New York Guide for Tourist

Burgeoning Town

When the Erie Canal opened in 1825, New York became the ocean gateway for the Great Lakes region. Business flourished and shipyards abounded in this major port, but even so there was too little work for newcomers. Blacks, Irish and

Germans lived on top of each other in crowded shanty towns.

The Catholic Irish were resented, and religious conflicts erupted. It was at this time that the American press began to play a highly influential role in politics. Hotly debated issues of the day included state support for Catholic schools, the immigrants’ right to vote and the abolition of slavery.

In December 1835, a terrible fire destroyed the heart of the business district, including all that remained from the Dutch era. But the city recovered with amazing speed. Old neighbourhoods were soon rebuilt with the new. wealthy banks putting up the buildings that still stand in Wall Street. There was much new construction uptown, too: in 1853, the Crystal Palace of the first American World’s Fair went up. and five years later work started on Central Park and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. In spite of the new prosperity, this was also a very turbulent period for New York. Between 1840 and 1860 the city’s population rose from 300.000 to 800,000. Riots, demonstrations and street fights were not uncommon.

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