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Project Gutenberg's The Personality of American Cities, by Edward Hungerford

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Title: The Personality of American Cities

Author: Edward Hungerford

Illustrator: E. Horter

Release Date: October 1, 2012 [EBook #40884]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

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MADISON SQUARE, NEW YORK
From an etching by E. Horter
MADISON SQUARE, NEW YORK

THE PERSONALITY
OF
AMERICAN CITIES

BY
EDWARD HUNGERFORD
Author of "The Modern Railroad,"
"Gertrude," etc.

WITH FRONTISPIECE BY
E. HORTER

NEW YORK
McBRIDE, NAST & COMPANY
1913


Copyright, 1913, by
McBride, Nast & Co.

Published November, 1913


TO
MY LITTLE DAUGHTER
ADRIENNE.


[i]

PREFACE

This book has been in preparation for nearly four years. In that time the author has been in each of the cities that he has set forth to describe herein. With the exception of Charleston, New Orleans and the three cities of the North Pacific, he has been in each city two or three or even four or five times.

The task that he has essayed—placing in a single chapter even something of the flavor and personality of a typical American town—has not been an easy one, but he hopes that he has given it a measure of fidelity and accuracy if nothing more. Of course, he does not believe that he has included within these covers all of the American cities of distinctive personality. Such a list would include necessarily such clear-cut New England towns as Portland, Worcester, Springfield, Hartford and New Haven; it would give heed to the solid Dutch manors of Albany; the wonderful development of Detroit, builded into a great city by the development of the motor car; the distinctive features of Milwaukee; the southern charm of Indianapolis and Cincinnati and Louisville; the breezy western atmosphere of Omaha and of Kansas City. And in Canada, Winnipeg, already proclaiming herself as the "Chicago of the Dominion," Vancouver and Victoria demand attention. The author regrets that the lack of personal acquaintance with the charms of some of these cities, as well as the pressure of space, serves to prevent their being included within the pages of his book. It is quite possible, however, that some or all of them may be included within subsequent editions.

[ii] The author bespeaks his thanks to the magazine editors who were gracious enough to permit him to include portions of his articles from their pages. He wishes particularly to thank for their generous assistance in the preparation of this book, R. C. Ellsworth, and Cromwell Childe of New York; C. Armand Miller, D.D., of Philadelphia; Nat Olds, formerly of Rochester; Edwin Baxter of Cleveland; and Victor Ross of Toronto. Without their aid it is conceivable that the book would not have come into its being. And having aided it, they must be content to be known as its foster fathers.

E. H.
Brooklyn, New York, September, 1913.

CONTENTS

    PAGE
1. Our Ancient Hub 1
2. America's New York 17
3. Across the East River 61
4. William Penn's Town 76
5. The Monumental City 95
6. The American Mecca 108
7. The City of the Seven Hills 127
8. Where Romance and Courtesy do not Forget 135
9. Rochester—and Her Neighbors 153
10. Steel's Great Capital 171
11. The Sixth City 185
12. Chicago—and the Chicagoans 198
13. The Twin Cities 212
14. The Gateway of the Southwest 225
15. The Old French Lady by the Riverbank 236
16. The City of the Little Squares 256
17. The American Paris 266
18. Two Rivals of the North Pacific—and a Third   280
19. San Francisco—The Newest Phœnix 288
20. Belfast in America 307
21. Where French and English Meet 318
22. The City that Never Grows Young 332

THE ILLUSTRATIONS

Madison Square, New York Frontispiece
FACING
PAGE  
Tremont Street, Boston 2
Park Street, Boston 10
The Brooklyn Bridge 18
View of New York from a Skyscraper 30
Washington Square, New York 46
A Quiet Street on Brooklyn Heights 64
An old Brooklyn Homestead 72
City Hall Philadelphia 84
In Baltimore Harbor 96
Charles Street, Baltimore 102
The Union Station, Washington 114
The Capitol 122
St. Michael's Churchyard, Charleston 146
The Erie Canal, in Rochester 154
A Home in Rochester 160
Syracuse—the canal 168
The waterfront, Pittsburgh 180
One of Cleveland's broad avenues 192
Michigan Avenue and lake-front, Chicago 204
The River at St. Paul 220
Entrance to the University, St. Louis 226
A home in the newer St. Louis 232
Steamboat at the New Orleans levee 244
The big cathedral, San Antonio 256
San Juan Mission, San Antonio 262
The arch at 17th Street, Denver 270
Seattle, Puget Sound and the Olympics 282
Where the Pacific rolls up to San Francisco 294
The Mission Dolores, San Francisco 302
A Church parade in Montreal 320
Looking from the Terrace into Lower Quebec 334
Four Brethren upon the Terrace 340

[1]

THE PERSONALITY OF
AMERICAN CITIES

1
OUR ANCIENT HUB

There are more things forbidden in Boston than in Berlin—and that is saying much. You may be a citizen of a republic, but when you come to the old Bay State town you suddenly realize that you are being ruled. At each park entrance is posted a code of rules and regulations that would take a quarter of an hour to read and digest; in the elevated and trolley cars, in public institutions and churches, even in shops and hotels, the canons laid down for your conduct are sharp in detail and unvarying in command. You may not whistle in a public park, nor loiter within a subway station, nor pray aloud upon the Charlesbank. And for some reason, which seems delightfully unreasonable to a man without the pale, you may not take an elevated ticket from an elevated railroad station. It is to be immediately deposited within the chopping-box before you board your train. As to what might happen to a hapless human who emerged from a station with a ticket still in his possession, the Boston code does not distinctly state.

And yet—like most tightly ruled principalities—Boston's attractiveness is keen even to the unregulated mind. The effect of many rules and sundry regulations seems to be law and order—to an extent hardly reached in any other city within the United States. The Bos[2]tonian is occasionally rude; these occasions are almost invariably upon his overcrowded streets and in the public places—until the stranger may begin to wonder if, after all, the street railroad employés have a monopoly of good manners—but he is always just. His mind is judicial. He treats you fairly. And if he knows you, knows your forbears as well, he is courtesy of the highest sort. And there is no hospitality in the land to be compared with Boston hospitality—once you have been admitted to its portals.

Boston's Via Sacre—Tremont Street—and Park
Street church
Boston's Via Sacre—Tremont Street—and Park Street church

So we have come in this second decade of the twentieth century to speak of the inner cult of the Boston folk as Brahmins. The term is not new. But in the whole land there is not one better applied. For almost as the high caste of mystic India hold themselves aloof from even the mere sight of less favored humans, do these great, somber houses of Beacon street and the rest of the Back Bay close their doors tightly to the stranger. Make no mistake as to this very thing. You rarely read of Boston society—her Brahmin caste—in the columns of her newspapers. There are, of course, distinguished Boston folk whose names ring there many times—a young girl who through her athletic triumphs and her sane fashion of looking at life forms a good example for her sisters across the land; a brilliant broker, with an itching for printer's ink, who places small red devils upon his stationery; a society matron who must always sit in the same balcony seat at the Symphony concerts, and who houses in her eccentric Back Bay home perhaps the finest private art gallery in America. These folk and many others of their sort head the so-called "Society columns" of the Sunday newspapers. But the real Bostonese do not run to outre stationery or other eccentricities. They live within the tight walls of their somber, simple, lovely old red-brick houses, and thank God that there were days that had the names of Winthrop[3] or Cabot or Adams or Peabody spelled in tinted letters along the horizon.

A. M. Howe, who knows his Boston thoroughly, once told of two old ladies there who always quarreled as to which should have the first look at the Transcript each evening.

"I want to see if anybody nice has died in the Transcript this evening," the older sister would say as she would hear the thud of the paper against the stout outer door,—and after that the battle was on.

We always had suspected Mr. Howe of going rather far in this, until we came to the facts. It seems that there were two old ladies in Cambridge, which—as every one ought to know, is a sort of scholastic annex to Boston—and that they never quarreled—save on the matter of the first possession of the Transcript. On that vexed question they never failed to disagree. The matter was brought to the attention of the owners of the newspaper—and they settled it by sending an extra copy of the Transcript each evening, with their compliments. And that could not have happened anywhere else in this land save on the shores of Massachusetts Bay.

Yet these old Bostonians the chance visitor to the city rarely, if ever, sees. They are conspicuous by their very absence. He will not find them lunching in the showy restaurants of the Touraine or in its newest competitor farther up Boylston street. They shrink. He may sometime catch a glimpse of a patrician New England countenance behind the window-glass of a carriage-door, or even see the Brahmins quietly walking home from church through the sacred streets of the Back Bay on a Sunday morning, but that is all. The doors of the old houses upon those streets are tightly closed upon him.

But if one of those doors will open ever and ever so tiny a crack to him, it will open full-wide, with the gen[4]erous width of New England hospitality, and bid him enter. We remember dining in one of these famous old houses two or three seasons ago. It was in the heart of winter—a Boston winter—and the night was capriciously changing from rain to sleet and sleet to rain again. The wind blew in from the sea with that piercing sharpness, so characteristic of Boston. It bent the bare branches of the old trees upon the Common, sent swinging overhead signs to creaking and shrieking in their misery, played sad havoc with unwary umbrellas, and shot the flares from the bracketed gas-lamps along the streets into all manner of fanciful forms. In such a storm we made our way through streets of solid brick houses up the hill to the famous Bulfinch State House and then down again through Mount Vernon street and Louisburg square—highways that once properly flattened might have been taken from Mayfair or Belgravia. Finally our path led to a little street, boasting but eight of the stolid brick houses and arranged in the form of a capital T. The shank of the T gave that little colony its sole access to the remainder of the world.

To one of these eight old houses—an austere fellow and the product of an austere age—we were asked. When its solid door closed behind us, we were in another Boston. Not that the interior of the house belied its stolid front. It was as simple as yellow tintings and bare walls might ever be. But the few pieces of furniture that were scattered through the generous rooms were real furniture, mahogany of a sort that one rarely ever sees in shops or auction-rooms, the canvases that occasionally relieved those bare walls were paintings that would have graced even sizeable public collections. The dinner was simple—compared with New York standards—but the hospitality was generous, even still compared with the standards of New York. To that informal dinner had been bidden a group of Boston men and[5] women fairly representative of the town, a Harvard professor of real renown, the editor of an influential daily newspaper, a barrister of national reputation, a sociologist whose heart has gone toward her work and made that work successful. These folk, exquisite in their poise because of their absolute simplicity, discussed the issues of the moment—the city's progress in the playground movement, the possibilities of minimum wage laws, the tragic devotion of Mrs. Pankhurst and her daughter to woman suffrage. In New York a similar group of folk similarly gathered would have discussed the newest and most elaborate of hotels or George M. Cohan's latest show.

It is this very quality that makes Boston so different—and so delightful. She may look like a cleanly London, as she often boasts—with her sober streets of red brick—and yet she still remains, despite the great changes that have come to pass in the character of her people within the past dozen years—a really American town. A few hours of study of the faces upon the streets and in the public conveyances will confirm this. And perhaps it is this very fact that makes a certain, well-known resident of the Middle West come to Boston once or twice each year without any purpose than his own announced one of dwelling for a few days within a "really civilized community."

*****

We well remember our first visit to Boston some—twenty years ago. We came over the Boston & Albany railroad down into the old station in Kneeland street. For it was before the day that those two mammoth and barnlike terminals, the North and the South stations, had been built. In those days the railroad stations of Boston expressed more than a little of her personality—even the dingy ark of the Boston & Maine which thrust itself out ahead of all its competitors along Causeway[6] street and reached into Haymarket square. The Providence station in Park square and the Lowell and the Albany stations bespoke in pretentious architecture something of the importance and elegance of those three railroads, while as for the gray stone castellated station of the Fitchburg railroad—that sublimated passenger-house made timid travelers almost feel that they were gazing at the East portal of the Hoosic tunnel itself. It originally held a great hall—superimposed above the train-shed—and in that hall Jenny Lind sang when first she came to Boston. Afterwards it was decided that a concert hall over a noisy train-house was hardly a happy ingenuity and it was torn out. By that time, however, the Fitchburg station had taken its place in the annals of Boston.

But the Fitchburg railroad, even in its palmiest days, was never to be compared with "the Albany." Even the railroad to Providence, with its forty-five miles of well-nigh perfect roadbed, over which the trains thundered in fifty-five minutes, even a half century ago, was not to be mentioned in the same breath with the Boston & Albany. There was a railroad. And even if its charter did compel it to pay back to the commonwealth of Massachusetts every penny that it earned in excess of eight per cent. dividends upon its stock, that was not to be counted against it. It had never the least difficulty in earning more than that sum and, as far as we know, it never paid the state any money. But the commonwealth of Massachusetts did not lose. It gained a high-grade railroad—in the day when America hardly knew the meaning of such a term. The stations along "the Albany" were rare bits of architecture while the average railroad depot, even in good-sized towns, was a dingy, barnlike hole. It ripped out wooden and iron bridges by the dozens along its main line and branches and set the[7] pace for the rest of the country by building stout stone-arch bridges—of the sort that last the centuries. These things, and many others, were typical of the road.

The Boston & Albany was unique in the fact that each stockholder who lived along its lines received as a yearly perquisite a pass to the annual meeting in Boston. The annual meetings were always well attended. Staid college professors, remembering the joys of Boston book shops, old ladies wearing black bombazine, tiny bonnets and prim expressions—all these and many others, too, looked forward to the annual meeting of their railroad as a child looks forward to Christmas.

This is not the time or place to discuss the vexatious railroad situation in New England, but it is worth while to note that when the New York Central railroad leased the Boston & Albany—a little more than a dozen years ago—and began blotting out the familiar name upon the engines and the cars, a wave of sentimental anger swept over Boston that it had hardly known since it had inflamed over slavery and laid the foundations for the greatest internecine conflict that the world has ever known. Boston held no quarrel with the owners of the New York Central—if they would only not disturb the traditions of its great railroad. But the owners of the New York Central did not understand. It was not them. It was that word "New York" being blazoned before Boston eyes that was making the trouble. The old town had seen the Boston & Providence and then, horror of horrors, the New England disappear before a railroad that called itself the New York, New Haven & Hartford. And after these the offense was being created against its pet railroad—the Boston & Albany.

The other day the New York Central saw a great light. And in that mental brilliancy it gave back to Boston its old railroad. As this is being written "Boston & Al[8]bany" is reappearing upon whole brigades of engines and regiments of freight and passenger cars. A friendly sentiment, reared in traditions, has not been slow to show its appreciation of the act of the railroad in New York. And the men in charge of the great consolidation of the other railroads east of the Hudson river have not been slow to follow in their action. They have announced that they plan to build their railroads into one great system called the "New England Lines." It begins to look as if, after all these years, they have begun to read the Boston mind.

*****

We have strayed far from our text—from our long ago early visit to Boston. Our first impression of the town then came from a policeman whom we saw in the old Kneeland street station. The policeman had white side-whiskers and he wore gold-bowed spectacles. We have never, either before or after our first arrival in Boston, seen a policeman adorned, either simultaneously or separately, with white "mutton-chops" or gold-bowed spectacles, and so it was that this Bostonian made a distinct impression. Boston, itself, made many impressions. Twenty years ago many of the institutions of the town that have since disappeared, still remained. True it is that the horse-cars were going from Tremont street, for the first of the diminutive subways that have kept the city years ahead of most American towns in the solution of her intra-urban transportation problems had been completed and was a nine-days' marvel to the land. The coldly gray "Christian Science Cathedral," with its wonderful Sunday congregations, could hardly have existed then, even as a dream in the mind of its founder. And the Boston Museum still existed. To be sure, many of its glories in the days of William Warren and Annie Clarke had disappeared and it was doomed a few months later to such attractions as the booking syndicates might allot it, but[9] its row of exterior lamps still blazed in Tremont street: until in June, 1903, it rang down its green baize curtains and closed its historic doors for the last time.

And yet Boston has not changed greatly in twenty years—not in outward appearance at least. When she builds anew she builds with reverent regard for her ideals and her past traditions. Her architects must be steeped in both. Nearly twenty years ago she builded her first skyscraper—a modest and dignified affair of but twelve stories—and was then so shocked at her own audacity that she promised to be very, very good for ever after and never to do anything of that sort again. So when she found that a new hotel going up near Copley Square had overstepped her modest limit of seven stories—or is it eight?—she showed that she could have firmness in her determination. She chopped the cornice and the upper story boldly off the new hotel, and so it stands today, as if someone had passed a giant slicing-knife cleanly over the structure.

So it is that Boston still holds to her attractive sky-line, the exquisite composition of such distinctive thoroughfares as Park street from the fine old church at Tremont street up the hill to Beacon street, the pillared, yellow front of the old State House; still keeps her meeting-houses with their delicate belfried spires standing guard upon her many hilltops; maintains the rich traditions of her history in the infinite detail of her architecture—in some bit of wall or section of iron fence, in the paneling of a door, the set of a cupola, the thrust of a street-lamp, and even in the chimney-pots that thrust themselves on high to the attention of the man upon the pavement. She cherishes her memories. And when she builds anew she does not forget her ideals.

She never forgets her ideals. And if at times they may lead her to regard herself a bit too seriously, they make[10] for the old town one of the things that too many other American towns lack—a real and distinctive personality. For instance, take her public houses, her taverns and inns. They are notable in the fact that they are distinctive—and something more. In a day and age when the famous American hotels of other days and generations and the things for which they stood, have been rather forgotten in the strife to imitate a certain type of New York skyscraper hotel, the Boston hotels still stand distinctive. Not that the New York type of skyscraper is not excellent. It must have had its strong points to have been so copied across the land. But if all the hotels in every town, big and little, are to be fashioned in the essentials from the same mold what is to become of the zest for travel? You travel for variety's sake, otherwise you might as well go to the local skyscraper hotel in your own town and save railroad fare and other transportation expenses.

But no matter what may be true of other towns, the Boston hotels are different. "I like the Quincy House for its sea-fud," said an old legislator from Sandisfield more than forty years ago, and as for the Tremont House, turn the pages of your "American Notes" and recall the praise that Charles Dickens gave that not-to-be-forgotten hostelry. It was one of the very few things in the earlier America that did not seem to excite his entire contempt.

Up Park Street, past the Common to Boston's famous State House
Up Park Street, past the Common to Boston's famous State House

The Tremont House has gone—it disappeared under the advance of modernity in the serpent-like guise of the first subway in America, creeping down in front of it. But other hotels of the old Boston remain a'plenty, the staid Revere House, Parker's, Young's, the Adams House,—ages seem to have mellowed but not lessened their comforts to the traveler. Where else can one find a catalogue of the hotel library hanging beside his dresser when he retires to the privacy of his room, not a library[11] crammed with "best-sellers" like these itinerant institutions on the limited trains, but filled with real books of a far more solid sort—where else such wisdom on tap in a tavern—but Boston? And if the traveler fails to be schooled to such possibilities, we might ask where else in Christendom can he get boiled scrod, or Washington pie, or fish balls, or cod tongues with bacon, or that magna charta of the New England appetite, that Plymouth rock from which has come all the virtues of its sturdy folk, baked beans with brown bread? Eating in Boston is good. In these things it is superlative. And it is pleasing to know that Boston's newest hotel—the Copley-Plaza—perhaps the finest hotel in America, since it has discarded new-fashioned details for the old—observes the traditions of the town in which it truly earns its bread and butter.

And if the traveler have magic sesame, the clubs of the old town may open to him, clubs with spotless integrity and matchless service, all the way from the stately Somerset and the Algonquin through to the democratic City Club—with its more than four thousand enthusiastic members. This last is perhaps the most representative of Boston clubs. Its old house—unfortunately soon to be vacated—stands in Beacon street, within a stone's throw of King's Chapel and Tremont street. It is a rare old house; two houses in fact, lending tenderly to the Boston traditions of delicate bow fronts and severity of ornament. Its rooms are broad and long and low, filled with hospitable tables and comfortable Windsor chairs. In its great fireplace hickory logs crackle and the New England tradition of an ash-bank is preserved to the minutest detail. Its dun-colored walls are lined with rare prints and old photographs—pictures for the most part of that old Boston which was and which never again can be. The dishes that come out from its kitchen are from the best of tradi[12]tional New England recipes. And as your host leads you out from the dining-room he delves deep into a barrel and brings out two bright red apples. He hands you one.

"We New England folk think that most of the real virtues of life are seated in red apples," he says—and there is something in his way of saying it that makes you believe that he is right.

Another day and he may lead you to still another club—this one down under the roof of one of those solid old stone warehouses with steep-pitched roofs that thrust themselves abruptly out into the harbor-line. It is a yacht club, and its fortress-like windows, shaped like the port-holes of a ship, look direct to a brisk water highway to the open sea. Underneath those very windows is the rush and turmoil of one of the busiest fish markets in the land. There is nothing on either coast, no, not even down in the picturesque Gulf that can compare with this place, which reeks with the odors and where the fishermen handle the cod with huge forks and paint the decks of their staunch little vessels a distinctive color to show the nationality of the folk who man it. We remember that the Portuguese have a whimsical fancy for painting the decks of their little fishing schooners a most unusual blue.

Of Boston harbor an entire book might easily be written—of the quaint craft that still tie to its wharves, the brave show of shipping that passes in and out each day, of Boston Light and that other silent, watchful sentinel which stands upon Minot's Ledge; of the Navy Yard over in Charlestown at which the Constitution, most famous of all fighting-ships, rusts out her fighting heart through the long years. And looking down upon that old Navy Yard from Boston itself is Copp's Hill burying-ground, a rich grubbing-place for the seekers of epitaphs and of genealogical lore. We remember once[13] winning the heart of the keeper of the old cemetery and of being permitted to descend to the vault of one of the oldest of Boston families. In the dark place there were three little groups of bones and we knew that only three persons had been buried there.

Above, the sunshine beat merrily down upon Copp's Hill, with its headstones arranged in neat rows along the tidy paths and the elevated trains in an encircling street fairly belying the bullets in the stones—shot there from Bunker Hill a century and a quarter before.... There are many other such burying-grounds in Boston—in the very heart of the city the Granary and King's Chapel burying-ground where a great owl sometimes comes at dusk and opens his eyes wide at the traffic of a great city encircling one of God's acres. And a soul that revels in these things will, perchance, journey to Salem, seventeen miles distant, and see the moldering seaport that once rivaled Boston in her prosperity and that sent her clipper ships sailing around the wide world. There are many delightful side-trips out from Boston—the sail across the tumbling bay to Provincetown, which still boasts a town crier, down to Plymouth or up to Gloucester, with its smart, seaside resorts nearby. And back from Boston there are other moldering towns, filled with fascination and romance. Some of them have hardly changed within the century.

Even Boston does not change rapidly. Thank God for that! She keeps well to the old customs and the old traditions, holds tightly to her ideals. Only in the folk who walk her awkward streets can the discerning man see the new Boston. The old types of Brahmins are outclassed. Some of them still do amazingly well in the professions but these are few. Long ago the steady press of immigration at the port of Boston took political power away from them. Yet the old guard stands reso[14]lute. And the impress of its manners is not lost upon the Boston of to-day.

For instance, take the vernacular of the town. Boston has a rather old-fashioned habit of speaking the English language. It came upon us rather suddenly one day as we journeyed out Huntington avenue to the smart new gray and red opera house. The very colorings of the foyer of that house—soft and simple—bespoke the refinement of the Boston to-day.

In the Metropolitan Opera House, New York, in every other one of the big opera houses that are springing up mushroom-fashion across the land, our ears would have been assailed by "Librettos! Get your librettos!" Not so in Boston. At the Boston Opera House the young woman back of the foyer stand calmly announced at clock-like intervals:

"Translations. Translations."

And the head usher, whom the older Bostonians grasped by the hand and seemed to regard as a long-lost friend, did not sip out, "Checks, please."

"Locations," he requested, as he condescended to the hand-grasps of the socially elect.

"The nearer door for those stepping out," announces the guard upon the elevated train and as for the surface trolley-cars, those wonderful green perambulators laden down with more signs than nine ordinary trolley-cars would carry at one time, they do not speak of the newest type in Boston as "Pay-as-you-enter cars," after the fashion of less cultured communities. In the Hub they are known as Prepayment cars—its precision is unrelenting.

All of these things make for the furthering of the charm of Boston. They are tangible assets and even folk from the newer parts of the land are not slow to realize them as such—remember that man from the Middle West who makes a journey once or twice each[15] year to be in the very heart of civilization. There was another Westerner—this man a resident of Omaha, who sent his boy—already a graduate of a pretty well-known university near Chicago—to do some post-graduate work at Harvard. A few weeks later he had a letter from his son. It read something after this fashion:

"It seems absurd, Dad, but Harvard does have some absurd regulations. In fine, they won't let me go out in a shell or boat of any sort upon the river without special written permission from you. Will you fix me up by return mail and we will both try to forget this fool undergraduate regulation, etc...."

That regulation struck Daddy about as it had hit Sonny. But he hastened to comply with the request. When he had finished, he felt that he had turned out quite a document, one that would be enjoyed in the faculty and perhaps framed and hung up in some quiet nook. It read:

"To all whom it may concern:

This is to certify that my son, John Japson Jones, is hereby authorized and permitted to row, swim, dive or otherwise disport himself upon, above or under the waters of the Charles river, Massachusetts bay and waters adjacent to them until especially revoked. Given under my hand and seal at the city of Omaha in the state of Nebraska, on the ....th day of October, 19....

(Signed)
JAMES JONES."

Then James Jones awaited the consequences. It was not long after that the letter came from John Japson.

"—How could you do it, Dad?" he demanded. "You don't know these folks. They're not our sort. They don't know humor. They're afraid of it. The only man I dared to show that awful thing to was the janitor and he stuck up his nose. 'Guess your pop must have been a little full,' was his comment."

James Jones decided to come to Boston forthwith. He wanted to see for himself what sort of a community John Japson had strayed into. He did see Boston, Cam[16]bridge too, to his heart's content. Boston was his particular delight. Two of its citizens took the gentleman from Omaha well in hand. They showed him the Frog Pond—it was just before the season when they remove the Frog Pond for the season and put down the boardwalks in the Common—and they showed him the crookedest streets of any town upon the American continent. They filled him with beans and with codfish, tickled his palate with the finest Medford rum. He mingled and he browsed and before they were done with him his barbaric soul became enraptured.

"Boston is great," he admitted, frankly. Then, in an afterthought, he added:

"I think that I should like to call her the Omaha of the East."

*****

The owl still comes on cloudy, troubled nights and sits in a high tree-limb above the quiet graves in the graveyard of King's Chapel. When he comes he sees the tardiest of the Boston men, carrying the green bags, that their daddies and their granddaddies before them carried, as they go slipping down the School street hill. He is a very old owl and he loves the old town—loves each of its austere meeting-houses with their belfried towers, loves the meeting places behind the rows of chimney-pots, the open reaches of the Common and the adjoining Public Gardens, where children paddle in the swan-boats all summer long. He loves the tang and mist of the nearby sea, but best of all he likes the tree-limb in the old graveyard, the part of Boston that stands changeless through the years—that thrusts itself into the very face of modernity with the grimy stone church at its corner and seems to say:

"I am the Past. To the Past, Reverence."

And in Boston Modernity halts many times to make obeisance to the Past.


[17]

2
AMERICA'S NEW YORK

I

Before the dawn, metropolitan New York is astir. As a matter of far more accurate fact she never sleeps. You may call her the City of the Sleepless Eye and hit right upon the mark. For at any time of the lonely hours of the night she is still a busy place. Elevated and subway trains and surface cars, although shortened and reduced in number, are upon their ways and are remarkably well filled. Regiments of men are engaged in getting out the morning papers—in a dozen different languages of the sons of men—and another regiment is coming on duty to lay the foundations of the earliest editions of the evening papers. There are workers here and there and everywhere in the City of the Sleepless Eye.

But before the dawn, New York becomes actively astir. Lights flash into dull radiance in the rows of side-street tenement and apartment houses all the way from Brooklyn bridge to Bronx Park. New York is beginning to dress. Other lights flash into short brilliancy before the coming of the dawn. New York is beginning to eat its breakfast. And right afterwards the stations of the elevated and the subway, the corners where the speeding surface cars will sometimes hesitate, become the objects of attack of an army that is marching upon the town. Workaday New York is stretching its arms and settling down to business.

Nor is the awakening city to be confined to the narrow[18] strip of island between the North and East rivers. Over on Long island are Brooklyn, Long Island City, Flushing, Jamaica and a score of other important places now within the limits of Greater New York. Some folk find it more economical to live in these places than in the cramped confines of Manhattan, and so it is hardly dawn before the great bridges and the tubes over and under the East river are doing the work for which they were built—and doing it masterfully.

The Brooklyn bridge is the oldest of these and yet it has been bending to its superhuman task for barely thirty years. In these thirty years it has been constantly reconstructed—but the best devices of the engineers, doubling and tripling the facilities of the original structure, can hardly keep pace with the growth of the communities and the traffic it has to serve. So within these thirty years other bridges and two sets of tunnels have come to span the East river. But the work of the first of all man's highways to conquer the mighty water highway has hardly lessened. The oldest of the bridges, and the most beautiful despite the ugliness of its approaches, still pours Brooklynites into Park Row, fifty, sixty, seventy thousand to the hour.

The Brooklyn Bridge is the finest of transportation structures
The Brooklyn Bridge is the finest of transportation structures

The overloading of the Brooklyn bridge is repeated in the subway—that hidden giant of New York, which is the real backbone of the island of Manhattan. Built to carry four hundred thousand humans a day, that busy railroad has begun to carry more than a million each working day. How it is done, no one, not even the engineers of the company that operates it, really knows. The riders in the great tube who have to use it during the busiest of the rush hours are willing to hazard a guess, however. It is probable that in no other railroad of the sort would jamming and crowding of this sort be tolerated for more than a week. Yet the patrons of the subway not only tolerate but, after a fashion, they like[19] it. You can ask a New Yorker about it half an hour after his trip down town, sardine-fashion, and he will only say:

"The subway? It's the greatest ever. I can come down from Seventy-second street to Wall street in sixteen minutes, and in the old days it used to take me twenty-six or twenty-seven minutes by the elevated."

There is your real New Yorker. He would be perfectly willing to be bound and gagged and shot through a pneumatic tube like a packet of letters, if he thought that he could save twenty minutes between the Battery and the Harlem river. No wonder then that he scorns a relatively greater degree of comfort in elevated trains and surface cars and hurries to the overcrowded subway.

But New York astir in the morning is more even than Manhattan, the Bronx and the populous boroughs over on Long island. Upon its westerly edge runs the Hudson river—New Yorkers will always persist in calling it the North river—one of the masterly water highways of the land. The busy East river had been spanned by man twice before any man was bold enough to suggest a continuous railroad across the Hudson. Now there are several—the wonderful double tubes of the Pennsylvania railroad leading from its new terminal in the uptown heart of Manhattan—and two double sets of tunnels of a rapid-transit railroad leading from New Jersey both uptown and downtown in Manhattan. This rapid transit railroad—the Hudson & Manhattan, to use its legal name, although most New Yorkers speak of it as the McAdoo Tubes, because of the man who had the courage to build it—links workaday New York with a group of great railroad terminals that line the eastern rim of New Jersey all the way from Communipaw through Jersey City to Hoboken. And the railroads reach with more than twenty busy arms off[20] across the Jersey marshes to rolling hills and incipient mountains. Upon those hills and mountains live nearly a hundred thousand New Yorkers—men whose business interests are closely bound up in the metropolis of the New World but whose social and home ties are laid in a neighboring state. These—together with their fellows from Westchester county, the southwestern corner of Connecticut and from the Long island suburban towns—measure a railroad journey of from ten to thirty miles in the morning, the same journey home at night, as but an incident in their day's work. They form the great brigade of commuters, as a rule the last of the working army of New York to come to business.

The commuter has his own troubles—sometimes. By reason of his self-chosen isolation he may suffer certain deprivations. The servant question is not the least of these. And the extremes of a winter in New York come hard upon him. There are days when the Eight-twenty-two suddenly loses all that reputation for steadiness and sobriety that it has taken half a year to achieve, days when sleepy schooners laden with brick and claiming the holy right-of-way of the navigator get caught in the draw-bridges, days when the sharp unexpectedness of a miniature blizzard freezes terminal switches and signals and tangles traffic inexplicably—days, and nights as well, when the streets of his suburban village are well-nigh impassable. But these days are in a tremendous minority. And even upon the worst of them he can put the rush and turmoil of the city behind him—in the peace and silence of his country place he can forget the sorrows of Harlem yesteryear—with the noisy twins on the floor below and the mechanical piano right overhead.

*****

For nearly four hours the steady rush toward work continues. You can gauge it by a variety of conditions[21]—even by the newspapers that are being spread wide open the length of the cars. In the early morning the popular penny papers—the American and the World predominating, with a sprinkling of the Press in between. Two hours later and while these popular penny papers are still being read—they seem to have a particular vogue with the little stenographers and the shopgirls—the more staid journals show themselves. Men who like the solid reading of the Times, with its law calendars and its market reports; men of the town who frankly confess to an affection for the flippancy of the Sun, or who have not lost the small-town spirit of their youth enough to carry them beyond the immensely personal tone of the Herald. And in between these, men who sniff at the mere mention of the name of Roosevelt, and who read the Tribune because their daddies and their grand-daddies in their turn read it before them, or frankly business souls who are opening the day with a conscientious study of the Journal of Commerce or the Wall street sheets.

New York goes to work reading its newspaper. And before you have finished a Day of Days in the biggest city of the land you might also see that it goes to lunch with a newspaper in its hand, returns home tired with the fearful thoughts of business to delve comfortably into the gossip of the day in the favorite evening paper.

