It is a well-established fact that Ann Street has been a mart for members of the printing craft from the time that George Borkinbine and William Copp, at numbers 20 and 21 Ann Street respectively, started their modest printeries in 1789. No thoroughfare enjoyed a better reputation for the popular literature of the early 40’s, printed in cheap editions, which had a large following, and in consequence a wide circulation. It was the home of newspaper printers, being dubbed the Paternoster Row of America. Here were printed the large blanket sheets as they were humorously and derisively called. W. E. Dean at No. 2 Ann Street was one of the well-known publishers of the early 1830’s in close proximity to “Jim” Connor’s Type Foundry in the new Franklin Building, northwest corner of Ann and (107) Nassau Streets. Connor first saw the light of day in Hyde Park, Dutchess County, N. Y., on .April 22, 1798. Before the age of 21 he entered the printing office of Noah’s National Advocate, and, becoming expert at the trade, he was then employed by one Watts. Eventually he started on his own account, producing the first stereotype plates for a folio Bible, which was sold to Silas Andrews, the noted Hart-ford publisher, for $5,000. He became decidedly popular, and was elected New York County Clerk in 1844, holding office for six years. He passed away in May, 1861. Afterward the firm name was Connor & Cooke.
In the same building was published the New York Mirror, an extremely popular literary publication, with contributors such as Bryant, Cooper, Halleck, Irving, Poe, and numerous other Knickerbocker writers of the period. The editors of the publication were Geo. P. Morris, Theo. S. Fay and Nathaniel P. Willis. The first number was issued on August 2, 1823 (printed by Geo. P. Scott & Co.), under the title New York Mirror and Ladies’ Gazette. It became decidedly popular, almost immediately establishing itself as a literary institution, due to its columns embracing the best talent of the country. On December 31, 1842, it was compelled to suspend publication due to financial reasons, being revived, however, on April 8, 1843, under the title, New Mirror, but lasted only for three years, ceasing publication September 28, 1844. The Evening Mirror was then created under the editorship of Hiram Fuller, and ran successfully until the commencement of the Rebellion. Fuller eventually left the country, going to London.
General Jonas Winchester, at No. 30 Ann Street, in the late 1830’s, made a specialty of popular editions, being the first to introduce in English to the American public the works of Eugene Sue. He issued periodicals called Every Youth’s Gazette, Books for the People, Golden Rule and The New World. This latter paper was issued every Saturday, edited by Park Benjamin and Rufus W. Griswold.
Burgess, Stringer & Townsend (afterward Stringer & Townsend) occupied a corner of the Museum Building at Broadway and Ann Street, known as 222 Broadway. They issued a large number of volumes, chief among which was an early edition of Cooper’s novels.
Down the block at No. 18, Garrett & Co. in 1855 embarked on a publishing enterprise, issuing many volumes of popular fiction, games, etc. They were succeeded by Garrett, Dick & Fitzgerald in 1856, and in 1858 the firm of Dick & Fitzgerald came into existence, taking over the lines established by their predecessors. Wm. H. Dick was the most enterprising member of the firm, and it was mainly through his efforts that the firm prospered. When he passed away, his son, H. B. Dick, continued in the business so successfully laid down by his father, and the name Dick and Fitzgerald became a power in the book-trade for a generation, this business continuing until 1917, the year H. B. Dick died. The building was then sold to the National Park Bank by the estate, who re-moved the old structure to make way for a modern addition to their Broadway edifice. The old firm is still continued by a number of the faithful employees.
At No. 32, and afterward at No. 43, was located Harry Long & Bro., publishers. Harry was a dashing fellow, belonging to an uptown Hose Company, while his brother gained notoriety through his marriage with Miss Wood-cock, one of the actresses of Mitchell’s Olympic Theater.
