Taverns And Tea Gardens
( Originally Published 1902 )
TAVERNS played a very important part in the social life of the day, and the hosts were respected in the community and were frequently of considerable weight and standing. The best taverns had always a large room for entertainments and balls, and these were largely patronized by the gentry. There were many men in the city,—officers, unmarried clerks, etc., who lived in lodgings and took their meals at taverns, which also provided ladies with delicate fare. These hostelries usually had delightful gardens which were illuminated on summer evenings, and sometimes the guests were entertained with music. Moreover, if anything went wrong in the kitchen at home, or if the weather was too hot for cooking, there were many bakers who prepared appetizing breadstuffs or offered their ovens for a small price. Some of the conveniences within reach even of a modest income appear in the following advertisements :
" Mrs. Brock has removed to the new brick house near the City Hall, sells wines, lets lodgings and furnishes victuals abroad from twelve to three o'clock."
" William Keen grocer and confectioner purposes to carry on Pastry in all its branches, where persons may be supplied with cake of all kinds done in the best manner, Tarts of all sorts, with the best of gingerbread fit for Sea; Captains of vessels and others may be supplied with all kinds of sweetmeats put up in the best manner, and variety of pickles of all sorts, pickled oysters done in the best manner, anchovies and Capers. Said Keen proposes to make chicken Pies and Meat Pies of all sorts."
" Spring Gardens, near the College, lately belonging to Mr. John Marshall, is opened for breakfasting from 7 o'clock till 9. Tea in the afternoon from 3 till 6. The best of green tea &c. Hot French rolls will be provided. N. B. Pies and tarts will be drawn from 7 in the evening till 9, where gentlemen and ladies may depend on good attendance ; the best of Madeira, mead, cakes, &c." (1763.)
" William Muckelvain, baker, at the sign of the Three Biskets on Pot Baker Hill will continue to heat his oven at 10 A. M. every day during the warm weather for baking dishes of meats, pies &c." (1763.)
" Newfoundland, more commonly known by the name of the Glass House, is now opened for the entertainment of company, where constant attendance is given and everything that is genteel and agreeable provided. N. B. Breakfasting at-tended from 7 A.M. till 10, and tea in the afternoon from 3 till 6 at is. 6d. a head furnished with the best green tea and hot loaves. Likewise any gentleman or lady that are indisposed, and want to take the benefit of the country air, may be accommodated with a genteel apartment." (1763.)
" Samuel Francis opened an Ordinary at the Queen's Head tavern near the Exchange. Dinner every day to be served at half past one." (1763.)
" Wm. Adams opens, at the Sign of General Monckton upon the New Dock, a Beef-Steak House, to be ready Hot and Hot—from 11 o'clock in the Morning till 3 in the Afternoon at the Expense of 1 Shilling each." (1764.)
" Just arrived from London, Monsieur Lenzi, confectioner, makes and sells all sorts of fine French, English, Italian and German biskets, preserved fruits (pines, gooseberries, straw-berries, etc.) also in brandy, jams, pastes and jellies, which will be warranted for two or three years with good care; all sorts of sugar plums, dragees, barley sugar, white and brown sugar candy, ice cream and fruits, sugar ornaments which are now ready for sale, or to lend out." Later, he also sold "sugar and burnt almonds, carraway and aniseed comfits, orange or lemon sugar plums, ginger, cinnamon and other tablets. All kinds of the finest and richest cakes, as Queen, royal hearts, plum and pound cakes, maccaroons, ratafia drops, preserved milk warranted to keep years, etc., jams, pastes, jellies, any sort of ice cream or fruits. He will undertake to furnish any great entertainment whatever in as elegant a manner as any in Europe." (1774.)
" Edward Bardin has opened the noted tavern at the corner house in the Fields formerly kept by John Jones. The Pantry opened every evening at 7 o'clock and a cloth laid with the following dishes: Roast Beef, Veal, Mutton, Lamb, Ducks and Chickens, Gammon, Lobsters, Pickled Oysters, Custards, and Tarts of Different Kinds. Chicken Pies ready for Supper every night. Tea and Coffee every afternoon. He has a large commodious room fit for balls and assemblies." (1775.)
Many inns were commodious and well-appointed. In 1775, the Queen's Head Tavern, near the Ex-change (at the lower end of Broad Street), was described as being three stories high with a tile and lead roof ; " it has fourteen fireplaces, a most excel-lent large kitchen, five dry cellars, with good and convenient offices. It is a corner house, very open and airy and in the most complete repair ; near to the new ferry." The Queen's Head was in existence as early as 1731.
Another tavern, the King's Arms, was famous in the history of New York all through the century. This was in Broadway between Crown (Liberty) and Little Prince (Cedar) Streets. It was always a favourite resort of the officers from Fort George, and many stories were told of Lord Cornbury's escapades there, one of which was of his riding a horse through the large door and up to the bar to demand a drink.
Before the old grey house with its irregular windows swung the sign painted with " The Lion and the Unicorn fighting for the Crown." A row of catalpa trees extended some distance in front of the inn making the air sweet with their heavily-scented blooms. From the windows, and still better from the cupola on the roof, supplied with a table, seats, and a good telescope, a beautiful view of the Hudson could be enjoyed. In the bar-room were a series of small boxes screened with green silk curtains where a guest could enjoy his chop and ale or Madeira in privacy. The dining-room was large and well-furnished. Wide verandas back and front contributed to comfort in summer. Among the other taverns were the Mason's Arms, Fraunces' Tavern, Golden Hill (John and Cliff Streets), New York, New England and Quebec Coffee House, the Horse and Cart and The Province Arms.
