Monday, December 31, 2018

Symbolism in American Public Spaces - Moral Emblems, hidden lessons in 18C commercial gardens

Activities at early American public pleasure gardens after the Revolution offered visitors more than the obvious inspiration from the symbols of their newly won independence which sat & grew & even exploded on the grounds around them. Statues, paintings, flowers, & fireworks were visible affirmations of the inspiring new republican way of life.

There were also symbols in the garden that were not explicit, but understood by the patron's knowledge of the symbolism a variety of activities implied. Throughout the 18C many garden guests recognized that activities in gardens represented deeper lessons of everyday life. Many garden games were emblems for moral living.
London's Vauxhall Gardens by Samuel Wade c 1751

Before the Revolution, symbols of garden statues & games often focused on the dangers of sex & folly. To ensure that their guests understood the deeper implications of their leisure pastimes, owners of London's oldest commercial public pleasure grounds at Vauxhall Gardens decorated the grounds there with paintings containing short morality poems below each picture.

Over half of the paintings conspicuously hanging at various points around the Vauxhall Gardens depicted games & recreations that were enjoyed in the commercial garden. The verses beneath the paintings both described the individual game & offered a rule for life or a moral to be drawn from it. You could go to the garden & misbehave, but those pesky poems about proper moral behavior were always hanging nearby to remind you of the error of your ways.

Obviously visitors could gain from the experience of garden pastimes directly by participating in them & more importantly, indirectly, by acknowledging the accepted moral inherent in the game. Even the most moral or infirm non-participants could share in the moral insight of the emblems.

Emblem verses warned of the vanities of many worldly pursuits & of the precariousness of the game of life. Most 18C colonials understood that even the simple, innocent amusements offered at American gardens were more than just frivolous pastimes.
18C English woodcut

Although there were warnings about the immoratity of it, both men & women enjoyed playing cards in colonial British America, especially in the Southern colonies. Virginians George Washington & Thomas Jefferson both recorded in their journals losing small wagers to female card players. In the mostly rural South, colonials enjoyed playing cards at home, in taverns, &at public pleasure gardens.
Cards & gaming went hand in hand. Gambling was such a probem in the colonial South, that the Virginia General Assembly set a ten shilling fine for gaming with cards or dice at their first session in 1619. Unlawful games included bear baiting, bowling, cards, cockfighting, & dice.
In Virginia, gambling was a gentleman's privilege, as laws forbade servants, apprentices, laborers, &students from playing, at least in public. Legislators, who were the gentry of course, designed statutes to outlaw "unlawful, crafty, and deceitful Gaming, and the inordinate haunting of Alehouses and Tipling Places."
But British American colonials, male & female, at home & in their pleasure gardens would not give up their cards or their wagers. They played games called whist, piquet, ombre, commerce, loo, ace of hearts, faro, slam, all-fours, put, & cribbage. When no one was around or when they could not stand the available company, they played cards alone. And they often concentrated on building a house of cards to test the steadiness of their hands & their balancing skills. William Byrd wtote that he "killed the Time, by that great help to disagreeable Society, a Pack of Cards."
Jean-Baptiste-Simeion Chardin (1699-1779). House of Cards. c 1736.

As the elder Charles Carroll in Annapolis, Maryland, probably knew when he urged his son to visit the public gardens in London, even the simple task of building a house of cards could be instructive to a youth such as his son, who had been away from home for years receiving a "proper education."

An 18C English wit wrote,

"Whilst innocently Youth their hours beguile
And joy to raise with Cards the wondrous pile,
A Breath a Start, makes the whole fabrick vain,
And All lies flat, to be began again:
Ambition thus erects in riper Years,
Wild Schemes of Pow'r, & Wealth, & endless cares;
Some change takes place, the labour'd plan retards,
All drops--Illusion All--an House of Cards."
18C English woodcut

The young & the adventurous also participated in more active games such as Blind Man's Bluff in public pleasure gardens, but often these apparently innocent, carefree pastimes were seen as symbols for amorous intrigues in the 18C. Men & women played blind man's bluff together, & the blindfold was a good excuse for an occasional indescretion.  One anonymous Englishman noted, 

"Intent on Mirth alone the Rural Train
Pass the gay vernal hours in rest from Pain:
The buxom Youth hoodwink'd each other find,
And innocently laugh to cheat the Blind.
Thoughtless in Sport they urge the wanton Play,
Nor heed the latent Pow'r that reigns in May;
Beware ye tender Maids, your glowing Hearts,
For Love tho' blind is not without its Darts."
18C English woodcut

