Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April 14, 1912, New York Times, A Charity So Rich It Can't Spend Its Money;

April 14, 1912, New York Times, A Charity So Rich It Can't Spend Its Money; So the Trustees of Sailors Snug Harbor Are Asking the Courts to Help Them Solve the Problem of What to Do About Their Property and the Enormous Revenue It Brings.


April 12, 1949, The New York Times, Lease Widens Hold of NYU In 'Square',


Morris's Memorial History of Staten Island, New York, Volume 2, by Ira K. Morris, West New Brighton, Staten Island, 1900)
Chapter XXXIII. The Sailors' Snug Harbor,

The Sailors' Snug Harbor: A History, 1801-2001, by Gerald J. Barry (2000)
‎History his creditors and he met Captain Randall, who was impressed with the young man ... Meanwhile, Captain Randall and his son Robert Richard, in business as ..

The New York Preservation Archive, Sailors' Snug Harbor Board of Trustees, History,
Barry, Gerald J. The Sailor’s Snug Harbor: 1801 – 1976. Fordham University Press, New York 2000.

June 18, 1892, The Illustrated American, Volume 11, Issue 122, page 207, The Sailors' Snug Harbor,

May 1, 1936, The New York Times, Letter to the Editor, by Hamlin Talbot

June 11, 1967, The New York Times, Snug Harbor Due for Big Changes, by Thomas Ennis,

March 23, 1968, The New York Times, Snug Harbor is Saved by Court Decision,

April 7, 1996, The New York Times, Streetscapes | The Music Hall at Snug Harbor Cultural Center; A Low–Budget Revival for a Grand 1890 Theater. by Christopher Gray,

October 18, 1965, The New York Times, First Official Landmarks of City Designated; 20 Sites Listed -- Each to Get Year's Grace, by Farnsworth Fowle,

February 9, 1902, New York Times, The Old Van Beuren Mansion to Remain.; "Colonnade Row."


May 30, 1902, New York Times, Fraunces's Tavern,
Our readers know that we are not always in sympathy with the well-meaning persons who desire to preserve what they call historical relics in New York. In particular, we have been able to see nothing in the proposition to move the "Colonnade Row," which was one of the sights of New York half a century ago, from its original habitat, in Lafayette Place, to Bryant Park, and set it up there.

May 30, 1902, New York Times, Fraunces's Tavern,


November 5, 1916, New York Times, Tyler House Gives Way To Business; Marble Landmark in Colonnade Row Where President Ate Wedding Breakfast. Built by David Gardiner; Neighbors Were John Jacob Astor, Gov. E.D. Morgan, Franklin Delano, and John Milhau.
The old house on Lafayette Street in which President John Tyler and his bride ate their wedding breakfast over seventy years ago will soon be torn down to make way for business. It is one of the four survivors of the celebrated Colonnade Row of marble houses which, when erected in 1838, made Lafayette Place famous


Old Fulton NY Post Cards By Tom Tryniski
Snug Harbor

Monday, April 14, 2014

Maps of Farms, Commonly Called the (Manhattan) Blue Book; 1815

Drawn from the Original on file in the Street Commissioner's Office in the City of New York, together with lines of Streets and Avenues, laid out by John Randel, jr., 1819-1820, by Otto Sackersdorff. City Surveyor

Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1868, by Otto Sackersdorff, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York; Republished by E. Robinson, 82 and 84 Nassau St., New York, 1887

I am not one for going in much on self-recrimination, but I could have kicked myself after I let a copy of the "Manhattan Blue Book" go for a middling sum several years ago. A friend had given it to me, after he had found it on the street in New York in the trash many year's previously, and a small price tag on it indicates that he had failed to find a buyer for it at $25 in a yard sale.

When an intermediary learned of my possession, she brought by a mannish woman who played competitive croquet, along with her decorator, whose name is completely unknown to the general public, but who is held in high reverence by the supremely rich. I still remember her controlled sense of excitement as I blithely conducted business with her, while glad to be meeting him. I was left with a three-figure sum and what developed into one of the worst cases of sellers' remorse imaginable.

But I recently discovered that I had taken photographs of at least a few of the plates, so my loss is mitigated somewhat. I recall this series as being relatively complete, but I didn't bother to take images of the pages showing the middle stretch of Manhattan, probably because they were still bound together and I feared damaging them.

