History of Harlem and The River Ferries

When the original Dutch settlers began to flock to the hills and valleys of Harlem, the first thing they did was to look around for a suitable name. Immediately a great dissension arose, each stout burgher insisting that the spot should be called after his own native town in old Holland. Finally they decided upon a most happy expedient; they resolved to style the place “Harlaem,” for the simple reason that none of them had come from that village, and as a result, no one could object. Such, we learn, is the origin of the name which for a long time appeared on the steam railroad cars. “New York and Harlaem Railroad.”

In the year 1666, when the sleepy residents of Harlaem were comfortably settled and enjoying life around their immense fireplaces, with long-stemmed pipes in their mouths, and all accustomed to going to bed at four o’clock every afternoon. Someone made the startling announcement that beyond the broad river that flowed past their doors was to be found the most beautiful farming land imaginable, just the site for their favorite “boueries”. This was enough, for once they hastily rose to the occasion. They must have a ferry at once to carry them across to those fair shores where their “boueries” were to be.

The site selected was about 126th street and the East River, where the old “Harlaem Road” terminated. The peculiarly slanting and irregular boundary lines, which even to-day are found in this section of Harlem and which are so at variance with all existing streets and avenues, and form such a bete-noir alike to title-searchers and surveyors, is lasting evidence of the former existence of this early highway.

A ferry meant a ferryman, and in 1667 Johannes Verveelen was duly installed, along with an African American man by the name of “Matthys”. He was allowed to furnish food, drink and lodgings to the weary wayfarers he ferried across, but not a drop to the indians.

Here are some of the curious rates that he charged for carrying travelers from Harlaem to the Bronx shore:

“For every passenger, 2 pence silver or six pence wampum; for every ox or cow that shall be brought into his ferry-boat, 8 pence or 24 stivers; and cattle that swim along over pay but 1/2 price.

“He is to take for diet, every man for his meal, 8 pence or 24 stivers wampum; every man for his lodging, 2 pence a man or 6 stivers wampum; every man for his horse shall pay 4 pence for his night’s hay or grass, or 12 stivers wampum.”

“Signed, THO: DE LAVALL, Mayor.” “Dated July 3rd 1667”


New York City Map Fashionable Ties

Introducing New York City map designer ties, perfect for wearing to work or any formal occasion. Designed on the ties are various styles of NYC maps ranging in publication dates from the 1600’s all the way to the early 1900’s. The maps themselves range in terms of illustrative perspective in that some consist of a birds-eye perspective of New York City, while other maps are an overhead 2d street view perspective. The ties themselves are composed of 100% polyester and are 55″ long and 4″ wide. Take a few minutes to check out our customizable designed ties below. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!

Vintage New York City Map (1847) – Examination and Perspective

We are going to take a quick look at one of our vintage New York City maps in our vast collection that displays Manhattan in an overhead 2d street view perspective. The map we are currently looking at was produced in 1847 and is displayed with a uniform color scheme. In terms of transportation, the map displays road systems, railways and ferry routes. The map also features around 50 different reference points regarding historical landmarks, colleges, government buildings and other points of interest.

lower manhattan 1847Lower Manhattan displays several locations such as Battery Park, Castle Garden, various clustered streets and piers throughout the coastal areas. In the image above we also see the beginnings of a railway system that travels north to south on Manhattan Island. There are also several points of reference on a singular street on this map, more specifically on Broadway. In the image above, start from the most northerly part of Battery Park and find the street with dots and numbers ranging (1,2,3,5,6,7,8,14,18). Below are the listed points of interest and their respective numbers.

1) The Atlantic Hotel

2) Delmonico’s

3) The Mansion Hotel

5) Judson’s Hotel and Globe Hotel

6) The Trinity Church

7) The City Hotel

8) Croten

14) Rathbuns Hotel

18) D. Appleton Publishing House

These are just a few of the numbered locations that we are showing you that are displayed on this map.

governors island and brooklyn 1847The image above displays other locations throughout the New York City Metropolitan area. We see Governor’s Island with illustrations detailing Fort Columbus as well as Castle William. We also see a portion of Brooklyn New York to the west of Governor’s Island for which we see labeled streets as well as railway lines. Also we can see various ferry lines and the distances they travel between lower Manhattan to Brooklyn and elsewhere.

northern brooklyn and mid to lower manhattan 1847Looking at this section of the map we can see Navy Yard written on the a landscape over in Brooklyn New York. This area was and still is a United States Naval Yard that houses and ports naval ships that travel down the East River. Over on the Manhattan side we can see a cross hatched line that signifies a railway, for which we see that it zig zags south to north and travels vertically through Manhattan Island. Another thing that I’ve noticed on this map is that the piers on the lower portion of Manhattan’s East River side seem to be much more condensed. As you travel up the East River though, those ports seem to gradually be spaced out more. This is probably due to the highly populated areas of lower Manhattan vs. the less populated areas as you move northward.

ellis island and jersey city labeledTo the southwestern part of this map, I thought it was pretty cool that Ellis Island and Fort Gibson was labeled. Also Jersey City NJ is shown with a few geographical characteristics that include a railway system route that travels to the coast of New Jersey. This railway probably travels to a port where travelers or goods can be transported to Manhattan Island. Also we get to see a few labeled streets that existed in Jersey City at the time.

