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Fifth Avenue eBook

Arthur Bartlett Maurice
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 220 pages of information about Fifth Avenue.

* * * * *

“He wasn’t one of your Polish nobles,
Whose presence their country somehow troubles,
And so our cities receive them;
Nor one of your make-believe Spanish grandees,
Who ply our daughters with lies and candies,
Until the poor girls believe them. 
No, he was no such charlatan,
Count de Hoboken Flash-in-the-pan. 
Full of Gasconade and bravado,
But a regular, rich Don Rataplan,
Santa Claus de la Muscavado,
Senor Grandissimo Bastinado. 
His was the rental of half Havana,
And all Matanzas; and Santa Anna—­”

Famous as the wedding had been, the verses became more so.  They were copied into the weekly and tri-weekly issues of the “Tribune,” and into the evening papers.  Stedman, in later years, told of being startled by a huge signboard in front of the then young Brentano’s, opposite the New York Hotel, at the corner of Broadway and Waverly Place, reading:  “Read Stedman’s great poem on the Diamond Wedding in this evening’s ’Express’!” The father of the bride, infuriated by the unpleasant publicity, challenged the poet to a duel, which never took place.  Years later Stedman and the woman he had lampooned met and became the best of friends.

CHAPTER V

Fourteenth to Madison Square

Stretches of the Avenue—­Fourteenth to Madison Square—­From Brevoort to Spingler—­The Story of Sir Peter Warren—­The First City Hospital—­The Paternoster Row of New-York—­Former Homes and Birthplaces—­Lower Fifth Avenue Residents in the Fifties—­Blocks of Departed Glories—­The Centre of the Universe—­Madison Square in Colonial Days—­Franconi’s Hippodrome—­The Opening of the Fifth Avenue Hotel—­A Thanksgiving Day of the Nineties—­Monuments of the Square—­The Garden, the Presbyterian Church, and the Metropolitan Tower—­The Face of the Clock.

In 1762, a Brevoort—­Elias was his Christian name—­sold a part of the family farm to John Smith, a wealthy slave-holder.  On the choicest site of the purchase, now the centre of Fourteenth Street just west of Fifth Avenue, Smith built his country residence.  After he died his widow continued to occupy the house until 1788, when the executors of Smith’s estate, among whom was James Duane, Mayor of the city, sold the property for about four thousand seven hundred dollars to Henry Spingler.  Spingler lived in the house until his death in 1813, and used the land, comprising about twenty-two acres, as a market garden farm.  Spingler’s granddaughter, Mrs. Mary S. Van Beuren, fell heiress to most of the property, and built the Van Beuren brown-stone front house on Fourteenth Street, where she lived for years, and maintained a little garden with flowers and vegetables, a cow and chickens.  In the fifty-seven years between the Smith sale and 1845 the value of the estate had increased from four thousand seven hundred dollars

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