Jared W. Bell also had his publishing house at No. 17 Ann Street, long the home of booksellers, publishers and printers. and he was the printer of that celebrated collection of Poems by the “Mad Poet of Broadway,” Macdonald Clarke, in 1836. I have thought this event of sufficient importance to append herewith a short sketch of this unfortunate character, whom fame never smiled upon, although his writings were widely read and discussed among literary circles of the period. Macdonald Clarke was born in New London, Conn., June 18, 1798, and came to New York in 1819. While here, he fell in love with a handsome actress by the name of Brundage, who performed in numerous productions on Chatham Street (now Park Row) and the present site of the Park Row Building. The night she was to play the part of Ophelia in Hamlet, Clarke eloped with her, and they were married. He could not support his bride properly, however, and this fact preyed upon his mind to such an extent that it made him melancholy. They were subsequently divorced. It seems coincidental that Clarke should marry an actress about to play the part of Ophelia to the melancholy Dane, and the culmination of his romance provoked the same disorder of mind that Hamlet fell heir to. It was through this stress of mind and his peculiar antics incident thereto, that he was dubbed “The Mad Poet of Broadway.” He died March 5, 1842, aged 44, being buried at Greenwood. Among his works are “Review of the Eve of Eternity and Other Poems”
(1820), “Elixir of Moonshine : A Collection of Prose and Poetry by the Mad Poet” (1822), “The Gossip” (1825), “Sketches” (1826), “Afara, or the Belles of Broadway,” two series (1836), “Poems” (1836), “A Cross and A Coronet” (1841).
Akarman & Brady had a publishing house between Broadway and Nassau Street, issuing a periodical, The True American.
The street was the birthplace of a great many news-papers which enjoyed a wide circulation during the 40’s. The Morning Star was a popular sheet of those days, subsequently purchased by Casper C. Childs, and converted into The True National Democrat in the interest of Van Buren’s candidacy.
Williams Bros. published The Privateer. To its office was attached a publishing house which, it is said, first introduced Dumas to the American public.
Frank Bonard, in this eventful period, issued The Evening Tatler at 27 Ann Street, a two-cent sheet, edited by John M. Moore, a gifted author who wrote Tom Stapleton. This newspaper was afterward disposed of by Bonard, who entered a new undertaking, The Sunday Times. A great majority of the Sunday newspapers originated on Ann Street, and Thos. Jenks Smith, editor of the Sunday Morning News which was at 14 also 17 Ann Street, was claimed as the premier, although strenuously disputed by John Tryon. Smith’s paper came into being through the issuing of a comical story relative to the owner of a much-frequented road-side tavern, “Here She Goes and There She Goes.” The paper was eventually purchased by Warren Draper, treasurer of the Chatham Theater, who in turn transferred it to Congressman Whitney and Fred. West, one of the founders of The Sunday Atlas.
Among other printers of note in the 40’s and 50’s might be mentioned Wm. Burnett (17 Ann Street), W. F. Burgess (22 Ann Street), Carroll & Co. (63 Ann Street), W. E. Dean (12 Ann Street), D. Fanshawe (35 Ann Street), Geo. Y. Johnson, Robt. Martin (40 Ann Street), Osborn & Buckingham (29 Ann Street), J. C. Riker (15 Ann Street), Benj. Trevett (28 Ann Street), John F. Trow (49 Ann Street), Ward & Co. (30 Ann Street), J. Wilson (49 Ann Street).
Yet the newspaper publishers, or editors, who probably made the street more notable on that account, were James Gordon Bennett and Horace Greeley. The former being a predecessor, will be treated of initially in this article. He was Scotch by birth, born at Banffshire in 1795, reaching America in 1819, where he was employed a short time afterward as reporter and assistant editor of a few newspapers, which in those times was quite possible. About 1830 he became associate editor of the Courier and Enquirer, and in 1833 was chief editor of The Pennsylvanian in Philadelphia. By far the most important event in his life, and that which influenced to a great extent American affairs, was the founding of the New York Herald. The first number of this newspaper, which was called The Morning Herald, was issued from the basement of 20 Wall Street on May 6, 1835, and in size measured 10 1/4 by 14% inches. Ralph Glover, who was a physician at No. 2 Ann Street, was one of the advertisers in the first issue. On the 31st it appeared as The Herald. From the commencement of publication, Mr. Bennett conducted his sheet independent of party, and it was entirely different from the papers of the time.
In 1836 the price of the paper was advanced to two cents, Bennett predicting that the Herald would eventually prove the best in the country. The paper eventually removed to the southwest corner of Ann and Nassau Streets (No. 21 Ann Street), also having offices at No. 34 Ann Street.
These offices were outgrown, however, and in 1865 the site of Barnum’s Museum was purchased for a quarter of a million dollars. An edifice of five stories was erected, humorously characterized as the “iron-fronted newspaper office.” Here the paper thrived, running with great success, until the death of Mr. Bennett on June 1, 1872. When the newspaper offices were removed to Broadway and Ann Streets, the Bennett building was erected, which was the pioneer of the large iron office structures. In 1875 it was bright and new, being the talk of the town and only six stories in height. The building was eventually enlarged and entirely remodeled by a Mr. Pettit, who paid much more for the improvements than he had to Mr. Bennett. The newspaper was continued by James Gordon Bennett, Jr. (born May 10, 1841, died 1918), the publication removing from Ann Street and Broadway to the present quarters in 1896. Chief among his exploits was that of sending Henry M. Stanley to Africa to find Livingstone.