I really love these old map of New York City! They are loaded with information that pertains to that time and they let you compare and contrast it to the evolution of the greatest city on Earth. If you have any questions about this map I’d be happy to answer them below! Also if you like this map ALOT, we actually have this EXACT map available for purchase on our online store in a customizable poster print form. Check out the link below for details.

Click the image and link below to take a look at our Customizable New York City Map (1847) Poster Print:

Vintage NYC and Brooklyn Map (1847) Posters
Vintage NYC and Brooklyn Map (1847) Posters by Alleycatshirts
Check out other New york city map Posters at zazzle.com

The Story of Manhattan Audiobook – The Dutch Traders

This is an audio recording of a vintage book titled “The Story of Manhattan”. The recording displayed on this page covers the historical events involving the dutch traders on Manhattan Island. Take a listen to this audiobook chapter and tell us what you think by commenting below!

Street Vendor History in NYC

It is not known how many stores, or places in which trade is conducted beneath the shelter of a roof, the city contains. They are numerous, but they are not sufficient for the wants of trade. The sellers overflow them and spread out into the streets and by-ways, with no roof above them but the blue sky. Some of these sellers are men, some women, and some mere children. Some have large stationary stands, others roam about with their wares in boxes, bags, or baskets in their hands. They sell all manner of wares. Watches, jewelry, newspapers, fruits, tobacco, cigars, candies, cakes, ice cream, lemonade, flowers, dogs, birds,—in short everything that can be carried in the hand—are sold by the Street Venders. The rich and the poor buy of them. The strolling vagrant picks up his scanty breakfast at one of these stands, and the millionaire buys an apple at another.

The eating and apple stands are mainly kept by women. The most of them are Irishwomen, and the big cap and dirty frill under the quilted bonnet are among the most common signs of such a stand. Some of these stands sell soups, some oysters, some coffee and hot cakes, some ice cream, and some merely fruits and apples. In Wall street they are kept by men, and pies and cakes form the staple articles of trade. Candies and nuts are sold exclusively by many. Such candies as are not to be had of any confectioner in town. Women never sell cigars or tobacco, though many of them never take their pipes from their mouths during business hours. Some of them offer ladies’ hose and gentlemen’s socks, and suspenders, yarns, worsted hoods, and gloves. A few women sell newspapers, but these are rapidly giving way to men.


The newspaper stands are located principally on Broadway, in Wall street, and around the Post Office and the ferries. At some of them only the morning or evening journals are kept, but others offer all the weeklies and the illustrated papers as well.

The venders of cheap neckties and pocket book straps are mostly boys or very young men. They frequent the lower part of Broadway, which is also the favorite haunt of the venders of cheap jewelry. Pocket books of every description are sold at marvellously cheap prices, and photographs are displayed in such lavish quantities that you feel sure that every dealer in them has bankrupted himself in order to afford a free art exhibition to the crowd of little ragamuffins gathered around him. Toys of every contrivance adorn the stands above Canal street. The dealers in these articles are strong, able-bodied men, who prefer to stand on the side walks pulling the strings of a jumping jack, or making contortions with a toy contrived for that purpose, to a more manly way of earning their bread.

The balloon men, the penny whistle and pop gun dealers frequent the upper streets, where they are apt to be seen by children. The lame soldier sets up his stand anywhere, and deals principally in shoe strings, neckties, or in books and papers that no one ever reads. Towards Christmas large booths for the sale of toys are erected on some of the east and west side streets, at which a thriving business in toys and fire-works is carried on.

The Chinese candy and cigar sellers are to be found between the Astor House and the South Ferry. No one ever seems to buy from them, but they continue in the business, and thus afford proof positive that they have their customers.

The dog and bird men haunt the neighborhood of the Astor House and St. Nicholas hotels. They get high prices for their pets. Dogs sell readily. It is the fashion in New York to discourage the increase of families, and to attempt to satisfy the half-smothered maternal instinct by petting these dumb creatures.

Little girls are numerous among the street venders. They sell matches, tooth-picks, cigars, newspapers, songs and flowers. The flower-girls are hideous little creatures, but their wares are beautiful and command a ready sale. These are made into hand bouquets, and buttonhole bouquets, and command from ten cents to several dollars each. When the day is wet and gloomy, and the slush and the mud of Broadway are thick over everything animate and inanimate, and the sensitive soul shrinks within itself at the sight of so much discomfort, the flower-girls do a good business. The flower-stands then constitute the most attractive objects on the street, and men are irresistibly drawn to them by the sight of their exquisite adornments. It is very pleasant at such times to have a bright, fragrant nosegay in one’s buttonhole, or to carry a bouquet to one’s home. On such days you may see hundreds of splashed and muddy men on the great thoroughfare, utterly hopeless of preserving any outward semblance of neatness, but each with his nosegay in his buttonhole; and as he glances down at it, from time to time, you may see his weary face soften and brighten, and an expression of cheerfulness steal over it, which renders him proof against even the depressing influences of the mud and the rain.