One 18C -century gentlemen saw a learning experince inherent in a the simple children's game of Leapfrog,

"While blooming Health bestows its warm supply
The active Youth their Limbs elestic try
By turns they yield the pliant Back prepare
By turn they spring and seem to move the Air
Hence learn in Life with Similar address
Prudent to bend or resolute to press
Your force examine ere you chuse your part
The World is Leap Frog play'd with greater Art."
18C English woodcut

Battledore & Shuttlecock was very popular in 18C London commercial gardens. Bandying cork & feather back & forth also flourished in 18C British American colonial public & private pleasure gardens as well.  Englishman John Newbery wrote,

"The great E. Play.
The Shuttle Cock struck
Does backward rebound;
But, it it be miss'd
It falls to the Ground.
Thus chequer'd in Life,
As Fortune does flow;
Her Smiles lift us high,
Her Frowns sink us low."
18C English woodcut

Even the simple straddling exercise of See-Sawing inspired some obviously male (surely a strong proponent of a double-standard of behavior) versifier to create a moral on the dangers of virginity lost,

"When at the top of her adventrous Flight.
The frolick Damsel tumbles from her Height:
Tho her warm Blush bespeaks a present Pain
It soon goes off she falls to rise again:
But when the Nymph with Prudence unprepar'd
By pleasure swayed--forsakes her Honours Guard;
That slip once made, no Wisdom can restore.
She falls indeed!--and falls to rise no more"

More complicated symbolism, not associated with traditional emblems, was also common in early American gardens after the Revolution, especially in the new French gardens popping up around New York City. Joseph Delacroix was famous in New York City for staging reportedly "stupendous emblematic spectacles" in his public pleasure garden. Occasionally the complicated symbolism prompted questions in New York City newspapers,
"Now Monsieur De la Croix, pray explain,
What did your emblematic worship mean?"

Garden owner Delacroix developed fireworks programs as inspiring symbols for his commercial garden partons' immediate amusement & continuing moral education. In 1800, Delacroix presented Augustus Von Kotzebue's tragedy Pizzaro in fireworks & followed that spectacular presentation with a fireworks play called Tit for Tat; or, the Fire Worker's Pleasure Day. The stage represented a fireworks laboratory with "all the apparatus necessary for that art." The action centered around the good journeyman & the evil master fireworks maker who was finally revealed to be the devil. Not a presentation that might appeal to the master, but there were many more workers than bosses in the new republic.

In newly democratic America, garden owners targeted their morality spectaculars at everyman, not just the gentry. Garden entrepeneurs aimed their emblems, symbols, & spectaculars to the common working man--the mechanics & shopkeepers. This focus allowed the public pleasure garden proprietor in the new nation to exhibit his egalitarian ideologies & to attract a larger paying audience to his commercial garden.

Emblem Books

Emblem books are a style of illustrated book developed in Europe & Britain during the 16C & 17C. The emblems are usually a combination of a visual image & accompanying text intended to inspire readers to reflect on a general moral lesson derived from experiencing both picture & text together. Emblem books were meant to inspire people from all social strata to lead a more moral life.
There are great online resources for emblem books. To learn more about emblems see the

English Emblem Book Project at Pennsylvania State University. Their fine project posts emblem books from their collections online.

Or you might want to ferret out these emblem books.

1586 Geffrey Whitney, A Choice of Emblemes, Francis Raphelengius, Leiden.
l635 Francis Quarles, Emblemes, John Marriot, London.
1635 George Wither, A Collection of Emblemes, Robert Allot, London.
1658 John Hall, Emblems with Elegant Figures, Roger Daniel, London.
1673 Emblems Divine, Moral, Natural and Historical, William Miller and Francis Haley, London.
1683 Philip Ayres, Emblemata Amatoria, R. Bentley and S. Tidmarsh, London.
1686 John Bunyan, A Book for Boys and Girls, Nathaniel Ponder, London.
1709 Cesare Ripa, Iconologia; or, Moral Emblems, by Caesar Ripa, Pierce Tempest, London.
1729? Anon, Emblems for the Entertainment and Improvement of Youth, T. Green, London.
1740 Francis Tolson, Hermathenae, or Moral Emblems, and Ethnick Tales
1772 John Huddlestone Wynne, Choice Emblems, George Wiley, London.
1779 George Richardson, Iconology, or a Collection of Emblematical Figures, George Richardson ('printed for the author by G. Scott'). London.

Depending on which language you are most comfortable with, these additional websites also explore and exhibit emblem books:

~Glasgow University Emblem website (This site provides an overview of many current projects and includes references to numerous related sites of interest.)