Just as you stand at the portals of the business part of the town and measure the incoming throng by its favorite papers so can you sieve out the classes of the workers almost by the hours at which they report for duty. In the early morning, in the winter still by artificial light, come those patient souls who exist literally and almost bitterly by the labor of their hands and the sweat of their brows. With them are the cleaners and the elevator crews of the great office-buildings—those tremendous commercial towers that New[22] York has been sending skyward for the past quarter of a century. On the heels of these the first of the workers in the office-buildings, office-boys, young clerks, girl stenographers whose wonderful attire is a reflection of the glories that we shall see upon Fifth avenue later in this day. It is pinching business, literally—the dressing of these young girls. But if their faces are suspiciously pinky or suspiciously chalky, if their pumps and thin silk stockings, their short skirts and their open-necked waists atrocious upon a chill and nasty morning, we shall know that they are but the reflection of their more comfortable sisters uptown. Not all of this rapidly increasing army of women workers in business New York is artificial. Not a bit of it. There are girls in downtown offices whose refinement of dress and deportment, whose exquisite poise, whose well-schooled voices might have come from the finest old New York houses. And these are the girls who revel in their Saturday afternoons uptown—all in the smartness of best bib and tucker—at the matinee or fussing with tea at Sherry's or the Plaza.

An army of office workers pours itself into the business buildings that line Broadway and its important parallel streets all the way from Forty-second street to the Battery—that cluster with increasing discomfort in the narrow tip of Manhattan south of the City Hall. Clerks, stenographers, more clerks, more stenographers, now department heads and junior partners—finally the big fellows themselves, coming down democratically in the short-haul trains of the Sixth avenue elevated that start from Fifty-eighth street or even enduring the discomforts of the subway, for it takes a leisurely sort of a millionaire indeed who can afford to come in his motor car all the way downtown through the press and strain of Broadway traffic. After all these, the Wall street men. For the exchange opens at the stroke of ten of[23] Trinity's clock and five brief and bitter hours of trading have begun.

For four hours this flood of humans pouring out of the ferry-house and the railroad terminals, up from the subway kiosks and out from the narrow stairways of the elevated railroads. The narrow downtown streets congest, again and again. The sidewalks overflow and traffic takes to the middle of the streets. But the great office buildings absorb the major portion of the crowds. Their vertical railroads—eight or ten or twenty or thirty cars—are working to capacity and workaday New York is sifting itself to its task. By ten o'clock the office buildings are aglow with industry—the great machine of business starting below the level of the street and reaching high within the great commercial towers.

II

New York is the City of the Towers.

Sometimes a well-traveled soul will arise in the majesty of contemplation and say that in the American metropolis he sees the shadowy ghost of some foreign one. Along Madison square, where the cabbies still stand in a long, gently-curving, expectant line he will draw his breath through his teeth, point with his walking stick through the tracery of spring-blossoming foliage at Diana on her tower-perch and whisper reverently:

"It is Paris—Paris once again."

And there is a lower corner of Central Park that makes him think of Berlin; a long row of red brick houses with white trimmings along the north shore of Washington square that is a resemblance to blocks of a similar sort in London.

But he is quite mistaken. New York does not aim to be a replica of any foreign metropolis. She has her own personality, her own aggressive individualism; she[24] is the City of the Towers as well as the City of the Sleepless Eye—and no mean city at that. Take some clever European traveler, a man who can find his way around any of the foreign capitals with his eyes shut, and let him come to New York for the first time; approach our own imperial city through her most impressive gateway—that narrow passage from the sea between the ramparts of the guarding fortresses. This man, this traveler, has heard of the towers of the great New World city—they have been baldly pictured to him as giant, top-heavy barracks, meaningless compositions of ugly blank walls, punctuated with an infinity of tiny windows. That is the typical libel that has gone forth about New York.

He sees naught of such. He sees a great city, the height of its buildings simply conveying the impression from afar that it is builded upon a steep ridge. Here and there a building of still loftier height gives accent to the whole, emphasis to what might otherwise be a colorless mass; gives that mysterious tone and contrast which the artist is pleased to call "composition." Four of these towers already rise distinct from the giant skyscrapers of Manhattan. Each for this moment proclaims a victory of the American architect and the American builder over the most difficult problem ever placed before architect or builder.

The European traveler will give praise to the sky-line of New York as he sees it from the steamer's deck.

"It is the City of the Towers," he will say.

*****

In this, your Day of Days in New York, come with us and see the making of a skyscraper. This skyscraper is the new Municipal Building. It is just behind the tree-filled park in which stands New York's oldest bit of successful architecture—its venerable City Hall. A long time before New York dreamed that she might[25] become the City of the Towers they builded this old City Hall—upon what was then the northerly edge of the town. So sure were those old fellows that New York would never grow north of their fine town hall that they grew suddenly economical—the spirit of their Dutch forbears still dominated them—and builded the north wall of Virginia freestone instead of the white marble that was used for the facings of the other walls.

"No one will ever see that side of the building," they argued. "We might as well use cheap stone for that wall."

Today more than ninety-nine per cent. of the population of the immensely populated island of Manhattan lives north of the City Hall. That cheap north wall, hidden under countless coats of white paint, is the one acute reminder of the days that were when the Hall was new—when the gentle square in which it stood was surrounded by the suburban residences of prosperous New Yorkers and when the waters of the Collect Pond—where the New York boys use to skate in the bitterness of old-fashioned winters—lapped its northerly edge. There was no ugly Court House or even uglier Post Office to block the view from the Mayor's office up and down Broadway. New Yorkers were proud of their City Hall then—and good cause had they for their pride. It is one of the best bits of architecture in all America. And an even century of hard usage and countless "restorations" has only brought to it the charm of serene old age.

But the City Hall long since was outgrown. The municipal government of New York is a vast and somewhat unwieldy machine that can hardly be housed within a dozen giant structures. To provide offices for the greater part of the city's official machinery, this towering Municipal Building has just been erected. And because it is so typical of the best form of the so-called[26] skyscraper architecture, let us stop and take a look at it, listen to the story of its construction. In appearance the new Municipal Building is a gray-stone tower twenty-five stories in height and surmounted by a tower cupola an additional fifteen stories in height. In plan the structure is a sort of semi-octagon—a very shallow letter "U," if you please. But its most unusual feature comes from the fact that it squarely spans one of the busiest crosstown highways in the lower part of the city—Chambers street. The absorption of that busy thoroughfare is recognized by a great depressed bay upon the west front—the main façade of the building. And incidentally that depressed bay makes interior courts within the structure absolutely unnecessary. So much for the architectural features, severe in its detail, save for some ornate and not entirely pleasing sculptures. You are interested in knowing how one of these giants—so typical of the new New York—are fabricated.

This young man—hardly a dozen years out of a big technical school—can tell you. He has supervised the job. Sometimes he has slept on it—in a narrow cot in the temporary draughting-house. He knows its every detail, as he knows the fingers of his hands.

"Just remember that we began by planning a railroad station in the basement with eight platform tracks for loading and unloading passengers."

"A railroad station?" you interrupt.

"Certainly," is his decisive reply. "Downstairs we will soon have the most important terminal of a brand new subway system crossing the Manhattan and the Williamsburgh bridges and reaching over Brooklyn like a giant gridiron."

He goes on to the next matter—this one settled.

"There was something more than that. We had to plant on that cellar a building towering forty stories[27] in the air; its steel frame alone weighing twenty-six thousand tons—more than half the weight of the heaviest steel cantilever bridge in America—had to be firmly set."

The young engineer explains—in some detail. To find a foothold for this building was no sinecure. Tests with the diamond drill had shown that solid rock rested at a depth of 145 feet below street level at the south end of the plat. At the north end, the rock sloped away rapidly and so that part of the building rests upon compact sand. The rock topography of Manhattan island is uncertain. There are broad areas where solid gneiss crops close to the street level, others where it falls a hundred feet or more below water level. There is a hidden valley at Broadway and Reade street, a deep bowl farther up Broadway. Similarly, the north extremity of the Municipal Building rests upon the edge of still another granite bowl—the sub-surface of that same Collect Pond upon which the New York boys used to skate a century or more ago.

"That bothered some folks at first," laughs the engineer, "but we met it by sinking the caissons. We've more than a hundred piers down under this structure hanging on to Mother Earth. You don't realize the holding force of those piers," he continues. He turns quickly and points to a fourteen story building off over the trees of City Hall park. Out in one of the good-sized towns of the Middle West people would gasp a little at sight of it—in New York it is no longer even a tower.

"Turn that fellow right upside down into the hole we dug for this building," says the engineer, "and the rim of his uppermost cornice would about reach the feet of our own little forest of buried concrete piers."

That was one detail of the construction of the building. Here is another; the first six stories of the new structure involved elaborate masonry, giant stones, much[28] carved. From the seventh story the plain walls of the exterior developing into an elaborate cornice were of simple construction. If the setting of these upper floors had waited until the first six stories of elaborate stonework had been made ready there would have been a delay of months in the construction work. So the contractor began building the walls—which in the modern steel skyscraper as you know form no part of the real structure but act rather as a stone envelope to keep out hard weather—from the seventh story upward. Eventually the masons working on the first six stories, working upwards all the time, reached and joined the lower edge of the masonry that had been set some weeks before. Time had been saved and you know that time does count in New York. Remember the Wall street man who preferred to have his ribs crushed and his hat smashed down over his nose in the subway rather than lose ten minutes each day in the elevated.

Now you stand with the young engineer at the topmost outlook of the tower in the Municipal Building and look down on the busy town. Before you is that mighty thoroughfare, Broadway—but so lined with towering buildings that you cannot see it, save for a brief space as it passes the greenery of the City Hall Park; behind you is that still mightier highway—the East river. Over that river you see the four bridges—the oldest of them landing at your very feet—and crawling things upon them, which a second glance shows to be trains and trolley-cars and automobiles and wagons in an unending succession. Beyond the East river and its bridges—the last of these far to the north and barely discernible—is Brooklyn, and beyond Brooklyn—this time to the south—is a shimmering slender horizon of silver that the man beside you tells you is the ocean.

You let your gaze come back to the wonderful view[29] which the building squarely faces. You look down upon the towers of New York—big towers and little towers—and you lift your eyes over the dingy mansard of the old Post Office and see the greatest of all the towers—the creamy white structure that a man has builded from his profits in the business of selling small articles at five and ten cents apiece. It is fifty-five stories in height—exquisitely beautiful in detail—and the owner will possess for a little time at least, the highest building in the world. You can see the towers in every vista, puffing little clouds of white smoke into the purest blue air that God ever gave a city in which to spin her fabrications. To the north, the south, the west, they show themselves in every infinite variety and here and there between them emerge up-shouldering rivals, steel-naked in their gaunt frames. If your ears are keen and the wind be favorable perhaps you can hear the clatter of the riveters and you can see over there the housesmiths riding aloft on the swinging girders with an utter and immensely professional indifference, threading the slender, dizzy floor-girders as easily as a cat might tread the narrow edge of a backyard fence.

Off with your gaze again. Look uptown, catch the faint patch of dark green that is Central Park, the spires of the cathedral, the wonderful campanile at Madison square. Let your glance swing across the gentle Hudson, over into a New Jersey that is bounded by the ridges of the Orange mountains, then slowly south and even the great towers that thrust themselves into almost every buildable foot of Broadway below the City Hall cannot entirely block your view of the wonderful upper harbor of New York—of the great ships that bring to an imperial city the tribute that is rightfully hers.

Now let your vision drop into the near foreground—into the tracery of trees about the jewel-box of a City Hall. Let it pause for a moment in the broad-paved[30] street at your feet with the queer little openings through which humans are sweeping like a black stream into a funnel; others from which the human streams come crawling upward like black molasses and you are again reminded that some of the greatest highways of New York are those that are subterranean and unseen. The sidewalks grow a little blacker than before.

"It's lunch-time," laughs the young engineer.

Bless you, it is. The morning that you gave to one of the most typical of the towers has not been ill-spent.

III

Thirty minutes before the big bell of Trinity spire booms out noon-tide New York's busiest grub-time begins. A few early-breakfasting clerks and office-boys begin to find their way toward the shrines of the coffee-urns and the heaped-up piles of sandwiches.

The view of New York from the lunch club in the skyscraper
The view of New York from the lunch club in the skyscraper

Of course, in New York breakfast is an almost endless affair—generally a fearfully hurried one. But lunch is far more serious. Lunch is almost an institution. Fifteen minutes after it is fairly begun it is gaining rapid headway. Thin trails of stenographers and clerks are finding their ways, lunch-bound, through the canyon-like streets of lower Manhattan, streams that momentarily increase in volume. By the time that Trinity finally booms its twelve stout strokes down into Broadway there is congestion upon the sidewalks—the favorite stools at the counters, the better tables in the higher-priced places are being rapidly filled. At twelve-thirty it begins to be luck to get any sort of accommodations at the really popular places; before one o'clock the intensity of grubbing verges on panic and pandemonium. And at a little before three cashiers are totaling their receipts, cooks, donning their hats and coats to go uptown, and waiters and 'buses are upturning chairs and scrubbing floors with scant regard for belated lunchers who[31] have to be content with the crumbs that are left after the ravishing and hungry army has been fed. Order after pandemonium—readiness for the two hours of gorge upon the morrow. The restaurants and lunch-rooms are as quiet as Trinity church-yard and something like three quarters of a million hungry souls have lunched in the business section of Manhattan south of Twenty-third street—at a total cost, according to the estimate of a shrewd restauranteur of a quarter of a million dollars.

*****

You may pay your money and take your choice. The shrewd little newsboys and office-boys who find their way to the short block of Ann street between Park Row and Nassau—the real Grub street of New York—are proving themselves financiers of tomorrow by dickering for sandwiches—"two cents apiece; three for a nickel." They always buy them in lots of three. That is business and business is not to be scorned for a single instant. Or you can pay as high prices in the swagger restaurants downtown as you do in the swagger restaurants uptown—and that is saying much. When lunch-time comes you can suit the inclinations of your taste—and your pocket-book. But the average New Yorker seems to run quite strongly to the peculiar form of lunch-room in which you help yourself to what you want, compute from the markers the cost of your midday meal, announce that total to the cashier, who is perfectly content to take your word for it, pay the amount and walk out. It seems absurd—to any one who does not understand New Yorkers. The lunch-room owners do understand them. New York business men and business boys are honest, as a general thing—particularly honest in little matters of this sort.

"It is all very simple," says the manager of one of these big lunch-rooms, who stands beside you for a[32] moment at the entrance of one of his places—it boasts that it serves more than two thousand lunches each business day between eleven and three. "I've been through the whole mill. I've been check boy and oyster man, cashier—now I'm looking out for this particular beanery. Honor among New York business men? There's a lot of it."

"And you don't run many risks?" you venture.

"Not many here," he promptly replies. "But there was a man in here yesterday, who runs a cafeteria out in Chicago. I was telling him some of the rules of the game here—how when a customer comes in and throws his hat down in a chair before he goes over to the sandwich and coffee counters that chair is his, until he gets good and ready to go. My Chicago friend laughed at that. 'If we were to do that out in my neck-o'-the-woods,' says he, 'the customer would lose his hat.' And the uptown department stores don't take any chances, either. At one of the biggest of them they make the women decide what they will eat, but before they can start they must buy a check—pay in advance, you understand. They've tried the downtown way—and now they take no chances."

The floor manager laughs nervously.

"It's different with the girls downtown. We've started one quick buffet lunch on the honor plan, same dishes and prices and service as the men's places, but this one is for business girls. They said at first that we wouldn't make good with them—but we're ready to start another within the month. The business girls don't cheat—no matter what their uptown sisters may try to do."

*****

As a matter of fact downtown business girls in New York eat very sensibly. Sweets are popular but not invariable. They prefer candy, with fruit as a second[33] choice, to be eaten some time during the afternoon. In big offices, where many girls are employed, "candy pools" are often made, each girl contributing five cents and getting her pro rata, one member of the staff being delegated to make the purchases. Eaten in this way the candy acts as a stimulant during the late afternoon hours, in much the same way as the invariable tea of the business man in London.

The business girl in New York takes her full hour for luncheon. It is seldom a minute more or a minute less. She is willing as a rule to stay overtime at night but she feels that she must have her sixty minutes in the middle of the day. A part of the lunch hour is always a stroll—unless there be a downpour. Certain downtown streets from twelve to one o'clock each day suggest the proximity of a nearby high school or seminary. There is much pairing off and quiet flirtation. This noon-day promenade of girls—for the most part astonishingly well-dressed girls and invariably in twos and threes—is one of the sights of downtown New York. Some of the girls gather in the old churchyards of Trinity and St. Paul's—in lower Broadway—on pleasant days. They sit down among the tombstones with their little packages of food and eat and chat and then stroll. No one molests them and the church authorities, although a little flustered when this first began, have seen that there is no harm in it and let the girls have their own way. There is always great decorousness and these big open-air spaces in the midst of the crowded street canyons are enjoyed by the women who appreciate the grass and winding paths after the hard pavements.

All the business girls downtown are not content with sitting after lunch among the tombstones of St. Paul's churchyard or of Trinity. He was indeed a canny lunch-man who took note of all the girls strolling in the narrow streets of downtown Manhattan, who remem[34]bered that all New York, rich or poor, loves to dance and who then fitted up an unrentable third floor loft over his eating place as a dancing hall. Two violins and a piano—a gray-bearded sandwich man to patrol the streets with "DANCING" placarded fore and aft upon his boards—the trick was done. Mamie told Sadie and Sadie told Elinor and Elinor told Flossie and the lunch-man began to grow famous. He made further study of the psychology of his patrons. There were the young fellows—shipping and file clerks and even ambitious young office-boys to be considered. There were the after-lunch smokes of these young captains of industry to come into the reckoning. The lunch-man placed a row of chairs along one edge of his dancing-hall and over them "Smoking Permitted at This End of the Room." After that Mamie and Sadie and Elinor and Flossie had partners and the lunch-man was on the highway to a six-cylinder motor car. He has his imitators. If you were in business in lower New York and your stenographer began to hum the "Blue Danube" along about half an hour before noon you would very well know she was gathering steam for the blissful twenty minutes of dancing that was going to help her digest her lunch.

*****

You, yourself, are going to lunch in still another sort of restaurant. It is characteristic of a type that has sprung up on the tip of Manhattan island within the past dozen years. You reach this grubbing-place by skirting the front doors of unspeakably dirty eating-houses in a mean street of the Syrian quarter. Finally you turn the corner of a dingy brick building, which was once the great house of one of the contemporaries of the first of the Vanderbilts and which has managed to escape destruction for three quarters of a century and face[35]—the only skyscraper in congested New York which stands in a grass-platted yard—the whim of its wealthy owner. A fast elevator whisks you thirty stories to the top of the building and you step into the lobby of what looks, at first glance, to be the entrance hall of some fine restaurant in uptown's Fifth avenue. But this is a lunching-club—one of the newest in the town as well as one of the most elaborate.

Elaborate did we say? This is the elaboration of perfect taste—unobtrusive rugs, hangings, lighting fixtures and furniture—great, broad rooms and from their windows there comes to you another of the spectacular views that lay below the man-made peaks of Manhattan. To the south—the smooth, blue surface of the upper bay—in the foreground a nine hundred foot ship coming to the new land, her funnels lazily breathing smoke at the first lull in her four-day race across the Atlantic; to the east, a mighty river and its bridges, Brooklyn again and on very clear days, visions of Long island; to the north the most wonderful building construction that man has ever attempted, Babylonic in its immensity; to the west the brisk waterway of the North river and beyond it, Jersey City, sandwiched in between the smoky spread of railroad yards. This is the sort of thing that Mr. Downtown Luncher may have—if he is willing to pay the price. On torrid summer days he may ascend to the roof-garden, may glance lazily below him at the activities of the busiest city in the world and sip up the cool breezes from the sea, while folk down in the bottom of the Broadway chasm are sweltering from heat and humidity. And in winter he will find a complete gymnasium in operation on another floor of the club, with a competent instructor in charge. The "doctor," as they call him, will lay out a course of work. And that course of work, calling for a half-[36]hour of exercise each day just before lunch will make dyspeptic and paunchy old money-grubbers alike, keen as farmhands coming into dinner.

And yet this club, typical of so many others in the downtown business heart of Manhattan, is but a cog in the mighty machine of the lunching of the workaday multitudes of downtown. Its doors are closed and lights are out at six o'clock in the evening, save on extraordinary occasions; while most of its hundred or more well-trained waiters go uptown to assist in the dinner and the late supper rushes of the fashionable restaurants in the theater and hotel district. Like most of its compeers, it is an outgrowth of the wonderfully comfortable old Lawyers' Club, which was completely destroyed in the great fire that burned the Equitable Building in January, 1912. From that organization, famed for its noon-day hospitality and for the quality of the folk you might meet between its walls, have sprung many other downtown lunch clubs—the Whitehall, the Hardware, the Manufacturers, the Downtown Association, the new Lawyers—many, many others; almost invariably occupying the upper floors of some skyscraper that has been planned especially for them. These clubs are not cheap. It costs from sixty to a hundred dollars to enter one of them and about as much more yearly in the form of dues. Their restaurant charges are far from low-priced. They are never very exclusive organizations and yet they give to the strain of the workaday New Yorker his last lingering trace of hospitality—the hospitality that has lingered around Bowling Green and Trinity and St. Paul's church-yards since colonial days and the coffee houses.

*****

Even the hospitality of the genial host seems to end—with the ending of the lunch-hour. As he takes his last sip of café noir he is tugging at his watch.

[37] "Bless me," he says, "It is going on three o'clock. I've got that railroad crowd due in my office in fifteen minutes."

That is your dismissal. For ninety minutes he has given you his hospitality—his rare and unselfish self. He has put the perplexing details of his business out of his mind and given himself to whatever flow of talk might suit your fancy. Now the hour and a half of grace is over—and you are dismissed, courteously—but none the less dismissed. With your host you descend to the crowded noisome street. He sees you to the subway—gives you a fine warm grasp of his strong hand—and plunges back into the great and grinding machine of business.

Lunch in your Day of Days within the City of the Towers is over. Three o'clock. Before the last echoes of Trinity's bell go ringing down through Wall street to halt the busy Exchange—the multitude has been fed. Miss Stenographer has had her salad and éclair, two waltzes and perhaps a "turkey trot" into the bargain, and is back at the keys of her typewriter. Mr. President has entertained that Certain Party at the club and has made him promise to sign that mighty important contract. And the certain Party and Mr. President rode for half an hour on the mechanical horses in the gymnasium. What fun, too, for those old boys?

Three o'clock! The cashiers are totaling their receipts, the waiters and the 'buses are upturning chairs and tables to make way for the scrub-women, some are already beginning to don their overcoats to go uptown; but the three-quarters of a million of hungry mouths have been fed. New York has caught its breath in mid-day relaxation and once more is hard at work—putting in the last of its hours of the business day with renewed and feverish energy.

[38]

IV

You had planned at first to walk up Broadway. You wanted to see once again the church-yards around Trinity and St. Paul's, perhaps make a side excursion down toward Fraunces' Tavern—just now come back into its own again. Some of the old landmarks that are still hidden around downtown New York seemed to appeal to you. But your host at luncheon laughed at you.

"If you want to spend your time that way, all right," he said, "but the only really old things you will find in New York are the faces of the young men. You can find those anywhere in the town."

And there was another reckoning to be figured. Three o'clock means the day well advanced and there is a vis-à-vis awaiting you uptown. Of course, there is a Her to enjoy your Day of Days with you. And just for convenience alone we will call her Katherine. It is a pretty name for a woman, and it will do here and now quite as well as any other.

Katherine is waiting for you in the Fourteenth street station of the subway. She is prompt—after the fashion of most New York girls. And it is a relief to come out of the overcrowded tube and find her there at the entrance that leads up to sunshine and fresh air. She knows her New York thoroughly and as a prelude to the trip uptown she leads you over to Fifth avenue—to the upper deck of one of those big green peregrinating omnibuses.

"It's a shame that we could not have started at Washington square," she apologizes. "When you sweep around and north through the great arch it almost seems as if you were passing through the portals of New York. It is one of the few parts of the town that are not changing rapidly."

[39] For Fifth avenue—only a few blocks north of that stately arch—has begun to disintegrate and decay. Not in the ordinary sense of those terms. But to those who remember the stately street of fifteen or twenty years ago—lined with the simple and dignified homes of the town—its change into a business thoroughfare brings keen regrets. Katherine remembers that she read in a book that there are today more factory workers employed in Fifth avenue or close to it, than in such great mill cities as Lowell or Lawrence or Fall River, and when you ask her the reason why she will tell you how these great buildings went soaring up as office-buildings, without office tenants to fill them. They represent speculation, and speculation is New Yorkish. But speculation in wholesale cannot afford to lose, and that is why the garment manufacturers and many others of their sort came flocking to the great retail shopping district between Fourth and Seventh avenues and Fourteenth and Thirty-fourth streets, and sent the shops soaring further to the north. It has been expensive business throughout, doubly expensive, because absolutely unnecessary. Some of the great retail houses of New York built modern and elaborate structures south of Thirty-fourth street within the past twenty years in the firm belief that the retail shopping section had been fixed for the next half century. But the new stores had hardly been opened before the deluge of manufacturing came upon them. Shoppers simply would not mix with factory hands upon lower Fifth avenue and the side streets leading from it. And so the shop-keepers have had to move north and build anew. And just what a tax such moving has been upon the consumer no one has ever had the audacity to estimate.

"They should have known that nothing ever stays fixed in New York," says Katherine. "We are a rest[40]less folk, who make a restless city. Stay fixed? Did you notice the station at which you entered today?"

Of course you did. The new Grand Central, with its marvelous blue ceiling capping a waiting-room so large that the New York City Hall, cupola, wings and all could be set within it, can hardly escape the attention of any traveler who passes within its portals.

"It is the greatest railroad station in the world," she continues, "and yet I have read in the newspapers that Commodore Vanderbilt built on that very plat of ground in 1871 the largest station in the world for the accommodation of his railroads. He thought that it would last for all time. In forty years the wreckers were pulling it down. It was outgrown, utterly outgrown and they were carting it off piece by piece to the rubbish heaps."

She turns suddenly upon you.

"That is typical of our restless, lovely city," she tells you. And you, yourself, have heard that only two years ago they tore down a nineteen story building at Wall and Nassau streets so that they might replace it by another of the towers—this one thirty stories in height.

*****

The conductor of the green omnibus thrusts his green fare-box under your nose. You find two dimes and drop it into the contrivance.

"You can get more value for less money and less value for much money in New York than in any other large city in the world," says Katherine.

She is right—and you know that she is right. You can have a glorious ride up the street, that even in its days of social decadence is still the finest highway in the land—a ride that continues across the town and up its parked rim for long miles—for a mere ten cents of Uncle Sam's currency and as for the reverse—well you[41] are going to dinner in a smart hotel with Katherine in a little while.

You swing across Broadway and up the west edge of Madison square, catch a single, wondering close-at-hand glimpse of the white campanile of the Metropolitan tower which dominates that open place and so all but replaces Diana on her perch above Madison Square Garden—a landmark of the New York of a quarter of a century ago and which is apt to come into the hands of the wreckers almost any day now. Now you are at the south edge of the new shopping district, although some of the ultra places below Thirty-fourth street have begun to move into that portion of the avenue just south of Central Park. In a little while they may be stealing up the loveliest portion of the avenue—from Fifty-ninth street north.

The great shops dominate the avenue. And if you look with sharp eyes as the green bus bears you up this via sacre, you may see that one of the greatest ones—a huge department store encased in architecturally superb white marble—bears no sign or token of its ownership or trade. An oversight, you think. Not a bit of it. Four blocks farther up the avenue is another great store in white marble—a jewelry shop of international reputation. You will have to scan its broad façade closely indeed before you find the name of the firm in tiny letters upon the face of its clock. Oversight? Not a bit of it. It is the ultra of shop-keeping in New York—the assumption that the shop is so well known that it need not be placarded to the vulgar world. And if strangers from other points fail to identify it—well that is because of their lack of knowledge and the shopkeeper may secretly rejoice.

But, after all, it is the little shops that mark the character of Fifth avenue—not its great emporiums. It is the little millinery shops where an engaging creature in[42] black and white simpers toward you and calls you, if you are of the eternal feminine, "my dear;" the jewelry shops where the lapidary rises from his lathe and offers a bit of craftsmanship; the rare galleries that run from old masters to modern etchers; specialty shops, filled top to bottom with toys or Persian rugs, or women's sweaters, or foreign magazines and books, that render to Fifth avenue its tremendous cosmopolitanism. These little shops make for personality. There is something in the personal contact between the proprietor and the customer that makes mere barter possess a real fascination. And if you do pay two or three times the real value in the little shop you have just so much more fun out of the shopping. And there are times when real treasures may come out of their stores.

"Look at the cornices," interrupts Katherine. "Mr. Arnold Bennett says that they are the most wonderful things in all New York."

Katherine may strain her neck, looking at cornices if she so wills. As for you, the folk who promenade the broad sidewalks are more worth your while. There are more of them upon the west walk than upon the east—for some strange reason that has long since brought about a similar phenomenon upon Broadway and sent west side rents high above those upon the east. Fifth avenue thrusts its cosmopolitanism upon you, not alone in her shops, with their wonderfully varied offerings, but in the very humans who tread her pavements. The New York girl may not always be beautiful but she is rarely anything but impeccable. And if in the one instance she is extreme in her styles, in the next she is apt to be severe in her simplicity of dress. And it is difficult to tell to which ordinary preference should go. These girls—girls in a broad sense all the way from trim children in charge of maid or governess to girls whose pinkness of skin defies the graying of their locks—a[43] sprinkling of men, not always so faultless in dress or manner as their sisters—and you have the Fifth avenue crowd. Then between these two quick moving files of pedestrians—set at all times in the rapid tempo of New York—a quadruple file of carriages; the greater part of them motor driven.

Traffic in Fifth avenue, like traffic almost everywhere else in New York is a problem increasing in perplexity. A little while ago the situation was met and for a time improved by slicing off the fronts of the buildings—perhaps the most expensive shave that the town has ever known—and setting back the sidewalks six or eight feet. But the benefits then gained have already been over-reached and the traffic policeman at the street corners all the way up the avenue must possess rare wit and diplomacy—while their fellows at such corners as Thirty-fourth and Forty-second are hardly less than field generals. And with all the finesse of their work the traffic moves like molasses. Long double and triple files of touring cars and limousines, the combined cost of which would render statistics such as would gladden the heart of a Sunday editor, make their way up and down the great street tediously. If a man is in a hurry he has no business even to essay the Avenue. And occasionally the whole tangle is double-tangled. The shriek of a fire-engine up a side street or the clang of an ambulance demanding a clear right-of-way makes the traffic question no easier. Yet the policemen at the street corners are not caught unawares. With the shrill commands of their own whistles they maneuver trucks and automobiles and even some old-fashioned hansom cabs, pedestrians, all the rest—as coolly and as evenly as if it had been rehearsed for whole weeks.

*****

New York is wonderful, the traffic of its chief show street—for Fifth avenue can now be fairly said to[44] have usurped Broadway as the main highway of the upper city—tremendous. You begin to compute what must be the rental values upon this proud section of Fifth avenue, as it climbs Murray Hill from Thirty-fourth street to Forty-second street, when Katherine interrupts you once again. She knows her New York thoroughly indeed.

"Do you notice that house?" she demands.

You follow her glance to a very simple brick house, upon the corner of an inconsequential side street. Beside it on Fifth avenue is an open lot—of perhaps fifty feet frontage, giving to the avenue but a plain brown wooden fence.

"A corking building lot," you venture, "Why don't they—"

"I expected you to say that," she laughs. "They have wanted to build upon that lot—time and time again. But when they approach the owner he laughs at them and declines to consider any offer. 'My daughter has a little dog,' he says politely, 'It must have a place for exercise.' We New Yorkers are an odd lot," she laughs. "You know that the Goelets kept a cow in the lawn of their big house at Broadway and Nineteenth street until almost twenty years ago—until there was not a square foot of grass outside of a park within five miles. And in New York the man who can do the odd thing successfully is apt to be applauded. You could not imagine such a thing in Boston or Baltimore or Philadelphia, could you?"

You admit that your imagination would fall short of such heights and ask Katherine if you are going up to the far end of the 'bus run—to that great group of buildings—university, cathedral, hospital, divinity school—that have been gathered just beyond the northwestern corner of Central Park.

"No, I think not," she quickly decides, "You know[45] that Columbia is not to New York as Harvard is to Boston. Harvard dominates Boston, Columbia is but a peg in the educational system of New York. The best families here do not bow to its fetich. They are quite as apt to send their boys to Yale or Princeton—even Harvard."

"Then there's the cathedral and the Drive," you venture.

"We have a cathedral right here on Fifth avenue that is finished and, in its way, quite as beautiful. And as for the Drive—it is merely a rim of top-heavy and expensive apartment houses. The West Side is no longer extremely smart. The truth of the matter is that we must pause for afternoon tea."

You ignore that horrifying truth for an instant.

"What has happened to the poor West Side?" you demand.

Katherine all but lowers her voice to a whisper.

"Twenty years ago and it had every promise of success. It looked as if Riverside Drive would surpass the Avenue as a street of fine residences. The side streets were preëminently nice. Then came the subway—and with it the apartment houses. After that the very nice folk began moving to the side streets in the upper Fifties, the Sixties and the Seventies between Park and Fifth avenues."

"Suppose that the apartment houses should begin to drift in there—in any numbers?" you demand.

"Lord knows," says Katherine, and with due reverence adds: "There is the last stand of the prosperous New Yorker with an old-fashioned notion that he and his would like to live in a detached house. The Park binds him in on the West, the tenement district and Lexington avenue on the East—to the North Harlem and the equally impossible Bronx. The old guard is standing together."

[46] "There is Brooklyn?" you venture.

"No New Yorker," says Katherine, with withering scorn, "ever goes publicly to Brooklyn unless he is being buried in Greenwood cemetery."

