Posts Tagged ‘New York in the 1840s’

The long-gone East Side hamlet of Odellville

March 8, 2012

Busy, corporate Third Avenue at 49th Street is often referred to by the bland Midtown East, or the more illustrious Turtle Bay.

But more than 170 years ago, in the 1840s, it was the rural outpost of Odellville—named for the barkeep who ran a tavern there, according to New York: Old & New, a guide from 1902.

How country was it? “Open fields lay to the west of Odellville in that slow-moving time, but to the east a few scattered houses flecked the river-bank, and one of these, set down at the foot of Forty-Ninth Street, was for a time the country home of Horace Greeley,” the book states.

The only communication Odellville had with the city to the south was an hourly stagecoach Third Avenue.

Another memoir of 19th century life, A Tour Around New York, by John Flavel Mines, recalls Odellville:

“At forty-ninth Street and Third Avenue was a tiny hamlet known as Odellville, which owed its patronymic to Mr. Odell, who kept a country tavern at the corner first named, and with whom life agreed so well that he nearly lived out a century.”

[Illustration: 49th Street at the East River, circa 1840, from New York’s Turtle Bay Old & New by Edmund T. Delaney]

A popular 1840s literary salon on Waverly Place

October 12, 2011

Even in the 1840s, Greenwich Village was a literary hub.

No wonder a young teacher and poet named Anne Charlotte Lynch (left) moved there when she relocated from Rhode Island in 1845.

While trying to break into the periodicals of the day, Lynch began hosting literary salons at her house at 116 Waverly Place.

Extroverted and unpretentious, she attracted lots of big-name writers.

Edgar Allan Poe, living just over on West Third Street, was a regular; supposedly he read “The Raven” aloud one night.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (below), Herman Melville, and Horace Greeley were also among the frequent guests.

“She received every Saturday evening,” recalls an 1894 journal called Literary News. “American literature was just beginning to make itself felt, and her house became the weekly gathering-place for aspiring poets, writers, and novelists.”

After she married, her salon moved to her new home on West 37th Street. She ran it each week at least through her 60s, carving out an unpretentious, creative space that helped nurture American talent.

Astoria’s Irish potato famine cemetery

September 1, 2010

The real name of this tidy 19th century burial ground on 26th Avenue and 21st Street is “The Graveyard of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church.”

But it’s always been known by its nickname, because many of the people buried there immigrated from Ireland in the 1840s during the potato famine.

Back then, 21st Street was the heart of a small Irish enclave in Queens, populated by immigrants who worked as servants for Anglo and Dutch families and in local factories.

It’s a small cemetery wedged between residences. Peer through the iron fence and you see all Irish names on the stones: Donnelly, Kelly, Muldarry, Joyce.

Many of them list the deceased’s county of birth. And all the gravestones face East, toward Ireland.