enter name and hit return
Old JAMES' MARKET
11 August 1882
Brooklyn Standard Union
Its Demolition to Make Way for the Bridge Approach
History of the Building - A Market, Watch-house, Mission and Hat Factory -
Origin of Plymouth Bethel -
Interesting Talk with an Old Citizen about the Market, Its Uses and Abuses
One by one the old landmarks of the city are disappearing.
This morning workmen commenced clearing out the old market building on James street,
preparatory to taking it down to make room for the approach to the Bridge. This
property was purchased a few years ago by the Bridge directors, and when the erection
of the anchorage commenced it was inclosed in the anchorage yard and used for the
stowage of rope, chains and other property belonging to the Bridge. Pigeons found
shelter in the roof of the old place, and built their nests and reared their young
without molestation, except by the rats.
The market was erected about the year 1826, and was known as James Market. Here the
Long Island farmers brought their produce, and it was no uncommon thing in those
days to see as many as twenty or thirty farmers' wagons standing around and in the
neighborhood of the market. It was used as a market until the Bridge people took it.
The building is very little altered from what it was when first put up, except that
it is a good deal dilapidated in places. Its form is like the letter L, the top of
it being next York street, the side along Garrison street,and the bottom along
The latter is not a thoroughfare now, but there are a few old tumble-down dwellings
still standing. Right at the bend of the letter inside a pump formerly stood, which
was used by the market people. The market at that time had a street on every side.
It was a building well adapted for its purpose, and here citizens and their wives
might be seen, mornings, making their purchases of meat, poultry and vegetables.
That portion of the market fronting York street was two stories high, with a turret
right on the point of the gable. There was a bell in the turret which was used as a
fire alarm. With the exception of the upper portion of the York street end, the
building was of red brick.
The City Watch used the upper story above mentioned, in fact that end was called
the Watchhouse. The cells for prisoners were under the James street end, and the
entrance to them was on Garrison street. There were six cells, cold, dark, miserable places.
Mr. Daniel T. LEVERICH, who for thirty nine years kept a grocery on the corner of
York and Jame streets, and only removed on May 1, last, to the corner of Prospect
and Washington streets, was cellkeeper in 1840 and 1841 and gave the reporter of
the Union Argus this morning an interesting description of the old market and
watchhouse. Said he: "I commenced business in the year 1838 [?] on what was until
a few days ago the corner of York and James streets. The Bridge directors bought
my property and it is now torn down. I felt pretty bad about leaving the old place
as there were a good many pleasant associations attached to it, but there was no
help for it. The Bridge is going to be a grand thing for Brooklyn, and the man who
opposes it stands in opposition to his own and the city's interest. But about the
market and watchouse. When I was keeper of the cells, thirty-seven years ago, we took
the prisoners in at the cellar door on Garrison street. There were half a dozen calls,
I think, and miserable places they were. The rats held high revelry there day and night.
I remember a man dying of the horrors in one of those places and we had a hard job to
keep the rats from eating the body. Subsequently new cells were built on the Mercer
street end. The walls may yet be seen, and I guess they are about three feet in thickness.
In 1855, when I was elected Alderman of the Second Ward, I had the market thoroughly
overhauled and a new shingle roof put on. About this time if a butcher of the James
street end wanted to sell out his stall he could make about $3,000 out of it. These
were the good old times. The turret bell was used as a fire bell, and was not removed
until the establishment of the Metropolitan police. When the bell was taken down it
was carried to the Old City Armory, corner of Henry and Cranberry streets, and hung in
a turret there, and used as a fire bell until the armory was rebuilt as we now see it.
Where the bell is now I don't know, I would like to. Old Father BURNET, as he was known,
of High street, had a Sunday-school and Mission in the upper story of the watchhouse.
From this the Bethel Mission of Plymouth Church sprung. This was somewhere about the
year 1842 or 1843, I think. Some time after this the watchhouse was used as a hat factory,
and then the pigeons took possession of it."
With regard to the use of the watchhouse as a mission, Prime in his history of
Long Island, published in 1845, says: "The Bethel Church is an ecclesiastical organization
which had its origin in a laudable desire to provide the regular means of grace
for seamen and the floating population along the East River. Accordingly, about the
year 1842, a society was formed under the title of 'The Brooklyn Bethel Society' for
the attainment of the object. A large room was hired near Main street and public
worship established there. After some time Mr. William BURNET, a local preacher of
the Methodist connection, was engaged as a stated preacher, and has continued his
labors very acceptably to the present time."
As stated in the beginning of this article, the demolition of the old building has begun,
and in a few days little or nothing will be left of it, and so by degrees the Brooklyn
of the past disappears from sight, as the Brooklyn of today in fifty years from now
will scarcely be recognized by those who may live to see it. The next landmark to fall
before the Bridge is Old St. Ann's Church on Washington street.
Transcribed by Marilynn Wright
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