~The University of Illinois – German Emblem Books project

~Alciato's Book of Emblems: The Memorial Web Edition in Latin and English

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Decoum in American Public Gardens - Lust in the garden

Lovers often met at London public pleasure gardens, and the tradition carried into the British American colonies. Many commercial gardens attracted men & women eagerly looking for innocent flirtations as well as more worldly clandestine assignations. Some were openly commercial in nature. Prostitutes often strolled the garden paths, and garden owners sometimes overcharged patrons in return for anonymity.

The lure of sex was one colonial garden attraction that was not significantly diminished by the Stamp Act, the Revolution, or the ratification of the Constitution. In 1764, New Yorker Samuel Francis advertised that he had "completely fitted up his House and long Room at Spring Garden Vauxhall, for the entertainment of Ladies and Gentlemen on the most immediate Intimation, and with every Necessary to render it agreeable."

In 1768, Ranelagh Gardens in New York City advertised private rooms for "Ladies and Gentlemen who proposed to Sup at the Gardens." In Englishman Richard Brome's 1635 play The Sapragus Garden, the playwright describes a London garden in detail and refers to these private dining rooms as bedchambers used for temporary assignations, some romantic and others commercial.

Henry Kennedy bought Montagne's Garden in New York City in 1785. He boasted that the "romantic situation" of the gardens would "prove inviting to the Fair Sex." Kennedy guaranteed that "Select companies or parties, can always have an apartment to themselves, if required." Under Kennedy's management, the garden was called Two Friendly Brothers and sat just north of the city's prostitution district.

Some garden owners openly discouraged commercial liasons. Riffaud's Gardens in Norfolk, Virginia, placed a notice in the local newspaper welcoming the "Ladies and Gentlemen" of the town to visit the garden but announcing that "No...Women of the Town can be admitted."

French garden owner Joseph Corre seemed particularly sensitive to the possible amorous entanglements of his partrons. In order to ensure privacy at his garden in New York City, Joseph Corre announced in 1800, that he would post the prices as well as the "rules of conduct" at conspicuous points about the grounds "to prevent any imposition from the servants."

In New York City's first African American newspaper Nicholas Pierson informed "People of Colour, that his MEAD GARDEN...was opened...for the accommodation of genteel and respectable persons of colour," however, no "unprotected females" would be admitted.

The inhibitions of the Victorian era had not yet arrived, and love was celebrated in American commercial pleasure gardens, especially French gardens, in the late 18th century. In August of 1799, another French public pleasure garden owner, Joseph Delacroix, presented at his New York City garden a thematic fireworks display he called "The Temple of Love," devoted to the god Amor. During this firey spectacular Cupid, the Roman god of love, issued a fiery dart from a distance of 300 feet into the Temple of Love where it struck two "tranquil and crowned" hearts causing them both to burst into flame.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Sports in American Public Gardens & Spaces - Sport Fishing

Sport fishing on Public Gardens & Grounds Gardens

By the last quarter of the 18C, some public pleasure gardens & taverns catered solely to the sports-minded on a year round basis. Many sports gardens evolved near the sites of favorite old fishing haunts, some near shoreline taverns which had offered weary sportsmen cooling refreshments for decades.
Genteel Fishing in 18C England -1730 William Hogarth (British artist, 1697–1764) A Fishing Party

Unfortunately I have no 18C images of sport fishing on the American side of the Atlantic, so I must use British images.
Fishing in 18C England - 1750 Francis Popham (1734-1780) by an unknown artist of theBritish School

Sport fishing, or angling, as distinguished from commercial fishing, usually involved using a fishing rod & line & hook rather than large nets. An Egyptian angling scene of about 2000 BC shows figures fishing with rods & lines & nets. A Chinese account of about the 4th century BC refers to fishing with a silk line, a hook made from a needle, & a bamboo rod, using cooked rice as bait. One of man's earliest tools was the predecessor of the fishhook, a gorge.
Fishing in 18C England - 1749 Arthur Devis (English artist, 1712-1787) Portrait of an Unknown Boy Fishing, Possibly Christopher Lethieullier

The practice of attaching the line to a rod, at first probably a stick or tree branch, made it possible to fish from the bank or shore & even to reach over vegetation bordering the water.Our knowledge of the history of sport fishing in England began with the printing of Treatyse of Fysshynge With an Angle (1496).
18C English woodcut

