternoon the road mansions with their appurtenances will will be crowded with teams, from the erelong cover the ground over which one-horse buggy to the heavy drag this curious hamlet of squatters is now driven four - in - hand, - most of them scattered. come over from the Park on their way Down to the right now I take my by the Bloomingdale to the Kingsbridge way, where the railway track runs close Road.
by the wharfage along the Hudson RivNearing the city, the aspect of the er. The country begins to merge into scene changes, and changes much for the city here, and there is not much of the worse.
The market-gardens are the rural to be seen. A remnant of it smaller now, and many of them lie deep may be discerned, however, about some down in hollows, — the roofs of the old mansions that stand between the railsmall dwellings that stand in them way and the river. They are surroundsometimes being on a level with the ed with gardens, and closely shaded road. To the left are seen the rocky with ancient trees. The old box-bushes knolls of Central Park. Tall, narrow in the gardens are yet kept trimmed inhouses lift their heads singly, at in- to formal blocks of dark verdure. Gentervals, along the streets that bound tility of an old-fashioned kind marks the Park, blinking right and left with these last connecting links between the their wistful windows, as if looking country and the city, and there is a out for the advent of other buildings suggestion about them of former opudestined to stand shoulder to shoulder lence and family pride. Once, as I with them in the future. The masses walked in a bit of dark and damp woodof gray rock to the south of the Park, land that runs from the rear of one just where the city begins, are very of these houses down to the beach populous. Log shanties, or shanties of the river, I came upon an old weathermade of rough boards, crown every stained stone lion, grasping with one boulder, or stick their stove-pipe chim- paw a stone globe. This might have neys out of clefts in the rock. Some been the heraldic device of one of the of them have their weather-gables early lords of the soil. Possibly it and roofs covered with sheets of rusty might have done duty in former days iron. Lean and hungry dogs, most as a guardian at the vestibule of some of them large-sized, but undistinguish- older mansion than the one that now able as to breed, roam about the pur- stands there ; and its appearance, as lieus. Goats enhance the sub-Alpine it lay among the dank herbage of the effect of the place ; but it would re- grove, greatly heightened the sense of neglect and decay that hung about the genteel neighborhood in this dreary whole place.
district. A more dismal spectacle than Wealth and poverty, enterprise and these old rattle-trap tenements now presqualor, clutch at and jostle each other sent it would be difficult to conceive. now, as the road gathers itself for its The shattered blinds dangle half off plunge into the city. Columns of their hinges from the windows, threattawny smoke rise upward from the ening destruction to the wayfarer who huge chimneys of the factories that treads the unswept sidewalk below. abound in this district. Every board Most of these houses have low barof the rough fences along the road- rooms on their ground-floors, with cheap side is used as an advertising medi- restaurants or oyster-cribs attached. um, and so is every bit of rock that Here and there a few small and meancrops up from the barren soil. Super- ly appointed shops are to be seen, scriptions, in great black or white let- where miscellaneous goods, ranging ters, apprise the world of balms, from tape to tallow candles, are disbitters, baby-jumpers, and a hundred played for sale. The doors of nearly other indispensable things in the way all the houses stand open, revealing of panaceas and labor-saving inven- dirty, gloomy hall-ways with rickety tions. Here, just on the margin of stairs leading to the upper floors. the river, is a field strewn with great from many of the windows above blocks of brown stone, out of which pop forth the heads of women and chilmany stone-cutters are shaping col- dren; for the houses are tenements, umns and cornices destined to increase with several families dwelling on each the gloom of an architecture that is floor. Opposite to this depressing row, already sombre to excess. It must be the whole length of the block is occupied in brown-studies that the architects of by an immense gas-work concern, the New York work out their designs. A smoke and coal-dust from which begrime grassy road leads down to the river all things around; near this are a staand at the foot of it some small pleas- tion for horse-cars of what is called the ure-boats are moored; but the place is “'cross-town line," and a wharf from lonely and still, and no sound is heard which ferry-boats ply to Weehawken save the clink of the stone-cutters' on the New Jersey side. This ferry is tools, and the steam-whistles of the not a pleasant one for passengers who tug-boats that puff by each other on the cherish prejudice in favor of quiet lives. river. Passing on along the front, one From Weehawken the boats come genis led to reflect on the character of the erally loaded with cattle of obstrepersuccessive streets that run down to the ous New Jersey breeds. Weehawken, river. The gradual demoralization of for all its romantic name, is nothing these streets, as they near the manufac- but a huddle of low drinking - shops, turing district, is grievous to the observ- to which roughs and robbers of the er. Here is one with which I am well worst class resort from the city. Reacquainted at points near the central spectable persons who are rash enough ridge of the city, and in the vicinity to venture across the river by this of the fashionable avenues. It runs route are liable to be maltreated and between blocks of stately brown-stone robbed during the trip, -instances of houses there, and is of a deportment at this kind having more than once oconce gracious and reserved. In this curred. locality its associations are of the lowest. The explorer who extends his invesThe block of houses on the right-hand tigations to the edge of the river here side, as I follow it toward the river, is will now and then discover that his of brick; and the houses are lofty, con- footsteps have not fallen in pleasant veying the impression that the specu- places. At times warning whiffs are lator who built them might have been wafted to him from some huge wooden subject to delirious visions of a future abattoir, urging him to pass on, nor