*****

Tea for you is being served in a large mausoleum of a white hotel—excessively white from a profuse use of porcelain tiles which can be washed occasionally—of most extraordinary architecture. Some day some one is going to attempt an analysis of hotel architecture in New York and elsewhere in the U.S.A. but this is not the time and place. Suffice it to say here and now that you finally found a door entering the white porcelain mausoleum. What a feast awaited your eyes—as well as your stomach—within. Rooms of rose pink and rooms of silver gray, Persian rooms, Japanese rooms, French rooms in the several varieties of Louis, Greek rooms—Europe, the ancients and the Orient, have been ransacked for the furnishing of this tavern. And in the center of them all is a great glass-enclosed garden, filled with giant palms and tiny tables, tremendous waiters and infinitesimal chairs. A large bland-faced employé—who is a sort of sublimated edition of the narrow lean hat-boys who we shall find in the eating places of the Broadway theater districts—divests you of your outer wraps. You elbow past a band and arrive at the winter garden. A head waiter in an instant glance of steel-blue eyes decides that you are fit and finds the tiniest of the tiny tables for you. It is so far in the shade of the sheltering palm that you have to bend almost double to drink your tea—and the orchestra is rather uncomfortably near.

Washington Square and its lovely Arch—New York
Washington Square and its lovely Arch—New York

Katherine might have taken you to other tea dispensaries—an unusual place in a converted stable in Thirty-fourth street, another stable loft in West Twenty-eighth—dozens of little shops, generally feminine to an[47] intensified degree, which combine the serving of tea with the vending of their wares. But she preferred the big white hotel.

"Tea at the Plaza is so satisfactory and so restful," she says, as you dodge to permit two ladies—one in gray silk and the other in a cut of blue cloth that gives her the contour of a magnified frog—to slip past you without knocking your tea out of your untrained fingers. "We might have gone to the Manhattan—but it's so filled with young girls and the chappies from the schools—the Ritz is proper but dull, so is Sherry's—all the rest more or less impossible."

She rattles on—the matter of restaurants is always dear to the New York heart. You ignore the details.

"But why?" you demand.

"Why what?" she returns.

"Why tea?"

You explain that afternoon tea in its real lair—London—in a sort of climatic necessity. The prevalence of fog, of raw damp days, makes a cup of hot tea a real bracer—a stimulant that carries the human through another two or three hours of hard existence until the late London dinner. The bracing atmosphere of New York—with more clear days than any other metropolitan city in the world—does not need tea. You say so frankly.

"I suppose you are right," Katherine concedes, "but we have ceased in this big city to rail at the English. We bow the knee to them. The most fashionable of our newest hotels and shops run—absurdly many times—to English ways. And afternoon tea has long since ceased to be a novelty in our lives. Why, they are beginning to serve it at the offices downtown—just as they do in dear old London."

You swallow hard—some one has recommended that[48] to you as a method of suppressing emotion—for polite society is never emotional.

V

Dinner is New York's real function of the day. And dinner in New York means five million hungry stomachs demanding to be filled. The New York dinner is as cosmopolitan as the folk who dwell on the narrow island of Manhattan and the two other islands that press closely to it. The restaurant and hotel dinners are as cosmopolitan as the others. Of course, for the sake of brevity, if for no other reason, you must eliminate the home dinners—and read "home" as quickly into the cold and heavy great houses of the avenue as into the little clusters of rooms in crowded East Side tenements where poverty is never far away and next week's meals a real problem. And remember, that to dine even in a reasonably complete list of New York's famous eating places—a new one every night—would take you more than a year. At the best your vision of them must be desultory.

Six o'clock sees the New York business army well on its way toward home—the seething crowds at the Brooklyn bridge terminal in Park Row, the overloaded subway straining to move its fearful burden, the ferry and the railroad terminals focal points of great attractiveness. To make a single instance: take that division of the army that dwells in Brooklyn. It begins its march dinnerward a little after four o'clock, becomes a pushing, jostling mob a little later and shows no sign of abatement until long after six. Within that time the railroad folk at the Park Row terminal of the old bridge have received, classified and despatched Brooklynward, more than one hundred and fifty thousand persons—the population of a city almost the size of Syracuse.[49] And the famous old bridge is but one of four direct paths from Manhattan to Brooklyn.

Six o'clock sees restaurants and cafés alight and ready for the two or three hours of their really brisk traffic of the day. There are even dinner restaurants downtown, remarkably good places withal and making especial appeal to those overworked souls who are forced to stay at the office at night. There are bright lights in Chinatown where innumerable "Tuxedos" and "Port Arthurs" are beginning to prepare the chop-suey in immaculate Mongolian kitchens. But the real restaurant district for the diner-out hardly begins south of Madison square. There are still a very few old hotels in Broadway south of that point—a lessening company each year—one or two in close proximity to Washington square. Two of these last make a specialty of French cooking—their table d'hôtes are really famous—and perhaps you may fairly say when you are done at them that you have eaten at the best restaurants in all New York. From them Fifth avenue runs a straight course to the newer hotels far to the north—a silent brilliantly lighted street as night comes "with the double row of steel-blue electric lamps resembling torch-bearing monks" one brilliant New York writer has put it. But before the newest of the new an intermediate era of hotels, the Holland, the nearby Imperial and the Waldorf-Astoria chief among these. The Waldorf has been from the day it first opened its doors—more than twenty years ago—New York's really representative hotel. Newer hostelries have tried to wrest that honor from it—but in vain. It has clung jealously to its reputation. The great dinners of the town are held in its wonderful banqueting halls, the well-known men of New York are constantly in its corridors. It is club and more than club—it is a clearing-house for all of the best[50] clubs. It is the focal center for the hotel life of the town.

There is an important group of hotels in the rather spectacular neighborhood of Times square—the Astor, with its distinctly German flavor, and the Knickerbocker which whimsically likes to call itself "the country club on Forty-second street" distinctive among them. And ranging upon upper Fifth avenue, or close to it, are other important houses, the Belmont, the aristocratic Manhattan, the ultra-British Ritz-Carlton, the St. Regis, the Savoy, the Netherland, the Plaza, and the Gotham. In between these are those two impeccable restaurants—so distinctive of New York and so long wrapped up in its history—Sherry's and Delmonico's.

Over in the theatrical brilliancy of Broadway up and down from Times square are other restaurants—Shanley's, Churchill's, Murray's—the list is constantly changing. A fashionable restaurant in New York is either tremendously successful—or else, as we shall later see, they are telephoning for the sheriff. And the last outcome is apt more to follow than the first. For it is a tremendous undertaking to launch a restaurant in these days. The decorations of the great dining-rooms must rival those of a Versailles palace while the so-called minor appointments—silver, linen, china and the rest must be as faultless as in any great house upon Fifth avenue. The first cost is staggering, the upkeep a steady drain. There is but one opportunity for the proprietor—and that opportunity is in his charges. And when you come to dine in one of these showy uptown places you will find that he has not missed his opportunity.

All New York that dines out does not make for these great places or their fellows. There are little restaurants that cast a glamour over their poor food by thrusting out hints of a magic folk named Bohemians who dine night after night at their dirty tables. There are others[51] who with a Persian name seek to allure the ill-informed, some stout German places giving the substantial cheer of the Fatherland, beyond them restaurants phrasing themselves in the national dishes and the cooking of every land in the world, save our own. For a real American restaurant is hard to find in New York—real American dishes treats of increasing rarity. A great hotel recently banished steaks from its bills-of-fare, another has placed the ban on pie; and as for strawberry short-cake—just ask for strawberry short-cake. The concoction that the waiter will set before you will leave you hesitating between tears and laughter—ridicule for the pitiful attempts of a French cook and tears for your thoughts of the tragedy that has overwhelmed an American institution. Some day some one is going to build a hotel with the American idea standing back of it right in the heart of New York. He is going to have the bravery or the patriotism to call it the American House or the United States Hotel or Congress Hall or some other title that means something quite removed from the aristocratic nomenclature that our modern generation of tavern-keepers have borrowed from Europe without the slightest sense of fitness; and to that man shall be given more than mere riches—the satisfaction that will come to him from having accomplished a real work.

The truth of the matter is that we have borrowed more than nomenclature from Europe. We have taken the so-called "European plan" with all of its disadvantages and none of its advantages. We have done away with the stuffy over-eating "American plan" and have made a rule of "pay-as-you-go" that is quite all right—and is not. For to the simple "European plan" has recently been added many complications. In other days the generosity of the portions in a New York hotel was famous. A single portion of any important dish was ample for[52] two. Your smiling old-fashioned waiter told you that. The waiter in a New York restaurant today does not smile. He merely tells you that the food is served "per portion" which generally means that an unnecessary amount of food is prepared in the kitchen and sent from the table, uneaten, as waste. And a smart New York restauranteur recently made a "cover charge" of twenty-five cents for bread and butter and ice-water. Others followed. It will not be long before a smarter restauranteur will make the "cover charge" fifty cents, and then folk will begin streaming into his place. They don't complain. That's not the New York way.

They do not even complain of the hat-boys—bloodthirsty little brigands who snatch your hat and other wraps before you enter a restaurant. The brigands are skillfully chosen—lean, hungry little boys every time, never fat, sleek, well-fed looking little boys. They are employed by a trust, which rents the "hat-checking privilege" from the proprietor of the hotel or restaurant. The owner of the trust pays well for these privileges and the little boys must work hard to bring him back his rental fees and a fair profit beside.

Leave that to them. Emerge from a restaurant, well-fed and at peace with the world and deny that lean-looking, swarthy-faced, black-eyed boy a quarter if you can—or dare. A dime is out of the question. He might insult you, probably would. But a quarter buys your self-respect and the head of the trust a share in his new motor car. The lean-looking boy buys no motor cars. He works on a salary and there are no pockets in his uniform. There is a stern-visaged cicerone in the background and to the cicerone roll all the quarters, but the New Yorker does not complain—save when he reaches Los Angeles or Atlanta or some other fairly distant place and finds the same sort of highway brigandage in effect there.

[53]

VI

After the dinner and the hat-boy—the theater. You suggest the theater to Katherine. She is enthusiastic. You pick the theater. It is close at hand and you quickly find your way to it. A gentleman, whose politeness is of a variety, somewhat frappé, awaits you in the box-office. A line of hopeful mortals is shuffling toward him, to disperse with hope left behind. But this anticipates.

You inquire of the man in the box-office for two seats—two particularly good seats. You remember going to the theater in Indianapolis once upon a time, a stranger, and having been seated behind the fattest theater pillar that you could have ever possibly imagined. But you need not worry about the pillars in this New York playhouse. The box-office gentleman, whose thoughts seem to be a thousand miles away, blandly replies that the house is sold out.

"So good?" you brashly venture. You had not fancied this production so successful. He does not even assume to hear your comment. You decide that you will see this particular play at a later time. You suggest as much to the indifferent creature behind the wicket. He replies by telling you that he can only give you tickets for a Monday or Tuesday three weeks hence—and then nothing ahead of the seventeenth row. Can he not do better than that? He cannot. He is positive that he cannot. And his positiveness is Gibraltarian in its immobility. A faint sign of irritation covers his bland face. He wants you to see that you are taking too much of his time.

Katherine saves the situation. She whispers to you that she noticed a little shop nearby with a sign "Tickets for all Theaters" displayed upon it.

"You know they abolished the speculators two years ago," she explains.

[54] You move on to the little shop with the inviting sign. The gentleman behind its counters has manners at least. He greets you with the smile of the professional shopkeeper.

"Have you tickets for 'The Giddiest Girl'?" you inquire.

He smiles ingratiatingly. Of course he has, for any night and anywhere you wish them.

"What is the price of them?"

You are not coldly commercial but, despite that smile, merely apprehensive. And you are beginning to understand New York.

"Four dollars."

Not so bad at that—just the box-office price. You bring out four greasy one-dollar bills. His eyes fixed upon them, he places a ticket down upon the counter.

"There—there are two of us," you stammer.

He does not stammer.

"Do you think that they are four dollars a dozen?" he sallies.

You give him a ten dollar bill this time. You do not kick. Even though the show is perfectly rotten and the usherette charges you ten cents for a poorly printed program and scowls because you take the change from her itching palm, do not complain. You would not complain even if you knew that the man in the chair next to you paid only the regular prices, because he happened to belong to the same lodge as the cousin of the treasurer of the theater, while the man in the chair next to Katherine paid nothing at all for his seat—having a relative who advertises in the theater programs. You do not kick. Complaint has long since been eliminated from the New York code and you have begun to realize that.

*****

After the theater, another restaurant—this time for[55] supper—more hat-boys, more brigandage but it is the thing to do and you must do it. And you must do it well. Splendor costs and you pay—your full proportion. If up in your home town you know a nice little place where you can drop in after the show at the local playhouse and have a glass of beer and a rarebit—dismiss that as a prevailing idea in the neighborhood of Long Acre square. The White Light district of Broadway can buy no motor cars on the beer and rarebit trade. Louey's trade in his modest little place up home is sufficient to keep him in moderate living year in and year out, but Louey does not have to pay Broadway ground rent, or Broadway prices for food-stuffs or Broadway salaries—to say nothing of having a thirst for a bigger and faster automobile than his neighbor. And as we have said, the opportunity for bankruptcy in the so-called "lobster palaces" of Broadway runs high. As this is being written, one of the most famous of them has collapsed.

Its proprietor—he was a smart caterer come east from Chicago where he had made his place fashionable and himself fairly rich—for a dozen years ran a prosperous restaurant within a stone-throw of the tall white shaft of the Times building. And even if the heels were the highest, the gowns the lowest, the food was impeccable and if you knew New York at all you knew who went there. It was gay and beautiful and high-priced. It was immensely popular. Then the proprietor listened to sirens. They commanded him to tear down the simple structure of his restaurant and there build a towering hotel. He obeyed orders. With the magic of New York builders the new building was ready within the twelvemonth. It represented all that might be desired—or that upper Broadway at least might desire—in modern hotel construction.

But it could not succeed. A salacious play which[56] made a considerable commercial success took its title from the new hotel and called itself "The Girl from R——'s." That was the last straw. It might have been good fun for the man from Baraboo or the man from Jefferson City to come to New York and dine quietly and elegantly at R——'s, but to stop at R——'s hotel, to have his mail sent there, to have the local paper report that he was registered at that really splendid hostelry—ah, that was a different matter, indeed. Your Baraboo citizen had some fairly conservative connections—church and business—and he took no risks. The new hotel went bankrupt.A

A Another hotel man has just taken the property. His first step has been to change its name and, if possible, its reputation.  E. H.

Beer and rarebits, indeed. Sam Blythe tells of the little group of four who went into a hotel grillroom not far from Forty-second street and Broadway, who mildly asked for beer and rabbits.

"We have fine partridges," said the head-waiter, insinuatingly.

"We asked for beer and rabbits," insisted the host of the little group. He really did not know his New York.

"We have fine partridges," reiterated the head-waiter, then yawned slightly behind his hand. That yawn settled it. The head of the party was bellicose. He lost his temper completely. In a few minutes an ambulance and a patrol wagon came racing up Broadway. But the hotel had won. It always does.

*****

One thing more—the cabaret. We think that if you are really fond of Katherine, and Katherine's reputation, you will avoid the restaurants that make a specialty of the so-called cabarets. Really good restaurants manage to get along without them. And the very best that can be said of them is that they are invariably indifferently poor—a mélange contributed by broken-down actors or[57] actresses, or boys or girls stolen from the possibilities of a really decent way of earning a living. As for the worst, it is enough to say that the familiarity that begins by breeding contempt follows in the wake of the cabaret. It may be very jolly for you, of a lonely summer evening in New York and forgetting all the real pleasures of a lonely summer night in the big town—wonderful orchestral concerts in Central Park, dining on open-air terraces and cool quiet roofs, motoring off to wonderful shore dinners in queer old taverns—to hunt out these great gay places in the heart of the town. Easy camaraderie is part and parcel of them. But you will not want such comrades to meet any of the Katherines of your family. And therein lies a more than subtle distinction.

VII

It has all quite dazed you. You turn toward Katherine as you ride home with her in the taxicab—space forbids a description of the horrors and the indignities of the taxicab trust.

"Is it like this—every night?" you feebly ask.

"Every night of the year," she replies. "And typical New Yorkers like it."

That puts a brand-new thought into your mind.

"What is a typical New Yorker?" you demand.

"We are all typical New Yorkers," she laughs.

It is a foolish answer—of course. But the strange part of the whole thing is that Katherine is right. Either there are no typical New Yorkers—as many sane folk solemnly aver—or else every one who tarries in the city through the passing of even a single night is a typical New Yorker. How can it be else in a city who is still growing like a girl in her teens, who adds to herself each year in permanent population 135,000 human beings, whose transient population is nightly estimated at over a hundred thousand? They are all typical New Yorkers.

[58] Here is Solomon Strunsky who has just arrived through Ellis Island, scared and forlorn, with his scared and forlorn little family trailing on behind, Solomon Strunsky all but penniless, and the merciless home-sickness for the little faraway town in Polish hills tearing at his heart. Is Solomon Strunsky less a typical New Yorker than the scion of this fine old family which for sixty years lived and died in a red-brick mansion close by Washington square? For in four years Solomon Strunsky will be keeping his own little store in the East Side, in another year he will be moving his brood up to a fine new house in Harlem, an even dozen years from the entrance at Ellis Island and you may be reading the proud patronymic of Strunsky spelled along a signboard upon one of the great new commercial barracks, which, not content with remaining downtown, began the despoliation of Fifth avenue and its adjacent retail district. Can you keep Solomon Strunsky out of the family of typical New Yorkers? We think not.

We think that you cannot exclude the man who through some stroke of fortune has accumulated money in a smaller city, and who has come to New York to live and to spend it. There are many thousands of him dwelling upon the island of Manhattan; with his families they make a considerable community by itself. They are good spenders, good New Yorkers in that they never complain while the strings of their purses are never tightly tied. They live in smart apartments uptown, at tremendously high rentals, keep at least one car in service at all seasons of the year, dine luxuriously in luxurious eating-places, attend the opera once a week or a fortnight, see the new plays, keep abreast of the showy side of New York. They are typical New Yorkers. In an apartment a little further down the street—which rents at half the figure and comes dangerously near being called a flat—is another family. This[59] family also attends the new plays, although it is far more apt to go a floor or even two aloft, than to meet the speculator's prices for orchestra seats. It also goes to the opera, and the young woman of the house is in deadly earnest when she says that she does not mind standing through the four or five long acts of a Wagnerian matinee, because the nice young ushers let you sit on the floor in the intermissions. But this family goes farther than the drama—spoken or sung. It is conversant with the new books and the new pictures. That same young woman swings the Phi Beta Kappa key of the most difficult institution of learning on this continent. And she knows more about the trend of modern art than half of the artists themselves. And yet she "goes to business"—is the capable secretary of a very capable man downtown.

These are typical New Yorkers. So are a family over in the next block—theirs is frankly a flat in every sense of that despised word. They have not been in the theater in a dozen years, never in one of the big modern restaurants or hotels. Yet the head of that family is a man whose name is known and spoken reverently through little homes all the way across America. He is a worker in the church, although not a clergyman, a militant friend of education, although not an educator, and he believes that New York is the most thoughtful and benevolent city in the world. And if you attempt to argue with him, he will prove easily and smilingly, that he is right and you—are just mistaken. He and his know their New York—a New York of high Christian force and precept—and they, too, are New Yorkers.

So, too, is Bliffkins and the little Bliffkins—although Bliffkins holds property in a bustling Ohio city and votes within its precincts. To tell the truth baldly, the Bliffkinses descend upon New York once each year and never remain more than a fortnight. But they stop at[60] a great hotel and they are great spenders. Floor-walkers, head-waiters, head-ushers know them. Annually, and for a few golden days they are part of New York—typical New Yorkers, if you please. And when they are gone other Bliffkinses, from almost every town across the land, big and little, come to replace them. And all these are typical New Yorkers.

What is the typical New Yorker?

Are the sane folk right when they say that he does not exist? We do not think so. We think that Katherine in all her flippancy was right. They are all typical New Yorkers who sojourn, no matter for how little a time, within her boundaries. We will go farther still. You might almost say that all Americans are typical New Yorkers. For New York is, in no small sense, America. Other towns and cities may publicly scoff her, down in their hearts they slavishly imitate her, her store fronts, her fashions, her hotel and her theater customs, her policemen, even her white-winged street cleaners. They publicly laugh at her—down in their hearts they secretly adore her.


[61]

3
ACROSS THE EAST RIVER

Physically only the East river separates Brooklyn from Manhattan island. The island of Manhattan was and still is to many folk the city of New York. Across that narrow wale of the East river—one of the busiest water-highways in all the world—men have thrust several great bridges and tunnels. Politically Brooklyn and Manhattan are one. They are the most important boroughs of that which has for the past fifteen years been known as Greater New York.

But in almost every other way Manhattan and Brooklyn are nearly a thousand miles apart. In social customs, in many of the details of living they are vastly different, and this despite the fact that the greater part of the male population of Brooklyn daily travels to Manhattan island to work in its offices and shops and you can all but toss a stone from one community into the other. The very fact that Brooklyn is a dwelling place for New York—professional funny-men long ago called it a "bed-chamber"—has done much, as we shall see, toward building up the peculiar characteristics of the town that stands just across the East river from the tip of the busiest little island in the world.

Consider for an instant the situation of Brooklyn. It fills almost the entire west end of Long island—a slightly rolling tract of land between a narrow and unspeakably filthy stream on the north known as Newtown creek and the great cool ocean on the south. This entire tract has for many years been known as Kings[62] county—its name a slight proof of its antiquity. Many years ago there were various villages in the old county—among them Greenpoint, Bushwick, Williamsburgh, Canarsie, Flatbush, Gravesend and Brooklyn. They were Dutch towns, and you can still see some evidences of this in their old houses, although these are disappearing quite rapidly nowadays. Brooklyn grew the most rapidly—from almost the very day of the establishment of the republic. Robert Fulton developed his steam-ferry and the East river ceased to be the bugaboo it had always been to sailing vessels. Fulton ferry was popular from the first. With the use of steam its importance waxed and soon it was overcrowded. Another ferry came, another and another—many, many others. They were all crowded, for Brooklyn was growing, a close rim of houses and churches and shops all the way along the bank of the East river from the Navy Yard at the sharp crook of the river that the Dutch called the Wallabout, south to the marshy Gowanus bay. Upon the river shore, north of the Wallabout, was Williamsburgh, which was also growing and which had been incorporated into a city. But when the horse-cars came and men were no longer forced to walk to and from the ferries or to ride in miserable omnibuses, Brooklyn and Williamsburgh became physically one. Williamsburgh then gave up its charter and its identity and became lost in the growth of a greater Brooklyn. That was repeated slowly but surely throughout all Kings county. Within comparatively recent years there came the elevated railroad—at almost the same time the great miracle of the Brooklyn bridge—and all the previous growth of the town was as nothing. For two decades it grew as rapidly as ever grew a "boom-town" in the West. The coming of electric city transportation, the multiplying of bridges, the boring of the first East river tunnel, all helped in this great growth. But the fairy[63] web of steel that John A. Roebling thrust across the busiest part of the East river marked the transformation of Brooklyn—a transformation that did not end when Brooklyn sold her political birthright and became part and parcel of New York. That transformation is still in progress.

We have slipped into history because we have wanted you to understand why Brooklyn today is just what she is. The submerging of these little Dutch villages with their individual customs and traditions has done its part in the making of the customs and traditions of the Brooklyn of today. For Brooklyn today remains a congregation of separate communities. You may slip from one to the other without realizing that you have done more than pass down a compactly built block of houses or crossed a crowded street.

And so it has come to pass that Brooklyn has no main street—in the sense that about every other town in the United States, big or little, has a main street. If you wish to call Fulton street, running from the historic Fulton ferry right through the heart of the original city and far out into the open country a main street, you will be forced to admit that it is the ugliest main street of any town in the land: narrow, inconsequential, robbed of its light and air by a low-hanging elevated railroad almost its entire length. And yet right on Fulton street you will find two department-stores unusually complete and unusually well operated. New Yorkers come to them frequently to shop. The two stores seem lost in the dreariness of Fulton street—a very contradiction to that highway.

Yet Brooklyn is a community of contradictions. Here we have called Fulton street a possible main street of Brooklyn, and yet there is a street in the town, for the most part miles removed from it, that is quite as brisk by day and the only street in the borough which has any[64] real activity at night. Like that great main-stem of Manhattan it is called Broadway, and it is a wider and more pretentious street than Fulton, although in its turn also encumbered with an elevated railroad. But up and down Broadway there courses a constant traffic; on foot, in automobiles, in trolley-cars. Broadway boasts its own department-stores, some of them sizable, many hundreds of small shops, cheap theaters—and some better—by the score. It is an entertaining thoroughfare and yet we will venture to say that not one in ten thousand of the many transients who come to New York at regular intervals and who know the Great White Way as well as four corners up at home, have ever stepped foot within it. We will go further. Of the two million humans who go to make the population of Brooklyn; a large part, probably half, certainly a third, have never seen its own Broadway.

This speaks volumes for the provincialism of the great community across the East river from Manhattan. Remember all this while that it is a community of communities, self-centered and rather more intent upon the problem of getting back and forth between its homes and Manhattan than on any other one thing in the world. As a rule, people live in Brooklyn because it is less expensive than residence upon the island of Manhattan, more accessible and far more comfortable than the Bronx or the larger cities of New Jersey that range themselves close to the shore of the Hudson river. It is in reality a larger and a better Jersey City or a Hoboken or a Long Island City.

A quiet street on Brooklyn Heights
A quiet street on Brooklyn Heights

And yet, like each of these three, it is something more than a mere housing place for folk who work within congested Manhattan. It, too, is a manufacturing center of no small importance. Despite the transportation obstacles of being divided by one or two rivers from most of the trunk-line railroads that terminate at the port of[65] New York, hundreds of factory chimneys, large and small, proclaim its industrial importance. Its output of manufactures reaches high into the millions each year. And the pay-roll of its factory operatives is annually an impressive figure.

The fact remains, however, that it is a community of communities, each pulling very largely for itself. A smart western town of twenty-five thousand population can center more energy and secure for itself precisely what it wishes more rapidly and more precisely than can this great borough of nearly two million population. Brooklyn has not yet learned the lesson of concentrated effort.

Now consider these communities of old Kings county once again. We have touched upon their location and their growth; let us see the manner of folk who made them grow. About the second decade of the last century a virtual hegira of New England folk began to move toward New York City. The New England states were the first portion of the land to show anything like congestion, the wonderful city at the mouth of the Hudson was beginning to come into its own—opportunity loomed large in the eyes of the shrewd New Englanders. They began picking up and moving toward New York. And they are still coming, although, of course, in no such volume as in the first half of the nineteenth century.

These New England folk found New York already aping metropolitanism—with its unshaded streets and its tightly built rows of houses. Over on Long island across busy Fulton ferry it was different. There must have been something in the early Brooklyn, with its gentle shade-trees down the streets and its genial air of quiet comfort that made the New Englanders think of the pretty Massachusetts and Connecticut towns that they had left. For into Brooklyn they came—a steady stream which did not lessen in volume until the days[66] of the Civil War. They gave the place a blood infusion that it needed. They crowded the old Dutch families to one side and laid the social foundations of the Brooklyn of today.

It was New England who founded the excellent private schools and small colleges of Brooklyn, who early gave to her a public-school system of wide reputation. It was New England who sprinkled the Congregational churches over the older Brooklyn, who gave to their pulpits a Talmage and a Storrs, who brought Henry Ward Beecher out from the wilds of the Mid-west and made him the most famous preacher that America has ever known. It was New England who for forty years made Brooklyn Heights—with its exquisite situation on a plateau overlooking the upper harbor of New York—the finest residential locality in the land. It was New England for almost all that time who filled the great churches of the Heights to their capacity Sabbath morning after Sabbath morning—New England who stood for high thought, decent living and real progress in Brooklyn. It was New England that made Brooklyn eat her pork and beans religiously each Sabbath eve.

The great churches and the fine houses still stand on Brooklyn Heights, but alas, there are few struggles at the church-doors any more on Sabbath morning. The old houses, the fine, gentle old houses—many of them—have said good-by to their masters, their gayeties and their glories. Some of them have been pulled down to make room for gingerbread apartment structures and some of those that have remained have suffered degradation as lodging- and as boarding-houses. It has been hard to hold the younger generation of fashionable Brooklyn in Brooklyn. Manhattan is too near, too alluring with all of its cosmopolitan airs, and these days there is another steady hegira across the East river[67]—the first families of Brooklyn seeking residence among the smart streets of upper Manhattan.

There is another reason for this. We have told how Brooklyn sold her birthright when she threw off her political individuality and made herself a borough of an enlarged New York. Perhaps it would be more true to say that she mortgaged that birthright the very hour when the Brooklyn bridge, then new, took up the fullness of its mighty work. In the weaving of that bridge is wrapped one of the little-known tragedies of Brooklyn—the immensely human story of Roebling, its designer and its builder, who suffered fatal injuries upon it and who died a lingering death before it was completed. Roebling's apartments were upon a high crest of Brooklyn Heights and the windows of his sick-room looked down upon the workmen who were weaving the steel web of the bridge. In the last hours of his life he could see the creation of his mind, the structure that was about to be known as one of the eight modern wonders of the world, being made ready for its task of the long years.

The coming of that first bridge began the transformation of Brooklyn; although for a long time Brooklyn did not realize it. The New England element within her population did not even realize it when she gave up her political identity as a city. Then something else happened. Two miles to the north of the first bridge another was built—this with its one arm touching the East Side of Manhattan—the most crowded residence district in the new world—while its other hand reached that portion of Brooklyn, formerly known as Williamsburgh. We have already spoken of Williamsburgh—in its day a city of some promise but for sixty years now part of Brooklyn. In the greater part of these sixty years it hung tenaciously to its personality. Back of it was a great area of regular streets and small houses[68] known as the Eastern District. The folk who lived there called themselves Brooklyn folk. Williamsburgh was different. Its folk were glad to give themselves the name of the old town, although the pattern of its streets ran closely into the pattern of the streets of the community which had engulfed it. They held themselves a bit by themselves. They had their own shops, their own theater, their own clubs, their own churches, their own schools. They also had the opportunity of seeing the social and the business changes that the development of the first bridge had wrought in old Brooklyn; how Fulton street from the old City Hall down to the ferry-house had lost its gayety and was entering upon decadence.

The Williamsburgh bridge repeated the story of the Brooklyn bridge—only in sharper measure. It was like a tube lancing the overcrowded mass of the East Side of Manhattan. It had hardly been completed before it had its own hegira. The Jews of the crowded tenements of Rivington and Allen and Essex and all the other congested narrow streets east of the Bowery began moving over the new bridge and out to a distant section of Brooklyn, known as Brownsville. They had preëmpted Brownsville for their own. For a time that was all right. Then the wiser men of that wise old race began asking themselves "why go to Brownsville, eight or nine miles distant, when at the other end of the bridge is a fair land for settlement?"

So began changed conditions for Williamsburgh. For a little while it sought to oppose the change, but an ox might as well pull against the mighty power of a locomotive, as a community try to defy the working of economic law. For a decade now Williamsburgh has been "moving out," her houses, her churches, many of her pet institutions—going the most part farther out upon Long island and there rebuilding under many pro[69]tective restrictions. The old Williamsburgh is nearly gone. Strange tongues and strange creeds are heard within her churches. And some of them have been pulled down, along with whole blocks of the gentle red-brick houses, to give way to cheap apartments, wrought wondrously and fearfully and echoing with the babbling of unfamiliar words. Nor has the transformation stopped at Williamsburgh. The invasion has crept, is still creeping into the Eastern District just beyond, transforming quiet house-lined streets into noisy ways lined with crowded apartments.

It is only within a comparatively little time that the older Brooklyn has realized the change that is coming upon her. She has known for years of the presence of many thousands of Irish and German within her boundaries. They have been useful citizens in her development and have done much for her in both a generous and an intelligent fashion. She holds today great colonies of Norse and of the Swedish—down close to the waterfront in the neighborhood of the Narrows, and her Italian citizens, taken by themselves, would make the greatest Italian city in the world. She has the largest single colony of Syrians in the New World and more than half a million Jews. According to reliable estimates, three-quarters of her adult population today are foreign-born.

Thus can we record the transformation of a community. It is a transformation which has created many problems, far too many to be recounted here. We have only room to show the nature of the change to a town where grandfathers used to be all in all and which has sleepily awakened to find itself cosmopolitan, its institutions changing, its future uncertain. There have not been a dozen important Protestant churches builded in Brooklyn within the past twelve years—and some of these merely new edifices for old congregations which[70] have been forced to pick up and move. And there have been old churches of old faiths that finally have had to give up and close their doors for the final time. Even the old custom of singing Christmas songs in the public schools has been forbidden. The New England strain of Americanism in Brooklyn is dying.

*****

Brooklyn today has no theater of wide reputation, although in Greenwood she has what is deservedly the most famous cemetery in America. Hold on, Brooklyn may have no theater, but she has a town-hall and a town-hall that is worthy of mention here. They do not call it the town-hall or the opera-house, but it is known as the Academy of Music and it is an institution well worth the while of any town. And the Brooklyn Academy of Music is the rallying or focal point for so much that stands for good within the community that we must see how it has come into being.

It seems that when Brooklyn men and women of today were Brooklyn boys and girls there stood down on Montague street in the oldest part of the town an elder Academy of Music and to it they were taken on certain great occasions to hear a splendid lecture with magic-lantern pictures, the Swiss Bell Ringers, or perhaps even real drama or real opera, although play-acting was frowned upon in the early days of that barn-like structure. Eventually, its directors capitulated entirely. Times were changing. So it was that Brooklyn saw the great actors and the great singers of yesterday upon the stage of its old Academy; from that stage it heard its own preachers, heard such orators as Edward Everett and John B. Gough; crowded into the spacious auditorium at the Commencement exercises and the amateur dramatics of its boys and girls. The old Academy was a part of the social fabric of old Brooklyn.