As early as 1704, Pennsylvanian Gabriel Wilkinson recognized the commercial potential of his waterside location and petitioned the Philadelphia Mayor's Court to open a tavern on his property. He argued that since it was "nearly fishing time" there would be a "necessity" for a public tavern "because the fishermen always come ashore at my house."
Fishing in 18C England - English woodcut

The Reverend Mr. Burnaby, who visitedNew York Cityabout 1748, reported: "The amusements are balls and sleighing expeditions in the winter, and in the summer going in parties upon the water and fishing, or making excursions into the country. There are several houses, pleasantly situated up the East River, near New York, where it is common to have turtle feasts. These happen once or twice a week. Thirty or forty gentlemen and ladies, meet and dine together, drink tea in the afternoon, fish and amuse themselves till evening, and then return home in Italian chaises (the fashionable carriage in this and most parts of America), a gentleman and I lady in each chaise."
Fishing in 18C England - 1750 Arthur Devis (English artist, 1712-1787)The Young Waltonian

In 1752, John Watson was keeping the Ferry House on Staten Island. In December of that year "a Whale 45 feet in length ran ashore at Van Buskirk's Point at the entrance of the Kills from our Bay, where, being discovered by People from Staten Island, a number of them went off and Killed him."
Three youth fishing 1754

Mr. Watson states in an advertisement in the New York Gazette of December 11, 1752, that this whale may be seen at his house. This announcement may have induced many to make the trip across the bay to see the whale & add to the profits of John Watson's tavern.
Family Fishing in 18C England - John and Elizabeth Jeffreys and The Children by William Hogarth c 1730

As settlers from England were sailing to the American Atlantic region in the mid-17C, Izaak Walton & Charles Cotton were writing the classic The Compleat Angler; & Col. Robert Venables & Thomas Barker were describing new tackle & methods of fishing. Experiments with material for the line included the use of a gut string (mentioned by diarist Samuel Pepys in 1667) & of a lute string (noted by Robert Venables in 1676).
Teaching the children to fish in 18C England - 1770s Arthur Devis (English artist, 1712-1787) Richard Moretan Esq of Tackley with his nephew and niece John and Susanna Weyland

The early reel consisted of a wooden spool with a metal ring that fitted over the angler's thumb. By 1770, a rod with guides for the line along its length & a reel was in common use. The first true geared reel attached under the rod,where one turn of the handle moved the spool through several revolutions. Such reels became the prototype of the bait-casting reel as devised by two Kentucky watchmakers in the early 1800s.
Family Fishing in 18th-century England - Charles Philips (British artist,1703–1747) The Russell and Revett Families with Fishing Rods

During the 1790s, the proprietor of Spring Gardens in Baltimore, Mr. Fletcher, built a house on the grounds to accommodate fishing parties. These "gardens" were proposed to serve as a place of resort & pleasant retreat for gentlemen who were fond of angling and eager to escape the city and women, who were not invited.
18C English woodcut

Sitting on Maryland waters in the 1790s, Toon's Pleasure Gardens offered tea & liquor as well as fishing & "rural sports" to both ladies and gentlemen. While the gentleman and his lady were fishing in the Baltimore basin, they could sight-see as well. Chelsea or Toon's Pleasure Garden, built around 1790, was situated about two miles down river from Baltimore with a "delightful and captivating" view of the elegant gardens at the country seat of Captain John O'Donnell called Canton. An English traveller visiting Canton in 1799 reported that the house had "a very handsome garden, in great order" as well as a hothouse and a greenhouse.
Family Fishing in 18C England - Arthur Devis (English artist, 1712-1787) The Swaine Family of Fencroft, Cambridgeshire 1749

Toon's Garden also boasted good views of both Baltimore Town & the Chesapeake Bay and was noted for the "salubrity of its air and elegant situation." Contemporaries noted that "during the summer months a great concourse of citizens make excursions by land and water to these Gardens, where every accommodation is provided, with all kinds of refreshments." John Toon advertised in a local newspaper in the spring of 1795, that guests to his garden could watch the "captivating" progress of the building of "the Federal frigate" in nearby David Stodder's shipyard. During this period, Toon was attempting to improve the land access by horse, stage, and foot to his commercial gardens which were originally reached primarily by boat.
18C English woodcut

At Toon's, both ladies and gentlemen were encouraged to try their hand at fishing while enjoying the best of liquors, tea, coffee, & syllabub. Lady anglers did not dress down for the sport; quite to the contrary, they dressed in their finest to spend an afternoon fishing and hoping to be noticed.
Fishing on the water in 18C England - Joseph Farington (British artist, 1747–1821) The Fishing Party

