New York mourns Lincoln, the martyr president

News of President Lincoln’s assassination made it to New York City on the morning of April 15. A city that for four years had been divided in its loyalty to the President was now awash in gloom.


“All Broadway is black with mourning—the facades of the houses are festooned with black—great flags with wide and heavy fringes of dead black give a pensive effect. . . ” wrote Walt Whitman.

LincolnlynginstateWhile Lincoln’s body remained in Washington, the grieving continued. “An Easter Sunday unlike any I have seen,” wrote lawyer George Templeton Strong in his diary.

“Nearly every building in Broadway and in all the side streets, as far as one could see, festooned lavishly with black and white muslin. Columns swathed in the same material.”

“Rosettes pinned to window curtains. Flags at half mast and tied up with crape. I hear that even in second and third class quarters, people who could afford to do no more have generally displayed at least a little twenty-five cent flag with a little scrap of crape.”

Nine days after his death, Lincoln’s corpse arrived in New York, one of many stops his funeral train would make before reaching Illinois, where the “martyr president” would be buried.


A ferry brought the funeral rail car from Jersey City to downtown New York. An enormous procession viewed by thousands wound its way from the ferry landing at Desbrosses Street to City Hall, where the open casket would lie in state for 24 hours.

An estimated 120,000 New Yorkers waited to pay their respects. “Thousands passed reverently before the remains throughout the day and night, and thousands more were turned away, unable to gain admittance,” wrote The New York Times.


By one o’clock the next day, April 25, a second procession of 50,000, with thousands more watching from the sidewalks and building windows (including a young Teddy Roosevelt, seen here), accompanied the funeral hearse up Broadway to Union Square.


The procession continued to a train depot at 30th Street and Tenth Avenue. There, Lincoln’s body was loaded onto a train to continue its journey to Illinois. New York was left to deal with its grief.

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14 Responses to “New York mourns Lincoln, the martyr president”

  1. carolegill Says:

    I can’t find the info now, but I do recall reading that ‘John Kennedy’, a New York official–signed to receive Lincoln’s body when it arrived in New York City.

  2. Klaus-Peter Statz Says:

    The city archives have a record of Lincoln’s body coming to NY. It lists “pistol shot” as the “disease” from which he died. My photo:

    • carolegill Says:

      That’s very interesting. Thanks for posting that. I did have a book once about Lincoln’s assassination and aftermath and there was an official, John Kennedy. I’m going to keep looking!

      • ephemeralnewyork Says:

        John Alexander Kennedy was the superintendent of the NYC police during the Draft Riots in 1863; he was terribly beaten by a mob but recovered. Perhaps that’s the Kennedy you are referring to?

      • carolegill Says:

        Thanks for that. I would say, yes! But i really did have a book that showed a signature on a receipt–official document associated with the transference of the body. Perhaps he’s the one I’m thinking of. Thank you, again.

  3. johnny c Says:

    there used to be an article, saying the similarities between Lincolns and JFK’s death. Lincoln had an asst named Kennedy, Kennedy had an assistant named Lincoln, etc. It was a long time ago.

    oh here it is..

  4. arrowsmith Says:

    there is an old brass plaque on the 30th St side of the Morgan mail facility which states that it was on the site of the old location of the station where the body was put on board a train which continued his last voyage home.
    One can only imagine the effects of pre-refrigeration, ten days on.

  5. Richard Sloan Says:

    Kennedy was the NYC Police Chief at the time of the funeral, and as such he played a large part in providing security . He marched in the procession. I am trying to determine if the hearse arrived at the depot’s 30th St. side or the 29th St. side. An engraving places it at the 29th St. side, but I’ll have to see what my old newspapers say. Anyone here know?

  6. Richard Sloan Says:

    Well, no one has replied to my post, but that’s OK; I found the answerit — the hearse arrvd at the 29th St. side of the “30th Street depot,” and a rare practically unpublished photo showing it, and an engraving in Valentine’s “Lincoln Obsequies” shows it. Everything else about that engraving has proven to be accurate after some fun detective work. DOes anyone know where that photo is today? It was sold at auction in 2005 and is privately held and hidden away.

  7. The New Yorker who captured John Wilkes Booth | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] were in the works for a two-day viewing and funeral procession that would take Lincoln’s casket from City Hall up […]

  8. The body of the first Union officer killed in the Civil War comes to City Hall | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] War Between the States. Today, Col. Ellsworth, who commanded a funeral cortege similar to that of Abraham Lincoln’s four years later, has largely been forgotten. Who was he, and why did the death of this young lawyer from upstate […]

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