Although Horace Greeley, in this dissertation, is treated of as following the immortal Bennett, it is not because of the secondary importance which is attached to his name, but mainly for the reason of his coming just a little later on the scene. He was born of poor parents at Amherst, N. H., studying the printing art at E. Poultney, Vt., being employed there from 1826 to 1830. In 1831 he came to New York, having, as the story goes, only $10 in his pocket, securing employment as a journeyman printer. In 1833 he became identified with Francis Story, another newspaperman, issuing the Morning Post, the first penny paper, but it was an unsuccessful enterprise, lasting but two months. The firm of Greeley & Co. being organized, published the New Yorker, it lasting seven years, not favoring any political party but being entirely neutral. It was then suspended as the venture .was unsuccessful. In 1838 the firm published a few things from 29 Ann Street. On May 2, 1840, Greeley became associated with Thos. McElrath, issuing The Log Cabin from 30 Ann Street, it having been a campaign issue in 1839. It enjoyed an extensive circulation, running over eighty thou-sand. This gave him a nation-wide reputation as a fearless writer and an able politician.
The firm of Greeley & Co. also issued from the same address The Politicians Register in 1840, the third of that series of almanacs, which afterward became The Tribune Almanac. On April 10, 1841, the first number of The New York Tribune was issued from 30 Ann Street, with the motto, “I desire you to understand the true principles of the government. I wish them carried outI ask nothing more” ; quoted from Harrison. Since then it has enjoyed a distinguished reputation. On February 5, 1845, the building in which the paper was issued burned, and eventually the site on Nassau Street, corner of Spruce, was secured. In 1848 Greeley was elected to Congress ; and he again sought political honors, becoming a candidate for President in 1872 on the “Liberal” ticket, but was defeated by Grant. His eventful career came to a close on November 29, 1872. He had a peculiar style of handwriting, and it is said that a worker in the printing rooms came to him one day, being unable to decipher the unusual style of penmanship. Greeley, however, was nonplussed, for he could not read the manuscript him-self and vexatiously tore up the article, throwing it in the waste-basket. He wrote a decidedly interesting volume entitled “Recollections of a Busy Life.”
It is impossible to give a complete list of all the newspapers and periodicals issued in Ann Street, but a few are here given which were published between 1840 and 1850.
The street being the home of printers, would naturally be a mecca for their brothers-in-trade, the booksellers, although many of the printers mentioned previously were printer, publisher and bookseller combined, yet there were a few individuals who followed exclusively the profession of bookselling alone. Among these were John Anderson, Jr., Theo. Berendsohn, Jeremiah Farrell, Wm. Jackson, Robt. H. Johnson, Stearns & Co., Sabin’s Print and Book Shop, G. B. Teubner, and Thos. E. Keane at No. 28 Ann Street. The latter was quite a character, Irish by birth, and a thorough business man, clever enough to overcome his shortcomings in book-lore by driving a sharp bargain now and again through ingenious methods. Keane prospered here for a while, but excessive bibulous indulgence eventually led to his downfall. Jackson & Hovendon succeeded him, but they lasted only a short while, Jackson finally specializing in law books on the north side of the street, near Park Row. The only bookseller left on Ann Street is Mendoza’s, at No. 17. which has been the home of booksellers for a generation. Capt. Greenwood of the Revolutionary Army once lived here, his library being on the second floor, where the old fireplaces are still visible. The Greenwood family owned the building until recent years. It was here in 1899 that a rare bookworm was discovered, feasting on a volume of Jefferson’s Works, and the newspapers of the day gave great prominence to the fact. Speaker Reed, when he wished to relieve his mind of Government business, generally forsook official duties at Washington, coming straight to this book-shop, hunting for rare treasures. He was “discovered” there in 1911 by a New York re-porter, poring over an old tome, at the time he was wanted in Washington on an important affair of state and the wires of the country were endeavoring to trace his whereabouts.
Talbot Watts, who was said to be related to Wm. E. Burton, the celebrated actor, kept a book and print shop on Ann Street, calling it “The Old Curiosity Shop.” His wife was a popular actress, better known as Mrs. John Sefton, from a former marriage with the famous “Jimmy Twicher.”