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Friday, May 25, 1883





    The Brooklyn Bridge was successfully opened yesterday. A fairer day for the ceremony could not have been chosen. The sky was cloudless, and the heat from the brightly shining sun was tempered by a cool breeze. The pleasant weather brought visitors by the thousands from all around. Special trains were run from Philadelphia and Easton, Penn., and from Long Island points. Extra cars were attached to regular trains, and then there was barely standing room. It is estimated that over 50,000 people came in by the railroads alone, and swarms by the Sound boats and by the ferry-boats helped to swell the crowds in both cities.

    The opening of the bridge was decidedly Brooklyn's celebration. New-York's participation in it was meagre, save as to the crowd which thronged her streets. Some of the Exchanges and business houses down town were closed; others stopped business about noon, but as a rule, the stores were open as usual, and as a rule, too, patrons were as numerous as on the other days of the year, when no Brooklyn bridges are opened. The crowd from outside, with curious New-Yorkers, combined to give the vicinity of Madison-square, to Broadway, and to City Hall Park, the customary gala-day crowds. Thousands of people crowded each one of the places named. The windows, the balconies, and the roofs of Broadway buildings had their throngs. There was no general decoration beyond the display of the American flags. These were flown wherever there was a staff surmounting a building, and in themselves gave the City a holiday appearance. Aside from this display there were not more than a score of buildings that were decorated. Of these the most noticeable were in the vicinity of the New-York approach at the publication offices of the Sun and the Staats-Zeitung. Festoons of bunting graced a half-dozen Broadway fronts. While the crowd of strangers were gathering along the line of march Superintendent Walling was personally superintending the police arrangements up town and Inspect Murray doing a like service with the large force detailed from the various precincts down town. The arrangements were well executed, and as result there was no delay caused by the blocking of the streets. At about 9 o'clock a gang of workmen removed the unsightly fence which has been in front of the New-York approach and an equally impassable fence of about 50 policemen took its place.

    Promptly at 11:15 a.m. the assembly was sounded at the armory of the Seventh Regiment, the escort to the President, the Governor, the Mayor and the other more or less distinguished guests. A half-hour later the regiment had been equalized by Adjt. Rand into 14 platoons of 20 files, or 40 men, each. A guard was detailed, and at 11:45 the regiment, Col. Clark commanding, left its armory and, headed by Cappa's band of 70 pieces and a drum corps of 22, started on its march. The men were dressed in Summer uniform, gray coats, white trousers, and white helmets. From Sixty-seventh-street and Fourth-avenue, through Sixty-sixth-street and down Madison-avenue, the regiment marched down the avenue with the perfect fronts and the long swinging steps which have always marked it, to the Fifth-Avenue Hotel. At Twenty-third-street and Fifth-avenue the regiment halted. Two companies marched into Twenty-third-street, presented arms, and received the guests of the day. These occupied 24 carriages. In the first of these were seated President Arthur and Mayor Edson. These gentlemen were cheered as they appeared, and the President lifted his hat in acknowledgment of the compliment. In the second carriage were Secretary of state Frelinghuysen, Secretary of the treasury Folger, and trustee John T. Agnew. Postmaster-General Gresham, Secretary of the Navy Chandler, and trustee John G. Davis occupied carriage No. 3. In the fourth carriage were Attorney-General Brewster, Marshal McMichael, of the District of Columbia; Mr. Allan McMichael, an Trustee J. Adriance Bush. The fifth had F.J. Phillips, the President's private secretary; Surrogate Rollins, M.W. Cooper, and Charles E. Miller as occupants. The sixth carriage was occupied by Gov. Grover Cleveland and trustee Gen. Slocum. Seated in the seventh carriage were the Hon. Abram S. Hewitt, Controller Campbell, and trustee Charles McDonald. Gov. Ludlow, of New-Jersey; ex-Gov. Fairbanks, of Vermont; Gen. W.S. Stryker, and Trustee Jenkins Van Schaick rode in the eighth carriage. Gov. Littlefield, of Rhode Island, and a member of his staff accompanied Trustee Henry Clausen in the ninth carriage. The remaining carriage were occupied by Gov. Cleveland's staff, Gen. Carr and staff, Gen. Christensen and staff, and Gen. Fitzgerald and staff, all in full uniform. Among the gentlemen on citizen's dress who rode as guests were Collector of the Port William H. Robertson, ex-Secretary of th Treasury Windom, ex-Speaker of the house of Representatives Keifer, of Ohio; ex-Mayors Cooper and grace, the Hon. S.S. Cox, the Hon. Orlando B. Potter, Joseph Lydecker, William H. Guion, Gen. Lloyd Aspinwall, W.A. Palmer, C.J. Hill, of New Jersey; Senators Titus, Browning and Grady, and Assemblyman Spinola. When the guests were all seated in their carriages the procession, preceded by a squad of 40 mounted policemen, commanded by Sergt. Ressell, passed down Fifth-avenue and turned into Broadway. President Arthur of course, was the centre of observation. He was cheered and applauded, and bowed acknowledgments to the crowds in the windows and on the walks. When the procession passed Eighteenth-street the horses attached to the carriage in which the President and the Mayor was seated became frightened from some unknown cause and became unmanageable. They turned from Fifth-avenue down Eighteen-street toward Sixth-avenue. A police officer caught the horses by the bridle and soon had them under control. At one time it looked as if there would be a runaway, and Mayor Edson prepared to jump from the carriage in case such a proceeding was necessary. President Arthur was very calm during the whole incident which lasted but a minute or two, and so for that matter was the Mayor. When the horses were quieted and the carriage took its place in the procession again its occupants were greeted with the most hearty applause they received during the day.

