Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

these railroad-express projectors, that“ if their motives are true, and they make the change in the interest of their stockholders, and not in their own personal interest, they will, in less than three years, invite the old companies to again operate their lines.”

Asked if he believed the present arrangement between the railroad companies and the Express proprietors on their routes to be the best for the railroad stockholders, financially, he replied : “ Undoubtedly, it is; there is no question about it in my mind." This from a man who has risen from a subordinate to the highest position, and by long service and practical familiarity with the details of all departments of railroad operation, is worth being quoted as what the lawyers would call “ an authority.”

It is hardly to be feared by sensible railroad stockholders (who do not disguise their well-grounded objections to the failure of their dividends, or the depreciation of their shares, by the loss of such prompt-paying customers as the regular Express companies certainly are), that, in a season so crowded with the rush of freights as the present, their managers will be so egregiously foolish as to meditate the disgruntling of the Express companies. They may well bear in mind Abraham Lincoln's reply to a suggestion made to him, during the worst crisis in the war, that he should change his generals—“I never swap horses,” said he," while I am fording a stream."

The railroad changes alluded to, as possible, would be equally inopportune at this period.

66

CHAPTER III.

FROM BOSTON TO NEW YORK, BY LONG ISLAND SOUND; ONE OF THE

ADAMS ROUTES. THE ADAMS IN NEW YORK CITY.

LEAVING New England, some would prefer the Hartford and New Haven all-rail route of the Adams Express Company. There is, too, the Hoosac tunnel rail through many charming factory-villages; but we will imagine, kind reader, that our course has been either via Stonington, Allyn's Point, or Fall River, and that we have crossed Long Island Sound to New York harbor, in a floating palace, and are heading for the great city. And what a grand city it is—this New York! The sun is rising, with its face of fire washed by the sea out of which it has just emerged.

Aurora, now, fair daughter of the dawn,” is distributing ruby tints and gleaming arrow-heads with a lavish hand. It is the most charming of all the hours on a steamboat in New York's lovely bay.

As we stand by the side of the Adams messenger and his Express crate-car, which in the night was wheeled from the railway and shoved aboard the huge steamer at Allyn's Point, or some other terminus on Long Island Sound, we can draw upon him for information upon other points than Allyn's, as this magnificent boat, three stories high, under her smoky plume, bears us and her big crowd of passengers, majestically into the East river, among numerous other craft, big and little, with the most notable of which she is quietly competing.

As he indicates to us this or that object of interest, we wonder if the Bay of Naples, or of Rio Janeiro, is any finer. At length we reach the more utilitarian sights, and pass mile after mile of shore, street-ends covered with foundries, shipyards, dry-docks, coal wharves, and all sorts of manufacturing establishments; where work people, with small tin pails in their hands, begin already to congregate.

There is nothing attractive in the look of it, but it denotes a world of capital and industry.

And there yonder is the fine city of Brooklyn, separated only by the river from New York, and bearing about the same relation to it in the eyes of the stranger, that a beautiful sideshow does to the main exhibition. What a charming spectacle the heights, and the numerous church spires glittering in the beams of the genial morning sun! Yonder, many times higher than the chimney-tops of all these rapidly passing ferry steamers, and higher than the tallest mast of that 3,000 ton ship just passing under it, is the aerial suspension bridge across the East river, from alongside Fulton ferry in Brooklyn, to Vandewater street, not far from Peck Slip, New York. It is not finished, but occasionally some favorite scaler of dizzy heights is allowed to walk across; and there is one now! Can you discern that that moving speck is a man, and not an insect ? Surely it is one of the midgets, and a strong wind would blow him away! Is it not worth coming to New York to see these immense towering columns of massive stone masonry, forty feet square, on either side of the river, which are to hold up the rails and road-bed, on which, it is promised, comfortable cars shall in the near future convey passengers across? This prodigious enterprise has already cost ten millions of dollars, and they have not "stripped” that cow yet.

Now we are coming to that small rounded end, or beginning, of Manhattan Island, on which the great city is built, and may enjoy a look seaward towards Sandy Hook, Quarantine, and the Atlantic Ocean beyond.

