The ten years that separated the first visit of Dickens and the first visit of Thackeray had wrought many changes. Thackeray, too, came to New York from Boston, but in his case it was the matter of one unbroken train journey, in the course of which he reread the “Shabby Genteel Story” of a dozen years before. Dickens’s transatlantic trip had consumed nineteen days. The “Canada,” which carried Thackeray, made the crossing in thirteen. In New York Thackeray stayed at the Clarendon Hotel, on the corner of Fourth Avenue and Eighteenth Street; but his favourite haunt in the city was the third home of the Century, in Clinton Place. Though not in the least given to flattery or over-effusiveness in his comments on Americans and American institutions, Thackeray wrote and spoke of the Century as “the best and most comfortable club in the world.”
The Stretch of Tradition
Stretches of the Avenue—The Stretch of
Homes and Gardens—The Mews and MacDougal Alley—In the Fourth Decade—A
Genial Ruffian of the Olden Time—Sailor’s Snug Harbor—The Miss Green
School—Andrew H. Green, John Fiske, John Bigelow, Elihu Root, and
Others as Teachers—The Brevoort Farm—The First Hotel of the Avenue—A
Romance of 1840—“Both Sides of the Avenue.”
A snug little farm was the
Where cabbages grew of the choicest sort;
Full-headed, and generous, ample and fat,
In a queenly way on their stems they sat,
And there was boast of their genuine breed,
For from old Utrecht had come their seed.
—Gideon Tucker, “The Old Brevoort Farm."
Passing under the Washington Arch, the march up the Avenue properly begins. To commemorate the centenary of the inauguration of the nation’s first President a temporary arch was erected in the spring of 1889. The original structure reached from corner to corner across Fifth Avenue, opposite the Park, and the expense was borne by Mr. William Rhinelander Stewart and other residents of Washington Square. It added so much to the beauty of the entrance to the Avenue that steps were taken to make it permanent, and the present Arch was the result of popular subscription. One hundred and twenty-eight thousand dollars was the cost of the structure, which was designed by Stanford White. Comparatively recent additions to the Arch are the two sculptured groups on northern facade, to the right and left of the span. They are the work of H.A. MacNeil.