Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Knickerbocker Village History: Catherine and Cherry Street

Here's (courtesy of Howie Silverstein) a pre-Knickerbocker Village image (about mid 1920?) showing Cherry Street. On the left you can see a store that is probably a drug store (RUG is visible). That store is on Catherine Street. In the mid 1800's that site was occupied by a Brooks Brother's store. On July 16. 1863 it was one of the many locations where rioting was taking place due to the Civil War draft.
From a NYTImes account:
At a late hour on Tuesday night the mob, number 4,000 or 5,000, made an attack upon the clothing-store of Messrs. BROOKS BROTHERS, in Catharine-street, corner of Cherry. Sergeant FINNEY, of the Third Precinct, while in the discharge of his duty in endeavoring to protect the property of this establishment, was knocked down, beaten on the head and body with clubs, and afterward shot in the hand by a pistol by one of the rioters. He was subsequently conveyed to the Station-house, where his wounds were dressed. He is very severely injured, and no hopes are entertained of his recovery. Officer DANIEL FIELDS, of the same Precinct, was knocked down and brutally beaten about the head and face at the same time.
A man named JOHN MATZEL was shot and instantly killed. It is reported that he was one of the leaders of the mob, and that the ball which pierced his heart came from a revolver in the hands of one of the officers of the law. He was in the act of entering the clothing-store at the time he met his death.
Plunder seems to have been the sole object with the marauders in their attack upon the store of the Messrs. BROOKS. The fine ready-made clothing therein was tempting. Fortunately, the Police and the employees of the establishment successfully repelled the invaders before much property had been stolen. Three or four persons, whose names could not be ascertained, lost their lives at this place, and many others were badly injured.

From Cuny's comprehensive site on the draft riots
: During the draft riots, crowds targeted places that represented the war effort, the Republican party, and/or social privilege. Brooks Brothers clothing store was known both as a purveyor of clothes to the upper classes and a government war contractor. This dark image of a faceless throng outside Brooks Brothers highlights the men and women trying on their newly acquired clothes in the foreground. ?

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