3.08.2010

Washington Square Park Burial Ground (The Intermediary, Slightly Unnecessary Chapter)

If you did your homework last time, you already know that Washington Square Park served as a mass burial ground for indigents, slaves, and victims of yellow fever/cholera epidemics of the early 19th century. The site was leveled 1825 after having been closed two years prior due to health concerns and lack of space (slash the fancy people moving northward didn't want dead paupers and slaves for neighbors) and by 1827, construction had begun on townhouses around the Square. Within a few years, Greenwich Village and Washington Square were transformed into a residential haven for New York's elite, their sordid past buried under stately brick houses...along with the 20,000 bodies still lying six feet under.

But of course we all know what happens when you repress your bad memories - they inevitably come back to haunt you! (Especially when they involve dead people...)

On April 30, 1889
(just in time for early Sigismund Schlomo Freud! See: repression, above)
nobody in the United States wasn't celebrating the 100th anniversary of George Washington's inauguration

left: G.W. taking the Oath at Federal Hall on Wall Street
right: Federal Hall was razed in 1812 and the Sub-Treasury building was constructed - which is where Obams went to yell at the financial industry this past September! Yay Obams! You tell 'em, mister!




The Centennial was seen as an opportunity both to honor the nation's history and to vaunt its rapid progress, and let me tell you, it was taken VEEEERY seriously.


I MEAN, THIS WAS LEGIT:



benjamin harrison made a presidential proclamation declaring april 30 a general holiday,
(complete with the friendly suggestion that "the people of the entire country repair to their respective places of divine worship" that morning)
schools were closed for the day, (nyt april 4)
and a massive celebration was held in new york from april 29-may 1, the festivities meticulously planned over several years to parallel the events surrounding washington's inauguration 100 years before.
(nyt april 21)


George Washington's Inauguration: April 1789

nyt article from april 28 compares the events planned for the centennial to those of 1789: they're particularly excited about the fact that the trains of the day could travel cross-country in the week it took gw to arrive in the then "provincial town" of ny and that the naval parade scheduled for the first day of the festivities would outdo the original









"a hundredfold in the extent and elaboration of its pagaentry, in the number of spectators, and in every other respect excepting the majesty alone of its central figure" (poor harrison!). i'm also not sure what to do with this quote: "it is curious and instructive to reflect that washington's choice was to be addressed as "his mightiness the president of the united states" (so much for humility i guess!).
-WEDS FEBRUARY 4-
electoral college casts its votes
-MON APRIL 6-
votes are finally counted, and washington is declared the unanimous victor - gw, ever the humble recluse, is ok w/ the long wait. in a letter to a friend, he writes:
The delay may be compared to a reprieve, for my movements to the chair of Government will be accompanied by feelings not unlike those of a culprit who is going to the place of his execution; so unwilling am I to quit a peaceful abode for an ocean of difficulties without that competency of political skill, abilities, or inclinations which are necessary to manage the helm. Integrity and firmness are all I can promise. These, be the voyage long or short, shall never forsake me.*
-TUES APRIL 14-
secretary of the continental congress charles thomson
arrives at mount vernon, va (above) to deliver the following announcement: 
I have the honor to transmit to your Excellency the information of your unanimous election to the office of President of the United States of America. Suffer me, sir, to indulge the hope that so auspicious a mark of public confidence will meet your approbation and be considered as a sure pledge of the affection and support you are to expect from a free and an enlightened people."
-WEDS APRIL 15-
gw "visited his aged mother and said and listened to the words that each knew would be the last they would ever speak to each other in this world"
-THURS APRIL 16-
washington departs mount vernon by stagecoach (right - harper's weekly 5.4.1889 vol xxxiii) for a banquet in alexandria, va
From his diary:
About 10 o'clock I bade adieu to Mount Vernon, to private life and to domestic felicity, and with a mind oppressed with more anxious and painful sensation than I have words to express, set out for New-York, with the best disposition to render service to my country in obedience to its call, but with less hope of answering its expectations.
-SAT APRIL 18-
travels through baltimore, md and wilmington, de, where he's "received with all the acclaim a king could have desired"
-SUN APRIL 19-
washington arrives at gray's ferry (right) in philly to a crowd of 20,000 and a lavishly festooned arch - that night attends a banquet at the city tavern
-MON APRIL 20-
arrives in trenton, nj where the ladies of trenton, dressed all in white, lead him through another arch and sing him songs (more on this later)
-TUES APRIL 21-
arrives in elizabeth, nj, and stays there through weds night
-THURS APRIL 23-
departs elizabethport by barge to murray's wharf, nyc - a naval parade awaits him (right - harper's 5.4.1889)
-FRI APRIL 30-
 inauguration at federal hall (the 7 day wait can be attributed to the fact that federal hall was still being built at the time of gw's arrival in ny) 
-SAT MAY 7-
first inaugural ball takes place once lady washington finally makes her way up to new york 
(right - harper's 5.4.1889)

*quotations from ny tribune's the washington centenary celebrated 
 (pgs 103-106)*



Centennial Celebration Schedule of Events

clockwise from top right:   
--new york committee on the centennial celebration official programme cover  
--schedule for day 1: (april 29) naval parade, harrison's arrival, lunch at the equity building, centennial ball
  --schedule for days 2-3: (april 30) service at st. paul's, speeches at the sub-treasury building, military parade, banquet 
(may 1) industrial and civic parades 
--cover of charles dow's (of the dow jones industrial average) souvenir of the centennial celebration 
 





  clockwise from left
--the naval parade (nypl
--next excerpt from same april 21 nyt article kvelling about the naval parade  
(and the "terror-inspiring" vesuvius cruiser) 
--harrison arrives at wall st on the despatch (nypl)

-----------

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MR. PRESIDEN(CY)!
clockwise from left:
--harrison arriving in ny harbor 
(harper's weekly, 5,11.1889, vol xxxiii no. 1690) 
--harrison passes thru memorial arch at foot of wall st (nypl
--harrison's presidential address at sub-treasury building  
(harper's 5.11.1889)

-----------
PARADES GALORE!
clockwise from left: 
--military parade marches past the reviewing stand in madison square april 30 
--industrial parade passes through union square may 1 
--floats for the may 1 civic parade (i like the fairy wagon in the bottom row, and the homage to beethoven - which you can in the lower half of image 2)
(images 1 and 2: harper's 5.11.1889, image 3: harper's 5.4.1889)




BANQUETS AND BALLS!

april 29: reception at the lawyer's club in the equitable building
--what the president ate for lunch (nypl)
--excerpt on the luncheon from april 21 nyt article
--interior of the lawyer's club late 1800s
 

april 29: the centennial ball at the metropolitan opera
--excerpt on the ball from april 21 nyt article
--dancers at the ball (harper's 5.11.1889)



-----------


april 30: centennial banquet at the metropolitan opera house
clockwise from top left:
--excerpt on the "most magnificent banquet in the history of new york" from april 21 nyt article
--banquet menu cover (nypl)
--former president cleveland delivering his toast

(harper's 5.11.1889)
--good tunes and good eats for the evening 

(nyt, april 21)

...ok so you guys are probably like, really wondering where I'm going with this. All in good time, my pretties, all in good time. I'm just a big believer in the big picture: wouldn't wanna miss any details, especially when they involve parades, banquets, and terror-inspiring ships.

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