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with evergreens, intermixed with briars and spangled with the wild rose."
In 1819 the city extended but two miles north and south, and but one mile in the widest part east and west. Until 1793 not a street had been paved, and most of them were in a filthy, neglected condition. Even State street, now a most spacious and beautiful avenue, was then not only without pavements and ungraded, but in many places broken, and some parts even precipitous, while the slightest rain upon its clayey soil rendered traveling most unpleasant and difficult. In those days the staid Dutch settlers were slow to make improvements, and the influx of strangers in this, even then, ancient town, who were in favor of schemes to improve and beautify the city, excited strong hostility in the feelings of those who were opposed to all innovating projects. The most progressive stranger who came to Albany about this time, was Elkanah Watson, who came from Plymouth, Mass., in 1789, and to whom early Albany owes as much for improvements as to any one man. At the time of his arrival, Mr. Watson said in his journal: "No street was paved, no lamps, no library; not a public-house of any decency; and water-spouts, projecting from the eaves of the houses, deluged unwary night travelers sunk in mud and darkness." To the mind of Mr. Watson, familiar with the elegancies and advancement of European cities, the various defective arrangements in the city of his adoption were seen and appreciated; and, soon after becoming a resident, he engaged earnestly, through the press and by personal efforts, in suggesting and urging local improvements connected with these subjects. His efforts received bitter opposition. The following amusing incident, taken from his journal, will exhibit the state of feeling he had excited:
"Just after State street had been paved at a heavy expense, I sauntered into it immediately succeeding a heavy thunderstorm, and whilst regretting the disturbance in the sidewalk, and to observe the cellars filled with water [for in that section, which was near the present locality of the State Bank, the street grading had been elevated some feet], I heard two women, in the act of clearing their invaded premises from the accumulation of mud and water, cry out, 'Here comes that infernal paving Yankee!' They approached me in a menacing attitude, broomsticks erect. Prudence dictated a retreat to avoid being broomsticked by the infuriated Amazons, although I did not run as some of my friends insisted, but walked off at a quick pace." In subsequent years, Mr. Watson received many generous tributes of acknowledgment and thanks from those who, in their progress, had opposed his efforts to improve and embellish the city.
It was not before i860 that the last vestige of the original wide domain of Hendrick Halenbeck was obliterated in this city. This consisted in the removal of the burial ground on the southwest corner of South Pearl and Hamilton streets, set apart by Halenbeck in the middle of the last century as a private burial ground. It was near the north
line of his farm, which extended from Plain street to Beverkill at Arch street, where it joined the farm of General Schuyler; the south line at Pearl street being designated by a cannon, which remained in the ground until a few years ago. The boundaries of this property east and west are uncertain, but are claimed to have extended from Eagle street to the river. It is also claimed that South Pearl street was laid out by Halenbeck through his property, and given by him for a street. Through this farm the present Grand street was laid out in the fore part of the last century, and called Halenbeck street. In 1829 the City Surveyor presented to the Common Council a profile of this street from Hudson to Hamilton streets. Although it had, nearly a century before, been laid out and named, no vestige of a street had yet been made there. A portion of it south of Lydius street was used only as a lane leading to the farm of Oliver Kane (now the site of Ash grove Church), across which swung a gate. It was laid out sixty feet wide, as though it was expected to make it a more important avenue than South Pearl street, which was then only forty-five feet in width. In 1838 the Common Council was petitioned to have it paved from Hudson to Lydius street. In 1835 but one house was located on this street, at the northeast corner of Hamilton and Grand, which stood alone like an outpost upon the western verge of the city. All was open barren pasture and clay hills beyond, as far as the eye could reach, and so continued until Hamilton street was dug out, leaving a high wall of clay on either hand. In process of time the name of Halenbeck street was changed to Grand, an outrage upon the generous donor of the land through which it originally passed.