The laying out in the early 19th century of the street grid north of 14th Street upon a patchwork of old family farm holdings is a fascinating municipal story, and turned out to be one of the factors, along with the Croton water supply and the bedrock schist of Manhattan that made the foundations for tall buildings possible, which allowed New York City to develop far and away from any competition. Newburgh, 60 miles north of the city on the Hudson, was nearly as convenient a harbor as New York, and it was there that Gen. George Washington slept for 18 months of the Revolutionary War. But like many another municipality with the potential for growth and dreams of grandeur, they all soon found themselves out of the running as the great city grew.

The first image, marks the beginning of the map, starting a few blocks below 14th Street at the East River, and shows the magnificent land holding of Peter Stuyvesant, which at "116 acres now in possession," will require us to travel up to the far reaches of present-day Inwood to find a grander seignior in Jacobus Duyckman's estates. At the very bottom of the map is the only structure that I've located which is still extant today--St Mark's in the Bowery Church--as well as an explanation for the gracious angle at which the church sits at the corner of 10th Street and 2nd Avenue: a pre-existing, unnamed street, which cut at a diagonal to the grid, to which the church was originally oriented. A small remnant of the cemetery that's indicated also exists today, cut off and walled up by the small-scale domestic architecture that now intervenes.

The marshland indicated on the map between the church and Stuyvesant's river-facing country manse is the sort of feature noted throughout the series, that reminds us of how much the original topography of the island was changed, and of how much the island grew as its hills were leveled and dumped into the river for added real estate. The originating commission by the New York State Legislature gave the "jurisdiction of the commission [...] all of Manhattan north of Houston Street, and into the Hudson and East Rivers 600 feet beyond the low water mark.[3][5]

North of "Stuy Town" is evidence of a prescient nature in one William Roger, whose apparent country house, "Bellevue," is already missing from the map, but it's place name has been given to the hospital. His land has already been subdivided and sold off in a neat congruity with the north-south avenues, if not the mandated cross streets. Just north of him, however, are tell-tale signs of a grandiosity in a neighbor, Thomas Storm, who has also subdivided his land--which includes as a lot a long enfilade of grounds protecting his view of the river, which he has oddly sold to someone named Campbell. Typical of some developers today, he appears to have named the streets of a cheesy paper subdivision after his children, Eliza, Luise, Maria and Cornelius, all of it for naught, since none of his plans, nor his mansion site, could remain.

Thomas Storm may have married into the Kip family, of the Kip's Bay Kips, as they surround and interpenetrate his holdings with divided and undivided land. A half-dozen Kips are named here as heirs or legatees, but none of them correspond to the Christian street names

The next map abuts the ones above to the west, showing that the many subdivided properties that preexisted the grid radiated off of the curved line of the Bowery, which in its northern blocks is present day Fourth Avenue, and at its northern terminus with Bloomingdale Road (here "Bloomingall") or present day Broadway, is a "stingy piece of pie" reminiscent of the Flatiron Building site where Bloomingdale next crosses the grid to the north. Unfortunately, if there was an index page of the meaning of the color coding of certain lots I didn't capture it. The planning disaster above 14th Street (and amid it, too,) was subsumed into the broad expanse of Union Square park, but just to the west a battle of the wills appears to be taking place between a certain John and Mary Mann, more likely to be quarreling siblings than a divorced couple given the era. In contrast, the heirs of Henry Speingler got with the grid program nicely, and had about 150 house lots to their credit.

At top, is every boy's dream--five or six acres of prime Fifth Avenue real estate with maybe a country house that doesn't wind up smack in the middle of an avenue between 15th and 16th Streets.

Here is a fascinating story from the Times in 1902 about an heir of Henry Speingler who was a widow living on in an archaic family mansion/cum/farmstead--complete with chickens and a cow amid the bustle at the center of the city's dry goods trade. Their first family homestead, dating from before the Revolution, had been taken by the city in condemnation proceedings for the creation of Union Square. This second house, in front of which stood "a large handsome tree planted in 1838," covered three city lots, and stood on grounds covering 12. We can place it with great exactitude because of the article and map at number 21 East 14th Street. City historians were saying in 1902 that "the old Van Beuren mansion [w]as the sole remaining vestige of old New York," left, while the Times called it "the most conspicuous house in New York," which is saying quite a lot.

The Speingler subdivision shown on the map that consists of ten deep lots lying astride the laying out of 14th Street and fronting on Bloomingdale Road, which stand at cross purposes with their other subdivisions adhering to the grid, must represent some earlier Speingler effort at selling city lots, and the yellow rectangle sharing the other half of the road frontage, must be, or have been, the original Speingler manse--whose conspicuousness goes as yet undiscovered. Fourth Avenue/The Bowery ends at approximately present day Union Square East, with today's Broadway hitting almost dead center at a Union Square subway kiosk. This means present day Union Square West has been relocated far to the west, which certainly dooms number 21, if nothing else.

Interestingly, the Times said the original Speingler farm was bounded by 14th and 15th Streets, and Sixth Avenue and Broadway, but we can see by the coloration of the lot lines that this old grouping of farm properties that come up from the south actually extended over from the Bowery to the east, with the Bloomingdale road being given all the indication of having been a cow path with trespass rights when the lots were first laid out. We see in the "Kips Bay Farm" map above, from the Museum of the City of New York, that the Bowery ends here, where it joins up with the "Eastern Post Road." This gives the Bowery equal, or even superior rights as being the historical "Kings" highway of the mail delivery service. So it is at this somewhat remarkable locus, where the Bowery and Broadway join up, and the Eastern and Western Post Roads diverge off, which gives the spot a sort of status as being the center of New York City---or in other words, the center of the earth.

February 9, 1902, New York Times, The Old Van Beuren Mansion to Remain; "Colonnade Row",

Betwixt and Between Broadway and the Bowery

The author of this wonderful painting is quoted as saying it was created from memory, to which, I'd add, how could anyone possibly ever forget? Such a land use in the early 19th-century would be the pastoral equivalent of parking a camper in the middle of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway today and lighting up your wienie roast. Think of the dust! Think of the wet seasons with all the mud! Think of the entreaties from needy passersby wanting the facilities! How far would the occupants of the domiciles have to navigate in order to get their own horses saddled and harnessed---assuming they weren't struck down by a surrey or a dram the moment they stepped outside their door? These two neighbors, Thomas Burling and Henry Speingler, must have been vying to capture the commercial prospects of travelers---with each having both hands out, one in each direction. If this represents toll collecting than just say so---like a restaurant paying the mafia for clean tablecloths and harm reduction. But if these were gatekeepers of another order, we should know all about that too.

The New York Public Library has digitized a first-edition copy of Maps of Farms, Commonly Called the Blue Book; 1815, published in 1868, and not to be indelicate about it, but I nearly shit a conspiratorial brick when I saw page three with its fig leaf:

Let's recap: this volume was not called Maps of Farms and Their Coverups, and there was no prospectus for a "Union Park," or "Union Oval," or "Union Square," until well after the period the volume claims to memorialize. It's first publication in 1868 was done purely as a vanity affair, meant to celebrate New York's recent economic victory over the forces of disunionism, and as an homage to the source whence much local lucre had stemmed. Some of the squares--like the one indicated on Peter Stuyvesant's holdings--were never built (he was satisfied with naming rights to the weird open space dissected down the middle by Second Avenue,) while other squares were built upon, like Bloomingdale's. The Commissioner's were so happy with their limited efforts at open space planning they counted up every last scrape for this 1852 "recapitulation."

The fact these indicated greenswards were not included in the 1887 republication of the land-use plans is evidence they were inappropriate in the first place

[On edit....]

Just south of this area was Randall Manor, the country estate bounded by Fifth Avenue, Broadway, 10th Street, and 8th Street above what is now Washington Square, which was owned by a Revolutionary War soldier and ship master, Captain Robert Richard Randall, who bequeathed his property "to build an institution to care for "aged, decrepit and worn-out" seamen," which became Snug Harbor. I'll let Wikipedia tell his story:
Randall's disappointed heirs contested the will extensively, delaying the opening of the sailors' home for decades. By the time the will challenge was settled, the once-rural land around the Manhattan estate had become well-developed. Snug Harbor's trustees (appointed by Randall's will, they included the mayor of New York City, the president and vice president of the Marine Society, senior ministers of the Episcopal and Presbyterian Churches, the head of the Chamber of Commerce, and the chancellor of the State) decided to maximize the profits on the Manhattan property. They changed the proposed site of the institution to another piece of land bequeathed by Randall: a 130-acre plot on Staten Island overlooking the Kill Van Kull.[6][7]
Sailors' Snug Harbor finally opened in 1833, the country's first home for retired merchant seamen. It began with a single building, now the centerpiece in the row of five Greek Revival temple-like buildings on the New Brighton waterfront.[8] From 1867 to 1884, Captain Thomas Melville, a retired sea captain and brother of Moby-Dick author Herman Melville, was governor of Snug Harbor.[9] In 1890, Captain Gustavus Trask, the governor of Snug Harbor, built a Renaissance Revival church, the Randall Memorial Chapel and, next to it, a music hall, both designed by Robert W. Gibson.[8] At its peak in the late 19th century, about 1,000 retired sailors lived at Snug Harbor, then one of the wealthiest charities in New York. Its Washington Square area properties yielded a surplus exceeding the retirement home's costs by $100,000 a year.[8]

Doesn't this look like a little bit of Greco-Roman heaven for salty sods, even if they have to do their own dishes?

Do notice the quadrilateral of J.J. Astor just missing the mark on Sixth Avenue. His name pops up all over these maps without any rhythm or reason, except as he invests his profits from the beaver coats and seal skin hats business.

The next image is of the map continuing to the west, but unfortunately I only captured a portion of it. That is John J. Astor's 2.16-acre parcel encompassing the east corners of Sixth Avenue and 17th Street as above, but his neighbor, Thomas Burling, has enlarged his holding to both the north and south. This indicates
the maps as published bare evidence of the years of process (and protest) it took to achieve the goal. The Wikipedia article calls this the Commissioners' Plan of 1811, saying, "In March 1807, the state legislature appointed a three-member commission made up of Gouverneur Morris, the lawyer John Rutherfurd, and the state surveyor Simeon De Witt, to establish a comprehensive street plan for Manhattan.[5]

Morris, Rutherford and DeWitt were good capitalists: a politician, a lawyer and a state surveyor for 50 years who was "given credit for giving [...] Greek and Roman names to the twenty-eight central New York Military Tract townships that his office mapped after the war (to be given to veterans in payment for their military service), who were all given an enormous gift of power in their commission.
Morris, who said "there never was, nor ever will be a civilized Society without an Aristocracy,"[7] was an honorary member of the New York Society of the Cincinnati, who "died on November 6, 1816 after causing himself internal injuries while using a piece of whale bone to attempt clearing a blockage in his urinary tract," [17] [18]according to the sympathetic Wikipedia treatment he's given.

As the Commission's Wikipedia article states:
Earlier street layouts for Manhattan had been drawn up prior to the Commissioners' Plan. In 1797, for example, the city asked Joseph Mangin and Casimir Goerck to survey Manhattan's streets; the two eventually produced a map which included a web of future streets, most of which appeared to correspond with future developers' speculative plans for street grids on their properties north of the city. Nevertheless, the scheme was pointedly rejected by the City Council.[4] (Link safe, but enlarged photos give warning of malware.)
The end result was in no way negative, in my opinion, for it made a very workable city, level for walking, and easy for a newcomer or visitor to navigate. Nor is the grid a boring or sterile framework--in fact, its very orderliness would seem to be a boon to urban creativity and architectural expression. But the hazard, which may have been part of the original ethic that gave rise to the grid, is a desire for maximum economic return, and where the building out to the furthermost limits of zoning or bribery have ruined many Manhattan viewscapes.

So there's a charm when that outcome is avoided, as can be seen on Rutherford Place, named after our lawyer friend, and 2nd Avenue. Remembering the fight over tearing down St. Bartholomew's church rectory, I trust protections are in place here.

East 16th Street and  Rutherford Place. Friends Seminary. General exterior view of school and meeting house

A fairly routine leveling job left at the development site for the builders.
Fifth Avenue and 118th Street.
Date: 1894
Looking due north toward the watch tower in Mount Morris Park, visible in the background.
The Museum of the City of New York, 91.69.105

Having culled out the duplicates, I see there is only the stretch of upper, upper, nosebleed Manhattan left to present here, running from 177th Street to 228th Street. Ending with plate 26, I see I only preserved nine---make that eight-and-a-half plates out of the 26. Nonetheless, I feel much better having found this much to offer. And I promise never again to unappreciated a friend's good deed or gift.

Monday, March 24, 2014

October, 1882, The Magazine of Art, An American Palace,,

October, 1882, The Magazine of Art, Vol. VI, pages 137-143, An American Palace,,


"NO art has more rapidly developed in the United States during the last decade than architecture. No new school has been created, and no new types of beauty have been formulated; but building has become artistic, and new modifications of antique and foreign styles have been adapted to local needs and fresh material. Domestic architecture is especially remarkable for beauty of treatment and excellence of workmanship. Of course there is yet much that is worthless; but when there is a tendency towards progress, criticism must not be too severe, nor praise be grudgingly withheld. The chief merits in American architecture are a clear perception of the fact that decoration should be constructive, a certain exuberance of fancy, some skill in relieving monotony of tone by the use of coloured stones, tiles, and terra-cotta mouldings, and unquestionable dexterity and ingenuity in the production of interior conveniences. In recent years large sums have been lavished upon our private residences, and many sumptuous buildings have risen in Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and other leading cities, but more especially along Fifth Avenue, the justly celebrated street of New York. Herein the marble palace of the late A. T. Stewart — which is reputed to have cost 1,500,000 dollars — has until now been most conspicuous. It is, however, of a severe style, and its aspect is frigidly elegant rather than cheerful. Of late, too, the new house of the Union League Club has been occupied, and has attracted much attention for the variety and richness of its interior appointments. But every private residence ever before constructed in America is entirely eclipsed by the house of the American Railway King, Mr. William H. Vanderbilt.

Here I should note that it is but one of five magnificent houses recently built by Mr. Vanderbilt and his two sons on Fifth Avenue, between Fifty-First and Fifty-Seventh Streets. The last two are widely diverse in style and plan. That of Mr. W. K. Vanderbilt was designed by Mr. R. M. Hunt, brother the late William M. Hunt, the well-known painter. The material, a light-grey limestone, would be more agreeable if of a warmer tint; but it has a fine grain and is easily carved. The style is of the Transitional, or Later Gothic, and without imitating suggests the yet extant buildings of that period. The architect's object has been two-fold: to achieve a pyramidal effect by making his lines converge to the central gable on the Fifth Avenue side; and while lavishly employing decorative sculpture on his walls, so to mass his ornamentation as to produce a number of wide unbroken spaces, thereby gaining in breadth and concentration of effect. The carving is profuse and good, and the gables and pinnacles are surmounted by statues, one of which, as in mediaeval architecture, is a portrait of the architect. The bracket or corbel supporting the oriel on the Fifty-Third Street side — which aspect of the house is shown in our first picture — is surrounded by a remarkable frieze of cherubs. The most important feature is the beautiful angle turret. The residence of Mr. Cornelius Vanderbilt was designed by Mr. George Post, and was suggested by the Seventeenth Century French Chateau, with an harmonious interfusion of ideas adapted from the Flemish and Jacobean schools. The material employed is red brick, with facings of grey limestone. The combination, of colour thus secured is warm and agreeable — It no means an unimportant feature in a climate like that of New York. The stone-work and carving are elaborate in parts ; but as the lines — accentuated on either side by a large gable or dormer window, not altogether in harmony with the other forms — are simple, the design must be studied to be fully appreciated. The interior adornments, by Messrs. Colnian and Tiffany, are after the more recent fashion of decorative art.

The residence of Mr. William H. Vanderbilt, the father, with the adjoining house built for his daughters, are, however, the most important of the group, both in respect of dimensions and of general design. The plan of these houses was made by Mr. Vanderbilt himself. The decoration, including the furnishing, was done by the Messrs. Herter Brothers, of New York, and the construction was superintended by Mr. Snooks. The material employed is the rich brown freestone so common in the elegant mansions of New York. It must be frankly admitted that no especial originality is apparent in the exterior, and that the external decorations are not in accordance with the canons of architecture — that is, they are not always constructive, but have been contrived as adjuncts rather than as component parts. At the same time it would be idle to deny that the general effect is uncommonly elegant, attractive, and imposing. The carving is elaborate and the execution conscientious and thorough. The band of oak leaves, which entirely encircles the lower storey of each building, is an exquisite piece of work, and may be sincerely admired even by those who take exception to it as being not constructively decorative. The metal-work in the railings, of which we give a specimen farther on, is admirably designed, and offers a good example of the excellence attained by the American artisan in the industrial arts. The rather heavy uniformity of sombre colour is relieved by a band of scarlet in the dead wall of the balcony recess, and the railings are gilded. Externally the northern house is one building; within it is divided into two, for the accommodation of Mr. Vanderbilt's daughters. They enclose a grass plot in the rear, and are united by a common vestibule, entered from Fifth Avenue. Access to each mansion is obtained herefrom ; and thus, while each is entirely separate, on festive occasions guests can pass from one to the other without exposure to the elements. The vestibule walls are of marble, inlaid with panels of Venetian mosaic by Tinetti. The floor is also of marble, and of imitation Roman mosaic. In the centre stands the famous colossal Malachite Vase from the Demidoff Sale. The roof is of bronze, lighted by delicate stained glass. The entrance to Mr. Vanderbilt's house is guarded by admirable copies in bronze of Ghiberti's "Gates of Paradise," made by Barbedienne, at a cost of 25,000 dollars. They open into an inner vestibule, on either side of which are bronze doors leading, the one into a snug but sumptuous cloak-room ceiled and lined with polished mahogany, and the other to Mr. Vanderbilt's private office. It is not until, through a double door opposite the entrance, you pass into the Central Hall that you completely realise the plan of this magnificent abode. It is built in the form of a hollow square. The Central Hall, or Court, runs sheer to a roof of stained glass, which diffuses a subdued light over the court below and the surrounding galleries, on which the living-rooms are built. The floor is composed of inlaid woods. Opposite the entrance is a grand fireplace of carven wood, reaching to the ceiling, and supported on either hand by caryatids.

