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Edward Winslow Martin

Strangers visiting the Church of the Ascension, in New York, cannot fail to notice the presence of an old gentleman, who occupies an arm-chair immediately in front of the chancel, in the middle aisle, and who gives the responses to the service in a very loud and distinct manner. This is, perhaps, the oldest man of the entire million of New York city inhabitants. It is Captain Lahrbush, formerly of the British army, but for the last twenty years a New York resident. He was born in London, on the 9th of March, 1765.

A Work Descriptive of the Virtues and the Vices, the Mysteries, Miseries and Crimes of New York City

by Edward Winslow Martin


The Detective Corps of New York consists of twenty-five men, in change of Captain Young. They are men of experience, intelligence, and energy. They are well skilled in the art of ferreting out crimes, and generally succeed in the objects which engage their attention. They have a distinct organization from the Metropolitan Police, though they are subject to the orders of the Commissioners.

There are over one hundred houses of assignation in New York, known to the police. Besides these, there are places, used as such, which the officials of the law do not and cannot embrace in the general term. These are cheap hotels, where women hire rooms without meals, and receive visitors, with whom they make appointments on the streets, or in the places of amusement. Some really good houses have been ruined in this way.

There are three thousand lawyers practicing at the New York bar. A few of these have large incomes, two or three making as much as fifty thousand dollars per annum; but the average income of the majority is limited. An income of ten or fifteen thousand dollars is considered large in the profession, and the number of those earning such a sum is small.

In any issue of certain city newspapers, you will see such advertisements as the following:

"Absolute divorces legally obtained, in New York, and States where desertion, drunkenness, etc., etc., are sufficient cause. No publicity; no charge until divorce obtained; advice free. M - - B - - , attorney, 56 - - street."

The persons so advertising are called divorce lawyers. They make a specialty of putting asunder "those whom God hath joined together."

The City of New York is the largest and most important in America. Its corporate limits embrace the whole of Manhattan Island, on which it is situated, and which is bounded by the Hudson, the East and Harlem rivers, and by Spuyten Duyvil creek, which last connects the Harlem with the Hudson. Being almost entirely surrounded by deep water, and lying within sight of the ocean, and only sixteen miles from it, the city is naturally the greatest commercial centre of the country. The extreme length of the island is fifteen miles, and its average breadth a mile and a half.

Leave Broadway opposite the New York Hospital, and pass down Pearl street in an easterly direction. Five minutes walking will bring you to the abode of poverty and suffering, a locality which contrasts strangely with the elegant thoroughfare we have just left. Cross Centre street, and continue your eastward course, and a few minutes will bring you to Park street.

As soon as the sun sets over the Great City, Broadway, and the streets running parallel with it, become infested with numbers of young girls and women, who pass up and down the thoroughfares with a quick, mysterious air, which rarely fails to draw attention to them. These are known as street-walkers, and it would seem from outward indications that their number is steadily increasing. The best looking and the best dressed are seen on Broadway, and in parts of Fifth and Fourth Avenues. The others correspond to the localities they frequent.

Previous to the year 1865, New York suffered from all the evils of a volunteer fire department. It had three thousand eight hundred and ten firemen, with a proper force of engines. The various companies were jealous of each other, and there was scarcely a fire at which this jealousy did not lead to blows. Frequently the fire would be left to burn while the rival companies adjusted their difficulties. The firemen seemed to take a delight in the most disgraceful and lawless acts, and were more of an annoyance than a benefit to the city.

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