There comes an end to all temporal things and a win[71]ter's morning a full decade ago saw the historic opera house go up in a truly theatrical puff of smoke and flame. And it was said that day that Brooklyn had lost an institution by which it was as well known as the Navy Yard or Plymouth church—where Beecher had once thundered. Before the ruins in Montague street were cool there were demands that the Academy be rebuilt. Brooklynites even then were beginning to feel that the old Brooklyn was beginning to pass. Beecher was dead; the last of Talmage's Tabernacles was burned and was not to be rebuilt. The idea of becoming a second Harlem was appalling. The rebuilding of the Academy was a popular measure, a test as to Brooklyn's ability to preserve at least a vestige of civic unity unto herself.

It was a hard test and it almost failed. There was a time when it seemed as if Brooklyn must give up and become the Cinderella of all the boroughs of the new New York. But it seems that there were other institutions in Brooklyn and not the least of these was, and still is, the Institute of Arts and Sciences. This is a sort of civic Chautauqua. Toward it several thousand men and women each pay five dollars a year for the opportunity to gain culture and entertainment at the same time. They have lectures, museums, picture-shows, recitals and the like and this institute has so fat a purse that the impresario or prima donna is yet to be found who is strong enough to withstand its pleadings.

This institute came valiantly to the aid of the Academy project and saved the day. While it has no proprietary interest in the new structure, it is its chief tenant, and the new Academy was planned in detail to meet the needs of this popular educational institution. So, while the old Academy had a single auditorium, the new has a half-dozen big and comfortable meeting-places. On a single night Brooklyn can snap its fingers at the[72] Metropolitan Opera House, over across the East river, and can gather within its own Temple of Song—a spacious and elegant theater which receives the Metropolitan company once a week during the season—can place another great audience in the adjoining Music Hall, with its well-renowned pipe-organ; in still another hall hear some traveler show his pretty pictures and tell of distant climes and strange peoples; in a lofty ballroom, hold formal reception and dance; and gather in a still smaller hall to hear Professor Something-or-other discuss the geological strata of Iceland or the like. In this way, several audiences, all bent on divers purposes, can be assembled in this big and passing handsome structure and yet be completely independent of each other. The new Brooklyn Academy, wrought after a hard fight, is no tiny toy.

The building was largely a labor of love to those who succeeded in getting the subscriptions for it. Its maintenance is today almost a labor of love for its stockholders are not alone the wealthy bankers and the merchants of the town. Its stock-list is as catholic as its endeavors—and they are legion. It is designed to be eventually a gathering-place for the butcher, the baker, the candle-stick maker; all the sturdy folk who have their homes from Greenpoint to Coney island.

*****
An early Brooklyn Citizen
An early Brooklyn Citizen

"One thing more," you demand. "How about Coney island?"

Coney island is a part of Brooklyn. It is also the most advertised and the most over-rated show place in the whole land. While the older Brooklyn used to drive down to that sand-spit facing the sea for clams and for fish-dinner in the summer days, it is only within the past few years that it has been commercialized and an attempt made to place it upon a business basis. We are inclined to think that the attempt, measured in the long[73] run, has been a failure. It began about ten years ago, when the standard of entertainment at the famous beach had fallen low. A young man, with a gift for the show business, created a great amusement park there by the side of the sea.

"People do not come to Coney island to see the ocean," he said. "They come down here for a good time."

It looked as if he was right. His amusement park was a great novelty and for a time a tremendous success. It had splendid imitators almost within a stone-throw—its name and its purpose were being copied all the way across the land. Perhaps people did not go to Coney island, after all, to see the cool and lovely ocean.

But after a time the fickle taste of metropolitan New York seemed to change. New Yorkers did not seem to care quite as much for the gay creations of paint and tinsel, the eerie cities that were born anew each night in the glories of electric lighting. Fire came to Coney island—again and again. It scoured the paint and tinsel cities, thrust the highest of their towers, a blackened ruin, to the ground. Pious folk said that God was scourging Coney island for its contempt for His laws. And the fact remains that it has not regained the preëminence of its position ten years ago.

We think that a man who had been out of Brooklyn for twenty years and whose recollections of the wonderful beach that forms her southern outpost were recollections of great gardens; of Patrick Gilmore playing inimitable marches in front of one giant hotel and of the incomparable Siedl leading his orchestra beside another, would do better than to return to Coney island. Siedl is dead; so is Gilmore and even the huge wooden hotel that looked down upon him was pulled apart last year to make room for the encroaching streets and houses[74] of a growing Brooklyn. The paint and the tinsel of Coney island grows tarnished—and that twenty-year exile could find little else than the sea to hold his interest. And the folk who go to Coney island today seem to care very little for the sea—save perhaps as a giant bath-tub.

We think that the absentee of twenty years' standing would do far better to go to Prospect Park. That really superb pleasure-ground, planned through the foresight of a Brooklyn man of half a century ago, remains practically unchanged through the years. It remains one of the great parks, not only of America, but of the entire world. It is the real lion of Brooklyn. It is incomparably finer than its rival, the somewhat neglected Central Park of Manhattan. And alas, Manhattan seems to think so, too, for to Prospect Park it sends each bright summer Sunday not the best but the roughest of its hordes. And Brooklyn sighs when it sees its lovely playground stolen from it.

It is more than playground—Prospect Park. It is history. There are no historic buildings in Brooklyn—unless we except the Dutch Reformed church out in Flatbush—but all of Prospect Park was once a battlefield—the theater of that bitter and bloody conflict of July, 1776, when Washington was routed by British strategy and forced to retire from the city that he needed most of all to hold. Through its great meadows Continental and Briton and Hessian once marched with murder in their hearts. In those great meadows today the boys and girls of the Brooklyn of today play tennis; the older men, after the fashion of the Brooklyn of other days, their croquet. And annually down the greensward the little children of Brooklyn march in brilliant June-time pageant.

The Sunday-school parade of Brooklyn is one of the older institutions of the town that still survives. An[75]nually and upon the first Thursday afternoon of June the children of all the Sabbath-schools of the borough march out upon its streets. There is not room even in Prospect Park for all of these—for sometimes there are 150,000 of them marching of an afternoon; and the great distances within Brooklyn must also be brought into consideration. But the largest of the individual parades always marches in the park—marches like trained troopers up past the dignitaries in the reviewing stand, and the mayor, and the other city officers, the Governor of the State, not infrequently the President of the United States. There is much music, great excitement—and ice-cream afterwards. Sharp denominational bars are let down and the ice-cream goes to all. And the boys and girls who are to be the men and women of the Brooklyn of tomorrow and who are to face its great problems march proudly by, knowing that the loving eye of father or of mother must be upon them.

The problems of the Brooklyn of tomorrow are not to be carelessly dismissed. Nor is the problem of Brooklyn's future in any way hopeless. The changing of conditions, the changing of habits, the changing of institutions does not of necessity spell utter ruin. Cosmopolitanism does not mean the end of all things. We have called her dull and emotionless and provincial, and yet many of her residents are quick and appreciative—well-traveled and well-read—anxious to meet the new conditions, to solve the problems that have been entailed. And we have not the slightest doubt that in the long run they will be solved, that Brooklyn will be ready and willing to undertake the great problem that has been thrust upon her—the fusing of her hundreds of thousands of foreign-born into first-rate Americans.


[76]

4
WILLIAM PENN'S TOWN

To approach Philadelphia in a humble spirit of absolute appreciation, you must come to her by one of the historic pikes that spread from her like cart-wheel spokes from their hub. You will find one of those old roads easily enough, for they radiate from her in every direction. And when you have found your pike you will discover that it is a fine road, even in these days when there is a "good-roads movement" abroad in the land. You can traverse it into town as best suits your fancy—and your purse. If you are fortunate enough to own an automobile you will find motoring one of the greatest of many joys in the southeastern corner of Pennsylvania. If your purse is thin you can have joyous health out of walking the long miles such as is denied to your proud motorist. And if you have neither money nor robust health for hard walking, you will find a trolley line along each of the important pikes. Philadelphia does not close her most gracious avenues of approach to you—no matter who you are or what you are.

*****

Here we are at the William Penn Inn at dawn of a September morning waiting to tramp our way, at least to the outskirts of the closely built part of the city. And before we are away from the tavern which has kept us through the lonely chill of the night, give it a single parting glance. It has been standing there at the cross-roads of two of the busy pikes of Montgomery county for a full century and a half. In all those years it has[77] not closed its door against man or beast, seeking shelter or refreshment. There is a record of one hundred and fifty years of hospitality for which it does not have to make apologies.

Sometimes you will discover small inns of this sort along the roadsides of New England, but we do not know where else you will find them without crossing the Atlantic and seeking them out in the Surrey and the Sussex of the older England. Yet around Philadelphia they are plentiful—with their yellow plastered walls, tight green shutters hung against them, their low-ceilinged rooms, their broad fire-places, their stout stone out-buildings, and their shady piazzas, giving to the highway. Some of them have quite wonderful signs and all of them have a wonderful hospitality—heritage from the Quaker manner of living.

So from the William Penn Inn one may start after breakfast as one might have started a century ago—to walk his way into the busy town. The four corners where the pikes cross stand upon a high ridge—a smooth white house of stone, a meeting-house of the Friends, and the tavern occupying three of them. The fourth gives to a view of distant fields—and such a view! Montgomery is a county of fat farms. You can see the rich lands down in the valleys, the shrewder genius required to make the more sterile ridge acres yield. And, as you trudge down the pike, the view stays with you for a long while.

At the bottom of the hill a little stream and the inevitable toll-gate that seem to hedge in Philadelphia from every side. But your payment to the toll-keeper upon the Bethlehem pike this morning is voluntary. His smile is genial, his gate open. A cigar is to his liking and if you would tarry for a little time within the living-room of the toll-house he would tell you stories of the pike—stories that would make it worth the waiting. But[78]—Philadelphia is miles away, the road to it long and dusty. You pick up your way and off you go.

Little towns and big. Sleepy towns most of them; but occasionally one into which the railroad has thrust itself and Industry flaunts a smoky chimney up to the blue sky. Quaker meeting-houses a plenty, with the tiny grave-stones hardly showing themselves through the long grass roundabout them. But those same neat stones show that the Friends are a long-lived folk, and if you lift yourself up to peer through the windows of one of these meeting-houses you may see the exquisite simplicity of its arrangement. The meeting-house is modern—it only dates back to 1823—and yet it is typical. Two masses of benches on a slightly inclined floor, the one side for the men, the other for the women. Facing them two rows of benches, for the elders. No altar, not even a pulpit or reading-desk; there is an utter absence of decoration. You do not wonder that the young folk in this mad, gay day fail to incline to the old faith of "thee" and "thou," and that no more than forty or fifty folk, almost all of them close to the evenings of their life gather here on the morning of First Day.

Between the villages and the meeting-houses the solid, substantial farmhouses. And what farmhouses! Farmhouses, immaculate as to whitewash and to lawn, with cool porches, shaded by brightly striped awnings and holding windsor chairs and big swinging Gloucester hammocks. This is farming. And the prosperous look of the staunch barns belies even thought that this is dilettante agriculture. It is merely evidence that farmers along the great pikes of Montgomery and Bucks and Berks have not lost their old-time cunning. And if the farmer no longer drives his great Conestoga wagons into market at Philadelphia, it is because he prefers to run in with his own motor car and let other and more mod[79]ern transportation methods bring his products to the consumer.

Lunch at another roadside tavern. Bless your heart, this one, like the meeting-house of the Friends back the pike a way, is cursed with modernity. It can only claim sixty years of hospitable existence. Mine host can tell no fascinating yarn of General Washington having slept beneath his roof, even though his tavern is named after no less a personage. Instead he relates mournfully how a tavern over on the Bristol pike has a tablet in its tap-room telling of the memorable night that the members of the Continental Congress moving from New York to Philadelphia tarried under that roof. Two good anecdotes and a corking name almost make a wayside inn. But the anecdotes are not always easy to find.

After lunch and a good rest the last stages of the journey. The little towns grow more closely together; there are more houses, more intersecting cross-roads. It will be worth your while not to miss the signs upon these. The very names on the sign-posts—Plymouth Meeting, Wheel Pump, Spring House, Bird-in-hand—seem to proclaim that this is a venerable country indeed. More closely do the houses grow together, the farms disappear, an ancient mile-post thrusts itself into your vision. It is stone, but, after the fashion of these Pennsylvania Dutch, white-washed and readable. It tells you:

P
10-1/2
C.H.
1 M.

But Philadelphia in reality is no ten miles away. For here is Chestnut Hill, the houses numbered, city-fashion and the yellow trolley cars multiplied within the busy highway which has become a city street without you having realized the transition. The smart looking po[80]liceman at the corner will tell you that Chestnut Hill is today one of the wards of Philadelphia.

The city at last! You may turn at the top of a long hill and for a final instant confront the country beyond, rolling, fertile, prosperous, the gentle wooded hills giving soft undulation to the horizon. Then look forward and face the busy town. For a long time yet your way shall be down what seems to be the main street of a prosperous village, with its great homes set away back in green lawns from the noisy pavement and the public sidewalk. There are shops but they are distinctly local shops and the churches bear the names of the brisk towns that were submerged in the making of a larger Philadelphia—Chestnut Hill, Mount Airy, Germantown.

And down this same busy street history has marched before you. Some of it has been recorded here and there in bronze tablets along the street. In front of one old house, one learns that General Washington conferred with his officers at the eve of the battle of Germantown and on the door-steps of another—set even today in its own deep grounds—Redcoat and Buff struggled in a memorable conflict. For this was the mansion of Judge Chew, transformed in an instant of an autumn day from country-house to fortress. It was from the windows of this old house that six companies of Colonel Musgrave's Fortieth regiment poured down a deadly fire upon Mad Anthony Wayne and his men even as they attempted to set fire to it. The house stood and so stood the Fortieth regiment. General Washington lost his chance to enter Philadelphia that autumn, and Valley Forge was so writ into the pages of history.

History! It is spread up and down this main street of Germantown, it slips down the side-streets and up the alleys, into the hospitable front-doors of stout stonehouses. Here it shows its teeth in the bullet-holes of the aged wooden fence back of the Johnson house and here[81] is the Logan house, the Morris house, the Wend house, the Concord school and the burying-ground. Any resident of Germantown will tell you what these old houses mean to it, the part they have played in its making.

After Germantown—Philadelphia itself. The road dips down a sudden hill, loses itself in a short tunnel under a black maze of railroad tracks. Beyond the railroad track the city is solidly built, row upon row of narrow streets lined with small flat-roofed brick houses, the monotony only accentuated by an occasional church-spire or towering factory. In the distance a group of higher buildings—downtown Philadelphia—rising above the tallest of them Father Penn poised on the great tower of the City Hall. No need now for more tramping. The fascination of the open country is gone and a trolley car will take you through tedious city blocks—in Philadelphia they call them squares—almost to the door of that City Hall. They are tedious blocks. Architecturally Philadelphia is the most monotonous city in America with its little red-brick houses. Dr. S. Weir Mitchell who has known it through all the years of his life has called it the "Red City" and rightly, too.

For mile after mile of the older Philadelphia is mile after mile of those flat-roofed red-brick houses. They seemingly must have been made at some mill, in great quantities and from a limited variety of patterns. For they are almost all alike, with their two or three stories of narrow windows and doors; steps and lintels and cornice of white marble and invariably set close upon the sidewalk line. There is no more generosity than individuality about the typical side streets of Philadelphia.

A single thing will catch your eye about these Philadelphia houses—a small metal device which is usually placed upon the ledge of a second-story window. The window must be my lady's sitting-room, for a closer look shows the device to be a mirror, rather two or[82] three mirrors, so cunningly placed that they will show her folk passing up and down or standing upon her doorstep without troubling her to leave her comfortable rocking chair. There must be a hundred thousand of these devices in Philadelphia. They call them "busy-bodies" quite appropriately, and they are as typical of the town as its breakfast scrapple and sausage.

*****

Even a slow-moving Philadelphia trolley car eventually accomplishes its purpose and you will find yourself slipping from the older town into the oldest. The trolley car grinds around an open square—Franklin square, the conductor informs you and then tells you that despite its name it is not to be confounded with that aristocrat, Rittenhouse square, nor even with the more democratic Logan square. You see that for yourself. There are mean streets aroundabout this square. Oldest Philadelphia assuredly is not putting her best foot forward.

And yet these sordid streets are not without their fascination. The ugly monotony of flat-roofs is gone. These roofs are high-pitched and bristle with small-paned dormer windows and with chimneys, for the houses that stand beneath them are very, very old indeed. And they are typical of that Georgian architecture that we love to call Colonial. A brave show these houses once must have made—even today a bit of battered rail, a fragment of door or window-casing or fanlight proclaims that once they were quality. Fallen to a low estate, to the housing of Italians or Chinese instead of quiet Quakers, they seem almost to be content that their streets have fallen with them; that few seem to seek them out in this decidedly unfashionable corner of Philadelphia.

"Arch street," calls the conductor and it is time to get out. It is time to thread your way down one of the[83] earliest streets of the old Red City, time to pay your respects at the tomb of him who ranked with Penn, the Proprietor, as the greatest citizen. You can find this tomb easily—any newsboy on the street can point the way to it. He is buried with others of his faith in the quiet yard of Christ church at Fifth and Arch streets. And in order that the passing world may sometimes stop to do him the homage of a passing thought, a single section of the old brick wall has been cut away and replaced by an iron grating. Through that grating you may see his tomb—a slab of stone sunk flat, for he was an unpretentious man—and on its face read:

"Benjamin and Deborah Franklin. 1790."

Beyond that graveyard you will see a meeting-house of the Friends, one of the best-known in all that grave city which their patron founded. It is the meeting-house of the Free Quakers, and to its building both Franklin and Washington, himself, lent a liberal aid. And you can still see upon a tablet set in one of its faded brick walls these four lines:

"By General Subscription,
For the Free Quakers.
Erected A. D. 1783,
Of the Empire 8."

That "Empire 8" has puzzled a good many tourists. In a republic and erected upon the gathering-place of as simple a sect as the Friends it provokes many questions.

"They must have thought it was goin' to be an empire like that French Empire that was started by the war in '75," the aged caretaker patiently will tell you with a shake of the head which shows that he has been asked that very question many times before and never found a really good answer for it.

A few squares below its graveyard is Christ church[84] itself—a splendid example of the Georgian architecture as we find it in the older cities close to the Atlantic seaboard. Designed by the architect of Independence Hall it is second to that great building only in historic interest. Its grave-yard is a roster of the Philadelphia aristocracy of other days. In its exquisitely beautiful steeple there hangs a chime of eight bells brought in the long ago from old England in Captain Budden's clipper-ship Matilda freight-free. And local tradition relates that for many years thereafter the approach of Captain Budden's Matilda up the Delaware was invariably heralded by a merry peal of welcome from the bells.

Where William Penn looks down upon the town he
loved so well
Where William Penn looks down upon the town he loved so well

Philadelphia is rich in such treasure-houses of history. To the traveler, whose bent runs to such pursuits, she offers a rare field. In the oldest part of the city there is hardly a square that will not offer some landmark ripe with tradition and rich with interest. Time has laid a gentle hand upon the City of Brotherly Love. And no American, who considers himself worthy of the name, can afford not to visit at least once in his lifetime the greatest of our shrines—Independence Hall. Within recent years this fine old building has, like many of its fellows, undergone reconstruction. But the workmen have labored faithfully and truthfully and the old State House today, in all its details, is undoubtedly very much as it stood at the time of the signing of the Declaration. It still houses the Liberty Bell, that intrepid and seemingly tireless tourist who visits all the world's fairs with a resigned patience that might well commend itself to human travelers.

*****

Around these landmarks of colonial Philadelphia there ebbs and flows the human tides of the modern city. The windows of what is today the finest as well as the largest printing-house in the land look down upon the tree-filled[85] square in which stands Independence Hall. A little while ago this printing concern looked down upon the grave of that earlier printer—Franklin. But growth made it necessary to move from Arch street—the busiest and the noisiest if not the narrowest of all precise pattern of parallel roads that William Penn—the Proprietor of other days—laid back from the Delaware to the Schuylkill river.

One square from Arch street is Market, designed years ago by the far-sighted Quaker to be just what it is today—a great commercial thoroughfare of one of the metropolitan cities of America. At its feet the ferries cross the Delaware to the fair New Jersey land. Up its course to the City Hall—or as the Philadelphian will always have it, the Public Buildings—are department stores, one of them a commercial monument to the man who made the modern department store possible and so doing became the greatest merchant of his generation. Department stores, big and little, two huge railroad terminals which seem always thronged—beyond the second of them desolation for Market street—a dreary course to the Schuylkill; beyond that stream it exists as a mere utility street, a chief artery to the great residence region known as West Philadelphia.

Arch street, Market street, then the next—Chestnut street. Now the heart of your real Philadelphian begins to beat staccato. Other lands may have their Market streets—your San Francisco man may hardly admit that his own Market street could ever be equaled—but there is only one Chestnut street in all this land.

The big department stores have given way to smaller shops—shops where Philadelphia quality likes to browse and bargain. Small restaurants, designed quite largely to meet the luncheon and afternoon tea tastes of feminine shoppers show themselves. Upon a prominent corner there stands a very unusual grocery shop.[86] That is, it must be a grocery shop for that is what it advertises itself, but in the window is a papier-mache reproduction of the table-d'hôte luncheon that it serves upon its balcony, and within there are quotations from Shakespeare upon the wall and "best-sellers" sold upon its counters.

And after Chestnut street, which runs the gamut from banks to retail shops and then to smart homes, Walnut street. We have been tempted to call Walnut "the Street of the Little Tailors," for so many shops have they from Seventh street to Broad that one comes quickly to know why Philadelphia men are as immaculate to clothes as to good manners. Between the little shops of the tailors there are other little shops—places where one may find old prints, old books, old bits of china or bronze. Walnut street runs its course and at the intersection of Broad is a group of four great hotels, two of them properly hyphenated, after modern fashion. Beyond Broad it changes. No shops may now profane it, for it now penetrates the finest residential district of Philadelphia. Here is the highway of aristocracy and in a little way will be Rittenhouse square—the holy of holies.

Just as Market street in San Francisco forms the sharp demarking line between possible and impossible so does Market street, Philadelphia, perform a similar service for William Penn's city. You must live "below" Market street, which means somewhere south of that thoroughfare. "No one" lives "above Market," which is, of course, untrue, for many hundreds of thousands of very estimable folk live north of that street. In fact, two-thirds of the entire population of Philadelphia live north of Market, which runs in a straight line almost east and west. But society—and society in Philadelphia rules with no unsteady hand—decries that a few city squares south of Market and west of Broad shall be its own demesne. You may have your country house[87] out in the lovely suburbs of the town, if you will, and there are no finer suburban villages in all the world than Bryn Mawr or Ognotz or Jenkintown—but if you live in town you must live in the correct part of the town or give up social ambitions. And there is little use carrying social ambitions to Philadelphia anyway. No city in the land, not even Boston or Charleston, opens its doors more reluctantly to strange faces and strange names, than open these doors of the old houses roundabout Rittenhouse square. And for man or woman coming resident to the town to hope to enter one of Philadelphia's great annual Assemblies within a generation is quite out of the possibilities.

Rittenhouse square may seem warm and friendly and democratic with its neat pattern of paths and grass-plots, its rather genteel loungers upon its shadiest benches, the children of the nurse-maids playing beneath the trees. But the great houses that look down into it are neither warm nor friendly nor democratic. They are merely gazing at you—and inquiring—inquiring if you please, if you have Pennsylvania blood and breeding. If you have not, closed houses they are to remain to you. But if you do possess these things they will open—with as warm and friendly a hospitality as you may find in the land. There is the first trace of the Southland in the hospitality of Philadelphia, just as her red brick houses, her brick pavement and her old-fashioned use of the market, smack of the cities that rest to the south rather than those to the north.

*****

To give more than a glimpse of the concrete Philadelphia within these limits is quite out of the question. It would mean incidentally the telling of her great charities, her wonderful museum of art whose winter show is an annual pilgrimage for the painters from all the eastern portion of the land, of her vast educational projects.[88] Two of these last deserve a passing mention, however. One might never write of Philadelphia and forget her university—that great institution upon the west bank of the Schuylkill which awoke almost overnight to find itself man-size, a man-sized opportunity awaiting. And one should not speak of the University of Pennsylvania and forget the college that Stephen Girard founded. Of course Girard College is not a college at all but a great charity school for boys, but it is none the less interesting because of that.

The story of Stephen Girard is the story of the man who was not alone the richest man in Philadelphia but the richest man in America as well. But among all his assets he did not have happiness. His beautiful young wife was sent to a madhouse early in her life, and Girard shut himself off from the companionship of men, save the necessity of business dealings with them. He was known as a stern, irascible, hard screw of a man—immensely just but seemingly hardly human. Only once did Philadelphia ever see him as anything else—and that was in the yellow fever panic at the end of the eighteenth century when Stephen Girard, its great merchant and banker, went out and with his own purse and his own hands took his part in alleviating the disaster. It was many years afterward that Girard College came into being; its center structure a Greek temple, probably the most beautiful of its sort in the land, and its stern provision against the admission of clergymen even to the grounds of the institution, a reflection of its founder's hard mind coming down through the years. Today it is a great charity school, taking boys at eight years of age and keeping them, if need be, until they are eighteen, and in all those years not only schooling but housing them and feeding them as well as the finest private-school in all this land.

[89] And as Girard College and the University of Pennsylvania stand among the colleges of America, so stands Fairmount Park among the public pleasure grounds of the country. It was probably the first public park in the whole land, and a lady who knows her Philadelphia thoroughly has found many first things in Philadelphia—the first newspaper, the first magazine, the first circulating library, the first medical college, the first corporate bank, the first American warship, the unfurling of the first American flag, not least of these the first real world's fair ever held upon this side of the Atlantic. For it was the Centennial which not only made Fairmount Park a resort of nation-wide reputation, not only opened new possibilities of amusement to a land which had always taken itself rather seriously, but marked the turning of an era in the artistic and the social, as well as the political life of the United States. The Centennial was, judged by the standard of the greatest expositions that followed it, a rather crude affair. Its exhibits were simple, the buildings that housed them fantastic and barnlike. And the weather-man assisted in the general enjoyment by sending the mercury to unprecedented heights that entire summer. Philadelphia is never very chilly in the summer; the northern folk who went to it in that not-to-be-forgotten summer of 1876 felt that they had penetrated the tropics. And yet when it was all over America had the pleased feeling of a boy who finds that he can do something new. And even sober folk felt that a beginning had been made toward a wider view of life across the United States.

It is nearly forty years since the Centennial sent the tongues of a whole land buzzing and the two huge structures that it left in Fairmount Park have begun to grow old, but the park itself is as fresh and as new as in the days of its beginning, and there are parts of it that were[90] half a century old before the Centennial opened its doors. There are many provisions for recreation within its great boundaries, boating upon the Schuylkill, the drives that border that river, the further drive that leaves it and sweeps through the lovely glen of the Wissahickon.

The Wissahickon Drive is a joy that does not come to every Philadelphian. That winding road is barred to sight-seeing cars and automobiles of indiscriminate sort because the quality of the town prefers to keep it to itself. So runs Philadelphia; a town which is in many ways sordid, which has probably the full share of suffering that must come to every large city, but which bars its fine drive to the proletariat while Rittenhouse square blandly wonders why Socialism makes progress across the land. Philadelphia does not progress—in any broad social sense. She plays cricket—splendidly—is one of the few American towns in which that fine English game flourishes—and she dispenses her splendid charity in the same senseless fashion as sixty years ago. But she does not understand the trend of things today—and so she bars her Wissahickon Drive except to those who drive in private carriages or their own motor car, and delivers the finest of the old Colonial houses within her Fairmount Park area to clubs—of quality.

Personally we much prefer John Bartram's house to any of those splendid old country-seats within Fairmount. To find Bartram's Gardens you need a guide—or a really intelligent street-car conductor. For there is not even a marking sign upon its entrance, although Philadelphia professes to maintain it as a public park. Little has been done, however, to the property, and for that he who comes to it almost as a shrine has reason to be profoundly thankful. For the old house stands, with its barns, almost exactly as it stood in the days of the great naturalist. One may see where his hands placed the great stone inscribed "John-Ann Bartram 1731" within[91] its gable; on the side wall another tablet chiseled there forty years later, and reading:

"Tis God alone, almighty Lord,
The holy one by me adored."

Neglect may have come upon the gardens but even John Bartram could not deny the wild beauty of these untrammeled things. The gentle river is still at the foot of the garden, within it, most of the shrubs and trees he planted are still growing into green old age. And next to his fine old simple house one sees the tangled yew-tree and the Jerusalem "Christ's-thorn" that his own hands placed within the ground.

*****

Philadelphia prides herself upon her dominant Americanism—and with no small reason. She insists that by keeping the doorways to her houses sharply barred she maintains her native stock, her trained and responsible stock, if you please, dominant. She avers that she protects American institutions. New York may become truly cosmopolitan, may ape foreign manners and foreign customs. Philadelphia in her quiet, gentle way prefers to preserve those of her fathers.

One instance will suffice. She has preserved the American Sabbath—almost exactly as it existed half a century ago. As to the merits and demerits of that very thing, they have no place here. But the fact remains that Philadelphia has accomplished it. From Saturday night to Monday morning a great desolation comes upon the town. There are no theaters not even masquerading grotesquely as "sacred concerts," no open saloons, no baseball games, no moving pictures—nothing exhibiting for admission under a tight statute of Pennsylvania, in effect now for more than a century. And it is only a few years ago that the churches were permitted to stretch chains across the streets during the hours of their[92] services. A few bad fires, however, with the fire-engines becoming entangled with the chains and this custom was abandoned. But the churches are still open, and they are well attended. It is an old-fashioned Sabbath and it seems very good indeed to old-fashioned Americans.

But upon the other six days of the week she offers a plenitude of comfort and of amusement. She is accustomed to good living—her oysters, her red-snappers, and her scrapple are justly famous. She is accustomed to good playing. In the summer she has far more than Fairmount Park. Atlantic City—our American Brighton—is just fifty-six miles distant both in crow-flight and in the even path of the railroads, and because of their wonderful high-speed service many Philadelphians commute back and forth there all summer long.

For the old Red City is a paradise for commuters. Those few blocks aroundabout Rittenhouse square that her social rulers have set aside as being elect for city residence, long since have grown all too small for a great city—the great monotonous home sections north of Market and west of the Schuylkill are hot and dreary. So he who can, builds a stone house out in the lovely vicinage of the great city, and when you are far away from the high tower of the Public Buildings and find two Philadelphians having joyous argument you will probably find that they are discussing the relative merits of the "Main Line," the "Central Division" or the "Reading."

And yet the best of Philadelphia good times come in winter. She is famed for her dances and her dinners—large and small. She is inordinately fond of recitals and of exhibitions. She is a great theater-goer. And local tradition makes one strict demand. In New York if a young man of good family takes a young girl of good family to the theater he is expected to take her in a carriage. She may provide the carriage—for these days[93] have become shameful—but it must be a carriage none the less. In Philadelphia if a young man of good family takes a young woman of good family to the theater he must not take her in a carriage, not even if he owns a whole fleet of limousines. Therein one can perhaps see something of the dominating distinctions between the two great communities.

But what Philadelphia loves most of all is a public festival. It does not matter so very much just what is to be celebrated as long as there can be a fine parade up Broad street—which just seems to have been really designed for fine parades. On New Year's Eve while New York is drinking itself into a drunken stupor, Philadelphia masks and disguises—and parades. On every possible anniversary, on each public birthday of every sort she parades—with the gay discordancies of many bands, with long files of stolid and perspiring policemen or firemen or civic societies, with rumbling top-heavy floats that mean whatever you choose to have them mean. Rittenhouse square does not hold aloof from these festivals. Oh, no, indeed! Rittenhouse square disguises itself as grandfather or grandmother or as any of the many local heroes and rides within the parade—more likely upon the floats. The parades are invariably well done. And the proletariat of Philadelphia comes out from the side streets and makes a double black wall of humanity for the long miles of Broad street.

There is something reminiscent of Bourbon France in the way that Bourbon Rittenhouse square dispenses these festivals unto the rest of the town. It is all very diaphanous and very artificial but it is very sensuous and beautiful withal, and perhaps the rest of the town for a night forgets some of its sordidness and misery. And the picture that one of these celebrations makes upon the mind of a stranger is indelible.

Like all of such fêtes it gains its greatest glory at dusk.[94] As twilight comes the strident colors of the city fade; it becomes a thing of shapes and shadows—even the restless crowd is tired and softened. Then the genius of electricity comes to transform workaday land into fairyland and all these shapes and shadows sharpen—this time in living glowing lines of fire. It is time for men to exult, to forget that they have ever been tired. Such is the setting that modern America can give a parade. Father Penn stands on his tall tower above it all, the most commanding figure of his town. Below him the searchlights play and a million incandescents glow; the shuffling of the crowds, the faint cadences of the band, the echoes of the cheering crowd come up to him. But he does not move. His hands, his great bronze hands, are spread in benediction over the great gay sturdy city which he brought into existence these long years ago.


[95]

5
THE MONUMENTAL CITY

If you approach Philadelphia by dusty highway, it is quite as appropriate that you come to Baltimore by water highway. A multitude of them run out from her brisk and busy harbor and not all of them find their way to the sea. In fact one of the most fascinating of all of them leads to Philadelphia—an ancient canal dug when the railroad was being born and in all these years a busy and a useful water-carrier. If you are a tourist and time is not a spurring object, take the little steamer which runs through the old canal from the city of William Penn to the city of Lord Baltimore. It is one of the nicest one-day trips that we know in all the east—and apparently the one that is the least known. Few gazetteers or tourist-guides recommend or even notice it. And yet it remains one of the most attractive single-day journeys by water that we have ever taken.

If you will only scan your atlas you will find that nature has offered slight aid to such a single-day voyage. She builded no direct way herself but long ago man made up the omission. He dug the Chesapeake and Delaware canal in the very year that railroading was born within the United States. For remember that in 1829 the dreamers, who many times build the future, saw the entire nation a great network of waterways—natural and artificial. They builded the Chesapeake and Delaware canal bigger than any that had gone before. No mere mule-drawn barges were to monopolize it. It[96] was designed for river and bay craft—a highway for vessels of considerable tonnage.

