Co-sponsored by the Merchant House Museum and Salmagundi Club 

While New York is a city continually changing and evolving in almost every aspect, it’s hard to top the upheaval of the 1830s. From the worst fire in New York City history to absolute pandemonium surrounding Moving Day — when all NYC leases expired simultaneously — it was truly one of the city’s wildest periods. It’s time to uncover the stories and remnants of 1830s New York like never before.

Join Village Preservation as we explore lower Manhattan and the notable sights and scandals of 1830s New York, with a close look at 1835 and how a single year forever changed New York City in big ways.

Led by James Scully — NYC tour guide and director/co-creator of the award-winning historical audio fiction soap opera Burning Gotham — our digital showcase of one of New York’s wildest decades will include:

  • An overview of New York City in the 1830s and why this period of social, political, and geographical upheaval is so underserved.
  • A discussion of important landmarks in Lower Manhattan dating back to the 1830s including Fraunces Tavern, Bowling Green, and South Street Seaport.
  • Some of the big news stories that were the talk of the town, including why the United States was on the verge of war with France, the lack of clean running water in New York, and NYC’s Penny Papers orchestration of the greatest hoax of the 19th century.
  • A look at one of Manhattan’s most historic chapels, along with the site where John Jacob Astor built the City’s largest hotel in 1836.
  • The full scoop surrounding the Great Fire (December 16, 1835), the worst fire in New York City history, which destroyed everything in Manhattan’s chief merchant district (and caused the modern equivalent of $500 million in damage) — while an investigation ensued, no public blame was ever assigned. 

About the speaker: 

James Scully is an outgoing native New Yorker who grew up in a home with three generations of family. He had close relationships with both his grandparents and great-grandparents, being exposed to an invaluable amount of local culture. It has helped him become a passionate actor, writer, director, and historian. He’s a graduate of Xavier High School in Manhattan and Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and has spent over a decade working in media for companies such as Condé Nast and Hearst. James is behind Breaking Walls, a docu-podcast on the history of American network radio broadcasting. He’s directed, postproduced, adapted, and acted in scripted audio fiction productions, and is an actor in the Fireside Mystery Theatre troupe. He’s also a Salmagundi Club member and NYC tour guide.

Thursday, May 16, 2024
6:00 pm

Zoom Webinar


Pre-registration required 

Click here to watch the recording of this event