    Meanwhile City Hall Park and Printing-house-square had filled up with people until the spectators were packed in masses through which it was almost impossible to pass, and those who had tickets to attend the ceremonies had hard work to reach the bridge. Every available house-top and window was filled, and an adventurous party occupied a tall telephone pole. It required the utmost efforts of the police to keep clear the necessary space. At 1:30 o'clock the procession reached the City Hall and halted. The guest in the carriages dismounted. The President was cheered. The crowd looked and asked for Gov. Cleveland, and was ready to cheer him, but they failed to recognize his portly form as he left his carriage and, with Gen. Slocum, walked up to join the Presidential party. The Aldermen, with the exception of Fitzpatrick, each carrying his staff of office and led by Sergeant-at-Arms Chambers with a gilt eagle perched on a long staff, the heads of various departments, and a horde of minor office-holders, joined the procession of foot-men. Alderman Fitzpatrick told a TIMES reporter that, having worked and spoken earnestly against the bridge on May 24, he did not think it would be have been consistent to attend the ceremonies. Then, too, he said, at the hour the bridge was opened he attended the funeral of an old and intimate friend, so that even if he desired to be on the bridge he would not have gone. The band struck up a lively march, the regiment broke into columns of fours, and the procession, like a huge gray and black serpent, wound its way to the entrance to the bridge. The regiment, or the greater part of it, marched upon the bridge at 1:50 o'clock. Preceding the President and Mayor Edson, who walked arm-in-arm, was a colored man carrying a yellow water-pail in one hand and a rack of glasses in the other. The President had to step carefully to avoid the water-carrier's heels. The crowd cheered the President. The darky took off as a salute to him and smiled, unaware of this proximity to greatness. The procession disappeared through the entrance, and then the undistinguished guests followed. That is, those who had tickets followed. Those who hadn't tickets, and who were very curious, paid $2 to ticket speculators for the pieces of pasteboard which permitted them over the span. During the rush white business cards of the requisite shape admitted a number shrewd enough to take advantage of the trick, but it was soon discovered and each card thereafter was thereafter carefully scrutinized.

    When the President and  Governor had walked about half the distance to the New-York pier, there was a commotion down the line, and Orator Abram S. Hewitt came struggling through the ranks trying to get somewhere neat the head of the procession. The house-tops and upper windows of buildings almost as far as the eye could reach were black with eager sightseers, many of whom made use of opera-glasses and small telescopes to aid in getting a good view of the parade. The view from the from the bridge as the procession passed across was fine. All of the vessels in the harbor were gayly decorated with flags and bunting. The ferry-boats, tugs and small craft on the rivers displayed flags. The pier-heads from which a view of the bridge was to be had were crowded with spectators. The vessels at the docks were packed with people, who took possession of them hours before the first gun was fired. The war vessels were anchored in a line below the bridge in the following order: Tennessee, Kearsarge, Yantic, Vandalia, Minnesota, and Saratoga. The first named was just above the Wall-street ferry, while the Saratoga was close to Governor's Island. Each man-of-war had a string of flags and bunting which reached from stem to stern and above the tops of the masts.

    West of the New-York pier the Seventh Regiment halted and the men quickly formed in two ranks at the right of the promenade, presented arms, and the civilians passed by. The band halted under the pier arches and played "Hail to the Chief." At 2 o'clock the head of the column reached the pier, where several of the bridge Trustees, headed by Acting President William C. Kingsley, welcomed the chief magistrate and the Governor. As the party started forward after a temporary halt, a Signal Corps officer dipped a signal flag, and in 10 seconds a puff of smoke shot upward from one of the port-holes of the man-of-war Tennessee, followed instantly by a loud report. This was the first gun of the salute of 21 guns, and a moment later the guns of the Vandalia, the Kearsarge, the Yantic, and the Minnesota, and those at the Navy-yard and at Castle William, on Governor's Island, joined in the salute. The members of the Fifth United States Artillery presented arms on the river side of the pier, and then the head of the column reached the centre of the great bridge. When the procession reached the pier on the Brooklyn side, Mayor Low and the Brooklyn authorities stepped forward, the two Mayors locked arms, and the President was joined by Mr. Kingsley. A detachment of marines from the navy-yard stood guard at the Brooklyn pier, and east of the pier the Twenty-third Regiment was drawn up. The men presented arms as the guests passed by, the band greeted the part with "Hail to the Chief," and the immense crowd gathered on the Brooklyn approach cheered. The President and those near him took their seats in the building at the Brooklyn approach, but the great mass of those who had crossed from New-York  were unable to get within hearing or seeing distance of the interior of the building. The jam was terrible, and it extended back half-way to the pier.

Article from The New York Times,  Friday, 25 May 1883, page 1.

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