*****

You arrive at this canal after sailing three hours down the Delaware river from Philadelphia—past the Navy Yard at League island, the piers and jetties at Marcus Hook that help to keep navigation open throughout the winter and many and many a town whose age does not detract from all its charm. The river widens into a great estuary of the sea. The narrow procession of inbound and outbound craft files through a thin channel that finally widens in a really magnificent fairway.

Suddenly your steamer turns sharply toward the starboard, toward another of the sleepy little towns that you have been watching all the way down from Philadelphia—the man who knows and who stands beside you on the deck will tell you that it is Delaware City—and right there under a little clump of trees is the beginning of the canal. You can see it plainly, with its entrance lock and guarding light, and if the day be Sunday or some holiday the townfolk will be down under the trees watching the steamer enter the lock. It is not much of a lock—scarcely eleven inches of raise at the flow of the tide—but it serves to protect the languid stretch of canal that reaches a long way inland. This gateway is a busy one at all times, for the Chesapeake and Delaware is one of the few old-time canals that has retained its prestige and its traffic. An immense freight tonnage passes through it in addition to the day-boats and the night-boats between Philadelphia and Baltimore. Moreover, the motor boats are already finding it of great service as an important link in the inside water-route that stretches north and south for a considerable distance along the Atlantic coast.

In Baltimore Harbor
In Baltimore Harbor

Engines go at quarter-speed through the thirteen miles of the canal and the man who prefers to take his travel[97] fast has no place upon the boat. Four miles an hour is its official speed limit and even then the "wash" of larger craft is frequently destructive to the banks. But what of that speed limit with a good magazine in your hands and a slowly changing vista of open country ever spread before your hungry eyes? You approach swing-bridges with distinction, they slowly unfold at the sharp order of the boat's whistle, holding back ancient nags of little Delaware, drawing mud-covered buggies; heavy Conestoga wagons filled with farm produce for the towns and cities to the north; sometimes a big automobile snorting and puffing as if in rage at a few minutes of enforced delay.

On the long stretches between the bridges the canal twists and turns as if finding its way, railroad fashion, between increasing slight elevations. Sometimes it is very wide and the tow-path side—for sailing-craft are often drawn by mules through it—is a slender embankment reaching across a broad expanse of water. You meet whole flotillas of freighters all the way and when edging your way past them you throw your Philadelphia morning paper into their wheel-houses you win real thanks. All the way the country changes its variety—and does not lose its fascination.

So sail to Baltimore. At Chesapeake City you are done with the canal, just when it may have begun to tire you ever and ever so slightly. Your vessel drops through a deep lock into the Back creek, an estuary of the Elk river. The Elk river in turn is an estuary of Chesapeake bay and you are upon one of the remote tendons of that really marvelous system of waterways that has its focal point in Hampton Roads and reaches for thousands of miles into Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina.

You sweep through the Elk river and then through the upper waters of the Chesapeake bay, just born from the[98] yellow flood of the Susquehanna, as the day dies. As the sun is nearly down, your ship turns sharply, leaves the Bay and begins the ascent of the Patapsco river. Signs of a nearby city, a great city if you please, multiply. There are shipbuilding plants upon distant shores, the glares of foundry cupolas, multiplying commerce—Baltimore is close at hand.

And so you sail into Baltimore—into that lagoon-like harbor at the very heart of the town. The steamboats that go sailing further down the Chesapeake that poke their inquisitive noses into the reaches of the Pocomoke, the Pianatank, the Nanticoke, the Rappahannock, the Cocohannock, the Big Wicomico and the Little Wicomico—all of these water highways of a land of milk and honey and only rivaling one another in their quiet lordly beauty—sail in and out of Baltimore. There are many of these steamers as you come into the inner harbor of the city, tightly tethered together with noses against the pier just as we used to see horses tied closely to one another at the hitching-rails, at fair-time in the home town years ago. And they speak the strength of the manorial city of Lord Baltimore. For the city that sits upon the hills above her landlocked little harbor draws her strength from a rich country for many miles roundabout. For many years she has set there, confident in her strength, leading in progress, firm in resource.

For well you may call Baltimore—quite as much as Philadelphia—a city of first things. There are almost too many of these to be recounted here. It is worthy of note, however, that in Baltimore came the first use in America of illuminating gas, which drove out the candle and the oil lamp as relics of a past age. Baltimore's historic playhouse, Peale's Museum, was the first in all the land to be set aglow by the new illuminant. And one may well imagine the glow of pride also that dwelt that memorable evening upon the faces of all the[99] folk who were gathered in that ancient temple of the drama.

And yet there was an earlier "first thing" of even greater importance—the hour of inspiration a century ago when an enemy's guns were trained on that stout old guardian of the town's harbor, Fort McHenry—an engagement to be remembered almost solely by the fact that the "Star Spangled Banner" first lodged itself in the mind of man. But to our minds the greatest of the many, many "first things" of Baltimore was the coming of the railroad. For the first real railroad system in America—the Baltimore & Ohio—was planned by the citizens of the old town—ambitious dreamers each of them—as an offset to those rival cities to the north, Philadelphia and New York, who were creating canals to develop their commerce—at the expense of the commerce of Baltimore. So it was that a little group of merchants gathered in the house of George Brown, on the evening of the 12th of February, 1827, a date not to be regarded lightly in the annals of the land. For out of that meeting was to come a new America—a growing land that refused to be bound by high mountains or wide rivers. Not that the little gathering of Baltimore merchants pointed an instant or an easy path to quick prosperity. The path of the Baltimore & Ohio was hedged about for many years with trials and disappointments. It was more than a quarter of a century before it was a railroad worthy of the name, meeting even in part the ideals and dreams of the men who had planned it to bring their city in touch with the Ohio and the other navigable rivers of the unknown West. And at the beginning it was a fog-blinded path that confronted them. Over in England an unknown youth was experimenting with that uncertain toy, the steam locomotive, while a Russian gentleman of known intelligence gravely predicted that a car set with sails to go before[100] the wind upon its rails was the most practical form of transportation. And it is worthy of mention that the earliest of the Baltimore and Ohio steam locomotives was beaten in a neck-and-neck race toward the West by a stout gray horse. The name of the old locomotive is still recorded in the annals of the railroad but that of the gray horse is lost forever.

*****

To know and to love the Baltimore of today, one must know and love the Baltimore of yesterday. He must know her lore, her traditions, her first families—the things that have gone to make the modern city. He must see, as through magic glasses, the Baltimore of other days, the city that came into her own within a very few years after the close of the American Revolution. His imagination must depict that stout old merchant and banker, Alexander Brown; Evan Thomas, the first president of Baltimore's own railroad; B. H. Latrobe, the first great architect and engineer that a young nation should come to know and whose real memorial is in certain portions of the great Federal Capitol at Washington. He must see Winans, the car-builder, and Peter Cooper, tinkering with the locomotive. He may turn toward less commercial things and find Rembrandt Peale; and if his glasses be softened by the amber tints of charity he may see a drunkard staggering through the streets of old Baltimore to die finally in a gutter, while some men put their fingers to their lips and whisper that "Mr. Poe's Raven may be literature after all."

It is indeed the old Baltimore that you must first come to know and to love, if you are ever to understand the personality of the Baltimore of today. The new Baltimore is a splendid city. Its fine new homes, its many, many schools and colleges proclaim that here is a center[101] of real culture; its great churches, its theaters, its modern hotels, its broad avenues are worthy of a city of six hundred thousand humans. Druid Hill Park at the back of the new Baltimore is worthy of a city of a million souls. From it you can ride or stroll downtown through Eutaw place, that broad parked avenue which is the full pride of the new Baltimore. Suddenly you turn to the left, pass through a few mean streets, the gray pile of the Fifth Regiment armory, known nationally because of the great conventions that have been held beneath its spreading walls, see the nearby tower of Mount Royal station—after that you are in the region of the uptown hotels and theaters—thrusting themselves into the long lines of tight, red-brick houses. These are builded after the fashion of the Philadelphia houses, even as to their white marble door-steps, and yet possess a charm and distinction of their own.

There are many of these old houses upon this really fine street, and you crane your neck at the first intersection to catch its name upon the sign-post. "Charles Street" it reads and with a little gladsome memory you recall a bit of verse that you saw a long time ago in the Baltimore Sun. It reads somewhat after this fashion:

Its heart is in Mount Vernon square,
Its head is in the green wood:
Its feet are stretched along the ways
Where swarms the foreign brood;
A modicum of Bon Marche,
That sublimated store—
And Oh, the treasure that we have
In Charles street, Baltimore!
I love to watch the moving throng,
The afternoon parade;
The coaches rolling home to tea,
The young man and the maid;
The gentlemen who dwell in clubs,
The magnates of the town—
Oh, Charles street has a smile for them,
And never wears a frown!
The little shops, so cool and sweet;
The finesse and the grace
Which mark the mercantility
Of such a market-place;
And then beyond the tempting stores
The quietness that runs
Into the calm and stately square
With marble denizens.
The little and the larger stores
Are tempting, to be sure;
But they are only half the charm
That Charles street holds to lure;
For here and there along the way,
How sweet the homes befall—
The domicile that holds his Grace,
The gentle Cardinal.
The mansions with pacific mien
Whose windows say "Come in!"
The touches of colonialness,
The farness of the din
That rolls a city league away
And leaves this dainty street
A cool and comfortable spot
Where past and present meet.
A measure of la boulevard
Before whose windows pass
The madame and the damoisel,
The gallant and the lass;
The gravest and the most sedate,
The young and gay it calls;
And, oh, how proper over it—
The shadows of St. Paul's!
Dip down the hill and well away,
The southward track it takes,
O fickleness, how many quips,
How many turns it takes!
But ever in its greensward heart,
From head to foot we pour
The homage of our love of it—
Dear Charles street, Baltimore!
Charles Street—Baltimore
Charles Street—Baltimore

You are standing in Mount Vernon square, the very heart of Charles street. It is a little open place, shaped like a Maltese cross rather than a real square or oblong, with a modern apartment house looming up upon it, whose façades of French Renaissance give a slightly Parisian touch to that corner of the square. To the rest of it, bordered with sober, old-time mansions there is nothing Parisian, unless you stand apart and gaze at the Monument, which sends its great shaft some two hundred feet up into the air. There are such columns in Paris.

It is the Monument that dominates Mount Vernon square, that adds variety to the vistas up and down through Charles street. For eighty years it has stood there, straight and true; for eighty years General Washington has looked down into the gardens of Charles street, upon the children who are playing there, the folk coming home at night. It is the most dominating thing in Baltimore, which has never acquired the sky-scraper habit, and because of it we have always known Baltimore as the Monumental City.

*****

Now turn from the modern Baltimore—right down this street which runs madly off the sharp hill of Mount Vernon square. Charles street, with all of its shops and gentle gayety, is quickly left behind. At the foot of the hill runs St. Paul street and it is a busy and a somewhat sordid way. But at St. Paul street rises Calvert station and since you are to see so many great railroad stations before you are done with the cities of America, take a second look at this. Calvert station is not great. It is not magnificent. It is not imposing. It is old, very,[104] very old—as far as we know the oldest of all the important stations that are still in use today. From its smoky trainshed the trains have been going up the Northern Central toward Harrisburg and the Susquehanna country—the farther lands beyond—since 1848. And that trainshed, with its stout-pegged wooden-trussed roof held aloft on two rows of solid stone pillars, seems good for another sixty-five years.

Old Baltimore holds tightly to its ideals of yesterday. Over in another of the older parts of the town you can still find Camden station, which in 1857 was not only proclaimed as the finest railroad terminal that was ever built but that ever could be built, still in use and a busy place indeed. The Eutaw House, spared by the great fire of a decade ago, but finally forced to close its doors in the face of the competition of better located and more elaborate hostelries, still stands. The ancient cathedral remains a great lion, the old-time red shaft of the Merchants' Tower still thrusts itself into the vista as you look east from the Monument square there in front of the Post Office. Across the harbor you can find Fort McHenry, as silent sentinel of that busy place. Baltimore does not easily forget.

And here, as you plunge down into the little congested district roundabout Jones Falls you are at last in the really old Baltimore. The streets are as rambling and as crooked as old Quebec. Some of their gutters still run with sewage although it is to be fairly said to the credit of the town that she is today fast doing away with these. And once in a time you can stand at the open door of an oyster establishment and watch the negroes shocking those bivalves—singing as they work. For just below Baltimore is a great habitat of the oyster as well as of the crab, to say nothing of some more aristocratic denizens—the diamond-back terrapin for instance. Boys with trays—many of them negroes[105]—walk the wharves and streets of old Baltimore selling cold deviled crabs at five cents each. Those crabs are uniformly delicious, and the boys sell them as freely on the streets as the boys down in Staunton and some other Virginia towns sell cold chicken.

Now we are across Jones FallsB—that unimpressive stream that gullies through Baltimore—and plunging into Old Town. Other cities may boast their quartiers, Baltimore has Old Town. And she clings to the name and the traditions it signifies with real affection. Here is indeed the oldest part of Old Town and if we search quietly through its narrow, crowded streets we may still see some of the old inns, dating well back into the eighteenth century, their cluttered court-yards still telling in eloquent silence of the commotion that used to come when the coaches started forth up the new National Pike to Cumberland or distant Wheeling, north to York and Philadelphia. And everywhere are the little old houses of that earlier day. Even in the more distinctively residential sections of the town many of them still stand, and they are so very much like toy houses enlarged under some powerful glass that we think of Spotless Town and those wonderful rhymes that we used to see above our heads in the street cars. But they represent Baltimore's solution of her housing problem.

B During the past year Baltimore has made a very creditable progress toward building an important commercial street over Jones Falls; thus transforming it into a hidden, tunneled sewer. Residents of the city will not soon forget, however, that it was at Jones Falls that the engines of the New York Fire Department took their stand and halted the great fire of 1904.  E. H.

For she has no tenements, even few high-grade apartments. She has, like her Quaker neighbor to the north, mile upon mile of little red-brick houses, all these also with white door-steps—marble many times, and in other times wood, kept dazzling and immaculate with fresh paintings. In these little houses Baltimore lives. You[106] may find here and there some one of them no more than ten or twelve feet in width and but two stories high, but it is a house and while you occupy it, your own. And the rent of it is ridiculously low—compared even with the lower-priced apartments and the tenements of New York. That low rent, combined with the profuse and inexpensive markets of the town, makes Baltimore a cheap place in which to live. The proximity of her parks and the democracy of her boulevards makes her a very comfortable place of residence—even for a poor man. And you may live within your little house and of a summer evening sit upon your "pleasure porch" as comfortably as any prince.

In Baltimore it is always a "pleasure porch," thus proclaiming her as a real gateway to the old South—the South of flavor and of romance. In Baltimore, you always say "Baltimore City," probably in distinction to Baltimore county, which surrounds it, and your real Baltimorean delights to speak of his morning journal as "that Sun paper." The town clings conservatively to its old tricks of speech, and if you pick up that newspaper you will perhaps find the advertisement of an auctioneer preparing to sell the effects of some family "declining housekeeping."

That same fine conservatism is reflected in her nomenclature—first as you see it upon the shop signs and the door-plates. She has not felt the flood of foreign invasion as some of our other cities have felt it. She is not cosmopolitan—and she is proud of that. And the names that one sees along her streets are for the most part the good names of English lineage. Even the names of the streets themselves are proof of that—Alpaca and April alleys, Apple, and Apricot courts, Crab court, Cuba street, China street—which takes one back to the days of the famous clipper ships which sailed from the wharves of Baltimore—Featherbed lane, Johnny-cake[107] road, Maidenchoice lane, Pen Lucy avenue, Sarah Ann street—who shall say that conservatism does not linger in these cognomens? And what shall one say of conservatism and Baltimore's devotion to Charles street, sending that famous thoroughfare up through the county to the north as Charles Street avenue and then as Charles Street Avenue extension?

*****

Do not mistake Baltimore conservatism for a lack of progress. You can hardly make greater mistake. For Baltimore today is constantly planning to better her harbor, to improve the beginning that she has already made in the establishment of municipal docks—her jealousy of a certain Virginia harbor far to the south is working much good to herself. She is constantly bettering her markets—today they are not only among the most wonderful but the most efficient in the whole land. And today she is planning a great common terminal for freight right within her heart—a sizable enterprise to be erected at a cost of some ten millions of dollars. For she is determined that her reputation for giving good living to her citizens and at a low cost shall be maintained. She realizes that much of that cost is the cost of food distribution, and while almost every other city in the land is floundering and experimenting she is going straight ahead—with definite progress in view. Such purpose and such plans make first-rate aids to conservatism.

*****

"Baltimore can prove to any one who will give her half a chance, what a good, a dignified, a charming thing it is to be an American town," writes one man of her. He knows her well and he does not go by the mark. Baltimore is good, is dignified, is altogether charming. And she is an American town of the very first rank.


[108]

6
THE AMERICAN MECCA

Just as all the roads of old Italy led to Rome so do all the roads of this broad republic lead to Washington—its seat of government. At every season of the year travelers are bound to it. It is in the spring-time, however, that this travel begins to assume the proportions of the hegira. It is a patriotic trek—essentially. And the slogan "Every true American should see Washington at least once" has been changed by shrewd railroad agents and hotel-keepers to "Every true American should see Washington once a year," although some of the true Americans after one experience with Washington hotel-keepers are apt to say that once in a life-time is quite enough. But the national capital is worth all the hardships, all the extortions large and small. It is a patriotic shrine and, quite incidentally, the most beautiful city in America, if not the world, and so it is that there is not a month in the year that Americans are not pouring through its gateway—the wonderful new Union station.

That terminal still opens the eyes of those folk who come trooping down toward the Potomac—old fellows who still remember the last time they went to Washington and the entire country was a-bristle with military camps and bristling guns, little shavers entering for the first time the City of Perpetual Delights, lovelorn bridal couples, excursions from Ohio, round-trips from off back in the Blue Ridge mountains, parties from up in Pennsylvania—the broad concourse of the railroad station at[109] Washington is a veritable parade-ground of latent and varied Americanism.

The members of a self-appointed Reception Committee are waiting for the tourists—just outside the marble portals of the station. Some of them are hotel-runners, others are cab-drivers, but they are all there and their eyes are seemingly unerring. How quickly they detect the stranger who has heard the "true American" slogan for the first time, and who has the return part of his ten-day limit ticket tucked safely away in his shabby old wallet.

"Seein' Washington! A brilliant trip of two hours through the homes of wealth an' fashion, with a lecture explainin' every point of interest an' fame."

Here is the first welcoming cry of the Reception Committee—and seasoned tourist that you are, you do not yield to it. You shake your head in a determined "no" to the barker at the station but a little while later over in Pennsylvania avenue you succumb. Two dashing young black-haired ladies—slender symphonies in white—are sitting high upon one of the large travel-stained peripatetic grandstands. On another sight-seeing automobile over across the street are two very blondes—in black. You cast your fate upon the ladies with the black hair and the white dresses and climb upon the wagon with them. At intervals you look enviously upon mere passers-by. Then the intervals cease. Two young men climb upon the wagon and boldly engage themselves in conversation with the young ladies. At the very moment when you are about to interfere in the name of propriety, you discover that the young ladies seem to like it. At any rate you decide it will be interesting to listen to their conversation and the important young man who is in charge of the grandstand has taken your non-refundable dollar for the trip. Otherwise you might still change in favor of the blondes who are sitting huddled[110] under a single green sunshade and who look bored with themselves.

You sit ... and sit ... and sit. An old lady finds her cumbersome way up on the front seat and fumbles for her dollar. A deaf gentleman perches himself upon the rear bench. After which you sit some more. Three or four more true Americans find their way upon the wagon. You still sit. An elderly couple crowds in upon your bench. The man has whiskers like Uncle Joe Cannon or a cartoon, but his wife seems to have subdued him, after all these years. The sitting continues. Finally, when patience is all but exhausted, the personal conductor of the car shouts "All aboard" and the two young ladies in white duck drop off nimbly. For a moment their acquaintances seem non-plussed. Then they understand, for they, too, jump off and follow after.

The chauffeur fumbles with the crank of the top-heavy car. It does not respond readily. The chauffeur perspires and the personal conductor—who will shortly emerge in the rôle of lecturer—offers advice. The chauffeur softly profanes. Interested spectators gather about and begin to make comments of a personal nature. Finally, when the chauffeur is about to give it all up and you and yours are to be plunged into mortification—you can safely suspect those young blondes on the rival enterprise across the way of laughing in their tight little sleeves at you—the engine begins to snort violently and throb industriously. The chauffeur wipes the perspiration from his brow with the back of his hand and smiles triumphantly at the scoffers across the street.

He jumps into his seat briskly, as if afraid that the car might change its mind, and you are off. The ship's company settles into various stages of contentment. Seein' Washington at last.... The lecturer reaches for his megaphone.

But not so fast—this is Washington.

[111] The real start has not yet begun. All these are but preliminaries to the start of the real start. You are not going to bump into the world of wealth and fashion as quickly as all this. You go along Pennsylvania avenue for another two squares and for twenty minutes more traffic is solicited. The novelty wears off and contentment ceases.

"I don't purpose to pay a dollar for a ride and spend the hull time settin' 'round like a public hack in front of th' hotels," says a bald-headed man and he voices a rising sentiment. He is from Baltimore and he is frankly skeptical of all things in Washington. The lecturer and the chauffeur confer. The performance with the engine crank is given once again and you finally make a real start.

Entertainment begins from that start. But you get history as a preliminary to wealth and fashion, for it so happens that wealth and fashion do not dwell in that part of Pennsylvania avenue.

"Site of first p'lice station in Washington," the young man rattles out through his megaphone. "Oldest hotel in Washington. Washington's Chinatown. Peace Monument. Monument to Albert Pike, Gran' Master of the Southern Masons; only Confederate monument in the city. Home o' Fightin' Bob Evans, there with the tree against the window. His house was—"

"What was that about the Confederates?" the deaf man interrupts from the back seat. The lecturer, with an expression of utter boredom, repeats. At this moment the chauffeur comes into the limelight. He recognizes a girl friend on the sidewalk and in the enthusiasm of that recognition nearly bumps the grandstand into a load of brick. When order is restored and you go forward in a straight course once again, the lecturer resumes—

"On our right the United States Pension Office, the[112] largest brick buildin' in the world and famed for the inaugural balls it has every four years—only it didn't have one las' time. But when Mr. Taft was inaugurated nine thousand couples were a-waltzin' an—"

Some of the folk upon the car look shocked. They come from communities where dancing is taboo, and the lecturer seems to hint at an orgy there in one of the taxpayer's buildings.

"There is also the largest frieze in the world 'round that building," he continues, "an' it ain't the North Pole, either. Eighteen hundred soldiers and sailors—count 'em some day—marchin' there, the sick an' the wounded laggin' behind, the trail of martyr's blood markin' their path, comrade helpin' comrade—all a-bringin' honor an' glory to the flag."

He drops the megaphone to catch his breath and whispers into your ear. He realizes that you have understood him—and half apologizes for himself:

"They like that," he explains, in an undertone. "A little oratory now an' then tickles 'em. An' then they like this:"

The megaphone goes into action.

"We are travelin' west in F street, the Wall street of Washington, the place of the banker an' broker."

"Ain't we goin' to see the houses of the fashionable people?" demands the wife of the bald-headed Baltimorean. "Now over in our city Eutaw place is—"

"We are comin' there, madam," says the lecturer, courteously.

And in a little while you do come there. You sit back complacently in your seat and smack your mental lips at the sight of the mansion of the man who owns three banks; of that of him who, the lecturer solemnly affirms, is the president of the Whiskey Trust; at a third where dwells "the richest minister of the United States." A little school-teacher, who has come down from Hartford,[113] Conn., makes profuse notes in a neat leather-covered book. It is plain to see that she takes the duty of the true Americans as a serious enterprise, indeed.

You all start and look when ex-Speaker Cannon's house is passed, and you catch a glimpse of the old man coming down the door-steps. The public interest in him has not seemed to cease with his retirement from the center of the national arena. But it has lessened. You realize that a moment later when your peregrinating grandstand rolls by a solemn-faced man walking down the street—a big man in a black suit, his face hidden by a black slouch hat.

"Mr. Bryan," whispers the lecturer, this time without the megaphone.

It is quite unnecessary. For a brief instant Washington is forgotten. In that instant the crowd regards the second or third best-known man in America—silently and curiously. The lecturer brings them back to their dollar's worth. He boldly points out the Larz Anderson house as the home of "the richest real estate man in the country," the new home of Perry Belmont as having "three stories above ground and three below"—an excursionist from Reading, Pa., interrupts to ask how much coal they will need to fill such a cellar—you see the home of the late Mr. Walsh with "a forty-five hundred dollar marble bench in the yard, all cut out of a single piece," the sedate and stately house of Gifford Pinchot.

It is pleasant, driving through these smooth Washington streets, even if the low-hanging tree branches do make you jump and start at times. You go up this street, down that, past long rows of neat Colonial houses that some day are going to look neat and old—turn by one of the lovely open squares of the city. They have just erected a statue there—grandstands are already going up around about it and there will be speeches and oratory before long.

[114] Washington is constantly in the throes of an epidemic of dedications. There are now more statues in the city than Mr. Baedeker ever can tally and each of them has undergone dedication—at least once. The President has been corralled, if possible, although Mr. Wilson has already shown a reticence for this sort of thing. If the President simply will not come, a Governor or a rather famous Senator will do as well. And in the far pinch there are many Representatives in Washington who are mighty good orators. You can almost get a Representative at the crook of your finger, and you cannot have a real dedication without a splurry of oratory. It is almost as necessary as music—or the refreshments.

As you slip by one of those statues—"the equestrian figure of General Andrew Jackson on horseback"—the gentleman from Reading demands that the car stop. He wants to ask a question and apparently he cannot ask a question and be in motion at the same time. So he demands that the car be stopped. It is one of the privileges of a man who has paid a perfectly good dollar for the trip. The car stops—abruptly.

You will probably recall that Jackson statue, standing in the center of Lafayette square and directly in front of the White House. Perhaps General Jackson rode a horse that way and perhaps he did not, but there the doughty old warrior sits, his bronze mount plunging high upon hind legs.

"What is ever going to keep that statue from falling over some day?" demands the man from Reading. He has a keen professional interest in the matter, for he has been a blacksmith up in that brisk Pennsylvania town for many a year.

Through the portals of this Union Station come all the
visitors to Washington
Through the portals of this Union Station come all the visitors to Washington

The lecturer explains that the tail of the bronze horse is heavily weighted and that the whole figure is held in balance that way. But the blacksmith is Pennsylvania Dutch—of the sort not to be convinced in an instant[115]—and he sets forth his opinion of the danger at length, to the bald-headed man from Baltimore, who sits just behind him.

The lecturer goes forward once again. You look at the proud old mansion that faces Lafayette square, and gasp when the intelligent young man with the megaphone tells you that it was given to Daniel Webster by the American people and that he gambled it away. You notice the house that Admiral Dewey got from the same source, and wonder if he could not have contrived possibly to gamble it away. You note St. John's church—"the Church of State," the young man calls it—and turn into Sixteenth street. But alas, it is Sixteenth street no longer. Through a bit of the official snobbery that frequently comes to the surface in the governing of the national capital that fine highway has been named "the Avenue of the Presidents," a name that is so out of harmony of our fine American town that it will probably be changed in the not distant future.

The lecturer points your attention to another house.

"The Dolly Madison Hotel, for women only," he announces. "No men or dogs allowed above the first floor. The only male thing around the premises is the mail-box and it is—"

He has gone too far. You fix your steely glance of disapproval upon him and he withers. He drops his megaphone and whispers into your ear once again:

"I hate to do it," he apologizes, "but I have to. The boss says:—'Give 'em wit an' humor, Harry, or back you goes to your old job on a Fourteenth street car.' Think of givin' that bunch wit an' humor! Look at that old sobersides next to you, still a-worryin' about that statue!"

Wit and humor it is then. Wit and humor and wealth and fashion. It almost seems too little to offer a mere[116] dollar for such joys. You make the turn around the drive in back of the White House and you miss the Taft cow—which in other days was wont to feast upon the greensward. You ask the lecturer what became of Mr. Taft's cow.

"She was deceased," he solemnly explained, "a year before his term was up—of the colic."

And of that somewhat ambiguous statement you can make your own translation.

*****

The sight-seeing car stops at the little group of hotels in Pennsylvania avenue, near the site of the old Baltimore & Potomac railroad station. The lecturer begins to use his megaphone to expatiate upon the advantages of a trip to Arlington which is about to begin, but Arlington is too sweetly serious a memorial to be explored by a humorous motor-car. And—in the offing—you are seeing something else. Another car of the line upon which you have been voyaging is moored at the very point from which you started, not quite two hours ago. Upon that car sit the same two young black-haired ladies. Two young men are climbing up to sit beside them. Your gaze wanders. On the rival car across the way the two very blondes in black are still holding giggling conversation. Your suspicions are roused.

Do they ever ride?

Apparently not. Tomorrow they will be upon the cars again, the blondes upon the right, the brunettes upon the left. And the day after tomorrow they will sit and wait and appear interested and in joyous anticipation. And if it rains upon the following day they will don their little mackintoshes and talk pleasantly about its being nearly time to clear up.

Now you know. Seein' Washington employs cappers. Those young ladies sit there to induce dollars—faith,[117] 'tis seduction, pure and simple—from narrow masculine pockets. You do know, now.

*****

If we are giving much space to the tourist view of Washington it is because the tourist plays so important a part in the life of the town. He is one of its chief assets and, seriously speaking, there is something rather pathetic in the joy that comes to the faces of those who step out from the great portals of the new station for the very first time. There is something in their very expressions that seems to express long seasons of saving and of scrimping, perhaps of downright deprivation in order that our great American mecca may finally be reached. You will see the same expressions upon the faces of the humbler folk who go to visit any of the great expositions that periodically are held across the land.

That expression of eminent satisfaction—for who could fail to see Washington for the first time and not be eminently satisfied—reaches its climax each week-day afternoon in the East Room of the White House. If President Wilson has reached a finer determination than his determination to let the folk of his nation-wide family come and see him, we have yet to hear of it. And there is not a man or woman in the land who should be above attending the simple official reception that the President gives each afternoon at his house to all who may care to come.

There is little red-tape about the arrangements in advance. The tendency to hedge the President around with restrictions has been completely offset in the present administration. A note or a hurried call upon the President's secretary in advance—a card of invitation is quickly forthcoming. And at half-past two o'clock of any ordinary afternoon you present yourself at the east[118] wing of the White House. Your card is quickly scrutinized and you may be sure of it that the sharp-eyed Irishman who is more than policeman but rather a mentor at the gate, has scrutinized you, too. His judgment is quick, rarely erring. And unless you meet his entire approval, you are not going to enter the President's house. But he has approved and before you know it you—there are several hundred of you—are slipping forward in a march into the basement of the Executive Mansion and up one of its broad stairs. There are numerous attendants along the path.

"Single file!" shouts one of them and single file you all go—just as you used to play Indian or follow-your-leader in long-ago days. And you all step from the stair-head into the East Room, while the women-folk among you conjure imagination to their aid and endeavor to see that lovely apartment dressed for a great reception or, best of all, one of the infrequent White House weddings.

Other attendants quickly and easily form you into a great crescent, two or three human files in width and extending in a great sweep from a vast pair of closed doors which give to the living portion of the house. No one speaks, but every one takes stock of his neighbors. If it is in vacation season there are many boys and girls—for whole schools make the Washington expedition in these days—there may be several Indians in war-paint and feather making ceremonious visit to the Great White Brother. If you are traveled you will probably see New England or Carolina or Kansas or California in these folk, whose hearts are quickened in anticipation.

Suddenly—the great door opens, just a little. A thin, wiry man in gray steps into the room and takes his position near the head of the crescent. An aide in undress military uniform stands close to him, two sharp-faced young men stand a little to the left of them and act as a[119] human Scylla and Charybdis through which all must pass. There are no preliminaries—no hint of ceremony. Within five seconds of the time when the President has taken his place, the line begins to move forward. In twenty minutes he has shaken hands with three or four hundred people and the reception is over. But in the brief fraction of a single minute when your hand has grasped that of the President you feel that he knows no one else on earth. He concentrates upon you and that, in itself, is a gift of which any statesman may well be proud. And while you are thinking of the pleasure that his word or two of greeting has given you, you awake to find yourself out of the room and hunting for your umbrella at the check-stand in the lower hall. The pleasant personal feeling is with you even after you have left the shelter of the White House roof. It is showering gently and a man under a tree is murmuring something about Secretary Bryan seeing visitors at a quarter to five but neither makes impress upon you. You are merely thinking how much easier it is to come to see the President of the greatest republic in the world than many a lesser man within it—railroad heads, bankers, even petty politicians.

In other days it was not as easy to gain admittance to the President, but the tourist who was not above guile could be photographed shaking hands with the great person. A place on that always alluring Pennsylvania avenue did the trick. You stepped in a canvas screen into the place of the enlarged image of a sailor who was once snapped shaking hands with President Taft. When the picture was finished you were where the sailor had been, and you had a post-card that would make the folks back home take notice. True you were a little more prominent in it than the President, but then Mr. Taft was not paying for the picture. In fact Mr. Taft, when he heard of the practice, grew extremely annoyed and had it stopped,[120] so ending abruptly one of the tourist joys of Washington.

After the White House, the Capitol is an endless source of delight to those who have come to Washington from afar. A little squad of aged men, who have a wolfish scent for tourists, act as its own particular Reception Committee. These old men, between their cards and the sporting extras of the evening papers, condescend to act as guides to the huge building. We shall spare you the details of a trip through it with them. It is enough to say that they are, in the spirit at least, sight-seeing car lecturers grown into another generation. Their quarrels with the Capitol police are endless. On one memorable occasion, a captain of that really efficient police-force had decided to mark the famous whispering stone in the old Hall of Representatives with a bit of paint. You can read about that whispering stone in any of the tourist-guides which the train-boy sells you on your way to Washington. Suffice it now to say that when you have found this phonetic marvel and have stood upon it your whisper will be heard distinctly in a certain far corner of the gallery of the room. It is an acoustic freak of which the schoolboys out in Racine can tell you better than I. And it is one of the prized assets of the Capitol guides. The police captain forgot that when he set out to mark it.