This small park is called the Battery, because it contained for many years, in our forefather's day, a row of cannon, which, together with artillery at Governor's Island, and at one or two other points, commanded the entrance to the port. Close at hand was a semi-circular castellated structure, with port-holes, known originally as "the Castle.” When I first visited the place in 1836, it was named to me as “ Castle Garden,” though no garden was there. Many years later P. T. Barnum fitted it up, and in its large auditorium I heard Jenny Lind in her first rehearsal in America.

From this shank of the city the land gradually widens to

[ocr errors]

its farthest boundary, in leg of mutton shape, and the Harlem Express driver will tell you it is nine miles long. I think its aver

I age width is about three miles, and that consequently the local Expressmen have an area of say 27 square miles to traverse, the island being pretty well populated in all parts, even to Harlem river. When I saw it for the first time, the city was wonderful to my callow comprehension, both in area and population. It was said to have 200,000 inhabitants. The spot where Union square now is, was regarded as suburban. I remember a dozen aristocratic residences near Bowling Green, and more on Greenwich, Washington and Liberty streets. Even in 1839, Eleventh street was regarded as very remote from the business quarter, which was on South street, Wall street, Pearl street, and Maiden Lane. Now, there is not a private mansion on Broadway south of Fourteenth street, and the population is said to exceed 1,200,000. These figures may be better appreciated if we say, that, distributed into quotas of 1,200 each, this population would serve to make 1,000 good-sized communities.

That lofty brown-stone steeple piercing the sky is the “ Trinity.” It is near the great Express offices on Broadway, facing Wall street, where the so-called “bulls and bears” of the stock-exchange on Broad street, hardby, raise the wind for their gambling speculations; though all who deal there are neither gamblers nor speculators, a few being legitimate commission merchants and brokers. In the rear of its ancient cemetery, rush the swift trains of the elevated railway-a public benefit at personal sacrifice.

Passing the Battery, our Sound steamer heads for the North river, her bow pointing for a moment at Hoboken and Jersey City. There on the Jersey shore, both the Adams and the United States Express Companies have large freight offices and stables, and the heavily loaded Express wagons on those huge ferry boats, it is likely, belong to them.

This North river is the Hudson; the first of all God's waters to be slapped by a steam paddle. Away up, above Spuyten Duyfel, and between the hills, it is lovely. Somewhere up in that quarter Washington Irving put Rip Van Winkle into his famous twenty years' nap. But, down in this business quarter, the sensible utilitarians have spoilt the looks

[ocr errors]

of the river as an aqueous beauty, by constructing fifty or more piers, extending from West street, which runs parallel with it, a hundred feet or so into the rapid current. Between these piers lay, in peaceful security from storms, many propellers and sailing vessels, both coastwise and foreign. The several foreign Express companies, Morris' among the rest, make use of some of these. Each line of ships has its allotted pier. There in that empty space is where our own grand steamer will tie up. The tide runs strong, and there are frequent sounds of the bell, struck by the man in the pilot-house aloft there, as signals to the engineer yonder, and much backing and filling, before the huge vessel glides into her berth. Then the gang-plank is extended from ship to shore, and the crowd of passengers are landed before the waiting Express drivers come forward to load their wagons with the P. P. trunks, and take on the messenger with his safe.

At this common arrival hour at many of the piers, and at all of the depots, scores of messengers come in with millions of dollars in charge, and the freight yards of the Expresses are all alive.

“THE ADAMS" IN NEW YORK CITY.-Through its absorption of the Harnden, and several other Expresses, the Adams had become, in 1866, the oldest of all the Express companies, and its capital had grown to $10,000,000. Its dividends, though limited to eight per cent. per annum, were paid quarterly, and with the most reliable punctuality. Its stock began to be quoted on Wall street at par, or above it, and such has been the public confidence in its management, that it has ever since been regarded as desirable for investment.

In 1875 its capital stock was increased to $12,000,000; just ten times what it was in 1854. This was in anticipation of the extension of its routes to New Mexico, effected in 1880; as will be shown in a chapter upon the Adams business in the Territories.

No material changes have occurred in the organization of this company for many years ; certainly not since Henry Sandford became general superintendent, and John Hoey

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »