This morning, Walter Chatham sent me this photograph, taken through the quatrefoil window at the top of the tower at 59 Allen Street, the Charles Alger house. I share it because it is a view that few of us will have the opportunity to see for ourselves.
Today, what can be seen through the window is the side of 201 Allen Street, but when the Alger house was built the view would have been quite different. Back then, what lay to the east and southeast of the house were orchards and Universal Hill, a section of the city that is remembered in this letter of the editor, which appeared in the Hudson Daily Register on October 7, 1881.
[Universal Hill] was a broad, beautiful green, fronting the bay, extending from the old church edifice on Third street, which was the only building upon it, nearly to Second street, Allen street, between these points was then little more than a rough road, known as Federal or Church street. . . .
Universal Hill was the great resort for circuses and shows of every description, with an occasional militia "training." By affording as it did a beautiful outlook upon the broad bay and river, it was especially popular as a play ground for boys, an after tea resort for mothers and children, and as a summer evening resort for scores who seated upon the green grass until a late hour drank in the pure, cool breezes wafted from the bay, with no fear of malaria to molest or make afraid. It was a point, too, which was always crowded to watch the incoming and outgoing whale ships. There was a movement at one time made to preserve this as a city park, but it encountered great discouragement from each end of the city as a central project and never got beyond the period of "talk." Third Street was not yet extended when this hill is remembered as in its best condition. Only a cow path led down to the South bay road.
|Henry Ary (1802-1859), View of South Bay and Mt. Merino|
The "old church edifice on Third street" referenced in the letter may have been the meeting house of the first society of Univeralists (Universal Hill was sometimes called Universalist Hill), which was erected in 1817 at the southwest corner of Third and Allen streets.