In addition to the city taverns with their ball-rooms and tea-gardens, there were two famous establishments outside the city. These were called Vauxhall and Ranelagh, in imitation of famous London resorts of the same names. Ranelagh was a summer garden on Broadway between the present Duane and Worth Streets. The New York Hospital was after-wards erected here, Governor Tryon witnessing the laying of the corner-stone. Vauxhall Gardens were situated where is now Greenwich Street between Warren and Chambers, facing the North River. They were on part of Sir Peter Warren's estate and commanded a beautiful view of the Hudson. One or two selections from the numerous advertisements will show the kind of entertainment enjoyed at these gardens.
At the request of several gentlemen and ladies there will be a concert twice a week, Mondays and Thursdays, 6.30 P. M. (Ranelagh Garden Concert). Small fireworks will be played off and the best entertainment as usual, notwithstanding the artful insinuations of some ill-minded people to the contrary." (1765.)
" Ranelagh Gardens (For breakfasting as well as the evening entertainment of ladies and gentlemen,) are laid out at a great expence in a very genteel pleasing manner; and judged to be far the most rural retreat any way near this city. As an addition thereto, a complete band of music is engaged to per-form every Monday and Thursday evenings during the Summer season (beginning at 7 o'clock) a commodious hall in the garden for dancing, with drawing rooms neatly fitted up ; the very best of wine and other liquors, mead, sillabub, etc. with gammon, tongues, alamode beef, tarts, cakes, etc. etc. and on notice given, dinners and other large entertainments elegantly provided as usual. N. B. When any evening proves bad the concert will be on the following evening. (1766.)
" Vauxhall Gardens have been newly fitted up in a very genteel pleasing Manner, are pleasantly situate, and now open for the Reception of Ladies, Gentlemen, etc., and will be illuminated every evening in the Week ; Coffee, Tea, and Hot Rolls at any hour in the day, neat Wines and other Liquors, with Cakes, as usual. A concert of Music, Vocal and Instrumental will shortly be performed twice every Week, of which due Notice will be given. Contiguous to the Garden there is a very good Long Room, convenient for a Ball or Turtle Entertainment; also Dinners or Suppers, dressed in the most Elegant Manner on timely Notice." (1769.)
" If the Weather Permits at Vauxhall Gardens. On Monday the 27th Inst. will be exhibited a Magnificent set of Fireworks, by the Italians, far exceeding any other Performance of the kind yet shown in the City ; To be disposed in the following Order : First, Eight Rockets, which burst to Stars, Snakes and Crackers. Second, A capricious Wheel, which will represent a Marquis Tent. Third, One Wheel, illuminated with different Colours and Maroons. Fourth, One Tournant of brilliant Fire, which will represent at different Times the Sun and Moon. Fifth, Eight Rockets,—One Globe, illuminated and adorned with Chinese Fountains and Italian Candles, and in the centre a beautiful Girandola of different Fires. Sixth, One Wheel, illuminated with white, red and yellow Fires,—a piece representing a Cistern of Water, with twelve Changes,—a curious wheel representing a Chinese Looking Glass. Seventh, A curious Tornant of different Changes of Fire. Eighth, A Fix'd Sun of brilliant Fire. Ninth, Eight Rockets,—a Pigeon on a Line will communicate Fire to three Triumphal Arches, adorn'd with a brilliant Fire of Diamonds, Chinese Fountains, and Italian Candles;—On each side a magnificent Piece, representing a beautiful Vase of Flowers,—in the Centre a beautiful transparent piece, representing the Wheel of Fortune, adorn'd with several curious Illuminations of different Constructions and Colours,—To conclude with Eight Rockets.
"The Fire-works will begin exactly at Half an Hour after eight,—Music Proper for the Entertainment will be prepared. Tickets to be had at the door of the Gardens at 3s. each. Any set of Company that choose to spend the evening, will please to send in Time, so that Rooms, Supper, etc., may be provided." (1769.)
In the disturbances over the Stamp Act in 1765, Vauxhall suffered from the rage of the mob. The newspaper accounts of this affair described the hanging and burning in effigy of the distributor of the stamps, and continued as follows:
"It is probable that the conductors of this expedition in-tended the whole affair should have ended here ; but while many of them were attending the fire, a large detachment of volunteers making their passage through the other side of the palisades went on another expedition and repaired to the house (lately known by the name of Vaux Hall) now in the occupation of Major James of the Royal Regiment of Artillery. This gentleman was one of those who had unfortunately incurred the resentment of the public by expressions imputed to him. It is said he had taken a lease of the house for 3 years, and had obliged himself to return it in the like good order as he received it. It had been lately fitted up in an elegant manner, and had adjoining a large handsome garden stored with both necessaries and curiosities, and had in it several summer houses. The house was genteelly furnished with good furniture; contained a valuable library of choice books, paper, accounts, mathematical instruments, draughts, rich clothes, linen, etc., and a considerable quantity of wine and other liquors. The multitude bursting open the doors, proceeded to destroy every individual article the house contained. The beds they cut open and threw the feathers abroad; broke all the glasses, china, tables, desks, chairs, trunks, chests; and, making a large fire at a little distance, threw in everything that would burn; drank or destroyed all the liquor, and left not the least article in the house which they did not entirely destroy. After which, they also beat to pieces all the doors, sashes, window-frames and partitions in the house, leaving it a mere shell ; also destroyed the summer-houses and tore up and spoiled the garden. All this destruction was completed about 2 o'clock."