Pavements.—From the best information, we are led to believe that Watervliet street, which began at Columbia, where Montgomery now is, and ran diagonally to where Broadway and Patroon (now Clinton avenue) intersect, was the first street paved in Albany, the work having been begun and nearly completed in 1793. During this and the succeeding year, rapid progress was made in paving streets. The Albany Register of September 29,1794, tells us that the paving system had been prosecuted with so much vigor, that only Pearl and a few cross streets remained to complete the enterprise. Said the Register: "The contrast in so short a time from one of the filthiest to one of the cleanest cities in America is truly astonishing, and must be pleasing to every citizen, especially when we take in contemplation that noble extent of pavement, now nearly completed, through the whole extent of Watervliet street to the bridge, the very idea of which a few years ago would have been thought to have been the hight of madness." It was also said that property had risen in value in consequence. It was found that a mistake had been made in paving the sidewalks with small stones.
From 1793 to 1804 many miles of pavement were laid. Church street, parts of Lydius, Van Schaick, Westerlo and Sturgeon streets, and parts of Bass and Herring lanes, and all the lots from Court street westward to Dallius street, and from Ferry street northward to the north bounds of the church pasture, were filled up and leveled, preparatory to paving. In 1804 the Common Council ordered that parts of State, Lion (now Washington avenue) and Washington (now South Pearl), which remained unpaved and greatly out of repair, should be immediately paved by the owners and occupants; the work to be completed within eight days after notice from the City Superintendent, showing the rapidity with which this important improvement in the streets was pushed at this date.
It will be almost impossible, as well as uninteresting, to give in detail the names of the streets (and the dates) paved from the beginning of the present century. It would be a task requiring much research, and would take greater space than we are able to use in this article. A diligent inspection of the Common Council records will show how rapidly the work of paving progressed in the city after it was commenced in 1793. From 1820 to 1833, probably more miles of pavement were completed than during any corresponding years of the city's history. During this same period many streets were extended and many newones laid out. Space forbids our giving any detailed account of the rapid growth of the city at this period, which the records of the Common Council so plainly indicate.
Until the year 1869, no other kind of pavement had been laid but the round cobblestone still so generally used. During this year, Broadway, from Hudson avenue to Wilson street, was repaved with wooden blocks of Canada pine, called the Nicholson pavement. In 1870, Hudson avenue, from Broadway to Willett street, was paved with this kind of pavement; and also Green street, from State street to Madison avenue. But it was soon proved that this style of pavement was unfit for the heavy trucking done on these streets. After five years of use it was substituted in Broadway by the granite block, which in 1874 was laid from Hudson avenue to Wilson street. The wooden pavement in Hudson avenue and Green street was soon after replaced by the granite block. Since then granite block pavement has been laid in Western avenue, from Livingston to the Boulevard; Ten Broeck, from Clinton avenue to Livingston avenue; First street, from Ten Broeck to Hawk; Third street, from Ten Broeck to Hall place; Hail place, from First to Third; State, from Swan to Lexington avenue; James, from State to Columbia; Steuben, from Broadway to Eagle; Elk, from Eagle to Hawk; Second avenue, from Sloan to Delavan avenue; South Pearl, from Gansevoort to Mount Hope; Willett, from State to Madison avenue; Columbia, from Broadway to Chapel; North Pearl, from State to Clinton avenue; Clinton avenue, from Broadway to North Pearl; Knox, from Madison avenue to Morris; Steuben, from Broadway to North Pearl. Contracts have been let for similarly paving State, from Eagle to Lexington avenue; Eagle, from Spruce to Myrtle avenue; Washington avenue, from Eagle to Lexington avenue; Broadway, from Hudson avenue to South Ferry; and South Pearl, from State to Gan
sevoort. Broadway, from Wilson to Livingston avenue is paved with the Weehawken bluestone, the only pavement of that kind in the city.
Albany at the present time has more than fortyeight miles of paved streets, of which about forty miles are paved with cobblestone, and, with the work now in progress, eight miles of granite block. In Washington Park, a little more than a mile of Telford, macadam road has been laid.
