A few days ago, workers renovating the exterior of a corner building at Eighth Avenue and 25th Street uncovered a relic of old New York.
It’s the faint letters spelling out an old sign for Utah House, a hotel that existed as early as the 1850s and served as a meeting place for political conventions and trade groups.
But Utah House’s most dramatic moment came during the Orange Riots of 1871.
On July 12, crowds of Irish Catholics clashed with a group of Irish Protestants (“Orangemen”), who were marching down Eighth Avenue on the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne, which established Protestant rule in Ireland in 1690.
More than 60 people died. Spectators watched the carnage from the hotel’s front steps.
“The Utah House, on the north-east corner of Eighth-Avenue and Twenty-fifth-street, is among the buildings which bear conspicuous evidence of having been chipped by the musket balls,” wrote The New York Times on July 13 in a chronicle of the violence.
[Thanks to the Ephemeral readers who tipped me off about the sign and Joe R. for the link to the illustration]