It came back to him the evening of that day, however, when the building had been cleared. He chanced to cross the old hall and, looking for his marker, found three of the guides upon their knees carefully restoring it to absolute uniformity with its neighbors. And the captain nearly lost his job. He had sought to interfere with prerogative, and prerogative is a particularly sacred thing at the Federal capital—as we shall see in a little while.

[121]

*****

Late in a pleasant afternoon all Washington seems to walk in F street. The little girls come out of the matinees, the bigger girls drift out from the tea-rooms, there is a swirl of motor vehicles—gasoline and electric—but the tourist knows not of all this. The gay flammeries of Pennsylvania avenue hold him fascinated. Souvenir shops rivet him to their counters. Post-cards—grave, humorous, abominable—urge themselves upon him. But if all these fail—they have post-cards nowadays of the high schools in each of the little Arizona towns—here upon a counter are the little statuettes of pre-digested currency.

Mr. Lincoln in $10,000 of greenbacks. And yet that money today could not buy one drop of gasoline, let alone an imported touring automobile, for once it has passed through the government's macerating machine it is only fit for the sculptor. Three thousand dollars go into a Benjamin Harrison hat, fifteen thousand into a model of the Washington Monument that looks as if it were about to melt beneath a summer sun. Twenty thousand doll—stay, there is a limit to credulity. And you refuse to buy without a signed certificate from the Treasury Department as to these valuations.

Most of the tourists do buy, however. They seem to be blindly credulous—these folk who feel their way to Washington. It was not so very many spring-times ago that a rumor worked afloat of a dull Sabbath to the effect that the Washington Monument was about to fall. That rumor slipped around the town with amazing rapidity—Washington is hardly more than a gossipy, rumor-filled village after all. Two or three thousand folk went down to the Mall to be present at the fall. No two of them could agree as to the direction in which the shaft would tumble and they all made a long and cautious line that completely encircled it—at a safe distance. After long hours of waiting they all went home. Yet[122] no one was angry. They all seemed to think it part of the day's program.

*****

There is another side of Washington not so funny and tourists, even of the most sedate sort, who stop at the large hotels and who ride about in dignified motor-cars, do not see it. It is the side of heart-burnings. For in no other city of the land is the social code more sharply defined—and regulated. There are many cities in the country and we are telling of them in this book, who draw deep breaths upon exclusiveness. But in none of these save Washington do the folk who do obtain flaunt themselves in the faces of those who do not. The fine old houses of Beacon street, in Boston, and of the Battery down at Charleston may draw themselves apart, but they do it silently and unostentatiously. In the very nature of things in Washington much modesty is quite out of the question.

The stately dome of our lovely Capitol
The stately dome of our lovely Capitol

For here at our Federal capital we have a strange mixture of real democracy and false aristocracy as well as real—if there be any such thing as real aristocracy. The fact that almost every person in the town works, more or less directly, for Uncle Sam makes for the democracy. And that self-same fact seems to fairly establish the aristocracy—you can frankly call much of it snobbishness—of the place. To understand the whys and wherefores of this paradox one would need, himself, to be an employé of the government, of large or small degree. They are many and they are complicated. But an illustration or two will suffice to show what we mean:

A rule, which no one nowadays seems very desirous of fathering, but nevertheless a rule of long standing, states that when a department chief enters an elevator in any of the department buildings it must carry him without other stops to his floor. The other passengers in the car must wait the time and the will of the chief, no matter how[123] urgent may be their errands or how short the time at their command. A gradual increase of this silly rule has made it include many assistants, sub-chiefs and assistants to sub-chiefs. Only the elevator man knows the rank at which a government employé becomes entitled to this peculiar privilege. But he does know, and woe be to that little stenographer who enters the Department of X—— at just three minutes of nine in the morning, with the expectation of being at her desk with that promptness which the Federal government demands of the folk in its service. The second assistant to a second assistant of a sub-chief of a sub-division may have entered. The little stenographer's desk is upon the third floor; the gentleman whose official title spelled out reaches almost across a sheet of note paper is upon the seventh. There are folk within the crowded elevator-car for the fourth and fifth and sixth floors as well. But they have neither title nor rank and the car shoots to the seventh floor for the benefit of the Mr. Assistant Somebody. If there is another Assistant Somebody there to ride down to the ground floor—and there frequently is—you can imagine the consternation of the clerks. And yet it is part of the system under which they have to work when they work for that most democratic of employers—Uncle Samuel.

The secretary of an important department who entered the cabinet with the present administration stayed very late at his office one evening, but found the elevator man awaiting him when he stepped out into the hallway of the deserted building. It was only a short flight of stairs to the street, and the secretary—it was Mr. Bryan—asked the man why he had not gone home.

"My orders are to stay here, sir, until the secretary has gone home for the night," was the reply.

It is hardly necessary to say that right there was one order in the State department that was immediately re[124]voked, while some twenty thousand clerks and stenographers who form the working staff of official Washington sent up little prayers of thanksgiving. These clerks and stenographers make up the every-day fiber of the town life. They go to work in the morning at nine—for a half-hour before that time you can see human streams of them pouring toward the larger departments—and they quit at half past four. The closing hour used to be five, but the clerks decided that they would have a shorter lunch-time and so they moved their afternoon session thirty minutes ahead. Half an hour is a short lunch-time and so official Washington carries its lunch to its desk, more or less cleverly disguised. The owners of popular priced downtown restaurants have long since given up in utter disgust.

But official Washington does not care. Official Washington ends its day at half-past four and official Washington is such a power that matinées, afternoon lectures and concerts of any popular sort are rarely planned to begin before that hour. And on the hot summer afternoons of the Federal capital the wisdom of such early closing is hardly to be doubted. On such afternoons, matinée or concert, a cup of tea or a walk along the shop windows of F street are all forgotten. For beyond the heat of the city, within easy reach by its really wonderful transportation system, are playgrounds of infinite variety and joy. True it is that the really fine parts of Rock Creek Park are rather rigidly held for those folk who can afford to ride in motor cars, but there is the river, innumerable picnic-grounds in every direction, fine bathing at Chesapeake beach, not far distant—and the canal.

Of all these the old Chesapeake and Ohio canal is by far the most distinctive. And how the Washington folk do love that old waterway! What fun they do have out of it with their motor boats and their canoes. If that[125] old water-highway, almost losing its path in the stretches of thick wood and undergrowth, had been created as a plaything for the capital city, it could hardly have been better devised. The motor boats and the canoes set forth from Georgetown—on holidays and Sundays in great droves. They go all the way up to Great Falls—and even beyond—working their passage through the old locks, exchanging repartee with the lock-tenders, loafing under the shadows of the trees, drinking in the indolence of the summer days.

*****

But Shafer's Lock or Cabin John's Bridge is not the Chevy Chase Club and official Washington knows that. It reads in the daily papers of that other life, of the folk who wear white flannels and dawdle around great porches all day long; hears rumors brought, Lord knows how, from the gossipy Metropolitan Club; almost touches shoulders with its smart breakfasts and lunches and dinners when it comes in and out of the confectioners' and the big hotels. But it is none the less apart, hopelessly and irrevocably apart. Uncle Sam may take the office folk of his capital and give them the assurance of a livelihood through long years, but that is all. He gives them no chance to step out of the comfortable rut into which they have been placed. The good positions, the positions that mean rank and title and entrance to the hallowed places, rarely come through promotions. They are the gifts of fortune, gifts even to strange folk from Cleveland or Madison or Stockton. They are not the reward of faithful service at an unknown desk.

And so official Washington, as we have seen here, is quite helpless. The other official Washington—the official Washington of the society columns—little cares. It is not above noticing the twenty thousand, but it is mere notice and nothing more. And as for interest or graciousness or kind-heartedness—they are quite out of[126] the question. Washington is being rebuilt, in both its physical and its social structure. The architects of its social structure are not less capable than those folk who are working out marvels in steel and marble. These first see the Washington of tomorrow, modeled closely after the structures of European capitals. Already our newly created class of American idle rich is establishing its habitat along the lovely streets of our handsomest town. That is a beginning. In some of the departments they have begun to serve tea at four of an afternoon—just as they do on the terrace of the House of Commons. That is another beginning. We are starting.

The structure of European capitals is largely built upon class distinctions. Washington is being builded close to its models.

For ourselves, we prefer the touch of Europe as the architects work them in steel and in marble. A man who has been to Washington and who has not returned within the decade will be astonished to see the change already worked in its appearance. From the moment he steps across the threshold of the fine new station—itself a revelation after the old-time railroad terminals of the town—he will see transformation. Washington is still in growth. They are tearing down the ugly buildings and building upon their sites the beautiful, weaving in the almost gentle creations of the modern architects, a new city which after a little time will cease to be modeled upon Europe but which will serve, in itself, as a model capital for the entire world to follow.


[127]

7
THE CITY OF THE SEVEN HILLS

You can compare Richmond with Rome if you will, with an allusion upon the side to her seven hills; but, if you have even a remote desire for originality, you will not. Rather compare the old southern capital with a bit of rare lace or a stout bit of mahogany. Of the two we would prefer the mahogany, for Richmond is substantial, rather than diaphanous. And like some of the fine old tables in the dining-rooms of her great houses she has taken some hard knocks and in the long run come out of them rather well. She is scarred, but still beautiful. And she wears her scars, visible and invisible, both bravely and well.

But if a man come down from the North with any idea of the histories of that war, which is now fifty years old and almost ready to be forgotten, too sharply in his memory, and so imagines that he is to see a Richmond of 1865, with grass growing in the streets, ruins everywhere, mules and negroes in the streets, he is doomed to an awakening. There are still plenty of mules and negroes in the streets and probably will be until the end of time, but the Richmond of today boasts miles and miles of as fine modern smooth pavements as his motor car might ever wish to find. And as for ruins, bless you, Richmond has begun to tear down some of the buildings which she built after the war so as to get building-sites for her newest skyscrapers.

Do not forget that there is a new spirit abroad in the South—and Virginia, in many ways the most poetic[128] and dramatic of all our states, has not lagged in it. There are Boards of Trade at Roanoke and Lynchburg that are not averse to sounding the praises of those lively manufacturing towns of the up-country, and as for Norfolk—let any Norfolk man get hold of you and in two hours he will have almost convinced you that his town is going to be the greatest seaport along the North Atlantic—and that within two decades, sir. But this chapter is not written of Roanoke or Lynchburg or Norfolk. This is Richmond's chapter and in it to be writ the fact that the capital of Virginia has not lagged in enterprise or progress behind any of the other cities of the state. In the transformation she has sacrificed few of her landmarks, none of that delightful personality that makes itself apparent to those who tarry for a little time within her gates. That makes it all the better.

It is the spirit of the new South that is not only bringing such wonderful towns as Birmingham, to make a single instance, to the front, but is working the transformation of such staunch old settlements as Memphis or Atlanta—or Richmond. Not that Richmond is willing to forget the past. There is something about the Virginia spirit that seems incapable of death. There is something about the Virginian's loyalty to his native state, his blindness to her imperfections, almost every one of them the result of decades of civic poverty, that cannot escape the most calloused commercial soul that ever walked out of North or South. And there is something about this bringing up of spirit and of loyalty with the spirit of the new America that makes a combination well-nigh irresistible.

Here, then, is the new South. The generation that liked to discuss the detail of Pickett's charge and the horrors of those days in the Wilderness is gone. The new generations are rather bored with such detail. The new generations are not less spirited, not less loyal than[129] the old. But they are new. That, of itself, almost explains the difference. Now see it in a little closer light.

Volumes have been written of the loyalty of the old South. Richmond herself today presents more volumes, although unwritten, of that loyalty. You can read it in her streets, in her fine old square houses, in that stately building atop of Schokoe hill, which generations have known as the Capitol and which was for a little time the seat of government of a new nation. Within that Capitol stands a statue. It is the marble effigy of a great Virginian, who was, himself, the first head of a new government. The guide-books call it the Houdini statue of Washington, and keen critics have long since asserted that it is not only the finest statue in the United States but one of the most notable art works of the world. It was known as such in France at the time of the Civil War. And hardly had that very dark page in our history been turned before the Louvre made overtures to Virginia for the purchase of the Houdini statue. The matter of price was not definitely fixed. France, in the spendthrift glories of the Second Empire, was willing to pay high for a new toy for her great gallery.

Poor Virginia! She was hard pressed those days for the necessities of life, to say nothing of its ordinary comforts. Her pockets were empty. She was bankrupt. Her mouth must have watered a bit at thought of those hundreds of thousands of French francs. But she stood firm, and if you know Virginia at all, you will say "of course she stood firm." A Southern gentleman would almost repudiate his financial obligations before he would sell one of the choice possessions of his families. There are great plantation houses still standing in the Old Dominion, which were spared the torch of war by the mercy of God, and whose walls hold aloft the handiwork of the finest painters of England, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; rare portraits of the masters and mis[130]tresses of those old houses. In them, too, are furniture and silver whose real value is hardly to be computed, not even by the screw of a dealer in antiques. The folk in these old houses may be poor—if they come of the oldest Virginia stock they very likely are. They stand bravely, though, to the traditions of their hospitality, even though they wonder if the bacon is going to last and if it is safe for the brood to kill another chicken. But they would close their kitchen and live on berries and on herbs before they would part with even the humblest piece of silver or of furniture; while if a dealer should come down from Washington or New York and make an offer, no matter how generous, for one of the paintings, he would probably be put off the place.

Family means much to these Virginians. If you do not believe this go to Richmond, stop in one of its fine houses and make your host take you to one of the dances for which the city is famed. Almost any dance will do and from the beginning you will be charmed. The minor appointments will approach perfection, and you will find the men and women of the city worthy of its best traditions. Some places may disappoint in their well-advertised charm but the girls of Richmond never disappoint. Here is one of them. She gets you in a quiet corner of the place, meets a friend over there, and a conversation somewhat after this fashion gets under way:

"Miss Rhett, allow me to introduce my friend, Mr. Blinkins, of New York."

You bow low and ask Miss Rhett if by any chance she is related to the Rhetts of Charleston.

"Only distantly. My people are all Virginians. The Charleston Rhetts are quite another branch. My grandfather's brother married a Miss Morris, from Savannah and the Charleston Rhetts all come from them. If my papa were only here he would explain."

You say that you understand and murmur something[131] about having met a Richard Henry Rhett at the old Colonial town of Williamsburgh a few years ago when you were down for the Jamestown exposition.

"He was a Petersburgh Rhett," the young lady explains, "son of a cousin of my father. He married Miss Virginia Tredegar last year."

You remember hearing of a Miss Virginia Tredegar of Roanoke, and you slip out that fact. But this is Miss Virginia Tredegar of Weldon and a cousin of Miss Virginia Tredegar of Roanoke. Miss Virginia Tredegar of Weldon—now Mrs. Richard Henry Rhett, of course, is a delightful girl. The young lady who has you in the corner assures you that—and she, herself, is not lacking in charms. Mrs. Rhett was a sponsor for the state for several years, and you vaguely wonder just what that may mean as you have visions of large floats lumbering along in street parades, with really lovely girls in white standing upon them. And you also have visions of the Miss Virginia Tredegar, of Weldon, sitting in the other days upon the door-steps of an old red and white Colonial house, which faces a hot little open square, visions of her accomplishments and her beauty; of her ability to ride the roughest horse in the county, to dance seven hours without seeming fatigue, of the jealous beaux who come flocking to her feet. You find yourself idly speaking of these visions to your companion. She laughs.

"I've just the right girl for you," she says, "and she is here in this ball-room. She is all these things—and some more; the rightest, smartest girl in all our state—Miss Virginia Bauregard, daughter of Mr. Calhoun Bauregard, of Belle Manor in King and Queen county."

Apparently they are all named Virginia in Richmond, seemingly three-quarters of these girls who live in the nicer parts of the town are thus to bespeak through their lives the affectionate loyalty of their parents to the Old Dominion.

[132] All these folk come quite easily to the transformation that has come over the South within the decade, since she ceased to grieve over a past that could never be brought back and overcome. The young boys and the young girls turn readily from fine horses to fine motor cars, the coming of imported customs causes few shocks, it is even rumored that the newest of the new dances have invaded the sober drawing-rooms of the place. But the New South is kind to Richmond. She does not seek to eliminate the Old South. And so the old customs and the old traditions run side by side with the new. And even the old families seem to soften and many times to welcome the new.

*****

If you wish to see the real Old South in Richmond go out to Hollywood cemetery, which is perhaps the greatest of all its landmarks. It is easy of access, very beautiful, although not in the elaborate and immaculate fashion of Greenwood, at Brooklyn, or Mount Auburn, just outside of Boston. But where man has fallen short at Hollywood, Nature has more than done her part. She rounded the lovely hills upon which Richmond might place the treasure-chest of her memories, and then she swept the finest of all Virginia rivers—the James—by those hills. Man did the rest. It was man who created the roadways and who placed the monuments. And not the least interesting of these is the strange tomb of President James Monroe, an imposing bronze structure, in these days reminding one of an enlarged bird-cage. It is interesting perhaps because nearby there is another grave—the grave of still another man who came to the highest office of the American people. The second grave is marked by a small headstone, scarcely large enough to accommodate its two words: "John Tyler."

But more interesting than these older monuments is the group that stands alone, at the far corner of the ceme[133]tery and atop of one of those little hillocks close beside the river. The head of that family is buried beneath his effigy. It is the grave of Jefferson Davis, who stands facing the city, as if he still dreamed of the days that might have been but never were. And close beside is the grave of his little girl, "The Daughter of Confederacy." When she died, only a few years since, the South felt that the last of the living links that tied it with the days when men fought and died for the Lost Cause had been severed. It was then that it set to work to build the new out of the old.

Nowadays the Old South does not come publicly into the streets of Richmond—save on that memorable occasion in the spring of 1907 when a feeble trail of aging men—all that remained of a great gray army—limped down a triumphant path through the heart of the town. The Old South sits in her dead cities, and perhaps that is the reason why the Southerner so quickly takes the stranger within his gates to the cemetery. It is his apologies for thirty or forty years lost in the march of progress. And it is an apology that no man of breadth or generosity can refuse to accept.

*****

Here, then, is the new Richmond, riding stoutly upon her great hills and shooting the tendrils of her growth in every direction. For she is growing, rapidly and handsomely. Her new buildings—her wonderful cathedral, her superb modern hotels, the fine homes multiplying out by the Lee statue—what self-respecting southern town does not have a Lee statue—all bespeak the quality of her growth. But her new buildings cannot easily surpass the old. It was rare good judgment in an American town for her to refrain from tearing down or even "modernizing" that Greek temple that stands atop of Schokoe hill and which generations have known as the Capitol. The two flanking wings which were made ab[134]solutely necessary by the awakening of the Old Dominion have not robbed the older portion of the building of one whit of its charm.

It typifies the Old South and the New South, come to stand beside one another. In other days Virginia was proud of her capital, it was with no small pride that she thrust it ahead when a seat of government was to be chosen for the Confederacy, that for a little time she saw it take its stormy place among the nations of the world. In these days Virginia may still be proud of her capital town—it is still a seat of government quite worthy of a state of pride and of traditions.


[135]

8
WHERE ROMANCE AND COURTESY DO NOT FORGET

"You are not going to write your book and leave out Charleston?" said the Man who Makes Magazines.

We hesitated at acknowledging the truth. In some way or other Charleston had escaped us upon our travels. The Magazine Maker read our answer before we could gain strength to make it.

"Well, you can't afford to miss that town," he said conclusively. "It's great stuff."

"Great stuff?" we ventured.

"If you are looking into the personality of American cities you must include Charleston. She has more personality than any of the other old Colonial towns—save Boston. She's personality personified, old age glorified, charm and sweetness magnified—the flavor of the past hangs in every one of her old houses and her narrow streets. You cannot pass by Charleston."

After that we went over to a railroad ticket office in Fifth avenue and purchased a round-trip ticket to the metropolis of South Carolina. And a week later we were on a southbound train, running like mad across the Jersey meadows. Five days in Charleston! It seemed almost sacrilege. Five miserable days in the town which the Maker of Magazines averred fairly oozed personality. But five days were better than no days at all—and Charleston must be included in this book.

The greater part of one day—crossing New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the up-stretched head of little Delaware,[136] Maryland—finally the Old Dominion and the real South. A day spent behind the glass of the car window—the brisk and busy Jersey towns, the Delaware easily crossed; Philadelphia, with her great outspreading of suburbs; Wilmington; a short cut through the basements of Baltimore; the afternoon light dying on the superb dome of the Washington Capitol—after that the Potomac. Then a few evening hours through Virginia, the southern accent growing more pronounced, the very air softer, the negroes more prevalent, the porter of our car continually more deferential, more polite. After that a few hours of oblivion, even in the clattering Pullman which, after the fashion of all these tremendously safe new steel cars, was a bit chilly and a bit noisy.

In the morning a low and unkempt land, the railroad trestling its way over morass and swamp and bayou on long timber structures and many times threading sluggish yellow southern rivers by larger bridges. Between these a sandy mainland—thick forests of pine with increasing numbers of live-oaks holding soft moss aloft—at last the outskirts of a town. Other folk might gather their luggage together, the vision of a distant place with its white spires, the soft gray fog that tells of the proximity of the open sea blowing in upon them, held us at the window pane. A river showed itself in the distance to the one side of the train, with mast-heads dominating its shores; another, lined with factories stretched upon the other side. After these, the streets of the town, a trolley car stalled impatient to let our train pass—low streets and mean streets of an unmistakable negro quarter, the broad shed of a sizable railroad station showing at the right.

"Charleston, sah," said the porter. Remember now that he had been a haughty creature in New York and Philadelphia, ebon dignity in Baltimore and in Wash[137]ington. Now he was docility itself, a courtesy hardly to be measured by the mere expectation of gratuity.

The first glimpse of Charleston a rough paved street—our hotel 'bus finding itself with almost dangerous celerity in front of trolley cars. That unimportant way led into another broad highway of the town and seemingly entitled to distinction.

"Meeting street," said our driver. "And I can tell you that Charleston is right proud of it, sir," he added.

Charleston has good cause to be proud of its main highway, with the lovely old houses along it rising out of blooming gardens, like fine ladies from their ball gowns; at its upper end the big open square and the adjacent Citadel—pouring out its gray-uniformed boys to drill just as their daddies and their grand-daddies drilled there before them—the charms of St. Michael's, and the never-to-be-forgotten Battery at the foot of the street.

We sped down it and drew up at a snow-white hotel which in its immaculate coat might have sprung up yesterday, were it not for the stately row of great pillars, three stories in height, with which it faced the street. They do not build hotels that way nowadays—more's the pity. For when the Charleston Hotel was builded it entered a distinguished brotherhood—the Tremont in Boston, the Astor and the St. Nicholas in New York, Willard's in Washington, the Monongahela at Pittsburgh, and the St. Charles in New Orleans were among its contemporaries. It was worthy to be ranked with the best of these—a hotel at which the great planters of the Carolinas and of Georgia could feel that the best had been created for them within the very heart of their favorite city.

We pushed our way into the heart of the generous office of the hotel, thronged with the folk who had[138] crowded into Charleston—followers of the races, just then holding sway upon the outskirts of the town, tourists from the North, Carolinans who will never lose the habit of going to Charleston as long as Charleston exists. In due time a brisk and bustling hotel clerk—he was an importation, plainly, none of your courteous, ease-taking Southerners—had placed us in a room big enough for the holding of a reception. From the shutters of the room we could look down into Meeting street—into the charred remnants of a store that had been burned long before and the débris never removed. When we threw up the window sash we could thrust our heads out and see, a little way down the street, the most distinctive and the most revered of all Charleston's landmarks—the belfried spire of St. Michael's. As we leaned from that window the bells of St. Michael's spoke the quarter-hour, just as they have been speaking quarter-hours close upon a century and a half.

We had been given the first taste of the potent charm of a most distinctive southern town.

*****

"... The most appealing, the most lovely, the most wistful town in America; whose visible sadness and distinction seem almost to speak audibly, speak in the sound of the quiet waves that ripple round her southern front, speak in the church-bells on Sunday morning and breathe not only in the soft salt air, but in the perfume of every gentle, old-fashioned rose that blooms behind the high garden walls of falling mellow-tinted plaster; King's Port the retrospective, King's Port the belated, who from her pensive porticoes looks over her two rivers to the marshes and the trees beyond, the live-oaks veiled in gray moss, brooding with memories. Were she my city how I should love her...."

So wrote Owen Wister of the city that he came to know so well. You can read Charleston in Lady Baltimore[139] each time he speaks of "King's Port" and read correctly. For it was in Charleston he spun his romance of the last stronghold of old manners, old families, old traditions and old affections. In no other city of the land might he have laid such a story. For no other city of the land bears the memory of tragedy so plaintively, so uncomplainingly as the old town that occupies the flat peninsula between the Cooper and the Ashley rivers at the very gateway of South Carolina. Like a scarred man, Charleston will bear the visible traces of her great disaster until the end of her days. And each of them, like the scars of Richmond, makes her but the more potent in her charm.

Up one street and down another—fascinating pathways, every blessed one of them. Meeting and King and Queen and Legare and Calhoun and Tradd—with their high, narrow-ended houses rising right from the sidewalks and stretching, with their generous spirit of hospitality, inward, beside gardens that blossom as only a southern garden can bloom—with jessamine and narcissus and oleander and japonica. Galleries give to these fragrant gardens. Only Charleston, unique among her sisters of the Southland, does not call them galleries. She calls them piazzas, with the accent strong upon the "pi."

The gardens themselves are more than a little English, speaking clearly something of the old-time English spirit of the town, which has its most visible other expression in the stolid Georgian architecture of its older public buildings and churches. And some of the older folk, defying the Charleston convention of four o'clock dinner, will take tea in the softness of the late afternoon. Local tradition still relates how, in other days, a certain distinguished and elderly citizen, possessing neither garden nor gallery with his house, was wont to have a table and chair placed upon the sidewalk and there take his[140] tea of a late afternoon. And the Charleston of that other day walked upon the far side of the street rather than disturb the gentleman!

Nor is all that spirit quite gone in the Charleston of today. The older negroes will touch their hats, if not remove them, when you glance at them. They will step into the gutter when you pass them upon the narrow sidewalks of the narrow streets. They came of a generation that made more than the small distinction of separate schools and separate places in the railroad cars between white and black. But they are rapidly disappearing from the streets of the old city. Those younger negroes who drive the clumsy two-wheeled carts in town and out over the rough-paved streets have learned no good manners. And when the burly negresses who amble up the sidewalks balancing huge trays of crabs or fresh fruits or baked stuffs smile at you, theirs is the smile of insolence. Fifty years of the Fifteenth Amendment have done their work—any older resident of Charleston will tell you that, and thank God for the inborn courtesy that keeps him from profanity with the telling.

But if oncoming years have worked great changes in the manner of the race which continues to be of numerical importance in the seaport city, it will take more than one or two or three or even four generations to work great changes in the manners of the well-born white-skinned folk who have ruled Charleston through the years by wit, diplomacy, the keen force of intellect more than even the force of arms. And, as the city now runs its course, it will take far more years for her to change her outward guise.

For Charleston does not change easily. She continues to be a city of yellow and of white. Other southern towns may claim distinction because of their red-walled brick houses with their white porticos, but the reds of[141] Charleston long since softened, the green moss and the lichens have grown up and over the old walls—exquisite bits of masonry, every one of them and the products of an age when every artisan was an artist and full master of his craft. The distinctive color of the town shades from a creamy yellow to a grayish white. The houses, as we have already said, stand with their ends to the streets, with flanking walls hiding the rich gardens from the sidewalk, save for a few seductive glimpses through the well-wrought grillings of an occasional gateway. Charleston does not parade herself. The closed windows of her houses seem to close jealously against the Present as if they sought to hold within their great rooms the Past and all of the glories that were of it.

Builded of brick in most instances, the larger houses and the two most famous churches, as well, were long ago given plaster coatings that they might conform to the yellow-white dominating color of the town. Invariably very high and almost invariably very narrow and bald of cornice, these old houses are roofed with heavy corrugated tiles, once red but now softened by Time into a dozen different tints. If there is another town in the land where roof-tile has been used to such picturesque advantage we have failed to see it. It gives to Charleston an incredibly foreign aspect. If it were not for the Georgian churches and the older public buildings one might see in the plaster walls and the red-tiled roofs a distinct trace of the French or the Italian. Charleston herself is not unlike many towns that sleep in the south of France or the north of Italy. It only takes the hordes of negroes upon her streets to dispel the illusion that one is again treading some corner of the Old World.

Perhaps the best way that the casual visitor to Charleston can appreciate these negroes is in their street calls—if he has not been up too late upon the preceding night. For long before seven o'clock the brigades of itinerant[142] merchants are on their ways through the narrow streets of the old town. From the soft, deep marshlands behind it and the crevices and the turnings of the sea and all its inlets come the finest and the rarest of delicacies, and these food-stuffs find their way quite naturally to the street vendors. Porgies and garden truck, lobsters and shrimp and crab, home-made candies—the list runs to great length.

You turn restlessly in your bed at dawn. Something has stolen that last precious "forty winks" away from you. If you could find that something.... Hark. There it is: Through the crispness of morning air it comes musically to your ears:

"Swimpy waw, waw.... Swimpy waw, waw."

And from another direction comes a slowly modulated:

"Waw cwab. Waw Cwab. Waw Cwa-a-a-b."

A sharp staccato breaks in upon both of these.

"She cwaib, she cwaib, she cwaib," it calls, and you know that there is a preference in crabs. Up one street and down another, male vendors, female vendors old and young, but generally old. If any one wishes to sleep in Charleston—well, he simply cannot sleep late in Charleston. To dream of rest while: "Sweet Pete ate her! Sweet Pete ate her!" comes rolling up to your window in tones as dulcet as ever rang within an opera house would be outrageous. It is a merry jangle to open the day, quite as remote from euphony and as thoroughly delightful as the early morning church-bells of Montreal or of Quebec. By breakfast time it is quite gone—unless you wish to include the coal-black mammy who chants: "Come chilluns, get yer monkey meat—monkey meat." And that old relic of ante-bellum days who rides a two-wheel cart in all the narrow lanes and permeates the very air with his melancholy: "Char—coal. Char—coal."

[143] If you inquire as to "monkey meat," your Charlestonian will tell you of the delectable mixture of cocoanut and molasses candy which is to the younger generation of the town as the incomparable Lady Baltimore cake is to the older.

*****

The churches of Charleston are her greatest charm. And of these, boldly asserting its prerogative by rising from the busiest corner of the town, the most famed is St. Michael's. St. Michael's is the lion of Charleston. Since 1764 she has stood there at Broad and Meeting streets and demanded the obeisance of the port—gladly rendered her. She has stood to her corner through sunshine and through storm—through the glad busy years when Charleston dreamed of power and of surpassing those upstart northern towns—New York and Boston—through the bitterness of two great wars and the dangers of a third and lesser one, through four cyclones and the most devastating earthquake that the Atlantic coast has ever known—through all these perils this solidly wrought Temple of the Lord has come safely. She is the real old lady of Charleston, and when she speaks the folk within the town stand at attention. The soft, sweet bells of St. Michael's are the tenderest memory that can come to a resident of the city when he is gone a long way from her streets and her lovely homes. And when the bells of St. Michael's have been stilled it has been a stilled Charleston.

For there have been times when the bells of St. Michael's have not spoken down from their high white belfry. In fact, they have crossed the Atlantic not less than five times. Cast in the middle of the eighteenth century in an English bell-foundry, they had hardly been hung within their belfry before the Revolution broke out—broke out at Charleston just as did the Civil War. Before the British left the city for the last time the com[144]manding officer had claimed the eight bells as his "perquisite" and had shipped them back to England. An indignant American town demanded their return. Even the British commanding officer at New York, Sir Guy Carleton, did not have it within his heart to countenance such sacrilege. The bells had been already sold in England upon a speculation, but the purchaser was compelled to return them. The people of the Colonial town drew them from the wharf to St. Michael's in formal procession—the swinging of them anew was hardly a less ceremonial. The first notes they sang were like unto a religious rite. And for seventy years the soft voice of the old lady of Charleston spoke down to her children—at the quarters of the hours.

After those seventy years more war—ugly guns that are remembered with a shudder as "Swamp Angels," pouring shells into a proud, rebellious, hungry, unrelenting city, the stout white tower of St. Michael's a fair and shining mark for northern gunners. Charleston suddenly realized the danger to the voice of her pet old lady. There were few able-bodied men in the town—all of them were fighting within the Confederate lines—but they unshipped those precious bells and sent them up-state—to Columbia, the state capitol, far inland and safe from the possibility of sea marauders. They were hidden there but not so well but that Sherman's men in the march to the sea found them and by an act of vandalism which the South today believes far greater than that of an angered British army, completely destroyed them.

When peace came again Charleston—bruised and battered and bleeding Charleston, with the scars that time could never heal—gave first thought to her bells—a mere mass of molten and broken metal. There was a single chance and Charleston took it. That chance won. The English are a conservative nation—to put it lightly.[145] The old bell-foundry still had the molds in which the chime was first cast—a hundred years before. Once again those old casts were wheeled into the foundry and from them came again the bells of St. Michael's, the sweetness of their tones unchanged. The town had regained its voice.