In 1813, Albanv contained about 11,000 persons, having more than doubled in population in about fifteen years, while in public and private building, and extent and condition of ils streets, it had made even more remarkable progress. In a description of Albany in 1813, published in Spafford's Gazetteer, appears the following account of its streets at that date:
"The principal streets of Albany are parallel with the river, except State street, a spacious and central one, that extends from the Hudson to the Capitol. Court street extends from the Ferry, at the southern extremity of the compact part, and near the southern bounds of the city, to State street. It has a large share of population and business. Market street opens opposite to this, and extends from State street to the noithern bounds of the city, though continuous, except in name. These streets extend across the city nearly parallel with the Hudson, between which are several streets, less extensive, as Dock street, Quay street, etc., principally occupied with store-houses, shops, etc., the seat of immense commercial business * * * The public square, an open space of liberal extent, spreads a handsome area on the east side of the Capitol; and from the west side of this, Lion street, spacious and level, extends westward in a right line on a commanding plain, to the junction of the Great Western Turnpike." The eastern end of this turnpike, Lion street, now Washington avenue, from Lark street, was for a long time known as the Bowery, now Central avenue. It has undergone many changes. Before the completion of the Erie Canal in 1825, it was the great thoroughfare to and from Western New York. Some of the large store-houses until lately remaining about Townsend Park, attest the commercial character of the street at that time. A continuous line of vehicles crowded its pathway every day. Emigrants from New England to Central and Western New York usually took this in their route. In the zenith of the prosperity of the street the Erie Canal was built, and the business interests of the street were gone. In 1865 it was paved, much improving its character and condition.
1' North Pearl street extends north from State street to the northern extremity of the city, just on the brow of the river hill, and next west of Market street. * * * Of all the principal streets, it is at present the most compact, populous and probably, the most wealthy."
In 1823, the Daily Advertiser, to show the progress the city had made in ten years, had the following:
"Ten years ago and the now proud and beautiful Academic square was a barren clay bank, variegated by an occasional saw-pit or a group of reclining cows; then the whole of the upper part of Columbia street was a high hill, unoccupied and impassable as a street, and the greater part of Chapel street was, in rainy weather, a complete mud-hole.
"Ten years ago, of the whole row of handsome dwellings now standing on the south side of the Capitol square, only one was erected. Then Daniel street did not exist, and the whole south part of Eagle street was a most unpromising ravine.
"Ten years ago and juvenile sports used to shoot snipe and other small game where now the Erie Canal pours its water into the Hudson. Of all that city which has since sprung up in that neighborhood, not a house was then standing; while, in the south pasture, over whose vacant fields the various city regiments used to maneuver, we now see orderly platoons of handsome brick houses and battalions of streets 'dressed' with a beautiful regularity unattainable by their animated predecessors. In short, every quarter of the city: north, south, east—and even the despised westgive tokens of sound and healthy growth."
The part of the hill on the south side of the Fort, and West of South Pearl street, was in 1760 called Gallows Hill. July, 1762, the Common Council sold the land where the gallows stood in acre lots. In the Surveyor's office is a map of this part of Albany, entitled, "New lots laid out on Gallows Hill." The north bounds of the city, at this date, was the south line of Patroon street, now Clinton avenue. Proceeding thence, southerly, we next have Wall street, then Howe street, next Queen street, King street. Prince street, Prideaux street, Quiter street, Wolfe street, Pitt street, at the junction of which with Duke street, now Eagle, was Gallows Hill, where All Saints Cathedral now stands. The above streets ran westerly. The Fort is laid down, with its burying ground immediately north; its walls extended north, nearly to Maiden lane; south, to about the center of State; west, to near Eagle; and east to Lodge street. A cemetery occupied the block between State and Lancaster, and Eagle and Hawk. The streets on the hill running north and south were called Duke, Hawk, Boscawen, Warren and Johnson.
Albany streets have had their names changed frequently, and, it must be admitted, not always for the better. In 1790 the names of several were changed, among them the following: Duke to Eagle, Boscawen to Swan, Warren to Dove, Johnson to Lark, Gage to Swallow, now Knox; Schenectady to Snipe, now Lexington avenue; Schoharie to Duck, now Robin. The next parallel street was called Pigeon, now Perry; the next Turkey, now Quail; the next Sparrow, now Ontario. Wall street was changed to Hare, now Orange; Howe to Fox, now Canal; King to Lion, and afterwards to Washington street, now Washington avenue; Prince, west of Eagle, to Deer, now State; Prideaux to Tiger, now Lancaster; Quiter, so called to perpetuate the Indian name of Peter Schuyler, was changed to Buffalo, now Hudson avenue; Wolfe, named after the Hero of Quebec,
was changed to Wolf, afterwards to Lydius, now Madison avenue; Pitt to Otter, then to Westerlo, now Elm; Monckton to Mink, then to West Ferry, now Myrtle avenue.