One 18th-century Englishman observed of the female anglers,
Silks of all colors must their aid impart,
And ev'ry fur promote the fisher's art.
So the gay lady, with expensive care,
Borrows the pride of land, of sea, and air;
Furs, pearls, and plumes, the glittering thing displays
Dazels our eyes, and easy hearts betrays.
Edward Smith (18C British artist) An Angling Party

Fishing in 18C England - 1789 George Morland (British artist 1763-1804) A Party Angling

Fishing in 18C England - 1794 Benjamin West (American-born artist, 1738-1820) A Party of Gentlemen fishing from a Punt

1767 August. Carrington Bowles Printed for Robert Sayer, London

AUGUST - The Twelve Months print Carington Bowles (Published by) Robert Dighton 1781 London

Decorum in American Public Gardens - Tea & Proper Manners

Early American gaiety did not depend solely upon the availability of cold libations and liquors. Some commercial gardens refused to serve alcohol. A public pleasure garden was a privately-owned ornamental ground open to the public as an amusement area & operated as a business. Many of the entrepeneurs who operated these gardens were interested in promoting design & decorum as well as profit.

Pieter Gerrits van Roestraten (1630-1700) Detail of the Tea Service in A Yixing Teapot and a Chinese Porcelain Tete-a-Tete

Tea drinking had been popular in the British American colonies since the mid 17C, when household inventories showed a number of tea wares. Before tea was imported into England & Europe by Dutch traders around 1610, tea was virtually unknown to Westerners, who routinely drank mead, cider, beer, or ale.

English Saltglaze Tea Pot c 1760

When New Yorker John Jones opened his public pleasure garden called Ranelagh Garden in the heart of the city during the summer of 1765, he offered regular breakfasting from 6 - 10 the morning, and served in the genteelest Manner" each afternoon. In the evenings the garden was "illuminated."

On Monday & Thursday evenings, however, he added a concert of music from 6 - 9 followed by fireworks until 10. Guests danced in a "commodious Hall in the Gardens" or met more intimately in smaller "Drawing Rooms" to eat "Gammons, Tongues, Alamode Geef, Tarts,... Cakes." With advance notice, guests even could order complete dinners.

In the 1760s, the British government began to impose taxes on tea in the British American colonies, through the 1765 Stamp Act & the 1767 Townshend Act. Angry colonists started smuggling tea into the colonies. Outraged merchants, shippers, and patriotic locals staged a number of rowdy protests, culminating in the Boston Tea Party of December 1773, followed by other "tea parties" up and down the Atlantic coast.

Josiah Wedgwood in 1765  Success to Trade in America and No Stamp Act

Ironically, just as colonial British Americans were up in arms about taxes on tea, clever British potters were producing pro-America tea pots for export to the colonies which would only stir up revolutionary sentiment & cause colonists to have less need for tea pots.

Throughout the colonies, women pledged publicly at meetings and in newspapers not to drink or serve English-sold tea, until their free rights (and those of their husbands) were restored. (Actually, women did not have free rights in the new nation until 1920, but that's another story.)

Factors in several American cities refused to accept the tea shipments, once they arrived in the colonies. The protests garnered widespread support for nonimportation and nonconsumption agreements, as the tea boycotts played a vital role in radicalizing the colonial population in the lead-up to war. Tea became a symbol in the colonies. If a man ordered tea, he was a Tory. If he ordered coffee, he was a Patriot.

When the Revolutionary war ended, Americans once again gathered together around the tea table, lasting symbol of their freedom. Moreau de Saint-Méry, a visitor to Philadelphia in the 1790s, noted. "The whole family is united at tea, to which friends, acquaintances, and even strangers are invited."

During the last decades of the 18th century, John Jalland's Garden, also called Staple's Gardens, a tea garden sitting near the harbor in Baltimore, Maryland, specialized in polite social conversation accompanied by formal tea drinking and soothing music. The green niche Jalland carved out of the surrounding city was small but apparently healthy, envigorating, and soothing. "Handsomely laid off...their central situation, salubriety of air...commonly serves to exhilerate the leisurely moments of the weary visitor--while music lends it aid to soften every care...and always provided with the niceties of the season."

Jalland's garden was Baltimore's most conservative. The proprietor offered only tea & coffee to drink, but he did regularly provide music during evenings of "elegant" illumination and continually assured his conservative guests that "no ungenteel people" would be admitted. Most commercial garden owners who built their business by serving alcoholic beverages attempted to maintain some semblence of order and decorum, especially when their gardens served both ladies & gentlemen.

