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Centennial of George Washington's inauguration 1889

previous New York Mar. 24, 1889

Celebrated with a "three days' festival, a naval review by President Benjamin Harrison, a march past of 50,000 soldiers from 21 states, a civic parade of 75,000 persons and other imposing ceremonies". Kings NYC

The centennial celebration of George Washington's inauguration as the first President of the United States took place in 1889 (from April 29th to May 1st). Considered the first national holiday in the U.S., various societies held parades and “inaugural balls” to honor the former president.  Vinton, Frederic, 1817-1890, collector. Collection of newspaper accounts concerning the Washington centennial, 1889, and the Johnstown flood, 1889.  Prepared by Paula B. Entin.  Princeton University Library, Dept of Rare Books and Special Collections. 2003 http://libweb2.princeton.edu/rbsc2/misc/Vinton_1889.pdf

Washington and his cabinet

 

47 East 21st Street
New York
April 17th/89 

My dear Son,

New York is in an uproar.  Seats for the crowds being erected all through the line of March.  Telegraph poles being pulled down and altogether things are lively.  Last night the City was dark as we had no electric light & the gas was not in good trim.  Everything looked gloomy out of doors. 

A million people are expected to be here on the 30th.  Glad I am not a visitor and have my room on a side street.  No renting of windows.  Mrs. Simmons came on Monday and will remain until after the Centennial.  

Mrs. Dolman is coming on the 27th and will stay until the Centennial is over.  Where she will get a chance to see the parade I do not know, but she is one of the investigating kind and will find something, I suppose, to sit on.  Mrs. Nagle has bought two seats at $3 each.  Today tried to get two more, but they were gone.  Windows are selling at $100 & $150 each.  "What fools these mortals be". 

There has been, and still is, talk of changing the bill the last two nights of our season, at which time I thought, not being in the bill, I would go and see Hattie before going to Boston.  I find it is so uncertain that I have about made up my mind to go see her on Easter Sunday & of course return next day.  Give my love to Neppie.  With love and Kisses from your loving Mother  

Telegraph poles being pulled down  "As early as 1870 the Real Estate Record and builders' Guide had opposed the use of aboveground telegraph lines, the multiplication of which led to" the disfigurement and obstruction of our street." By 1878 the problem of overhead telegraph wires in the city's business district had grown to such a point that there were calls for laws requiring that they be buried.. By the early 1880s, with the widespread use of the telephone, the problem had grown much worse. ..In 1883, the New York Board of Alderman voted to require the burial of wires within two years. Many argued that this process should be part of a larger infrastructure project, the construction of a "Subway" in which gas and water mains, steam pipes, pneumatic tubes, and all manner of cabling could be housed. ... the great blizzard of 1888 would unexpectedly intensify the urgency of subway construction ... On April 16, 1889, a crew of workers armed with axes and shears climbed the tall telegraph poles at Fourteenth Street and Broadway and, before crowds of cheering citizens, toppled them to the ground, thereby striking a decisive blow in the long awaited war against the city's most visible symbol of technological blight: Overhead Wires, in Stern, Robert, Thomas Mellins and David Fishman, New York 1880: Architecture and Urbanism in the Gilded Age, New York: Monacelli Press, 1999 pp 59-61.

47 E 21st Street  New York
April 29th/89 

My dear Son, 

The City is full of people, bands playing and everything in a perfect hurrah!  Mrs. Dolman arrived in the rain on Saturday.  She has been out a little today, but has not seen many of the sights.  

I shall be only four weeks in Boston and will see you on my return.  Please yourself however but I shall not "get mad at you" if you do not come, for as you cannot stay but only a few hours, it does not seem right to spend so much in RR fare. 

I cannot tell you about the celebration, for I do not expect to see any of it.  What I have so far seen in the way of decorations does not astonish me.  I have often seen as good.  I am sorry you could not have been here this week to see what was going on, but I expect the parade of ships today was about the grandest part of it.  Dinner bell rings so by by for today.  Love to Neppie &c.  With love and Kisses from your loving Mother  

George Washington 1789-1797

Souvenir and Official Celebration of the Inauguration of George Washington, 1889

During the Centennial celebration a temporary arch (designed by Stanford White) spanned Fifth Ave. A permanent arch (also designed by White) was put up in Washington Square in 1890-1892. 

Next: Boston May 14, 1889

Federal Hall National Memorial has the Bible used in this inauguration and models of the original City Hall and Federal Hall, as well as pieces of the actual building. 26 Wall Street was the site of New York City's 18th century City Hall. ..  After the American Revolution, the Continental Congress met at City Hall, and in 1787 adopted the Northwest Ordinance establishing procedures for creating new states. When the Constitution was ratified in 1788, New York remained the national capital. Pierre L'Enfant was commissioned to remodel City Hall for the new federal government. The First Congress met in the new Federal Hall, and wrote the Bill of Rights, and George Washington was inaugurated here as President on April 30, 1789. When the capital moved to Philadelphia in 1790, the building again housed city government until 1812, at which time Federal Hall was demolished. The current structure on the site was built as the Customs House, opening in 1842.  http://www.nps.gov/feha/ 

Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Washington%27s_legacy#Centennial_celebration  accessed March 24, 2011 "The centennial anniversary of Washington's inauguration as President fell on April 30, 1889. In observance of the occasion President Benjamin Harrison followed the itinerary of one hundred years before, from the Governor's mansion in New Jersey to the foot of Wall Street, in New York City, to old Saint Paul's Church, on Broadway, and to the site where the first Chief Magistrate first took the oath of office. Three days were a round of naval, military, and industrial parades, with music, oratory, pageantry, and festivities. For this Centennial Whittier composed an ode. The venerable S. F. Smith, who had written "America" fifty-seven years before, was also inspired by the occasion to pen a Century Hymn"

Photo Benjamin Harrison reenacts Washington's arrival in New York rowed in a barge by 13 oarsmen representing the original 13 states http://www.picturehistory.com/product/id/13908
Inauguration Day April 28 1787 Federal Hall Wall St, New York http://blog.insidetheapple.net/2011/03/remembering-inauguration-day.html

George Washington and Cambridge, Massachusetts

Bibliography
Apotheosis of George Washington: Initial Construction: Laura Dove and Lisa Guernsey, Spring 1995, First Extension: Scott Atkins, Spring 1996, Second Extension: Adriana Rissetto, Spring 1997 http://xroads.virginia.edu/~CAP/gw/gwmain.html  
The Aristocratic Washington: High Society's Darling 1876-1930 http://xroads.virginia.edu/~CAP/gw/gwaristo.html 
Frederic Vinton, Collection of newspaper accounts concerning the Washington Centennial 1889 and Johnstown Flood, 1889 , Dept. of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton Univ. Library  http://libweb2.princeton.edu/rbsc2/misc/Vinton_1889.pdf 
Magazine of American History July 1889 http://edisoneffect.blogspot.com/2009/11/george-washington-centennial-in-new.html

Guide to the Records of the Washington Arch 1872- 1925 (Bulk 1889-1895), New York Historical Society http://dlib.nyu.edu/findingaids/html/nyhs/washarch_content.html
Washington Square Park, New York http://nycgovparks.org/sub_your_park/historical_signs/hs_historical_sign.php?id=6537 
Washington Arch http://www.racontours.com/archive/Arch.php  Original and the permanent one photos

Souvenir and Official Celebration of the Inauguration of George Washington, compiled and edited by John Alden, New York: Garnett & Gow, 1889 A hardbound volume, almost 400 pages.  Found on Amazon in 2004 via collaborative filtering.

Last revised Nov 30 2012

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