The Artistocracy Of Old New York
( Originally Published 1921 )
There is an old aristocracy in this city, which is not generally understood. There is no strata of society so difficult to approach or reach. This class makes no noise, no fuss, nor is at all pretentious. If one has qualities and attributes that will place him at the fire-sides of the old set, he will there find all solid and substantial, but no gingerbread or mushroom work. The sideboard is deep shaded, because it is old solid mahogany. On it are real cut glasses, decanters, and solid silver salvers. The wines are old and pure. There are apples, cakes, cider and hickory nuts. The habits of the olden time are kept up. The young man in this set courts the fair girl of the same level, as in the olden time. Origin causes no mark of distinction in this old society. It comprises all countries—old Knickerbocker families or those descended from the original Netherlands settlers ; from the old English families, who took part in the Revolution as Whigs; those who rose to distinction and political power under the American constitution or during the war, as generals, or before and during the war as signers of the Declaration of Independence; members of the Continental Congress, or framers of the Constitution.
Among the Dutch names that claim rights among the old clique are found the Van Rensselaers, Le Roys, Schuylers, Stuyvesants, Beeckmans, Bleeckers, Strykers, Anthonys, Van Waggennens, Van Vleicks, Creigiers, Van Horns, Laurenses, Wyckoffs, Van Cliffs, Gouverneurs, Stenwycks, Janceys, De Peysters, Nevins, Ruyters, Van Wycks, Hoffmans, Van Cortlandts, Provosts, Kipps, Verplancks, De Kays, Dyckmans, Vermilyeas, Bensons, Van Schaicks, De Forrests, Van Zandts, Brevoorts, Marvins, Vances, etc.
The English descendants and Puritan stock are mixed up with the old Dutch breed in forming the highest class of society, though not the most showy. Originally the set went to New England, and came straggling into New York City in the course of years. They pioneered in the excitement that led to the American Revolution, and took an active part in the seven years' war. There were such names as Kent, Jay, Alsop, Lawrence, Laight, Hicks, Phoenix, Post, Perit, Thurston, Jones, Wetmore, Hays, Woodward, Bard, Walton, Fleming, Delancy, Cruger, Marshall, Gibbs, Deming, Clarkson, Newbold, Fuller, Scott, Beach, Aspinwall, Curtiss, Waddington, Brooks, Gracie, Savage, Barclay, Goodhue, Grinnell, Ogden, Howland, Davis, Macy, Morton, Ray Whitlock, Ward, King, Sands and others.
Another class of the old set are descendants of Huguenots who came here prior to the revolution—Lorrillard, Seguine, Masier, Delaplaine, Latourette, Law, De la Montagne, Jumel, Depau, De Rham, Pintard, Delevan and Purdy.
It was from these names the managers of the "Bachelor Balls," were taken in 1830. Then the City Hotel, located on the block in Broadway above Trinity Yard, was the only headquarters of the pure, genuine aristocracy of which we speak.