When opening his similar traditional garden in 1798, Frenchman Joseph Corré of Columbia Garden in New York City announced, "as it is his intention to keep good and strict rules, he hopes no person will attempt to be admitted, that would not be agreeable and conduct themselves accordingly."

Men, women, & children flocked to Gray's Gardens on the banks of the Schuykill River in Philadelphia during the last quarter of the 18C. Grey's specialized in coffee & teas accompanied by "relishes." Visitor William Priest noted these on one visit to the garden, "coffee, cheese, sweet cakes, hung beef, sugar, pickled salmon, butter, crackers, ham, cream, and bread. The ladies all declared, it was a most charming relish!"

Gray's Gardens in Philadelphia geared its appeal to those interested in the latest fashion in dress, food, & garden design. Samuel Vaughn, a hit & run English merchant, philosopher, & garden planner, had designed the federal garden with serpentine walkways and other natural elements, when he arrived in Philadelphia in 1784. Vaughn brought a more up-to-date version of English gardening to the United States. He left the new nation in 1789, but his garden legacies & his work to strengthen intellectual life & institutional memory of the early republic survived his departure.

A more traditional commercial garden model, Richard Gray's Chatsworth Garden, sat just north of Baltimore. Owners converted this old, walled private garden into an updated public pleasure garden with the addition of serpentine pathways meandering around the tree-lined perimeters of the grounds. The heart of the garden, however, remained an elegant eight-bed falling terrace garden laid out in geometric symmetry during the 1760s.

Johann Jacob Mang, a Wurtemberg physician who had arrived in Baltimore in 1797, had become the garden's proprietor in 1801, after the departure of longtime owner Richard Gray. Mang had fled his homeland with his daughter Eva, attended school with her to learn English, and bought the public pleasure garden. Mang loved music & books, and after a few years in Baltimore, he moved to Syracuse, New York. He promoted his gardens "to be extremely neat, such as forming appearance, which may give a pleasing relaxation to the leisure hours of the industrious citizen."

A band playing music entertained there during the summer months three nights a week, and accommodations and refreshments, including alcohol, were provided for a fee. Music offered at commercial public gardens ran the gamut from overtures and popular two part concerts of vocal and instrumental music to ballads, patriotic, and comic tavern songs.

A traditional etiquette was followed at the more formal pleasure gardens. Ladies usually arrived in full evening dress, and men walked bareheaded, with their hats under their arms. A stately promenade of the gardens' main walks was usually first on the evening's agenda. Patrons came from near and far.

Harbors supplied visiting ensigns sporting jaunty cockades, and southern plantation owners encouraged trusted employees' occasional visits to bustling cities like Baltimore & Philadelphia, where public pleasure gardens flourished. Virginia schoolmaster Philip Fithian wrote in his journal that on a visit to Philadelphia on May 20, 1774 he "walked to a lovely Garden near the Hospital call'd Lebanon, drank some Mead, and had a most agreeable Ramble" before returning home around ten in the evening.

Just before the Revolutionary War in New York City, Francis Marschalk and his wife Anneke Lynsen developed an enduring model of the genteel public pleasure garden. No rowdies here. The garden was designed to attract "lovers of genteel pastimes and delicious refreshmnets." Most visitors arrived in the daytime & actually came to look at the garden and enjoy the food.

In 1779, the Marschalk's son Andrew advertised that he would serve tea, coffee, and liquors to patrons daily in the morning & afternoon. A band played music each Monday & Thursday afternoon. As evening neared, the Marschalks scurried about the garden paths to illuminate their grounds for evening visitors.

In 1781, Francis Marschalk's son Andrew died; and the garden which his father had leased in 1768, was put up for auction. The advertisement noted a "pleasantly situated House and lot of land belonging to Mr. Francis Marschalk deceased. The house has four rooms with fire places, two without, and two kitchens, with a stable, chaise, and cow house, a good well of water, all in good repair. The land about two acres, is all improved as a garden and orchard, well enclosed with a board fence."

Charles Brannon bought the garden lease. The tenor of the garden remained. Pennsylvania's two Senators wrote of visiting Brannon's Tea Gardens twice to dine and admire the greenhouse, gardens, and their "elegant improvements." English visitor Henry Wansey also noted the "good greenhouse, with orange and lemon trees, a great quantity of geraniums, aloes, and other curious shrubs and plants...Iced creams and iced liquors are much drank here during the hot weather."