In 1805, the Common Council, in consequence of the extension and improvement made in some of the streets, changed the name of the following:
Kilby, which from a small alley had then become a spacious street, extending from the Hudson River to ^Washington street, now South Pearl, to the name of Hamilton; Bone lane, which extended from Hudson River to Green, and was to be extended to South Pearl, to the name of Division; Cow lane, extending from the intersection of Grass lane with Hudson to Ludlow's property adjoining Lydius, to the name of Liberty; Nail, extending from Washington to Eagle, to the name of Lutheran, now Howard; Barrack, extending from State to the north boundary of the city, to the name of Chapel. Since 1805 many other changes have been made in the names of streets. Of those not already mentioned, Capitol has been changed to Park; Mark lane to Exchange; Middle lane to James; Frelinghuysen to Franklin; Dock to Dean; Bass lane to Bleecker; Store lane to Norton; Sand to Lafayette; Van Driessen to Green; South to Gansevoort; High to Ten Broeck; Macomb to Broad; Embargo alley to Dennison; Whitehall road to Whitehall avenue, now Second avenue; Van Vechten to Third avenue; Delaware Turnpike to Delaware avenue; Elizabeth to Second; John to Third; Van Schaick to Monroe; Lumber to Livingston avenue; part of Perry to Lake avenue. Of the present streets, Dean acquired its designation from Captain Dean; Montgomery was named after the heroic soldier who fell before Quebec; Steuben obtained its title from that bluff and brave soldier of the Revolution, who aided so much in giving discipline to our army. The chivalrous Lafayette lives in our history by like means. The Dutch Admiral Van Tromp, who swept the sea with his broom, has a street named to his memory, humble though it be in its pretensions.
Street Department.—From the granting of the Dongan Charter to 1826, the sole charge of opening, laying out, repairing and cleaning the streets was vested in the Mayor and Aldermen. At the latter date the office of Street Inspector was created. The duties of this officer were confined to seeing that the ordinances of the Common Council relating to streets were carried out, and were somewhat similar to those now enjoined upon the Street Commissioner. He receives his appointment from the Common Council.
The laws relating to the superintendency and general supervision of the streets were passed in 1870. Under the provisions of the Charter, the Street Department includes four bureaus : Board of Contract and Apportionment; Bureau of Street Commission; Bureau of Engineering and Surveying; and the Bureau of Lamps, Gas and Electric Lights.
The Board of Contract and Apportionment consists of the Mayor, the Chamberlain, the Street Commissioner, the City Engineer and Surveyor, and the President of the Common Council. This Board, under the direction of the Common Council, has, in the language of the City Charter, charge "of the altering, regulating, grading, paving, repaving, flagging, curbing, guttering, cleaning, opening, draining, repairing and lighting of the streets, roads, places, alleys, and avenues; of fencing and filling lots; of building, repairing and lighting docks, wharves and piers; and of the construction and repaving of public streets, drains, roads, alleys and bridges." This Board issues all proposals, receives all bids, and awards all contracts for the work ordered to be done to the streets by the Common Council. It also apportions and assesses the cost of street and drain improvements. The Board appoints a Clerk, who also acts as Clerk to the Street Commissioner. The present Cleik is Thomas J. Lanahan.
Bureau Of Street Improvements has for its chief officers the Street Commissioner, appointed by the Common Council on nominations by the Mayor. The Commissioner appoints two Street Superintendents and one Superintendent of Lamps. The present Commissioner is Owen Golden. Street Superintendents, Lawrence Wetzel and Michael J. Hayden; Superintendent of Lamps, Thomas Powers.
