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Founded in 1834 by two Quaker women, Anna Shotwell and Mary Murray, to care for orphaned and destitute children, the Colored Orphan asylum was an important institution in the black community. By the early 1840s it occupied a substantial building on… Read More

This is a map of Lower Manhattan from about 1836 to 1850.

The Five Points,shaded in gray, was home to many black New Yorkers. But blacks also lived to the west, from Church to Greenwich Streets, as well as on streets such as Franklin, White, and… Read More

Rebecca Peterson was the daughter of the well-known New York school teacher, John Peterson, and became a teacher herself. This is one of three poems that she copied in the friendship album of her Philadelphia friend, Martina Dickerson, in 1840. Read More

Here's my best effort at recreating my family tree.

I start with my great-great-grandparents, Joseph and Elizabeth Marshall, who settled on Lower Manhattan's Centre Street in 1819. One daughter, Mary Joseph married Albro Lyons; their daughter,… Read More

Close to the East River, Catharine Market began as an informal trading place until it was licensed and a building erected in 1800. The market sold fish, vegetables, and many others kinds of products. It was a place that brought together sailors… Read More

Thomas Downing's oyster house was located on Broad Street a few blocks west of this intersection heading towards Broadway. Read More

In addition to the Five Points, black New Yorkers settled in and around Greenwich Street from the 1820s on. Much like the Five Points, the area was overcrowded and highly unsanitary. In the 1850s, Peter Guignon could be found on Greenwich Street… Read More

Frankfort Street ended at Chatham Street, a couple of blocks west of Philip White's drugstore, so Philip would have been quite familiar with this street.

In the 1850s, southerner William Bobo visited the city and remarked that although Chatham… Read More