New York, city, United States: The Revolution through the Nineteenth Century
The Revolution through the Nineteenth Century
New York was active in the colonial opposition to British measures after trouble in 1765 over the Stamp Act. As revolutionary sentiments increased, the New York Sons of Liberty forced (1775) Gov. William Tryon and the British colonial government from the city. Although many New Yorkers were Loyalists, Continental forces commanded by George Washington tried to defend the city. After the patriot defeat in the battle of Long Island (see Long Island, battle of) and the succeeding actions at Harlem Heights and White Plains, Washington gave up New York, and the British occupied the city until the end of the war for independence. Under the British occupation two mysterious fires (1776 and 1778) destroyed a large part of the city. After the Revolution New York was briefly (1785–90) the first capital of the United States and was the state capital until 1797. President Washington was inaugurated (Apr. 30, 1789) at Federal Hall.
New development was marked by such events as the founding (1784) of the Bank of New York under Alexander Hamilton and the beginning of the stock exchange around 1790. By 1790 New York was the largest city in the United States, with over 33,000 inhabitants; by 1800 the number had risen to 60,515. In 1811 plans were adopted for the laying out of most of Manhattan on a grid pattern. The opening of the Erie Canal (1825), ardently supported by former Mayor De Witt Clinton, made New York City the seaboard gateway for the Great Lakes region, ushering in another era of commercial expansion. The New York and Harlem RR was built in 1832. In 1834 the mayor of New York became an elective office. In the next year a massive fire destroyed much of Lower Manhattan, but it brought about new building laws and the construction of the Croton water system.
By 1840 New York had become the leading port of the nation. A substantial Irish and German immigration after 1840 dramatically changed the character of urban life and politics in the city. The coming of the Civil War found New Yorkers unusually divided; many shared Mayor Fernando Wood's Southern sympathies, but under the leadership of Gov. Horatio Seymour most supported the Union. However, in 1863 the draft riots broke out in protest against the federal Conscription Act. The rioters—many of whom were Irish and other recent immigrants—directed most of their anger against African Americans. Extensive immigration had begun before the Civil War, and after 1865, with the acceleration of industrial development, another wave of immigration began and reached its height in the late 19th and early 20th cent. As a result of this immigration, which was predominantly from E and S Europe, the city's population reached 3,437,000 by 1900 and 7 million by 1930. New York's many distinct neighborhoods, divided along ethnic and class lines, included such notorious slums as Five Points, Hell's Kitchen, and the Lower East Side. They were often side by side with such exclusive neighborhoods as Gramercy Park or Brooklyn Heights.
Municipal politics were dominated by the Democratic party, which was dominated by Tammany Hall (see Tammany) and the Tweed Ring, led by William M. Tweed. The first of many scandalous disclosures about the city's political life came in 1871, leading to Tweed's downfall. Although not always victorious, Tammany was the center of New York City politics until 1945.
Until 1874, when portions of Westchester were annexed, the city's boundaries were those of present-day Manhattan. With the adoption of a new charter in 1898, New York became a city of five boroughs—New York City was split into the present Manhattan and Bronx boroughs, and the independent city of Brooklyn was annexed, as were the western portions of Queens co. and Staten Island. The opening of the first subway line (1903) and other means of mass transportation spurred the growth of the outer boroughs, and this trend has continued into the 1990s. The Flatiron Building (1902) foreshadowed the skyscrapers that today give Manhattan its famed skyline.
Sections in this article:
- Later History
- The Revolution through the Nineteenth Century
- The Colonial Period
- Points of Interest and Educational and Cultural Facilities
- Ethnic Diversity
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