Bureau Of Engineering And Surveying.—Chief officer, City Engineer and Surveyor, appointed by the Common Council on nominations by the Mayor. The Engineer appoints a deputy and two assistants, with the approval of the Mayor. The present Engineer is Reuben H. Bingham; Deputy, John J. O'Hara.
Bureau Of Lamps, Gas And Electric—The chief officer of this bureau is the Street Commissioner, although the Superintendent of Lamps may perform all the duties of the office.
One of the most important factors in the health, convenience and comfort of the people of any community, is a sufficiency of pure and wholesome water.
At what precise date the first settlers obtained water from other than the natural sources of the Hudson River, or the springs and small creeks which abounded in this region, we are unable to learn; but that soon after the first year of settlement, public and private wells were built, is evident from reference made to their existence in the very earliest documentary records. These public wells were supplied with water, as early as 1670, from a fountain or pond, formed by constructing a dam across a creek, or near the outlet of a spring on the hill adjacent to the present Capitol. Water was conducted from this fountain to the wells by means of wooden spouts.
In 1686 a fire occurred in the city,and in subduing it the water from the public wells, supplied in the manner described, proved of valuable assistance. In the city records of August 31 st of this year, appears the following testimony:
"It has been found by experience that the bringing of water of the fountains from the hill has not only been of great use to the inhabitants for water, but the only means of quenching the late fire, which otherwise, by all probability, would have destroyed the whole town."
The number and exact locations of the public wells built in early Albany is difficult to determine. In 1695, a well was built in Jonker (now State) street. In 1712, one was constructed in the First Ward, about twelve yards from the east side of the Market-house, and, at the same time, another on the north side of Cross street, opposite the residence of Gysbert Marselis. Two years later, three were built, one in each of the three wards, but the precise locations cannot be learned from the city records.
Besides the public wells, nearly every dwelling had its private well. But even this apparently sufficient means of water supply was either inadequate, or of a quality not fit for general use, for evidence is abundant that river water was quite extensively used for culinary and laundry purposes many years prior to the beginning of this century.
The quality of the water obtained from the Albany wells a century ago was a matter much discussed and hard to be determined.
One of the earliest writers upon Albany well water was Peter Kalm, a Swedish naturalist, who came to this country in 1748 on a scientific expedition from the University of Upsala. In giving a detail of his researches, he thus speaks of the water of Albany:
"The water of several wells in this town was very cool about this time, but had a kind of acid taste which was not very agreeable. On a nearer examination I found an abundance of little insects in it, which were probably monoculi. Their length was different; some were a geometrical line and a half; others two, and others four lines long. They were very narrow, and of a very pale color. The head was blacker and thicker than the other parts of the body, and about the size of a pin's head. The tail was divided into two branches, and each branch terminated in a little black globule. When these insects swim, they proceed in crooked or undulated lines, almost like tadpoles. I poured some of this water into a bowl and put near a fourth part of rum in it; the monoculi, instead of being affected with it, swam about as briskly as they had done in the water. This shows that if one makes punch with this water it must be very strong to kill the monoculi. I think this water is not very wholesome for people who are not used to it, though the inhabitants of Albany who drink it every day say they do not feel the least inconvenience from it. I have several times been obliged to drink water here, in which I have plainly seen monoculi swimming; but I generally felt the next day something like a pea in my throat, or as if I had a swelling there, and this continued about a week. I felt such swellings this year, both in Albany and other parts. My servant, Yangstroem, likwise got a great pain in his breast, and a sensation as from a swelling after drinking water with monoculi in it; but whether these insects occasioned it, or whether it came from some other cause, 1 cannot ascertain. However, I have always endeavored to do without such water as had monoculi in it. I have found monoculi in very cold water, taken from the deepest wells in different parts of this country. Perhaps many of our diseases arise from water of this kind which we do not sufficiently examine. 1 have frequently observed abundance of minute insects in water which has been remarkable for its clearness. Almost each house in Albany has its well, and the water of which is applied to common use; but for tea, brewing and washing they commonly take the water of the Hudson, which flows close by the town. This water is generally quite muddy, and very warm in summer; and on that account it is kept in cellars, in order that the slime may subside, and that the water may cool a little."
