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GEORGE W. NASH, M.D.
HOPPER STRIKER MOTT
Reprinted from the Historical Guide to the City of New York
Published by Frederick A. Stokes Co.
PRICE, 10 CENTS
Mailed on receipt of price by Secretary, City History Club
105 West 40th Street
Copyright, igog, 1913, by the City History Club of New York
*. ■' 1
15 Milestone 1 Milestone
9 Milestone New Utrecht
Photographed by G. W. Nash
THE CITY HISTORY CLUB AND MILESTONES
The Board of Aldermen has, by special enactment, transferred to
the City History Club the care and maintenance of the milestones
in Manhattan, and the Club expects to receive similar jurisdiction in
the other boroughs.
Through a "Milestone Committee," the 15th Milestone, near Van
Cortlandt Mansion (p. 184), has been firmly reset in its former location,
thus saving it from destruction, and the inh Milestone of Manhattan
has been removed to Roger Morris Park and marked by a tablet (p.
159). Plans are now under way for the care of other stones in Man-
hattan and at Van Pelt Manor, near Utrecht. No. 9 Manhattan and
the Richmond stone are already protected (pp. 151, ZV)^ one by private
means, the other through a historical society.
On May 31, 1915, the City History Club will mark Milestone No. I,
Bowery opposite Rivington Street, and No. XII, in the front wall of
The City History Club obtains the means for this work by a volun-
tary tax paid by children enrolled in its study clubs and by general
See articles in the Outlook (June 24, 1909), "Along the Hudson in
Stage Coach Days"; Westchester County (N. Y.) Maga::ine, "Some
Westchester County Milestones" and "Some Bronx Milestones "
See also "The Greatest Street in the World— Broadway," by Stephen
Jenkins; "The New York and Albany Post Road," by C. G. Hine.
PUBLICATIONS OF THE CITY HISTORY CLUB
(105 West 40th Street)
HISTORICAL EXCURSION LEAFLETS
* No. I. — City Hall to Wall Street, 20 pp., 2 cuts, 4 maps; 10 cents.
* Xo. II. — Greenwich Village and Lispenard's Meadows, 20 pp., 4 maps, 10 cents.
* No. III. — The Bowery and East Side, 16 pp., 3 maps; 5 cents.
* No. IV. — Central Park to Kingsbridge, 20 pp., 5 maps; 5 cents.
* No. V. — The 19th Century City; loth Street to 125th Street; 36 pp., 5 maps;
* No. VI. — Fraunces' Tavern, 12 pp., i map, 3 cuts; 5 cents.
* No. VII. — South of Wall Street, 32 pp., 4 maps, 6 cuts; 10 cents.
* No. VIII. — Historic Brooklyn, Part I, 12 pp., 4 maps, 2 cuts; 10 cents.
* No. IX. — Historic Bronx, 44 pp., 9 maps, 3 cuts; 10 cents.
* No. X. — Historic Richmond, 24 pp., 3 maps; 10 cents.
* No. XL — Historic Queens, 36 pp., 5 maps; 10 cents.
* No. XII. — Historic Brooklyn, Part II; 28 pp., 7 maps; 10 cents.
Milestones and the Old Post Road, 12 pp., 5 cuts; 10 cents.
♦HISTORICAL GUIDE TO THE CITY OF NEW YORK
Includes the above Excursion Leaflets, several appendices and an alphabetical
index; 450 pp.j 70 maps and 46 illustrations. Cloth, small i2mo, $1.50 net; post-
paid, $1.60. Revised 1913-
* Teachers' Handbook: Outlines of a Course of Study in Local Geography and
History (revised, 1908); 25 cents.
* Graphic Views of Government: to illustrate the relations of our National,
State and City Governments; 16 pp., 6 plates; 10 cents.
N. Y. City Government Leaflets: 10 cents each. No. i. Municipal Govern-
ment in N. Y. State.
* Hudson-Fulton Leaflet: containing part of the log of Robert Juet: price 10
Historical Souvenir Postals: 10 cents per set of five.
Club Game — (revised 1909); an historical game of cards, containing many facts
about New York City History (played like the game of Authors), 25 cents.
* City History Illustrations: 68 pictures of the famous men, buildings and events
of local history: 35 cents per set.
* Civics Hand Booic: Local Civics for Club Leaders; 15 cents.
* Public School Teachers are advised that they can secure the above starred
publications for themselves and their classes through the Supply List of the Board
of Education (7402-15; 7996).
THE HALF MOON SERIES
Papers on Historic New York, 24 Monographs on Local History, published in
the interest of the City History Club of New York. Edited by Maud Wilder
Goodwin, Alice Carrington Royce, and Ruth Putnam: 10 cents each.