On the hearth is a pair of immense and elaborate antique brass andirons, which in the ages past perhaps graced some ducal hall. Above, the sides of the surrounding galleries are embellished with sumptuous carvings of wood — of gilded cherubs and garlands on a ground of sea-green gold. At every corner the galleries are supported by square piers of polished African marble of a reddish tint (resembling Scotch granite), whose capitals are in figured bronze picked out in gold. The galleries, which are hung from ceiling to floor with superb Gobelins, are reached by a broad, imposing staircase, panelled to a height of six feet with English oak. The three windows on each landing are filled with stained glass designs by Mr. John Lafarge, of New York, and are in the best style of an artist who probably has no superior in America. The leadings are so skilfully arranged that every part of the design is formed of a distinct piece of glass ; so that the lead nowhere interferes with the flow of line, nor is ever supplemented by paint overlaid to aid the drawing.

The Drawing-Room — an angle of which is pictured in our fifth illustration — is on the east side, facing Fifth Avenue, and is entered through sliding-doors directly from the Hall.

This superb apartment is nearly square. It presents what might be called a Harmony in Crimson and Gold. The walls are hung with figured velvet of jiale crimson, which in certain light; ts assumes the effect of peach bloom. The carpet is of the same hue. The vaulted ceiling, which is in jiale azure picked out with gold, with figured gold in the groinings, is united to the walls by a noble cornice of carved wood, covered with gold and pale metallic green gilding on a ground of mother-of-pearl. Over each of the three massive gold-encrusted doors are cherubs, and on either hand of each door-post stands a pillar of onyx, jewel-inlaid, supporting a gilded sphere which encloses a cluster of lights. The abruptness of the angles is modified by an arrangement consisting of pedestals supporting female figures, one-third the size of life, in solid silver. In either graceful hand these royal maidens sustain a spear with a circlet of jewelled metal attached, behind which is a diadem of lights ; while in rear of each are mirrors of burnished crystal. The west entrance is flanked by two cabinets by Barbedienne, inlaid with iridescent mother-of-pearl and bearing five Limoges enamels by Sayer. A superb gilded table (carved in New York) stands near the southern end; the top is of the same exquisite material as the cabinets.

The seats of the Louis Seize chairs are covered with costly Chinese embroideries. A cloisonne cabinet by Barbedienne, one of the finest pieces produced in Europe, and other noble objet d'art, contribute to the magnificence of this drawing-room — the handsomest in all America. When the lights are burning its splendour is akin to the gorgeous dreams of oriental fancy; and yet with all this dazzling opulence there is no hint of tawdriness. The effect has been perfectly massed, and the profuse decorations are harmonised with consummate taste.

South of the Drawing-Room is the Japanese Room — shown in our fourth picture. As the great doors between them are always open, and the draperies are always drawn, the two apartments really form a suite of reception rooms. Every portion of this charming nook, the bronzes and other portable ornaments alone excepted, has been made in New York. But the effect is precisely that of the boudoir of some oriental princess. The rafters of the ceiling are iijicn, as if tn f.lmw liic mof above; and the upper part of the walls is finished in bamboo. A light cabinet with shelves and open work runs round the room, and this, like the woodwork generally, is tinted with rich red lacquer. In one corner is a divan cushioned with figured silks from Japan. On either side the door, supporting a cluster of lights, stands a great female statue in Japanese costume, cast by Christofle of Paris, in imitation Japanese bronze.

Opposite the door is a large and elegant fireplace, whose mantel and every ornament are Japanese likewise. For the window, looking on to Fifth Avenue, Lafarge has executed stained glass compartments representing flowers and birds. The tail of a peacock is rendered with marvellous splendour and faithfulness to iiatmc.