In Morse's American Geography, published in 1796, appears the following:
"The well water in this city (Albany) is extremely bad, scarely drinkable by those not accustomed to it. It oozes through a stiff blue clay and it imbibes in its passage the fine particles common to that kind of soil. This discolors it, and when exposed any length of time to the air it acquires a disagreeable taste. Indeed all the water for cooking is brought from the river, and many families use it to drink. The water in the wells is unwholesome, being full of little insects, except in size, like those which are frequently seen in stagnated water."
Numerous criticisms, similar to the preceeding, may be found in the writings of many of the tourists who visited Albany during the latter part of the eighteenth century. But John Maude, an Englishman, made a visit to the United States in 1800; he says, in regard to the impurity of the water in Albany:
"As for being obliged to use the dirty water of the river, I will beg leave to observe to Air. Morse that a very great proportion of the city do not use the river water, which said river water is far from being dirty, rather remarkable for its purity, being a pleasant, wholesome beverage. Great part of the city is supplied with water from a well in the main street, but the water is from a pump to the westward of the Episcopal Church. It is a water that my palate cannot find fault with, nor my eyes perceive in it those animalcules Kalm speaks of; neither could I discover them in the well water."
Certain it is that no record exists tracing to the use of Albany water any unhealthfulness of its inhabitants, or that it was the cause of any specific disease.
In 1832, cholera was especially prevalent in this city, and many attributed it to the peculiarity of the city well water. Accordingly the Board of Health had the water of fourteen wells examined by Drs. T. Romeyn Beck and Philip Ten Eyck, two reliable and expert physicians, the latter of whom still lives in Albany. They pronounced them all free from any impurities which could be injurious to health.
The first action taken by the Corporation of Albany relating to a larger and better water supply, other than public and private wells, occurred in 1794, when an advertisement appeared asking for proposals for supplying the city with water by means of an aqueduct to extend from a spring at the Five-Mile House on the road to Albany. No further reference to this proposed plan is found in the city records.
In 1796 an act was passed by the Legislature to enable the Corporation to supply the city with water by means of conduits, which also failed to be carried out.
The first private individual to undertake the task of supplying the city with water was Benjamin Prescott, who, in 1797, received from Stephen Van Rensselaer a grant of the Maezlandt Kill. Under Mr. Prescott's management a line of wooden logs was laid from the fountain head. But he must have failed to fulfill some part of the contract, for a few years after all his rights in the Maezlandt Kill were transferred by Van Rensselaer to the Water Company.
In 1802 the Albany Water-works Company was incorporated, with a capital of $40,000. The original Trustees were Stephen Lush, Philip Van Rensselaer and John Tayler. Work was commenced almost immediately, by laying mains of iron and wooden logs through the principal streets. Water was drawn from the Maezlandt Kill, which continued to be the principal source of supply until 1837, when this stream failed to meet the demands made upon it, and another source of supply, the Middle Creek, was procured by the company. In a few years the two streams combined were found to be inadequate. In 1845 a part of the Patroon's Creek was purchased from Mr. Van Rensselaer by the Water Company. In 1811 this company built a receiving reservoir on the spot now occupied by the High School, which was supplied by an iron main from the Maezlandt Kill. This main is still used, and from it consumers in North Albany, and many upon Broadway, north of Clinton avenue, and North Pearl street, from Clinton avenue to Columbia, are supplied. This water is, in quality, what is known as very hard.
In 1844 the capital stock of the Albany Waterworks Company was increased to $80,000. During this same year, a company known as the Albany Hydrant Company was incorporated, with John Townsend, John K. Paige, Bradford R. Wood, James D. Wasson, Barnum Whipple, Rufus W. Peckham and Peter Gansevoort as Trustees. The latter company caused extensive surveys to be made, with the purpose of devising a better system of water supply; but beyond this work, nothing of a practical nature was attempted.
For many years preceding the adoption of the present mode of water supply, there had been a growing sentiment among the citizens of Albany that the city should own and control its own system of water-works. This sentiment culminated in the Corporation submitting a bill to the Legislature, which became a law April 9, 1850, by which the. Common Council were empowered to ap