POST ROADS AND MILESTONES.
By George W. Nash, M. D.
The associations of highways and milestones is so intimate that
a few words may be said of milestones in general. These stones,
which now call forth a merely sentimental interest, were considered
by our forefathers a necessity. In 1788 the State of New York
passed the following: "As milestones are a great public convenience,
removing or damaging any milestone is punishable by a fine of three
pounds for such damage, part to go to the informant, part to be ap-
plied to the repair of the damage, and a third part to be paid to the
overseers of the town in which the offence shall be committed." If
unable to pay a fine, the party was to suffer thirty days' imprison-
ment. This law still remains in effect except that a term of im-
prisonment of two years may be imposed.
No less person than Benjamin Franklin selected the positions for
many milestones along the highways, when as Postmaster General,
in a specially contrived wagon, he measured off the miles at which
the stones should be erected. Some of these so-called Franklin
Milestones are still standing, one of them being on the Milford
Road in Stratford, Conn.
The first two or three milestones in Manhattan are of white stone,
then a brown stone is used the rest of the way up the river until Red
Hook is reached, when again a white stone is used. While mostly
Arabic numerals are used in milestone inscriptions, occasionally we
find the Roman numbers, as on the XXIV milestone at Scarsdale,
In early days the people of New Amsterdam felt the need of com-
munication with the outer world, especially with their neighbors and
kinspeople at Fort Orange. In the winter when the river was frozen
over, it was a comparatively easy matter to arrange this communica-
tion, although the post carrier's task was anything but a pleasant one
as he skirted the shores of the wilderness and rounded the points
through the gorges against the cold north wind, while skating his
lonely way to Albany, with Indians often lurking along the route.
Something more permanent was needed, and in 1669, the Albany
Milestones HISTORICAL GUIDE and Post Roads
Post Road was established. This was so successful that three years
later a road was opened from New York to Boston, by order of
Governor Lovelace. On January i, 1673, a mounted post v;as in-
stituted, among the multifarious duties being the carrying of the
mails; it was not until 1772 that a stage coach appeared carrying
passengers at the rate of four pence a mile.
At that time the City Hall was on Wall Street, at the corner of
Nassau, where now stands the Sub-Treasury. Broadway up to St.
Paul's was opened mainly to reach the Post Road where Park Row
now begins, any further development of the street being undreamed
of, even to accommodate the outlying farms along the Hudson. From
the site of the Post Office the Post Road ran through Park Row, up
the Bowery and Fourth Avenue to Madison Square (Excursion V,
Section II) whence it turned and twisted northward over toward the
East River, then doubled on itself. About Eighty-sixth Street it en-
tered the boundaries of the present Central Park, went through Mc-
Gown's Pass ; thence continued more or less steadily to the northwest
until it struck the lines of Broadway and Kingsbridge Road, when it
went soberly along to the toll bridge over Spuyten Duyvil Creek
(Excursion IV, 2). After getting well over the bridge, the road
soon separated into the Albany Post Road, following Broadway
through Yonkers and up the river; and the Boston Post Road, going
up the hill to the right across to Williamsbridge, thence across
country through Eastchester to New Rochelle, and beyond
to Boston. So long ago as the English occupation, the people
of New York, feeling crowded, overflowed into Harlem, whence
the Dutch farmers casting their eyes across the Kills, saw a
country " fair to look upon." Means of getting across were
soon considered and a ferry established connecting with the road to
Harlem which branched off from the Post Road at Central Park.
(Excursion IV, Section i). This ferry was at about Third Avenue
and One Hundred and Thirty-first Street and a bridge was built in
1795. As the lower Bronx section across the Kills grew, old trails
were developed, the early Westchester Path becoming a Post Road,
following the line of Third Avenue and Boston Road to Bronx Park
and then northeast, until it joined the early road some distance above,
thus making quite a cut-off from New York to this junction, saving the
long detour around Kingsbridge. Lonely as the road was, it was
not without interesting features. Hardly had the traveler left the
starting point when he arrived at the first Kissing Bridge, near Chat-
ham Square; then came the milestones telling slowly, but steadily, the
Milestones POST ROADS and Post Roads
progress made, and, as taverns and road houses were always con-
venient, there was ever a place for rest and refreshment. Among
the old road houses may be mentioned the Bull's Head Tavern, near
the first milestone, where the friends of the traveler who had ac-
companied him thus far, drank to his health and safety on his jour-
ney to the wilderness beyond.