The Library — a corner of which is figured on the preceding page — is on the other side of the Drawing-Room, and corresponds in size and place with the Japanese Room. The paneling and shelves are of rosewood, touched with satin-wood, and inlaid with mother-of-pearl. The hangings, drapery, carpets, and upholstery are of a tender turquoise-blue. Masterpieces by Gerome, Verboeckhoven, Meissonnier, are judiciously distributed about the walls. The mantel serves to relieve the heaviness of the array of mono-tinted woods. It is of wood carved in rustic fashion —in crossbars, gilded with dead gold. The spaces between are inlaid with small diamond-shaped mirrors, which give a certain airiness, as if you were looking through the ceiling into space.

The Dining-Room is entered both from the Japanese Room and the Central Court. It is, perhaps, the most satisfactory, from an artistic point of is faced with agate and topped with Limoges enamels by Sayer and Solon. The brazen fender is decorated with globes of opalescent glass. Admirable vases from Sevres or from Minton's, and superb specimens of glassware, are scattered about; and bookcases, stored with choice editions of standard authors, line the lower half of the walls. The library table is one of the finest pieces of cabinet-work ever turned out in America. It was designed and carved in the establishment of the Messrs. Herter, and is of black walnut, highly polished, and inlaid with mother-of- pearl. The ceiling is a most interesting feature, and view, of the many sumptuous chambers in Mr. Vanderbilt's mansion : as, after the Picture Gallery, it is also the largest. The floor is inlaid with patterns in colour, and the walls are of English oak, profusely and elegantly sculptured. The rich golden-yellow of this wood gives an indescribable warmth and cheerfulness to an apartment which, owing to the buildings on the other side of the street, is lighted only from the south and east, and then chiefly by reflected light. The windows are filled with stained glass by Oudinot, of Paris, representing the Field of the Cloth of Gold. The vaulted ceiling is decorated with hunting scene by Luminals. The sideboard is carved of oak ; the chimney-piece, reaching to the ceiling ; the chairs, which are covered with leather stamped and coloured — in fact all the exquisite and elaborate carving in this superb nfuest -chamber was executed in New York, and reflects the highest credit on American industrial art.

The Picture Gallery and the Conservatory till the rear of the house. The former, as may be seen by our picture — the third — is of stately dimensions : the ceiling, twice the height of the adjoining rooms, receiving its light through a roof pierced with delicately figured glass. It is approached from the Central court through an archway on the right, and through a triple doorway from Fifty-First Street, for Mr. Vanderbilt intends to open it to the public on certain days in the month. These street doors are of bronze, and the vestibule is paved with Caen mosaics, and lighted through stained and jewelled glass. The gallery is divided into two apartments : a principal hall with a smaller showroom in snife. The main entrance is a deep alcove, containing a noble mantel and chimney-piece of carved wood.

The floor is paved with paly-tintofl marbles, and the lofty wainscoting of ebonised Circassian wood harmonises well with the rich maroon hangings, which are stamped with gilded designs. The vaulted roof is gracefully united with the walls by a cornice of small panels in light and dark woods, and its subdued monotony is variegated by carvings of amorini in panels, and by caryatids exquisitely sculptured in wood. A luxurious and costly oriental carpet overlies the central floor, and midway upon it stands a massive ebony table, with drawers for rare prints and art volumes. The visitor's comfort is further completed by luxurious sofas and fauteuils. The oriental-looking balcony over the archway is intended for an orchestra. The smaller Gallery includes, half-way up, a second gallery, devoted to water-colour paintings. Its railing is carved in Indian patterns ; it is reached by a door in the entresol on the main stairway in the Central Court. Gracefully as this has been managed, it is still a break in the continuity of movement by which you pass from one scene of beauty to another : even as in sleep you glide through the successive phases of a gorgeous dream.