If we have dwelt at length upon the bells of St. Michael's it is because they speak so truly the real personality of the town. The church itself is not of less interest. And the churchyard that surrounds it upon two sides is as filled with charm and rare flavor as any churchyard we have ever seen. Under its old stones sleep forever the folk who lived in Charleston in the days of her glories—Pringles and Pinckneys; Moultries; those three famous "R's" of South Carolina—Rutledge and Ravenel and Rhett—the names within that silent place read like the roster of the colonial aristocracy. Above the silent markers, the moldering and crumbling tombs, rises a riot of God's growing things; in the soft southern air a perpetual tribute to the dead—narcissus, oleander, jessamine, the stately Pride of India bush. And on the morning that we first strolled into the shady, quiet place a red-bird—the famous Cardinal Crossbeak of the south—sang to us from his perch in a magnolia tree. Twenty-four hours before and we had crossed the Hudson river at New York in a driving and a blizzard-threatening snowstorm.

The greatest charm of St. Michael's does not rest alone within the little paths of her high-walled churchyard. Within the sturdy church, in the serenity of her sanctuary, in the great square box-pews where sat so many years the elect of Charleston, of the very Southland you might say; in the high-set pulpit and the unusual desk underneath where sat the old time "clark" to read the responses and the notices; even the stately pew, set aside from all the others, in which General Washington sat on[146] the occasion of a memorable visit to the South Carolina town, is the fullness of her charm. If you are given imagination, you can see the brown and white church filled as in the old days with the planters and their families—generation after generation of them, coming first to the church, being baptized in its dove-crowned font at the door and then, years later, being carried out of that center aisle for the final time. You can see the congregations of half a century ago, faces white and set and determined. You can see one memorable congregation, as it hears the crash of a Federal shell against the heavy tower, and then listen to the gentle rector finishing the implication of the Litany before he dismisses his little flock.

Dear old St. Michael's! The years—the sunny years and the tragic years—set lightly upon her. When war and storm have wrecked her, it has been her children and her children's children who have arisen to help wipe away the scars. In a memorable storm of August, 1885, the great wooden ball at the top of her weather vane, one hundred and eighty-five feet above the street was sent hurtling down to the ground. They will show you the dent it made in the pavement flag. It was quickly replaced. But within a year worse than cyclone was upon St. Michael's—the memorable earthquake which sank the great tower eight inches deeper into the earth. And only last year another of the fearful summer storms that come now and then upon the place wreaked fearful damage upon the old church. Yet St. Michael's has been patiently repaired each time; she still towers above these disasters—as her quaint weather-vane towers above the town, itself.

*****
St. Michael's churchyard, Charleston—a veritable roster
 of the Colonial Elect
St. Michael's churchyard, Charleston—a veritable roster of the Colonial Elect

After St. Michael's, St. Philip's—although St. Philip's is the real mother church of all Charleston. The old[147] town does not pin her faith upon a single lion. The first time we found our way down Meeting street, we saw a delicate and belfried spire rising above the greenery of the trees in a distant churchyard. The staunch church from which that spire springs was well worth our attention. And so we found our way to St. Philip's. We turned down Broad street from St. Michael's—to commercial Charleston as its namesake street is to New York—then at the little red-brick library, housed in the same place for nearly three-quarters of a century, we turned again. The south portico of St. Philip's, tall-columned, dignified almost beyond expression, confronted us. And a moment later we found ourselves within a churchyard that ranked in interest and importance with that of St. Michael's, itself.

A shambling negro care-taker came toward us. He had been engaged in helping some children get a kitten down from the upper branches of a tree in the old churchyard. With the intuition of his kind, he saw in us, strangers—manifest possibilities. He devoted himself to attention upon us. And he sounded the praises of his own exhibit in no mild key.

"Yessa—de fines' church in all de South," he said, as he swung the great door of St. Philip's wide open. He seemed to feel, also intuitively, that we had just come from the rival exhibit. And we felt more than a slight suspicion of jealousy within the air.

The negro was right. St. Philip's, Charleston, is more than the finest church in all the South. Perhaps it is not too much to say that it is the most beautiful church in all the land. Copied, rather broadly, from St. Martins-in-the-Fields, London, it thrusts itself out into the street, indeed, makes the highway take a broad double curve in order to pass its front portico. But St. Philip's commits the fearful Charleston sin of being new. The[148] present structure has only been thrusting its nose out into Church street for a mere eighty years. The old St. Philip's was burned—one of the most fearful of all Charleston tragedies—in 1834.

"Yessa—a big fire dat," said the caretaker. "They gib two slaves dere freedom for helpin' at dat fire."

But history only records the fact that the efforts to put out the fire in St. Philip's were both feeble and futile. It does tell, however, of a negro sailor who, when the old church was threatened by fire on an earlier occasion, climbed to the tower and tore the blazing shingles from it and was afterward presented with his freedom and a fishing-boat and outfit. Does that sound familiar? It was in our Third Reader—some lurid verses but, alas for the accuracy that should be imparted to the growing mind—it was St. Michael's to whom that widespread glory was given. St. Michael's of the heart of the town once again. No wonder that St. Philip's of the side-street grieves in silence.

In silence, you say. How about the bells of St. Philip's?

If you are from the North it were better that you did not ask that question. The bells of St. Philip's, in their day hardly less famous than those of the sister church, went into cannon for the defense of the South. When the last of the copper gutters had been torn from the barren houses, when the final iron kettle had gone to the gun-foundry, the supreme sacrifice was made. The bells rang merrily on a Sabbath morn and for a final time. The next day they were unshipping them and one of the silvery voices of Charleston was forever hushed.

But St. Philip's has her own distinctions. In the first place, her own graveyard is a roll-call of the Colonial elect. Within it stands the humble tomb of him who was the greatest of all the great men of South Carolina—John C. Calhoun—while nightly from her high-lifted[149] spire there gleams the only light that ever a church-tower sent far out to sea for the guidance of the mariner. The ship-pilots along the North Atlantic very well know when they pass Charleston light-ship, the range between Fort Sumter and St. Philip's spire shows a clear fairway all the distance up to the wharves of Charleston.

*****

There are other great churches of Charleston—some of them very handsome and with a deal of local history clustering about them, but perhaps none of these can approach in interest the Huguenot edifice at the corner of Queen and Church streets. It is a little church, modestly disdaining such a worldly thing as a spire, in a crumbling churchyard whose tombstones have their inscriptions written in French. A few folk find their way to it on Sunday mornings and there they listen attentively to its scholarly blind preacher, for sixty years the leader of his little flock. But this little chapel is the sole flame of a famous old faith, which still burns, albeit ever so faintly, in the blackness and the shadow of the New World.

That is the real Charleston—the unexpected confronting you at almost every turn of its quiet streets: here across from the shrine of the Huguenots a ruinous building through which white and negro children play together democratically and at will, and which in its day was the Planters' Hotel and a hostelry to be reckoned with; down another byway a tiny remnant of the city's one-time wall in the form of a powder magazine; over in Meeting street the attenuated market with a Greek temple of a hall set upon one end and the place where they sold the slaves still pointed out to folk from the North; farther down on Meeting street the hall of the South Carolina Society, a really exquisite aged building wherein that distinguished old-time organization together with its still older brother, the St. Andrews, still dines on an ap[150]pointed day each month and whose polished ballroom floor has felt the light dance-falls of the St. Cecilias.

"The St. Cecilia Society?" you interrupt; "why, I've heard of that."

Of course you have. For the St. Cecilia typifies Charleston—the social life of the place, which is all there is left to it since her monumental tragedy of half a century ago. In Charleston there is no middle ground.

You are either recognized socially—or else you are not. And the St. Cecilia Society is the sharply-drawn dividing point. Established somewhere before the beginning of the Revolution it has dominated Charleston society these many years. Invitations to its three balls each year are eagerly sought by all the feminine folk within the town. And the privilege of being invited to these formal affairs is never to be scorned—more often it is the cause of many heart-burnings.

No one thing shows Charleston the more clearly than the fact that on the following morning you may search the columns of the venerable News and Courier almost in vain for a notice of the St. Cecilia ball. In any other town an event of such importance would be a task indeed for the society editor and all of her sub-editresses. If there was not a flashlight photograph there would be the description of the frocks—a list of the out-of-town guests at any rate. Charleston society does not concede a single one of these things. And the most the News and Courier ever prints is "The ball of the St. Cecilia Society was held last evening at Hibernian Hall," or a two-line notice of similar purport.

Charleston society concedes little or nothing—not even these new-fashioned meal hours of the upstart Northern towns. In Charleston a meal each four hours—breakfast at eight, a light lunch at sharp noon, dinner at four, supper again at eight. These hours were good enough for other days—ergo, they are good enough for[151] these. And from eleven to two and again from five to seven-thirty remain the smart calling hours among the elect of the place. Those great houses do not yield readily to the Present.

Charleston society is never democratic—no matter how Charleston politics may run. Its great houses, behind the exclusion of those high and forbidding walls, are tightly closed to such strangers as come without the right marks of identification. From without you may breathe the hints of old mahogany, of fine silver and china, of impeccable linen, of well-trained servants, but your imagination must meet the every test as to the details. Gentility does not flaunt herself. And if the younger girls of Charleston society do drive their motor cars pleasant mornings through the crowded shopping district of King street, that does not mean that Charleston—the Charleston of the barouche and the closed coupé—will ever approve.

*****

On the April day half a century ago that the first gun blazed defiantly from Fort Sumter and opened a page of history that bade fair to alter the very course of things, Prosperity slipped out of Charleston. Gentility, Courage, Romance alone remained. Prosperity with her giant steamships and her long railroad trains never returned. The great docks along the front of the splendid harbor stand unused, the warehouses upon them molder. A brisk Texas town upon a sand-spit—Galveston—boasts that she is the second ocean-port of America, with the hundreds of thousands of Texas acres turned from grazing ranges into cotton-field, just behind her. New Orleans is the south gate of the Middle West that has come into existence, since Charleston faced her greatest of tragedies. And the docks along her waterfront grow rusty with disuse.

She lives in her yesterdays of triumphs. Tell her that[152] they have builded a tower in New York that is fifty-five stories in height, and she will reply that you can still see the house in Church street where President Washington was entertained in royal fashion by her citizens; hint to her of the great canal to the south, and she will ask you if you remember how the blockade runners slipped night after night through the tight chain that the Federal gunboats drew across the entrance of her harbor for four long years; bespeak into her ears the social glories of the great hotels and the opera of New York, and she will tell you of the gentle French and English blood that went into the making of her first families. Charleston has lost nothing. For what is Prosperity, she may ask you, but a dollar-mark? Romance and Courtesy are without price. Romance and Courtesy still walk in her streets, in the hot and lazy summer days, in the brilliancy of the southern moon beating down upon her graceful guarding spires, in the thunder of the storm and the soft gray blankets of the ocean mantling her houses and her gardens. And Romance and Courtesy do not forget.


[153]

9
ROCHESTER—AND HER NEIGHBORS

The three great cities of western New York—Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo—are like jewels to the famous railroad along which they are strung, and effectively they serve to offset the great metropolitan district at the east end of the state. They have many things in common and yet they are not in the least alike. Their growth has been due to virtually a common cause; the development of transportation facilities across New York state; and yet their personality is as varied as that of three sisters; lovely but different.

Of the three, Rochester is the most distinctive; one of the most distinctive of all our American towns and hence chosen as the chief subject for this chapter. But Buffalo is the largest, and Syracuse the most ingenious, so they are not to be ignored. Rochester is conservative. Rochester proves her conservatism by her smart clubs, and the general cultivation of her inhabitants. Certain excellent persons there, like certain excellent persons in Charleston, frown upon newspaper reports of their social activities. In Syracuse, on the contrary, the Sunday newspapers have columns of "society notes" and the reporters who go to dances and receptions prove their industry by writing long lists of the "among those present." Buffalo leans more to Syracuse custom in this regard. Rochester scans rather critically the man who comes to dwell there—unless he comes labeled with letters of introduction. In Syracuse and in Buffalo, too, there is more of a spirit of camaraderie. A man is taken[154] into good society there because of what he is, rather than for that from which he may have sprung. So it may be said that Syracuse and Buffalo breathe the spirit of the West in their social life, while Rochester clings firmly to the conservatism of the East. Indeed, her citizens rather like to call her "the Boston of the West," just as the man from the Missouri Bottoms called the real Boston "the Omaha of the East."

Take these cities separately and their personality becomes the more pertinent and compelling. Consider them one by one as a traveler sees them on a westbound train of the New York Central railroad—Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo—and in the same grading they increase in population; roughly speaking, in a geometrical ratio. Syracuse has a little more than a hundred thousand inhabitants, Rochester is about twice her size and Buffalo is about twice the size of Rochester.

The Erie Canal still finds an amiable path through Rochester
The Erie Canal still finds an amiable path through Rochester

Each of them is the result of the Erie canal. There had been famous post-roads across central and western New York before DeWitt Clinton dug his great ditch, and the Mohawk valley together with the little known "lake country" of New York formed one of the earliest passage-ways to the West. But the Erie canal, providing a water level from the Great Lakes to the Hudson river and so to the Atlantic, was a tremendous impulse to the state of New York. Small towns grew apace and the three big towns were out of their swaddling clothes and accounted as cities almost before they realized it. The building of the railroads across the state and their merging into great systems was a second step in their transition, while the third can hardly be said to be completed—the planning and construction of a network of inter-urban electric lines that shall again unite the three and—what is far more important to each—bring a great territory of small cities, villages and rich farms into closer touch with them.

[155] In Rochester, a good many years ago, one Sam Patch jumped into the falls of the Genesee. He first planned his spectacular jump for a Sunday, but the citizens of Rochesterville, as the town by the great falls was first known, objected strenuously to such profanation of the Sabbath. So Sam Patch jumped not on a Sunday but on a Friday, which almost any superstitious person might have recognized as an unfortunate change of date; and jumping, he did not survive to jump again. But the point of this incident hinges not on Fridays, but upon Sundays in Rochester. All that was a long time ago, but she has not changed her ideas of Sabbath observance very much since then—despite the vast change in Sunday across the land. The citizens of Rochester still go to church on Sunday and they "point with pride" to the big and progressive religious institutions of their community. People in Syracuse, however, have Sunday picnics and outings off into the country, while Buffalo has always been known for its "liberal Sunday," whatever that may mean. Rochester has always frowned upon that sort of thing. She has the same point of view as her Canadian neighbor across Lake Ontario—Toronto—a city which we shall see in a little time. Rochester rather cleaves to the old-fashioned Sabbath; even her noisy beach down at Ontario's edge, which has always served as a sort of Coney island to western New York, has been a thorn in the side of her conservative population. If you want to stop and consider how the old-fashioned Sabbath of your boyhood days still reigns at the city at the falls of the Genesee, recall the fact that in one street that is bordered by some of the town's largest churches the trolley cars are not operated on Sundays.C In Philadelphia[156] you will remember they used years ago to stretch ropes across the streets in front of the churches at service times. But imagine the possibilities of that sort of thing in New York, or Chicago, or San Francisco.

C A recent rerouting of the trolley cars in Rochester has left this particular street without regular service most of the days of the week. The fact remains, however, that for many years the Park avenue line had its terminal loop through Church street. On the Sabbath that terminal was moved bodily so that churchgoers would not be annoyed.  E. H.

*****

Syracuse is famed for the Onondaga Indians and for James Roscoe Day. The Onondaga Indians are the oldest inhabitants, and a great help to the ingenious local artists who design cigar-box labels. No apologies are needed for Chancellor Day. He has never asked them. He has taken a half-baked Methodist college that stood on a wind-swept and barren hill and by his indomitable ability and Simon-pure genius has transformed it into a real university. For Syracuse University is tremendously real to the four thousand men and women who study within its halls. It is a poor man's college and Chancellor Day is proud of that. They come, these four thousand men and women, from the small cities and villages, from the farms of that which the metropolitan is rather apt indifferently to term "Up State." To these, four years in a university mean four years of cultivation and opportunity, and so has come the growth, the vast hidden power of the institution upon the hill at Syracuse. She makes no claim to college spirit of surpassing dimensions. She does claim individual spirit among her students, however, that is second to none. As a university—as some know a university—the collection of ill-matched architectural edifices that house her is typical; but as an opportunity for popular education to the boys and girls of the rural districts of the state of New York she is monumental, and they come swarming to her in greater numbers each autumn.

So much for the hill—they call it Mount Olympus—which holds the university and those things that are the university's. Now for downtown Syracuse; for while the city's newer districts are ranged upon a series of[157] impressive heights, her old houses, her stores and her factories are squatted upon the flats at the head of Onondaga lake.

We all remember the pictures of Syracuse that every self-respecting geography used to print; salt-sheds running off over an indefinite acreage. We were given to understand that Syracuse's chief excuse for existence was as a sort of huge salt-cellar for the rest of the nation. Nowadays nine-tenths of the Syracusans have forgotten that there is a salt industry left, and will tell you glibly of the typewriters, automobiles, steel-tubing and the like that are made in their town in the course of a twelvemonth.

They will not tell you of one thing, for of that thing you may judge yourself. Life in Syracuse is punctuated by the railroad and the canal. The canal is not so much of an obstruction unless one of the cumbersome lift-bridges sticks and refuses to move up or down, but that railroad! Every few minutes life in Syracuse comes to an actual standstill because of it. Men whose time is worth ten or fifteen dollars an hour and who grow puffy with over-exertion are violently halted by the passing of switch-engines with trails of box-cars. Appointments are missed. Board meetings at the banks halt for directors—directors who are halted in their turn by the dignified and stately passage of the Canastota Local through the heart of the city.

But the old canal is going to go some day—when the State's new barge canal well to the north of the town is completed—and perhaps in that same day Syracuse will have a broad, central avenue replacing the present dirty, foul-smelling ditch. Some day, some very big Syracusan will miss an appointment while he stands in Salina street watching the serene Canastota Local drag its way past him. That missed appointment will cost the very big Syracusan a lot of money and there will be a revolution[158] in Syracuse—a railroad revolution. After that the locomotives will no longer blow their smoky breaths against the fronts of Syracuse's best buildings and grind their way slowly down Washington street from the tunnel to the depot, for the railroad which operates them stands in the forefront of the progressive transportation systems of America, and it is only waiting for Syracuse to take the first definite step of progress. Some day Syracuse—Syracuse delayed—is going to take that step. Only a year or two ago the Chicago Limited held up the carnival parade—and therein lies the final paragraph of this telling of Syracuse.

She is a festive lass. Each September she rolls up her sleeves, her business men swell the subscription lists, her matrons and her pretty girls bestir themselves, and there is a concert of action that gives Syracuse a harvest week long to be remembered. By day folk go out to the State Fair and see the best agricultural show that New York state has ever known—a veritable agricultural show that endeavors not only to furnish an ample measure of fun, but also endeavors to be a real help to the progressive owners of those rich farms of central and western New York. By night Syracuse is in festival. Do not let them tell you that an American town cannot enter into the carnival spirit and still preserve her graciousness and a certain underlying sense of decorum. Tell those scoffers to go to Syracuse during the week of the State Fair. They will see a demonstration of the contrary—Salina street ablaze with an incandescent beauty, lined with row upon row of eager citizens. The street is cleared to a broad strip of stone carpet down its center and over this carpet rolls float after float. These in a single year will symbolize a single thing. In one September we recall that they represented the nations of the world and that the Queen of Ancient Ireland wore eyeglasses; but that is as nothing, the policemen in Boston are addicted to[159] straighteners, and Mr. Syracuse and Mrs. Syracuse, Miss Syracuse and Master Syracuse stand open-eyed in pleasure and go home very late at night on trolley cars that are as crowded as the trolley cars in very big cities, convinced that there possibly may be other towns but there is only one Syracuse.D

D Let it be recorded in the interest of accuracy that the fall festival of 1913 was not given—much to the disappointment of Mr. Syracuse, Mrs. Syracuse, Miss Syracuse and Master Syracuse. It is hoped, however, that the festival has not been permanently abandoned. The loss of its influence would be felt far outside of Syracuse.  E. H.

All of which is exactly as it should be. Syracuse's great hope for her future rests in just such optimism on the part of her people. And in such optimism she has a strong foundation on which to build through coming years.

*****

Buffalo is not as frivolous as Syracuse. She cares but little for festivals but speaks of herself in the cold commercial terms of success. If you have ever met a man from Buffalo, when you were traveling, and he began to tell you of his town, you will know exactly what we mean. He undoubtedly began by quoting marvelous statistics, some of them concerning the number of trains that arrived and departed from his native heath in the course of twenty-four hours. When he was through, you had a confused idea that Buffalo was some sort of an exaggerated railroad yard, where you changed cars to go from any one corner of the universe to any other corner. When your time came to see Buffalo for yourself, that confused idea returned to you. Your train slipped for miles through an apparently unending wilderness of branching tracks and dusty freight cars, past grimy round-houses and steaming locomotives, until you were ready to believe that any conceivable number of trains arrived at and departed from that busy town within a single calendar day.

[160] If you have approached her by water in the summertime you have seen her as a mighty port, her congestion of water traffic suggesting salt water rather than fresh. When we come to visit the neighboring port of Cleveland we shall give heed to the wonderful traffic of the inland seas, but for this moment consider Buffalo as something more than a railroad yard, a busy harbor, or even a melting-pot for the fusing of as large and as difficult a foreign element as is given to any American town to fuse. Consider Buffalo dreaming metropolitan dreams. The dull roar of Niagara, almost infinite in its possibilities of power, is within hearing. That dull roar has been Buffalo's incentive, the lullaby which induced her dreams of industrial as well as of commercial strength. And much has been written of her growing strength in these great lines.

To our own minds the real Buffalo is to be found in her typical citizen. If he is really typical of the city at the west gate of the Empire state, you will find him optimistic and energetic to a singular degree, and he needs all his optimism and his energy to combat the problems that come to a town of exceeding growth, just crossing the threshold of metropolitanism. Those problems demand cool heads and stout hearts. Buffalo is just beginning to appreciate that. It is becoming less difficult than of old for them to pull together, to dig deep into their purses if need be, and to plan their city of tomorrow in a generous spirit of coöperation.

Rochester is a city of charming homes
Rochester is a city of charming homes

The Buffalonians have a full measure of enjoyment in their city. They are intensely proud of it and rightfully—do not forget the man who once told you of the number of railroad trains within twenty-four hours—and they are thoroughly happy in and around it. Niagara Falls and a half-dozen of lake beaches on Erie and Ontario are within easy reach, while nearer still is the lovely park of the town—which a goodly corner of America[161] remembers as the site of the Pan-American Exposition, in 1901. The Buffalonians live much of the time outdoors, and that holds true whether they are able to patronize their country clubs or the less pretentious suburban resorts. They play at golf, at baseball, at football, and in the long hard winter months at basketball and hockey and bowling. They organize teams in all these sports—and some others—and then go down to Rochester and enter into amiable contests with the folks who live by the Genesee. Syracuse, too, comes into the fray and these three cities of the western end of the state of New York fight out their natural and healthy rivalry in series upon series of sturdy athletic championships. The bond between them is really very close indeed.

*****

Rochester stands halfway between Syracuse and Buffalo and as we have already said, is different from both of them. One difference is apparent even to the man who does not alight from his through train. For no railroad has dared to thrust itself down a main business street in Rochester; in fact she was one of the very first cities in America to remove the deadly grade crossings from her avenues, and incalculable fatalities and near fatalities have been prevented by her wisdom. Many years ago she placed the main line of the New York Central railroad, which crosses close to her heart, upon a great viaduct. When that viaduct was built, a great change came upon the town. The old depot, with its vaulted wooden roof clearing both tracks and street and anchored in the walls of the historic Brackett House; with its ancient white horse switching the cars of earlier days (as it is years and years and years since that white horse went to graze in heavenly meadows) vanished from sight, and a great stone-lined embankment—high enough and thick enough to be a city wall—appeared, as if by magic, while Rochester reveled in a vast new station, big enough[162] and fine enough for all time. At least that was the way the station seemed when it was first built in 1882. But alas, for restless America! They have begun to tear the old station down as this is being written—a larger and still finer structure replaces it. And the folk who pray for the conservatism of our feverish American energy are praying that it will last more than thirty-one years!

But in just this way Rochester has grown apace and quite ahead of the facilities which her earlier generations thought would be abundant for all time. The high civic standard that forced the great railroad improvement in the earlier days when most American towns, like Topsy, were "jus' growin'" and giving little thought for the morrow, made Rochester different. It made her seek to better her water supply and in this she succeeded, tapping a spring pure lake forty miles back in the high hills and bringing its contents to her by a far-reaching aqueduct. It was a large undertaking for a small city of the earlier days, but the small city was plucky and it today possesses a water supply that is second to none. That same early placed high civic standard made fireproof buildings an actuality in Rochester, years in advance of other towns of the same size.

That civic standard has worked wonders for the town by the falls of the Genesee. For one thing it has made her prolific in propaganda of one sort or another. Strange religious sects have come to light within her boundaries. Spiritualism was one of these, for it was in Rochester that the famed Fox sisters heard the mysterious rappings, and it was only a little way outside the town where Joseph Smith asserted that he found the Book of Mormon and so brought a new church into existence. And the ladies who are conducting the "Votes for Women" campaign with such ardor should not forget that it was in Rochester that Susan B. Anthony lived[163] for long years of her life, working not alone for the cause that was close to her heart, but in every way for the good of the town that meant so much to her.

Perhaps the most interesting phases of the Rochester civic standard are those that have worked inwardly. She has a new city plan—of course. What modern city has not dreamed these glowing things, of transforming ugly squares into plazas of European magnificence, of making dingy Main and State streets into boulevards? And who shall say that such dreams are idly dreamed? Rochester is not dreaming idly. She has already conceived a wonderful new City Hall, to spring upwards from her Main street, but what is perhaps more interesting to her casual visitors in her new plan is the architectural recognition that it gives to the Genesee. The Genesee is a splendid river—in many ways not unlike the more famous Niagara. You have already known the part it has played in the making of Rochester. Yet the city has seen fit, apparently, to all but ignore it. Main street—for Rochester is a famous one-street town—crosses it on a solid stone bridge but that bridge is lined with buildings, like the prints you used to see of old London bridge. None of the folk who walk that famous thoroughfare ever see the river. In the new scheme the old rookeries that hang upon the edge of Main street bridge are to be torn away and the river is to come into its own. And Rochester folk feel that that day can come none too soon.

But the Rochester civic standard has worked no better for her than in social reforms. The phases of these are far too many to be enumerated here, but one of them stands forth too sharply to be ignored. A few years ago some Rochesterian conceived the idea of making the schools work nights as well as day. He had studied the work of the settlement houses in the larger cities, and while Rochester had no such slums as called for settle[164]ment houses it did have a large population that demanded some interest and attention. For instance, within the past few years a large number of Italians have come there, and although they present no such difficult fusing problem as the Jews of New York, the Polocks of Buffalo or the Huns of Pittsburgh, it is not the Rochester way to ignore in the larger social sense any of the folk who come to her.

"We will make the school-houses into clubs, we will make them open forums where people can come evenings and get a little instruction, a little more entertainment, but best of all can speak their minds freely," said this enthusiast. "We will broaden out the idea of the ward clubs."

The ward clubs to which he referred were neat and attractive structures situated in residential parts of the town, where folk who lived in their own neat homes and who earned from three to eight thousand dollars a year gather for their dances, their bridges, their small lectures and the like. The enthusiast proposed to enlarge this idea, by the simple process of opening the school-houses evenings. His idea was immensely popular from the first. And within a very few weeks it was in process of fruition. The school-houses—they called them "Social Centers"—were opened and night after night they were filled. It looked as if Rochester had launched another pretty big idea upon the world.

That idea, however, has been radically changed, today. One of the professors of the local university threw himself into it, possibly with more enthusiasm than judgment, and was reported in the local prints as having said that the red flag might be carried in street parades along with the Stars and Stripes. That settled it. Rochester is a pretty conservative town, and its folk who live quietly in its great houses sat up and took notice of the professor's remarks. Those great houses had smiled rather complacently at the pretty experiment in the schools.[165] Of a sudden they decided that they were being transformed into incubators for the making of socialists or of anarchists—great houses do not make very discerning discriminations.

The professor had kicked over the boat. A powerful church which has taken a very definite stand against Socialism joined with the great houses. The question was brought into local politics. The professor lost his job out at the university, and the school-houses ceased to be open forums. Today they are called "Recreation Centers" and are content with instruction and entertainment, but the full breadth of the idea they started has swept across the country and many cities of the mid-West and the West are adopting it.

The Rochester way of doing things is a very good way, indeed. For instance, the city decided a few years ago that it ought to have a fair. It had been many years since it had had an annual fair, and it saw Syracuse and Toronto each year becoming greater magnets because of their exhibitions. Straightway Rochester decided that it would have some sort of fall show, just what sort was a bit of a problem at first. It wanted something far bigger than a county fair, and yet it could hardly ask the state for aid when the state had spent so much on its own show in nearby Syracuse.

Then it was that Rochester decided to dig down into its own pockets. It saw a fortunate opening just ahead. The state in abandoning a penal institution had left fourteen or fifteen acres of land within a mile of the center of the city—the famous Four Corners. The city took that land, tore down the great stone wall that had encircled it, erected some new buildings and transformed some of the older ones, created a park of the entire property and announced that it was going in the show business, itself. It has gone into the show business and succeeded. The Rochester Exposition is as much a part[166] of the city organization as its park board or its health department. Throughout the greater part of the year the show-grounds are a public park, holding a museum of local history that is not to be despised. And for two weeks in each September it comes into its own—a great, dignified show, builded not of wood and staff so as to make a memorable season and then be forgotten, but builded of steel and stone and concrete for both beauty and permanency.

*****

"Now what are the things that have gone to make these things possible?" you are beginning to say. "What is the nature of the typical Rochesterian?"

Putting the thing the wrong way about we should say that the typical Rochesterian is pretty near the typical American. And still continuing in the reversed order of things consider, for an instant, the beginnings of Rochester. We have spoken of these three cities of the western end of New York state as the first fruit of the wonderful Erie canal. That is quite true and yet it is also true that before the canal came there was quite a town at the falls of the Genesee, trying in crude fashion to avail itself of the wonderful water-power. And while the canal was still an unfinished ditch, three men rode up from the south—Rochester and Fitzhugh and Carroll—and surveyed a city to replace the straggling town. That little village had, during the ten brief years of its existence, been known as Falls Town. Col. Rochester gave his own name to the city that he foresaw and lived to see it make its definite beginnings. All that was in the third decade of the last century, and Rochester has yet to celebrate her first centenary under her present name.

Her career divides itself into three epochs. In the first of these—from the days of her settlement up to the close of the Civil War—she was famed for her flouring-mills. She was known the world over as the[167] Flour City, and she held that title until the great wheat farms of the land were moved far to the west. But they still continued to call her by the same name although they spelled it differently now—the Flower City. For a new industry arose within her. America was awakening to a quickened sense of beauty. Flowers and florists were becoming popular, and a group of shrewd men in and around Rochester made the nursery business into a very great industry. In more recent years the nature of her manufactures has broadened—her camera factory is the most famous in all the world, optical goods, boots and shoes, ready-made clothing, come pouring out of her in a great tidal stream of enterprise.

She is an industrial city, definitely and distinctly. Fortunately she is an industrial city employing a high grade of labor almost exclusively, and yet none the less a town devoted to manufacturing. Once again, do not forget that she has not neglected her social life, and you may read this as you please. You may look away from the broadening work of the ward clubs and of the school-houses and demand if there is an aristocracy in Rochester. The resident of the town will lead you over into its Third ward—a compact community almost within stone-throw of the Four Corners, and shut off from the rest of the vulgar world by a river, a canal and a railroad yard. In that compact community, its tree-lined streets suggesting the byways of some tranquil New England community, is the seat of Rochester social government. The residents of the Third ward are a neighborly folk, borrowing things of one another and visiting about with delightful informality among themselves, and yet their rule is undisputed.

East avenue—the great show street of Rochester—feels that rule. East avenue is lined with great houses, far greater houses than those of the Third ward—many of them built with the profits of "Kodak" stock[168]—yet East avenue represents a younger generation, a generation which seems to have made money rather easily. There has been some intermarriage and some letting down of the bars between the ambitious East avenue and the dominant Third ward—but not much of it. Rochester is far too conservative to change easily or rapidly.

The canal gives Syracuse a Venetian look
The canal gives Syracuse a Venetian look

She is proud of herself as she is—and rightly so. Her people will sing of her charms by the hours—and rightly so, again. They live their lives and live them well. For when all is said and done, the glory of Rochester is not in her public buildings, her water-power, her fair, her movements toward social reform, not even in her parks—although Rochester parks are superb, for Nature has been their chief architect and she has executed her commission in splendid fashion—nor does it reside in her imposing Main street, nor in her vast manufactories that may be translated into stunning arrays of statistics—her glory is in her homes. The tenement, as we know it in the big cities, and the city house, with its dead cold walls, are practically unknown there. Apartment houses are rarities—there are not more than twenty or thirty in the town—and consequently oddities. Your Rochesterian, rich and poor, dwells in a detached house on his own tract of land; the chances are that he has market-truck growing in his backyard, a real kitchen-garden. There are thousands of these little homes in the outlying sections of the town, with more pretentious ones lining East avenue and the other more elaborate streets. All of these taken together are the real regulators of the town. For the citizens of Rochester are less governed and themselves govern more than in most places of the size. That is the value of the detached house to the city. Detached houses in a city seem to mean good schools, good fire and police service,[169] clean streets, health protection, social progress—Rochester has all of these in profusion.

East avenue, in its rather luscious beauty, represents these ideals of Rochester on dress parade. We rather think, however, that you can read the character of the town better in the side streets. Now a long street, filled with somewhat monotonous rows of simple frame houses does not mean much at a glance—even when the street is parked and filled for a mile with blossoming magnolias, as Oxford street in Rochester is filled. But such a street, together with all the other streets of its sort, means that much of the disappearing charm and loveliness of our American village life is being absorbed right into the heart of a community of goodly size.

Sometimes citizens from other towns running hard amuck Rochester's conservatism call her provincial. She has clung to some of her small town customs longer than her neighbors, but of late she has attempted metropolitanism—they have builded two big new hotels in the place, and the radicals have dared to place a big building or two off Main street—quite a step in a town which has become famous as a one-street town.

