That’s when Irish Protestants called the Orangemen paraded up Eighth Avenue from their headquarters on 29th Street to 92nd Street.
They were celebrating the anniversary of the of the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland in 1690, when Protestants regained control of the country.
Not everyone in the city’s huge Irish immigrant community felt like celebrating. At the park, hundreds of Irish Catholics heckled and attacked the marchers, killing eight men.
Tensions simmered all year long, and when the Orangemen got the go ahead to hold their parade one year later, they were protected by a thousand cops plus several National Guard regiments.
On July 12, 1871, they marched—south this time—from Eighth Avenue and 29th Street.
“A scene of mad confusion ensued, during which the soldiers of the escort, deploying around the paraders whom they were protecting, lifted their rifles and poured a volley into the crowds,” recalls a 1921 New York Times article.
“On the instant Eighth Avenue was strewn with dead and dying and wounded persons, while hundreds of others dashed into door ways or down side streets in an attempt to escape the bullets flying in all directions.”
The parade made it to 23rd Street, where it reached Fifth Avenue and a friendlier reception. It continued to Cooper Union, were another hostile crowd made it impossible to move forward.
Sixty people were killed, mostly Irish Catholic laborers. Thanks to what became known as the Orange Riot, the parade was never held again.
Tags: 19th Century Riots, Chelsea history NYC, Deadly Riots in New York City, Eighth Avenue history NYC, Famous Riots, Irish immigrants in New York City, New York in 1871, New York street, Orange Riot