Delmonico’s tasty menu on Evacuation Day, 1883

Do you plan to celebrate Evacuation Day on November 25 later this month?

Probably not. This holiday has been almost entirely erased from the calendar, thanks (in part) to the popularity of a certain other late November celebration.

But if you lived in New York in the late 18th century to the early 1900s, Evacuation Day was something to commemorate. It marks the day in 1783 when the British finally left New York for good after (brutally) occupying the city during the Revolutionary War.

On that morning, the Continental Army, led by George Washington, marched and rode from Upper Manhattan down to Broadway all the way to the Battery, where a Union Jack flag was taken down and an American flag raised. A celebratory dinner was also held at Fraunces Tavern.

The flagpole had been greased by the British, sparking a tradition of climbing up greased flagpoles every November 25. New Yorkers also fervently celebrated the day with a parade to the Battery, an annual event that officially ended in 1916.

Perhaps the high point of celebrating Evacuation Day came in 1883, its centennial.

Among other events, New York’s premier restaurant, Delmonico’s, put together an Evacuation Day Banquet menu, which is now part of the Buttolph menu collection at the New York Public Library.

Delmonico’s was on Fifth Avenue and 26th Street at the time, an enclave of Gilded Age luxury in Manhattan.

One of the first restaurants to popularize French cuisine, Delmonico’s printed their menus in French—and though I can’t translate all of the items on it, it’s clear that this was banquet was quite a feast!

[Top image: LOC]

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7 Responses to “Delmonico’s tasty menu on Evacuation Day, 1883”

  1. VirginiaB Says:

    Thanks for this–very interesting and great photos as always. I had never heard of Evacuation Day in NYC but I can tell you that it’s still a public holiday in Boston. Boston’s Evacuation Day celebrates the British evacuation of the city in 1776 but as it occurs on March 17, everyone knows the real reason for the holiday is St Patrick’s Day. And the celebration is grand whatever the reason.

  2. Marta Dawes Says:

    Two New York authors crossed paths with your excellent post.

    In the April 2, 1955 edition of the “New Yorker,” James Thurber mentions Evacuation Day in the his story, “A Holiday Ramble.” I first read this story many years ago, and it was the first time I’d heard of Evacuation Day.

    Clarence Day’s piece, “A Holiday with Father,” highlights young Clarence’s lunch at the very French restaurant, Delmonico’s, and mentions how small the portions were for a hungry boy. I first read this story in “Life with Father” as a young girl, and getting to Delmonico’s for lunch became a goal of mine. This Delmonico’s closed in 1923, long before I was born, so that goal was never realized.

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      Thank you Marta for referencing these stories. And though you missed visiting Delmonico’s on 23rd Street, there’s a newer Delmonico’s in the former 19th century location at South William Street and Beaver Street—perhaps not quite the same vibe but still a Delmonico’s.

  3. [Blog Glück] November 2019 – Seitenglueck Says:

    […] der 33th East Seventh Street im East Village von New York City. Toll fand ich auch den Beitrag zum Evacuation Day am 25. November, der heutzutage in New York nicht mehr gefeiert wird. (dafür aber in […]

  4. Alexander D. Bevil Says:

    I’m just going to eat regular that day.

  5. A mystery manhole cover on a Midtown block | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] trotting activity in the 1870s. By the turn of the century, it was home to hotels, clubs, and Delmonico’s on the Fifth Avenue […]

  6. Kim Dramer Says:

    Washington spent the night before his triumphant entry at the Blue Bell Inn, located at today’s Broadway and 181 Street. This spot (like so many others) should have an historic marker.

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