The pictures are hung with great judgment. It is evident that they have been chosen with a decided taste for certain schools and subjects, and a certain indifference to other subjects and schools. There is, for instance, but a single Corot — an excellent specimen of the master's genius. Another feature of the collection is the uniform cheerfulness of the subjects selected. With the exception of the De Ntuvilles and Detailles, almost every composition pictures some quiet domestic scene, some gala day resplendent with laughter and song and brilliant costumes, some group of lovely women luring the fancy with their charm of dress and their witchery of person. Now it is a troop of spirited horsemen ; now a tranquil river scene; now a sunlit forest glade; and now a quiet pastoral or a joyous fete champetre. Here you may while hours away undisturbed by the mighty city's roar, and passing quietly from the contemplation of one painting to another, forget that nature is ever aught but smiling, or life anything but a series of happy episodes passed amid scenes of beauty and woven into harmonious sequence by love and song. The art with which this result has been obtained is none the less triumphant because it was, perhaps, unconscious and intuitive. Here are works by Constable, Thomas Faed, and W. M. Turner, who is responsible for a small but very choice water-colour. There are also capital paintings by Defregger and Knaus, the latter represented by a large and noble village fete. But by far the larger part of the collection is devoted to the contemporary Flemings, Frenchmen, Spaniards, and Italians. Alma Tademia, Van Leys, Clays, and Israels; Gerome, Millet, Meissonnier, Couture, Delacroix, Detaille, De Neuville, Bonnat, Diaz, Troyon, Rosa Bonheur, Rousseau, Dupre, Jacque, and Daubigny ; Albert, Tapiro, Boldini, Villegas, Fortuny, and Madrazo, are among the celebrated artists who are Mr. Vanderbilt's favourites. They are in most cases represented by several examples of their best styles. Among well-known pictures are Gerome's celebrated "Sword Dance;" Alma Tadema's "Entrance to a Roman Theatre ;" Fortuny's "Dance of Arabs;" "The King's Favourite," by Zamacois; Munkacsy's "Breakfast Scene;" and De Neuville's "Le Bourget," which pictures the storming of a church by the Germans in the Franco-German war, and the wounded captain, hurt unto death, carried forth by his comrades, while the Prussians gaze upon them with a stolid and half-brutal respect. In the small gallery, opposite the window, whose light counterbalances the shadow of the Water-Colour Gallery above, is the miniature half-length th portrait of Mr. Vanderbilt, painted by Meissonnier.

The Vanderbilt Collection is remarkable in that it contains but little statuary. Plastic art, indeed, except of a purely decorative type, is scarcely represented in this noble mansion. An abundance of admirable carvings greets one everywhere in the friezes and cornices; but, except a small and very beautiful ivory statuette in the drawing-room, and superb bronzes here and there, the sculptor's art is hardly recognised at all. It is to be noted, too, that the Picture Gallery contains no pictures by American artists, with the exception of a couple of portraits by Baker of New York. Some might be inclined to grumble at this, and to consider it evidence of a lack of interest in native art. But, in other parts of his residence, Mr. Vanderl)ilt has employed native talent wherever it would answer his purpose. Evidently he decided to form a collection of the highest order of contemporary foreign art, which would give pleasure at the present time and would have an historic and educational value in future ages ; for the truest historic painting is that in which the artist derives inspiration from his own time, and paints the men and scenery of to-day for the children of tomorrow.

The living-rooms of the family are on what Americans call the second floor, the first according to Continental usage. Mr. Vanderbilt's Bedroom is on the south-east comer, and is furnished with simplicity, but at the same time with the utmost elegance. Connected with it is his Dressing- Room, fitted up in exquisite style. The bath, which is of silver, is concealed by sliding doors which reach from floor to ceiling, and, as in all the apartments, are lined with mirrors of the purest glass. Mrs. Vanderbilt's Room, leading out from Mr. Vanderbilt's and occupying the centre of the fayade, is especially noteworthy for the beauty of its half-vaulted ceiling, of which the large flattened centre is superbly painted by the artist of "La Cigale." It represents Aurora chasing Night. The form of the goddess, clad in a delicate cymar, disparted to show the beautifully modelled limbs, is one of the finest pieces of flesh-painting Lefebvrc ever produced. The whole work is, doubtless, the noblest decorative painting yet seen in America.

The Guest-Chamber adjoining this apartment, and the other rooms occupied by the family, are fitted up with the same lavish luxury, each different, yet each in entire harmony with the common scale of sumptuousness and with the general system of good taste. This impression, of consonancy with difference, is one of the remarkable features of this magnificent abode. Nowhere is there repetition, yet nowhere is the taste offended by violent contrasts, or by incongruities or solecisms in arrangement. You pass by easy transition from one room to another, the eye enchanted, the imagination fixed, as if in some fairy palace. An equable, summer-like temperature pervades every part; the garish light of noonday is tempered by massive embroideries or pictured panes; and at eventide the gleam of clustered lights, flashed back by crystal mirrors, is modulated to a genial glow by jewelled screens. Nowhere is there evidence that comfort has been sacrificed to display; but splendour has been so guided as to give an aspect of home to what, less delicately and skilfully managed, might have been but sorareous cheerless palace.
by S. G. W. Benjamin.