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.
“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.