At the second milestone, where Cooper Union now stands, was the
Bowery Village Church. Cato's Road House at Fifty-second Street
was a noted hostelry; at Seventy-second Street was another Kissing
That part of the road near McGown's Pass has a special interest
from its connection with the march of the British before the Battle of
Harlem Heights and the presence of Forts Clinton and Fish. At the
bridge across Spuyten Duyvil Creek, also a Kissing Bridge, there
was a celebrated tavern well described by Madame Knight where
sleighing parties came out from town for their frolics. Thence the
traveler on either of the diverging Post Roads had more time for
the enjoyment of the scenery, as the evidences of civilization faded
away and the wilderness opened before him broken only occasionally
by village or hamlet.
According to the old maps there was, starting from the City Hall in
Wall Street, a stone for every mile in what is now Manhattan and
the Bronx. With the erection of the present City Hall (1803-12)
these milestones were replaced to bring them in conformity with the
new starting point. This accounts for the apparent discrepancies in
their names. Some of the milestones have disappeared, while others
have had a varied experience. Some of the stones have been used
by bill posters ; one was rescued from a police station and now
stands in good surroundings not at all embarrassed by the falsehood
showing on its face ; another was removed from a tottering position
in a neglected section of the road and now occupies a place safe
from destruction ; one stone that stood in the way of public improve-
ment was apparently improved off the earth ; another reposes in a
back yard uptown, while still another has its resting place in a cellar.
Milestones in Manhattan.
1. Bowery, opposite Rivington Street.
2. Third Avenue, between Sixteenth and Seventeenth Streets.
4. Third Avenue and Fifty-seventh Street.
5. Third Avenue and Seventy-seventh Street.
7. Third Avenue and One Hundred and Seventeenth Street.
Milestones HISTORICAL GUIDE and Post Roads
7, Another stone, now stored at 107 West One Hundred and Twenty-
second Street. (The duplicate 7 Milestone was probably on the
eastern Post Road after it branched off the old Post Road near
9. One Hundred and Fifty-second Street, between Amsterdam and
St. Nicholas Avenues.
10. 561 West One Hundred and Sixty-ninth Street.
11. In Roger Morris Park (see p. 159).
12. At entrance to Isham Park (see p. 175) •
Milestones in the Bronx
10. One Hundred and Sixty-eighth Street and Boston Road.
13. Boston Road, near Pelham Parkway (this stone has lately dis-
appeared and may be in the vicinity).
15. Boston Road, near Eastchester.
15. Albany Avenue, near Spuyten Duyvil Parkway (see p. 184).
Milestones in Brooklyn
At Sheepshead Bay, corner of Neck Road and Ryder's Lane. In-
scription reads: "8 Miles and ( ) quarters to Brockland Ferry."
At Van Pelt Manor, New Utrecht ; has two inscriptions : one reads :
"Syi mile to N. York Ferry This Road To Denys's Ferry 2^
Mile." The other reads, "loVS Mile to N. York Ferry This Road.
To Jamaica 15 Mile."
At King's Highway, within fence line, left side, 100 feet from Ocean
Avenue. Inscription : "6 Mile to Ye Ferry."
Milestones in Queens. (All between Long Island City and Flushing.)
At Jackson Avenue, near Grinnell Avenue: "5 Miles to 34th Street
Ferry, i Mile to Flushing Bridge." Disappeared.
At Jackson, near Kelly Avenue : "3 Miles to 34th Street Ferry,
3 Miles to Flushing Bridge." Disappeared.
At Jackson, near Hulst Avenue : "2 Miles to 34th Street Ferry, 4 Miles
to Flushing Bridge."
Milestone in Richmond.
Formerly at corner of Signs Road and Richmond Turnpike, now at
154 Stuyvesant Place, in the Museum of the Staten Island Asso-
ciation of Arts and Sciences. Inscription reads: "( ) miles
to N. Yorke."
(From a theatre programme of "The African Company")
THEATRE in Mercer Street
In the rear of the i Mile Stone Broadway
The African Co., etc.
Harper's Magadne, Junc-Nov., 1889, p. 133
As historians know nothing of a theatre here, this was probably a
company of negro amateurs who played in New York in 1820-21. Old
residents remember a milestone in front of old St. Thomas' Church,
Broadw^ay and Houston Street.