New York City actor Joseph Tyler bought the gardens in 1798. Eager to keep just the right sort of people frequenting his newly acquired personal stage, the veteran thespian cleverly advertised in New York newspapers emphsizing the commodiousness of the dining rooms, the prompt service, the appropriateness of the menu, and the quality of the wines.

The new owner stocked the greenhouse with even more rare, exotic plants and shrubs and converted it into a more sophisticated orangery that could double as an elegant year round dining room. He even sold exotic plants to patrons eager to cart the curious specimens home with them.

Tyler's marketing quickly paid off. His garden became the regular meeting place for the Columbia Anacreontic Society, the Buskin Club, the Royal Arch Masons, and other organizations. Columbia College held its commencement suppers there, and English loyalists celebrated the King's birthday in the gardens. The New York City Common Council met there to commemorate national holidays and to welcome celebrated visitors, including a group of Osage Indian chiefs, to the city.

Tyler's sons advertised the property for sale in 1808, "the house contains 13 rooms and 2 excellent wine cellar...a large new stable...a spacious green and hot house full of exotic plants...The garden contains near two acres, abounds with a quantity of fruit trees, and a variety of beautiful flowering shrubs; the house and garden command a view of the North River."

Another New York pleasure garden catered almost exclusively to the upper crust but did not have to advertise to attract its clientele. In the 1790s, a group limited to 33 wealthy gentlemen from New York formed a social club and built a large club house open to the public when not in use by the clubmembers.

However, club members did retain control of exactly who used the mansion called the Belvedere. A contemporary magazine described the property, "The ball-room, which includes the whole of the second storey of the east front is an oblong octagon of forty-five feet in length, twenty-four wide, and seventeen high, with a music gallery...The to the floor and communicate with a balcony twelve feet wide, which surrounds the eastern division of the house, and affords a most delightful promenade...The west front opens into a small court-yard, flanked on each side with stables, a coach house, and other offices. The little grounds into which the east front opens, are formed into a bowling-green, gravel walks, and some shrubbery."

Another ad detailed Belvedere's grounds, "A bowling green is in front, and stables, wood house and other necessary offices in the rear of the house, which consists of an elegant ball-room and a club-room, each forty -six feed by twenty-five, two parlours, eight bedchambers, a bar room, two kitchens, two wine cellars, two pantries, an ice-house, a vaulted larder and servants rooms."

Only occasionally did the elegant formal dinners, balls, and concerts that filled Belvedere's gardens and halls make the local papers. The fashionable house and garden drew the discreet well-to-do. Belvedere club members were usually pro-British Federalists and toasts to the king were often heard reverberating under the vaulting ceilings and starlit skies.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Design of American Public Spaces - Public Avenues & Rows of Trees

A Prospective View of the Boston Commons 1768

The Mall in Boston, Massachusettes was planted with an avenue of trees early in the 18th century. In of December 2, 1787, Lt. John Enys recorded in his journal, "After Dinner we took a walk on the Mall as it is called which is a very excellent Gravel walk about half a Mile in Length with Trees on each side which is kept in very good order and is by far the best thing of the kind I have yet seen in America, but the weather was too cold to tempt any of the Belles of the place from the fire side. From hence we went to Beacon Hill from whence we had a Charming View of the town and harbour."

In the colonies & new republic, the term avenue also referred to a public tree-lined town street. Town planners designed avenues as wide, straight roadways through public parks or passing houses or public buildings lined with single or double rows of trees.

One of the earliest and most important avenue of trees was the road leading to the Governor's Palace in Williamsburg, Virginia.   In the Virginia Council Journal it was recorded on December 15, 1737, for Williamsburg, ordered "that there be paid to Mr Philip Finch the sum of ten pounds for laying and planting the Avenue to the Governors House." An avenue of symmetrically aligned trees planted 50' apart reflected the strong Baroque axial scheme of the Palace and its gardens. The trees were the soldiers standing erectly in a line leading visitors to have the proper respect by the time they reached the grand palace gates. The tree-lined mall form of the Palace Green would be copied throughout the colonies.

Rows of trees replanted at the Governor's Palace in Williamsburg, Virginia

In 1765, the Virginia Council Journal reported the Governor's Palace as "An elegant seat being enclosed with beautiful walks of trees." Another report in 1770, noted that "the approach is through an avenue of catalpas." But in 1775, the journal reported that "carriage roads bordered with lindens that Dunmore had imported from Scotland."

Farmer working in his field near the Moravian settlement of Salem, North Carolina. Watercolor, 1787, by Ludwig Gottfried von Redeken.  The Moravians planted rows of trees lining the roads to their settlements and along the streets withing their towns.