In tearing down an old residence in Greenwich at 102 Christopher
Street in 1910 a block of brown stone 2J/2 feet long, 10 inches wide and
9 inches thick w^as discovered (now at 380 Bleecker Street) bearing the
inscription, "9 Miles from Camp," and at the bottom some unde-
cipherable figures. It is doubtful whether "Camp" refers to a camp of
Revolutionary days or to some popular roadhouse in upper Manhattan,
Milestones HISTORICAL GUIDE and Post Roads
NOTES ON MILESTONES
By Hopper Striker AIott
On Sept. 6, 1769, the Common Council ordered paid a bill of £8 : 11 : 2
for 16 stones supplied by George Lindsay (Mins. C. C. Vol. VII.: 178) ;
Chap. XXI, Laws 14th George III, passed March 9, 1774, provided a
penalty of £3 for defacing any milestone, hand, pointer or any other
monument erected for the direction of travellers along the public roads,
or in default, imprisonment in the common gaol for the space of two
months. If the defacement be committed by a slave and the fine re-
main unpaid, imprisonment with 39 lashes on the bare back is prescribed
if said forfeiture be not paid within 6 days after conviction.
The date of placing the stones on the Albany Post Road was 1769, a's
confirmed by the carving of this date on the ninth milestone, which
formerly stood at the corner of Harlem Lane (now St. Nicholas Ave-
nue) at 149th Street.
During Franklin's occupation of the Postmaster Generalship, and, in
accordance with the terms of his appointment, a line of posts was laid
^ur-«'-'Qut. As he was in office but a year (1775-6) and the route to be
J/) measured extended from Massachusetts to Georgia, it is impossible
that he marked and set out the entire distance.
, ^j^ r • Christopher Colles, an engineer of note, surveyed the Post Road in
r ^y 1789 from Federal Hall, in Wall Street, and noted thereon the position
'^7 -^ of the stones. He mapped the road from New York to Kingsbridge,
(^ )-j1ii and on other pages that to Albany. The survey locates the ist and 2d
miles on the Bowery Lane, and then follows the bed of the Post Road
over New York Lane and Madison Square. The site of the 3d stone
,'is placed about opposite 24th Street, near the juncture of the Bloom-
^.^<^ /ingdale Road.
'h^e^<j^^y^'^On May 10, 1813, the Common Council authorized the erection of a
Iry^l new set of stones, with the present City Hall as a starting point.
These guides marked the passing mfles on the Boston Road, No. i
being at^Rivington Street and the Bowery.
i^^/^r.^^.,.r/H' MILESTONES IN BLOOMINGDALE
That there was a series running up the Bloomingdale Road is
proved by the following evidence. The 3d stone, as Colles has shown,
was near 24th Street, at the junction of the Post Road.
This advertisement from the Columbian of June 6, 1815, has been
Milestones HISTORICAL GUIDE in Bloomingdale
"A stray steer was found on the premises of the subscriber on the
5th of August last. The owner may have the said steer by proving
property and paying all reasonable charges.
"Isaac Varian Jun.
"Bloomingdale — 3 mile stone."
This also fixes the Bloomingdale name as extending as far south
as Twenty-third Street.
The fourth stone must have been at about Forty-Fourth Street and
we have this advertisement from the Mercantile Advertiser of Decem-
ber ID, 1814, confirming the location there :
"To let for one or more years, the farm at Bloomingdale, near the
four mile stone, known by the name of Eden's Farm, consisting of
about 22 acres of land, on which are two dwelling houses and 2 farms
and to which may be added 2 pieces of pasture land of about 10 acres
each. Apply to
"John Jacob Astor, cor. Pine and Pearl Streets."
The evidence for saying that there was a second series marking
tended as far south as Forty-first Street. It was acquired by Astor
under foreclosure in 1803 for $25,000. So much for the distances from
The evidences for saying that there was a second series marking
the distance from the City Hall is as follows : We have personally
seen a stone which stood on the Road at Fifty-fourth Street during
our boyhood, which was marked "Four miles from N. Y."
In John Austin Stevens' notes to the History of the Chamber of
Commerce, p. 314, he says : "The five mile stone stands near the
corner of Seventy-fourth Street and the Bloomingdale Road, opposite
grounds lately owned by Pelatiah Perit (20th President of the Cham-
ber) and the 6 mile stone near Ninety-sixth Street, in front of the
property of Dr. Williams."
The Evening Post announced that John Moir opened the Bloom-
ingdale Academy in 181 5, located 5 miles from the city, on the Bloom-
ingdale Road. This was at Seventy-fourth Street.
Samuel Beman, A. M., opened a boarding school for small boys in
1838 at the six mile stone, situated "on Dr. Valentine Mott's beauti-
ful mansion grounds." The house stood at Ninety-fourth Street.
The 7 mile stone was at One Hundred and Sixteenth Street and
the 8 at One Hundred and Thirty-sixth Street, a half mile south of
the junction of the Bloomingdale and Kingsbridge Roads at One Hun-
dred and Forty-seventh Street.
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014 108 664 9
Eleventh Milestone Unveiling, May 30, 1912.
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