The Records of the Moravians on the Town of Salem Directing Boad from 1763-1792 in Salem, North Carolina reported in March, 1769, "trees were planted on both sides of the main street of Salem by the Gemein Haus Square."  The next year, on February 15, when they were laying out the path to the graveyard, Lung the gardener took along a load of trees to be set out to form an avenue. Cedar Avenue became a landmark of the Salem settlement.

Cedar Avenue to the Graveyard at Salem, North Carolina 1914

During the Revolution a French visitor noted that avenues of trees lined the public streets of Charleston, South Carolina, as well. He wrote in 1777, "There are trees along most of the streets, but there are not enough of them to make it pleasant promenade along the streets in the heat of the day."

Visiting Milanese botanist Luigi Castiglioni reported seeing Albany, New York, in 1785, "The streets...are very wide, adorned with trees, paved in part with cobblestones, and some of them furnished with a sidewalk."

When the Revolution was over, the new nation's first president, George Washington, viewed Charleston's streets in 1791, from the balcony of St. Michael's Church and wrote in his diary, "the whole is seen in one view, and to advantage, the Gardens and green trees which are interspersed add much to the beauty of the prospect."

During the 1790s, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, visitor Moreau de St. Mery wrote in his diary, "Several streets have trees, usually elms, planted on the outer edge of the sidewalk...Some persons considered them helpful in hot weather; others believed they prevented the free circulation of air and attracted insects, especially mosquitoes. Since then Italian poplars have been put at both ends of each street, as well as on all sides of the city's principal square on Market Street between the Delaware and the Schuylkill...Trees have been planted on both sides of every street, the Italian poplar being the one most in favor."

Depiction of the United States Capitol before the fire of 1814.

The 1897 Records of the Columbia Historical Society in Washington, DC contain letters to President George Washington from Pierre C L'Enfant, when he was laying out the streets & buildings for the new capital at Washington DC, explaining his proposed use of avenues.  On June 22, 1791, L'Enfant sent the following to George Washington, "I first determined some principal points to which I wished making the rest subordinate I next made the distribution regular with streets at right angle north-south and east west but afterwards I opened others on various directions as avenues to and from every principal places, wishing by this not merely to contrast with the general regularity nor to afford a great or variety of pleasant seats and prospect as will be obtained from the advantageous ground over the which the avenues are mostly directed but principally to connect each part of the city with more efficacy by, if I may so express, making the real distance less from place to place in menaging on them a reisprocity of sight and making them thus seemingly connected promot a rapide stellement over the whole so that the most remot may become an adition to the principal while without the help of these divurgents communications such setlements if at all attempted would be languid, and lost in the Extant would become detrimental to the main establishment.

"Several of these avenues were also necessary to effect the junction of of several out road which I concluded essential to bring central to the city in rendering these road shorter as is done with respect to the bladensburg and Eastern branche Road made above a mile shorter besides the advantage of their leading from the direction given immediately on the warfs of georgetown without passing the hilly ground of that place whose agrandissement if will consequently check while it will accelerate those over Wik creek on the city side the which cannot help spreading soon all along of these avenues forming of themselves a variety of pleas ant ride and being combined to injure a rapide Inter course with all the part of the City to which they will serve as does the main vains in the animal body to diffuse life through smaller vessels in quickening the active motion to the heart...I placed the three grand Departments of State contigous to the principle Palace and on the way leading to the Congressional House the gardens of the one together with the park and other improvement on the dependency are connected with the publique walk and avenue to the Congress house in a manner as most form a whole as grand as it will be agreeable and convenient to the whole city."

1824 Charles Burton's West Front of the Capitol of the United States.

When Thomas Twinning viewed the new capitol of the United States in the midst of its building, he recorded of Washington DC in the 1790s, "After some time this indistinct way assumed more the appearance of a regular avenue, the trees here having been cut down in a straight line. Although no habitation of any kind was visible, I had no doubt but I was now riding along one of the streets of the metropolitan city. I continued in this spacious avenue for half a mile, and then came out upon...the centre of the city...Looking from where I now stood I saw on every side a thick wood pierced with avenues in a more or less perfect state...all the avenues converged to that point."

Avenues & alleys planted early in the 18th century began to die in the 19th century depending on the type of trees initially planted. The Records of the Moravians in Salem, North Carolina, reported in 1815 that "The alley of catalpa trees along the garden of the Boarding School and farther south has died out partly."

Nicholas, Garrison Jr. - View Of Bethlehem, One Of The Brethren's Principal Settlements In Pennsylvania, North America 1757