But Rochester, like most conservatives, is careless of outside criticism. She points to the big things that she has accomplished. She shows you her streets of the detached houses and her parks—perhaps takes you down to Genesee Valley Park of a summer night when carnival is in the air and the city's band, the city's very own band, if you please, is playing from a great float in midstream, while voices from two or three thousand gaily decorated canoes carry the melodies a long way. She shows you her robust glories, the fair country in which she is situate. For miles upon miles of splendid highways surround her, the Genesee indolent for a time above the Valley Park appeals to the man with a canoe, the great lake to the[170] north gives favorable breezes to the yachtsman. Do you wonder that the Rochesterians know that they dwell in a garden land, and that they are in the open through the fullness of a summer that stretches month after month, from early spring to late autumn? Do you wonder that they really live their lives?


[171]

10
STEEL'S GREAT CAPITAL

A man, traveling across the land for the very first time, slips into a strange town—after dark. It is his first time in the strange town, of course. Otherwise it would not be strange. He finds his hotel with little difficulty, for a taxicab takes him to it. He immediately discovers that it is not more than two squares from the very station at which he has arrived. Still a friendly taxicab in a strange town is not an institution at which to scoff, and the man who is very tired is glad to get into his hotel room and to bed without delay.

He awakes the next morning very early—at least it must be very early for it is still dark. It is dark indeed as he stumbles his way across the room to the electric switch. In the sudden radiance that follows, he sputters at himself for having arisen so early—for he is a man fond of his lazy sleep in the morning. He fumbles in his pockets and finds his watch. Ten minutes to nine, it says to him.

"Stopped," says the man, half aloud. "That's another time I forgot to wind it."

But the watch has not stopped. Insecure in his own mind he lifts it to his ear. It is ticking briskly. The man is perplexed. He goes to the window and peeps out from it. A great office building across the way is gaily alight—a strange performance for before dawn of a September morning. He looks down into the street. Two long files of brightly lighted cars are passing through the street, one up, the other down. The glisten[172]ing pavements are peopled, the stores are brightly lighted—the man glances at his watch once again. Eight minutes of nine, it tells him this time.

He smiles as he gazes down into that busy street.

"This is Pittsburgh," he says.

Later that day that same man stands in another window—of a tall skyscraper this time—and again gazes down. Suspended there below him is a seeming chaos. There are smoke and fog and dirt there, through these—showing ever and ever so faintly—tall, artificial cliffs, punctured with row upon row of windows, brightly lighted at midday. From the narrow gorges between these cliffs come the rustle and the rattle of much traffic. It comes to the man in waves of indefinite sound.

He lifts his gaze and sees beyond these artificial cliffs, mountains—real mountains—towering, with houses upon their crests, and steep, inclined railroads climbing their precipitous sides. In these houses, also, there are lights burning at midday. Below them are great stacks—row upon row upon row of them, like coarse-toothed combs turned upside down—and the black smoke that pours up from them is pierced now and then and again by bright tongues of flame—the radiance of furnaces that glow throughout the night and day.

"We're mud and dirt up to our knees—and money all the rest of the way," says the owner of that office. He is a native of the city. He comes to the window and points to one of the rivers—a yellow-brown mirrored surface, scarcely glistening under leaden clouds but bearing long tows by the dozen—coal barges, convoyed by dirty stern-wheeled steamboats.

"There is one of the busiest harbors in the world," says the Pittsburgh man. "A harbor which in tonnage is not so far back of your own blessed New York."

The New Yorker, for this man is a New Yorker, laughs at the very idea of calling that sluggish narrow[173] river a harbor. They have a real harbor in his town and real rivers lead into it. This does not even seem a real river. It reminds him quite definitely of Newtown creek—that slimy, busy waterway along which trains used to pass in the days when the Thirty-fourth street ferry was the gateway to Long Island.

"We have tonnage in this town," says the proud resident of Pittsburgh, "and if you won't believe what I tell you about the water traffic, how about our neat little railroad business? If you won't listen to our harbor-master here when I take you down to him, look at the lines of freight cars for forty miles out every trunk-line railroad that gets in here. This is the real gathering ground for all the freight rolling-stock of this land."

And then he falls to telling the native of Manhattan island how all that traffic has come to pass—how a mere quarter of a century ago the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie railroad had offered itself to the historic Erie for a mere hundred thousand dollars—and had been refused as not worth while. Today the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie is the pet child of the entire Vanderbilt family of aristocratic railroads, earning more clear profit to the mile than any other railroad in the world. The Pittsburgh man makes this all clear to his caller. But the man from New York only looks out again upon the city in semi-darkness at midday, and thinks of the towers of his own Manhattan rising high into the clearest blue sky that one might imagine, and whispers incoherently:

"This Pittsburgh gets me."

Pittsburgh gets some others, too. It gets them from the back country, green country lads filled with ambition rather than anything else, and if they have the sticking qualities it makes them millionaires, if that so happens that such is the scheme of their ambitions. It has made some other millionaires, almost overnight, as we shall see in a few minutes. The picking for dol[174]lars seems good in the neighborhood of the confluence of the Monongahela and the Allegheny.

Consider for a moment that confluence—the geography of Pittsburgh, if you please. In a general way the older part of the town has a situation not unlike that of the great metropolis of the continent. For New York's East river, substitute the Monongahela; for the Hudson, the Allegheny; and let the Ohio, beginning its long course at the Point—Pittsburgh's Battery—represent the two harbors of New York. Then you will begin to get the rough resemblance. To the south of the Monongahela, Pittsburgh's Brooklyn is Birmingham, set under the half-day shadows of the towering cliffs of Mount Washington. Allegheny—now a part of the city of Pittsburgh and beginning to be known semi-officially as the North Side—corresponds in location with Jersey City.

And the problems that have beset Pittsburgh in her growth have been almost the very problems that from the first have hampered the growth of metropolitan New York. If her rivers have been no such stupendous affairs as the Hudson or the East rivers, the overpowering hills and mountains that close in upon her on every side have presented barriers of equal magnitude. To conquer them has been the labor of many tunnels and of steep inclined railroads, the like of which are not to be seen in any great city in America. It has been no easy conquest.

As a result of all these things the growth of the city has been uneven and erratic. Down on the narrow spit of flat-land at the junction of the two rivers that go to make the Ohio—a location exactly corresponding with Manhattan island below the City Hall and of even less area—is the business center of metropolitan Pittsburgh—wholesale and retail stores, banks, office buildings, railroad passenger terminals, hotels, theaters and[175] the like. The same causes that made the skyscraper a necessity in New York have worked a like necessity in the city at the head of the Ohio.

So it has come to pass that no one lives in Pittsburgh itself, unless under absolute compulsion. The suburbs present housing facilities for the better part of its folk—Sewickley and East Liberty vie for greatest favor with them and there are dozens of smaller communities that crowd close upon these two social successes. "We can never get a decent census figure," growls the Pittsburgh man, as he contemplates the size of these outlying boroughs that go to make the city strong in everything, save in that popular competitive feature of population. And that very reason made the merging of the old city of Allegheny a popular issue, indeed.

The fact that Pittsburgh men live outside of Pittsburgh goes to give her the fourth largest suburban train service in the country. Only New York, Boston and Philadelphia surpass her in this wise. Even San Francisco has less. One hundred and fifty miles to the northwest is Cleveland, the sixth city in the country and outranking Pittsburgh in population. There is not a single distinctive suburban train run in or out of Cleveland. From one single terminal in Pittsburgh four hundred passenger trains arrive and depart in the course of a single business day and ninety-five percent of these are for the sole benefit of the commuter.

So congested have even these railroad facilities become that the city cries bitterly all the while for a transit relief and experts have been at work months and years planning a subway to aid both the steam roads and the overworked trolley lines. At best it is no sinecure to operate the trolley cars of Pittsburgh. Combined with narrow streets, uptown and downtown, are the fearful slopes of the great hills. It takes big cars to climb those hills, let alone haul the trailers that are a[176] feature of the Pittsburgh rush-hour traffic. When the New Yorker sees those cars for the first time he looks again. They are chariots of steel, hardly smaller than those that thread the subway in his daily trip to and from Harlem, and when they come toward him they make him think of locomotives. The heavy car gives a sense of strength and of hill capability. But the company staggers twice each day under a traffic that is far beyond its facilities—and it staggers under its political burdens.

For it is almost as much as your very life is worth to "talk back" to a street car conductor in Pittsburgh. The conductor is probably an arm of the big political machine that holds that western Pennsylvania town as in the hollow of its hand. The conductors get their jobs through their alderman, and they hold them through their alderman. So if a New York man forgets that he is four hundred and forty miles from Broadway, and gets to asserting his mind to the man who is in charge of the car let him look out for trouble. Chances are nine to one that he will be hauled up before a magistrate for breaking the peace, and that another arm of the political machine will come hard upon him.

A man, who was a life-long resident of Pittsburgh, once made a protest to the conductor of a car coming across from Allegheny. The passenger was in the right and the conductor knew it. But he answered that protest with a volley of profanity. If that thing had happened in a seaboard town, the conductor's job would not have been worth the formality of a resignation. In Pittsburgh a bystander warned—the passenger—and he saved himself arrest by keeping his mouth shut and getting off the car.

But the Pittsburgh man had not quite lost his sense of justice, and so he hurried to a certain high officer of the street railroad company. When he came to the company's offices he was ushered in in high state, for it so[177] happened that the born Pittsburgh man was a director of that very corporation. It so happens that street railroad directors do not ride—like their steam railroad brethren—on passes, and the conductor did not know that he was playing flip-flap with his job.

"You'll have to fire that man," said the director, in ending his complaint. "If that had happened at the club I would have punched him in the head."

The big man who operated the street railroad looked at the director, and smiled what the lady novelists call a sweet, sad smile.

"Sorry, Ben," said he, "but I know that man. He's one of Alderman X——'s men, and if we fired him X—— would hang us up on half a dozen things."

Do you wonder that in the face of such a state of things transit relief comes rather slowly to Pittsburgh?

Pittsburgh men have been trying to worm their way out of their difficulties for about a century and a half now, for it was 1758 that saw a permanent settlement started there at the junction of the three great rivers. Before that had been the memorable fight and defeat of Braddock—not far from where more recently Mr. Frick and Mr. Carnegie have been engaged in a rivalry as to which could erect the higher skyscraper and most effectually block out the façade of the very beautiful Court House that the genius of H. H. Richardson designed—more than a score of years ago. At Braddock's defeat George Washington fought and it was no less a prophetic mind than that of the Father of His Country which foresaw and prophesied that Pittsburgh, with proper transportation facilities, would become one of the master cities of the country.

Today, when Pittsburgh men grow nervous in one of their chronic fits of agitation—generally started by some talkative city, such as Chicago and Duluth, proclaiming herself as the future center of the steel industry[178]—she gains comfort from the sayings of two Presidents—General Washington, as just quoted, and the gentleman who sits at the head of the board of the United States Steel Corporation, who goes out there from time to time and tells them to be of good cheer, that the center of the steel business is irrevocably fixed within their town. Pittsburgh worries much more about the steel business than about the Richardson Court House, which has just been left high and dry upon a local Gibraltar because of the desire of the local aldermen to lower Fifth avenue some eight or ten feet. But who shall say that she should not be restive about a business that reaches an output in a single twelvemonth of something over 150,000,000 tons? That is a jewel that is well worth the keeping.

*****

Philadelphia stands at the east end of Pennsylvania; Pittsburgh is the west gate of that Keystone commonwealth. Yet two peas in a pod were never half so different. Philadelphia stands for conservatism, Pittsburgh for progress. While Philadelphia was climbing to the zenith of her power and influence through the first three-quarters of the last century and reaching her apotheosis in her great Centennial, Pittsburgh was quiet beneath her smoke umbrellas experimenting with that strange new metal, which man called steel. In the day dreams that Philadelphia enjoyed in 1876 Pittsburgh was forgotten.

"I suppose the Pennsylvania railroad must have some place to end at," said a lady from Rittenhouse square, when her attention was called to the city at the junction of the three rivers. And in the next year that lady and many other ladies of the staunch old Quaker town were holding up their hands in holy horror at the news from Pittsburgh. Great riots, the bloodiest that had ever been known, were marking the railroad strike there—why, in a single day the rioters had burned the great[179] Union station, every other railroad structure, and every car in the place. That was bad advertising for a town that had none too many friends.

But Pittsburgh was finding herself—she is still in that fascinating process of development. For word was eking out from the rough mountains of western Pennsylvania that a little group of Scotchmen—led by a shrewd ironmaster whom politic folk were already calling "Mr. Carnegie"—had made steel an economic structural possibility. In this day when wood has become a luxury, steel is coming into its own and Pittsburgh is today the most metropolitan city between New York and Chicago. But she is still finding herself. The Survey, financed by Mrs. Russell Sage, and equipped with some of the ablest and fairest minded social workers in America, has called sharp attention to her shortcomings. The Survey did its work thoroughly and it was not the work of a minute or a day or a week or a month. When its report was ready, Pittsburgh smarted. It was the sort of smarting that goes before a cure.

Much has been done already. The man who went to Pittsburgh as recently as ten years ago carried away some pretty definite memories of neglected railroad stations and inferior hotel facilities. He remembered that in Liberty and Penn avenues—two of the chief shopping streets in the city—long trails of freight cars were constantly being shifted by dirty switch engines in among the trolley cars, while farther up these same avenues the Fort Wayne railroad tracks formed two of the nastiest grade crossings in America. When a fine new hotel was finally built away out Fifth avenue, he could sit on its porch and face Pittsburgh's famous farm. The Schenley farm stretched over the hill and far away. Its barns were sharply silhouetted upon the horizon, rail zigzag fences ran up and down the slopes and sometimes one could see cattle outlined against the sky edge.

[180] The farm was a sore spot in Pittsburgh development. It occupied a tract somewhat similar in location to that of Central Park in Manhattan, and the struggling, growing town crawled its way around the obstacle slowly—then grew many miles east once again. Resentment gathered against the farm, and finally a bill was slipped through at Harrisburg imposing double taxes on property held by persons residing out of the United States—a distinct slap at the Schenley estate. When the estate protested, word was carried oversea to it that if a good part of the farm were dedicated to the city as a park that bill would be withdrawn.

So Pittsburgh gained its splendid new park, and a site for one of the finest civic centers in America. The farm has begun to disappear—the University of Pittsburgh is absorbing its last undeveloped slope for an American Acropolis that shall put Athens in the pale. The new Athletic Club, the development of the Hotel Schenley, the great Soldiers' Memorial Hall which Allegheny county has just finished, the even greater Carnegie Institute, the graceful twin-spired cathedral, all are going toward the making of this fine, new civic center, and Pittsburgh being Pittsburgh, and the Pirates social heroes, Forbes Field the finest baseball park in all this land—a wizardry of glass and steel and concrete—is a distinctive feature of this improvement.

The old and the new at Pittsburgh
The old and the new at Pittsburgh

The freight trains are gone from the downtown shopping streets and the two wicked grade crossings disappeared when the Pennsylvania built its splendid new Union Station. Other fine railroad terminals and new hotels have added to the comfort of the stranger. They are beginning in a faint way to give transfers on the trolley cars, and there is more than a promise that some day wayfarers will not be taxed a penny every time they walk across the bridges that bind the heart of the city. The bridge companies are private affairs, paying from fif[181]teen to twenty percent in annual dividends, and they hang pretty tightly on to their bonanzas. But the Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce is after them, and that Chamber is a fairly energetic body. It has already sought the devil in his lair and tried to abolish the smoke nuisance, with some definite results.

A New York girl who has been living in Pittsburgh for the last four years complained that she had never seen but two sunsets there. There is hope for that girl. If the Chamber of Commerce keeps hard at its anti-smoke campaign, she may yet stand on the Point and down the muddy Ohio see something that dimly resembles the glorious dying of the day, as one sees it from the heights of New York city's Riverside Drive.

A keen-eyed man sat in an easy chair in the luxury of the Duquesne Club, and faced the New York man.

"Are we so bad?" he demanded. "You New York men like to paint us that way. You judge us falsely. You think that when you come out here you are going to see a sort of modern Sodom, bowing to all the gods of money and the gods of the high tariff. You think you are going to fairly revel in a wide open town, in the full significance of that phrase, and what do you see?

"You see a pretty solid sort of a Scotch Presbyterian town, where you cannot even get shaved in your hotel on Sunday, to say nothing of buying a drink. And as for shows, you can't buy your way into a concert here on Sunday. Why, some of the elders of my kirk have even looked askance at Mr. Carnegie for the free recitals that he gives Sabbath afternoons in that splendid hall of the Institute.

"There's your real Pittsburgher, and if some of the boys have chafed a bit under all the restraint that they have had here and gone to the wicked city after a little fling and a little advertising, is that any just reason why it all should be charged against Pittsburgh? Pittsburgh[182] has enough troubles of her own without borrowing any additional ones.

"The trouble is we've been making too much money to notice much about the boys, or give proper attention to some pretty vital civic problems—that's why the rottenness cropped out in the City Councils. It's the taint of the almighty dollar, Mr. New Yorker! Why, Mr. Carnegie made a couple of hundred of us millionaires within a single twenty-four hours. Can you think of any worse blow for an average town?

"He took some of us, who had been working for him a long time, and got us into the business—some for an eighth interest, others for a sixteenth or even a thirty-second. That was great, and we appreciated it, but it kept us fairly tight on ready money for a while, even though Frick and Mellen were standing pat with an offer of a hundred million dollars for the bonds of the steel company. I tell you I was short on ready money myself, and wondering if I could not cut down on my house rent $2,000 a year and get my wife to keep two hired girls instead of three. Then you know what happened. Carnegie himself took over the bonds at a cold two hundred million dollars. Within a week or so I was in New York talking with an architect about building a new house for the missus, and getting passage tickets through to Europe."

The ironmaster called his automobile and bundled the New York man within it.

"We are going down into the slums," he said. "I can show you a single block where thirteen different languages are spoken. That is the new Pittsburgh—taking up one another's burdens, or something of that sort, as they call it. It is queer until you get used to it, and when you get used to it, it makes you feel like going up on the roof and yelling that Pittsburgh is going to[183] be the greatest city on earth, not just the greatest in tonnage or in dollars.

"That is why we are cottoning to that idea of a civic center out by Schenley Park; that's why we pat Andrew Carnegie on the back when we know that he is giving us the best in pictures and in music in America; that's why Frick is holding back with his horse pasture there in front of Carnegie Institute to build something bigger and better. Don't you get the idea now of the bigger and better Pittsburgh?"

The limousine stopped and the ironmaster beckoned a large, whiskered Russian to it. "Here's a real anarchist," he said, "but he is one of my protégés. He speaks down in a dirty hall in Liberty avenue, near the Wabash terminal, but he's for the new Pittsburgh, and he's for it strong—so we come together after a fashion."

The Russian, who was a teacher, came close to the big automobile and pointed to a woman of his own people—a woman wretchedly poor, who dwelt in one of the hovels which are today Pittsburgh's greatest shame.

"She's reading Byron," he said quietly, "and she has been in America less than six months. She says there is a magnificent comparison between Byron and Tolstoy."

That reminded the ironmaster of an incident.

"After that bad time in 1907," he said, "I chanced into one of Mr. Carnegie's libraries, and the librarian complained to me of the way the books were being ruined. Their backs were being scratched and filled with rust and even shavings. I had an idea on that myself. I went back to our own mill—it was pretty dull there and I was dodging the forlorn place as much as I could. But we were sifting out a gang from the men who were beating at our doors every morning for work, and even then we were carrying twice as many men as[184] we really needed. I went around back of the furnaces and there were the library books—the men were reading them in the long shifts."

"They weren't reading fiction?" asked the New Yorker.

"Not a bit of it," said the ironmaster. Then he added:

"One of them spoke to me. He was only getting three days a week. 'Mr. Carnegie can give the books,' was his quiet observation, 'and the money to buy them. But we need more than money. Can't he ever give us the leisure to read them without its costing us the money for our food?'

"That, New Yorker, from the mouth of one of those of the new Pittsburgh is the real answer to your question."


[185]

11
THE SIXTH CITY

They call her the Sixth City, but that is only in a comparative sense, and exclusively in regard to her statistical position in the population ranks of the large cities of our land. For no real citizen of Cleveland will ever admit that his community is less than first, in all of the things that make for the advance of a strong and healthy American town. His might better be called "the City of Boundless Enthusiasm." Your Cleveland man, however, is content to know it as the Sixth City.

"Not that it really matters whether we are the fifth or the seventh—or the sixth," he tells you. "Only it all goes to show how we've bobbed up in the last twenty years. You know what we used to be—an inconsiderable lake port up on the north brink of Ohio with Cincinnati down there in the south pruning herself as a real metropolis and calling herself the Queen City. We might call ourselves the Queen City today and stretch no points, but that's a sort of fancy title that's gone out of fashion now. The Sixth City sounds more like the Twentieth Century."

And Cleveland having thus baptized herself, as it were, proceeded to spread her new name to the world. "Cleveland—Sixth City" appeared on the stationery of her business houses; her tailors stitched it in upon the labels of the ready-made suits they sent to all corners of the land; her bakers stamped it on the products of their ovens; big shippers stenciled it over packing-cases; manufacturers even placed it upon the brass-plates of the[186] lathes and other complicated machines they sent forth from their shops. Today when you say "Sixth City" to an American he replies "Cleveland," which is precisely what Cleveland intended he should reply.

Now why has Cleveland taken her new position of sixth among the cities of the land? Ask your Cleveland man that, and he will take you by the elbow and march you straight toward the docks, that not only line her lake front but extend for miles up within the curious twistings of the Cuyahoga river.

"Lake traffic," he will tell you, and begin to quote statistics.

We will spare you most of the statistics. It is meet that you should know, however, that upon the five Great Lakes there throbs a commerce that might well be the envy of any far-reaching, salty sea. To put the thing concretely, the freight portion of this traffic alone reached tremendous totals in 1912. In the navigation months of that year, exactly 47,435,477 tons of iron ore and an even greater tonnage of coal moved upon the Lakes, while the enormous total of 158,000,000 bushels of grain were received at the port of Buffalo. And although there are tens of thousands of sailormen upon the salt seas who have never heard of Cleveland, the business of the port of Cleveland is comparable with that of the port of Liverpool, one of the very greatest and the very busiest harbors in all the world. For four out of every five of the great steel steamships carrying the iron ore and coal cargoes of the lakes are operated from Cleveland. Until the formation of the United States Steel corporation a few years ago she could also say that she owned four out of five of these vessels. And today her indirect interest in them, through the steel corporation, is not small.

As the Cleveland man continues to din these statistics into your ear, you let your gaze wander. Over across[187] a narrow slip a gaunt steel framework rises. It holds a cradle, large enough and strong enough to accommodate a single steel railroad "gondola," which in turn carries fifty tons of bituminous coal. The sides of the table are clamped over the sides of one of these "gondola" cars, which a seemingly tireless switch-engine has just shunted into it. Slowly the cradle is raised to the top of the framework. A bell strikes and it raises itself upon edge, three-quarters of the way over. The coal rushes out of the car in an uprising cloud of black dust and drops through a funnel into the expansive hold of the vessel that is moored at the dock. The car is righted; some remaining coal rattles to its bottom. Once again it is overturned and the remaining coal goes through the funnel. When it is righted the second time it is entirely empty. The cradle returns to its low level, the car is unfastened and given a push. It makes a gravity movement and returns to a string of its fellows that have been through a similar process.

You take out your watch. The process consumes just two minutes for each car. That means thirty cars an hour. In an hour fifteen hundred tons of coal, the capacity of a long and heavily laden train, have been placed in the hold of the waiting vessel. You are familiar, perhaps, with the craft that tie up at the wharves of seaboard towns, and you roughly estimate the capacity of this coal-carrier at some forty-five hundred tons. It is going to take but three hours to fill her great hold, and you find yourself astonished at the result of such computations. You confide that astonishment to your Cleveland man. He smiles at you, benignly.

"That is really not very rapid work," he says, "they put eleven thousand tons of ore into the Corey in thirty-nine minutes up at Superior last year."

And that is the record loading of a vessel for all the world. When the British ship-owners heard of that[188] feat at a port two thousand miles inland, they ceased to deride American docking facilities.

The Cleveland man begins telling you something of this lake traffic in iron ore and soft coal—almost three-quarters of the total tonnage of the lakes. The workable iron deposits of America are today in greatest profusion within a comparatively few miles of the head of Lake Superior—nothing has yet robbed western Pennsylvania and West Virginia of their supremacy as producers of bituminous coal. There is an ideal traffic condition, the condition that lines the railroad cars for forty miles roundabout Pittsburgh. The great cost in handling freight upon the average railroad comes from the fact that it is generally what is known as "one-way" business—that is, the volume of traffic moves in a single direction, necessitating an expensive and wasteful return haul of empty cars. There is no such traffic waste upon the Great Lakes. The ships that go up and down the long water lanes of Erie and Huron and Superior do not worry about ballast for the return. They carry coal from Buffalo, Erie, Ashtabula, Conneaut and Cleveland to Duluth and Superior and they come back with their capacious holds filled with red iron ore. There is your true economy in transportation, and the reflection of it comes in the fact that these ships haul cargo at the rate of .78 of a mill for a ton-mile, which is the lowest freight-rate in the world.

Cleveland built these ships, in fact she still is building the greater part of them. And she thinks nothing of building the largest of these steel vessels in ninety days. Take a second look at that vessel—the coal cars are still pouring their grimy treasure into her hold. She is builded, like all of these new freighters, with a severity that shows the bluff utilitarianism of the shipbuilders of the Great Lakes. None of the finicky traditions of the Clyde rule the minds of the men who today are[189] building the merchant marine of the Lakes. One deckhouse, with the navigating headquarters, is forward; the other, with funnel and the other externals of the ship's propelling mechanism, is at the extreme stern. Amidships your Great Lakes carrier is cargo—and nothing else. No tangle of line or burden of trivials; just a red-walled hull of thick steel plates and a steel-plate deck—broken into thirty-six hatches and of precisely the same shade of red—for these ships are quickly painted by hose-spray. Remember that it is ninety days—from keel-plates to launching. In another thirty days the ship's simple fittings are finished and her engines in her heart are ready to pound from down-Lakes to up-Lakes and back innumerable times.

*****

If we have given some attention in this Cleveland chapter to the traffic of the Great Lakes, it is, as we have already intimated, because the traffic of the Great Lakes has made her the Sixth City. It has also made the most important of her industries, the very greatest of her fortunes. Your Cleveland man will tell you of one of these—before you leave the pier-edge. It was the fortune that an old Lake captain left at his death a little time ago—the fortune a mere matter of some twenty-eight millions of dollars. The old captain knew the Lakes and he had studied their traffic—all his life. But his will directed that his money should not be expended in the building of ships. It provided that at least a quarter of a million of the income should annually go to the purchase of Cleveland real estate. And Cleveland was quick to explain that it was not that the old man loved shipping less, but that he loved Cleveland real estate more. He had the gift of foresight.

If you would see that foresight in his own eyes drive out Euclid avenue—that broad thoroughfare that leads from the old-fashioned Public Square in the heart of the[190] city straight toward the southeast. Euclid avenue gained its fame in other days. Travelers used to come back from Cleveland and tell of the glories of that highway. Alas, today those glories are largely those of memory. The old houses still sit in their great lawns, but the grime of the city's industry has made them seem doubly old and decadent, while Commerce has pushed her smart new shops out among them to the very sidewalk line. Many of these shops are given over to the automobile business—a business which does not hesitate in any of our towns to transform resident streets into commercial. But in Cleveland one may partly forgive the audacity of this particular trade in recognition of its perspicacity. For Euclid avenue, rapidly growing now from an entirely residential street into an entirely business highway, is the great automobile thoroughfare of the East Side of the city. And when you consider that one out of every ten Cleveland families has a motor car, you can begin to estimate the traffic through Euclid avenue.

There is a West Side of Cleveland—you might almost say, of course—but one does not come to know it until he comes to know Cleveland well. The city is builded upon a high plateau that rises in a steep bluff from the very edge of the lake. Through this plateau, at the very bottom of a ravine, wide and deep, the navigable Cuyahoga twists its tortuous way into Lake Erie. It seems as if that ravine must almost have been cut to test the resources of the bridge-builders of America. For it has been their problem to keep the Sixth City from becoming entirely severed by her great water artery. They have solved it by the construction of one huge steel viaduct after another but the West Side remains the West Side—and always somewhat jealous of the East. She knows that the great public buildings of Cleveland—that comprehensive civic center plan to which we shall come in a moment—are fixed for all[191] time upon the East. And so when Cleveland decides to build a great new city hall, the West Side demands and receives the finest market house in all the land.

So it is that it is the East Side that your Cleveland man shows you alone when your time is limited, and so it is that Euclid avenue is the one great thoroughfare of the whole East Side.

"If you want to know how we've bobbed up, look at here," the Cleveland man tells you.

You look. A contractor is busy changing a railroad crossing from level to overhead; a much-needed improvement—despite the fact that it should have been under-surface rather than overhead—when you come to consider the traffic that moves through Euclid avenue in all the daylight hours and far into the night.

"When the old Cleveland and Pittsburgh—it's part of the Pennsylvania, now—was built, thirty-five or forty years ago, they thought they would put the line around the town. But the town was up to their line before they knew it—and they decided ten or a dozen years ago that they would put a suburban station here." He points to a handsome red brick structure of modern architecture. "The Pennsylvania folks are long-headed—almost always. But if they had known that Cleveland was to become the Sixth City within ten years they never would have put two hundred thousand dollars in a grade crossing station at Euclid avenue. The way we've grown has sort of startled all of us."

Today Euclid avenue is a compactly built thoroughfare for miles east of that Pennsylvania railroad crossing. It is at least two miles and a half from that crossing to Cleveland's two great educational lions—the Case School of Applied Science and the Western Reserve University—and they in turn only mark the beginning of the city's newest and most fashionable residence district.

[192] Indeed Cleveland has "bobbed up." And her growth within the last quarter of a century has been more than physical, more than that recorded by emotionless census-takers. For beneath those grimy old houses on Euclid avenue and the down town residence streets, beneath the roofs of those gray and grimy story-and-a-half wooden houses which line far less pretentious streets for long miles, lies as restless and as hopeful a civic spirit as any town in America can boast. It makes itself manifest in many ways—as we shall see. The man who first brought it into a working force was a resourceful little man who died a little while ago. But before Tom L. Johnson died he was Mayor of the city; something more; he was the best liked and the best hated man that Cleveland had ever known; and he was better liked than he was hated.

In person a plump little man with a ceaseless smile that might have been stolen from a Raphael cherub, a democratic little man, who knew his fellows and who could read them, almost unfailingly. And the smile could change from softness into severity—when Tom L. Johnson wanted a thing he wanted it mighty hard. And he generally succeeded in getting it. He could not only read men; he could read affairs. He saw Cleveland coming to be the Sixth City. And he determined that she should realize the dignity of metropolitanism in other fashion than in merely census totals or bank clearances.

Cleveland is proud of her great, broad streets
Cleveland is proud of her great, broad streets

Johnson began by going after the street railroad system of the town. He had had some experience in building and operating street railroads in other parts of the country, and he set out along paths that were not entirely unfamiliar to him. It so happened that at the time he began his crusade Cleveland was quite satisfied with her street railroad service. Her residents went out to other cities of the land and bragged about how their big yellow[193] cars ran out to all the far corners of their rapidly growing city. But Johnson was not criticising the service. He was merely saying in his gentle insistent way that five cents was too much for a man to pay to ride upon a street car. He thought three cents was quite enough. The street railroad company quite naturally thought differently. In every other town in the land five cents was the standard fare, and any Cleveland man could tell you how much better the car-service was at home. That company produced vast tables of statistics to prove its contentions. Tom L. Johnson merely laughed at the statistics and reiterated that three cents was a sufficient street-car fare for Cleveland.

The details of that cause celébre are not to be recited here. It is enough here to say that Tom L. Johnson lived long enough to see three-cent fares upon the Cleveland cars, and that the conclusion was not reached until a long and bitter battle had been fought. The conclusion itself as it stands today is interesting. The owners of the street railroad stock, the successors of the men who invested their money on a courageous gamble that Cleveland was to grow into a real city are assured of a legitimate six percent upon their stock. They cannot expect more. If the railroad earns more than that fixed six percent its fares must be reduced. If, on the other hand, it fails to earn six percent the fares must be raised sufficiently to permit that return. The fare-steps are simple, a cent at a time, with a cent being charged for a transfer, or a transfer being furnished free as best may meet the income need of the railroad.

At present the fare is three cents, transfers being furnished free. A little while ago the fare was three cents, a cent being charged for the transfer. That brought an unnecessarily high revenue to the railroad, and so today while the conductor who issues you a transfer gravely charges you a cent for it, the con[194]ductor who accepts it, with equal gravity, presents you a cent in return for it. This prevents the transfers being used as stationery or otherwise frivoled away. For, while the street car system of Cleveland is among the best operated in America, it is also one of the most whimsical. Its cars are proof of that. Some of them are operated on the so-called "pay-as-you-enter" principle, although Cleveland, which has almost a passion for abbreviation, calls them the "paye" cars. These cars are still a distinct novelty in most of our cities. In Cleveland they are almost as old as Noah's Ark compared with a car in which you pay as you leave—a most sensible fashion—or a still newer car in which you can pay as you enter or pay as you leave—a choice which you elect by going to one end or the other of the vehicle.

But the fact remains that Cleveland has three-cent fares upon her excellent street railroad system, to say nothing of having control over her most important utility, the street railroad, which pays six percent dividends to its owners. The three-cent fare seems standard in Cleveland. In fact, she is becoming a three-cent city. Small shops make attractive offers at that low figure, and "three-cent movies" are springing up along her streets. She has already gone down to Washington and demanded that the Federal government issue a three-cent piece—to meet her peculiar needs. So does the spirit of Tom L. Johnson still go marching on.

It must have been the spirit of Tom L. Johnson that gave Cleveland a brand-new charter in this year of Grace, 1913. Into this new charter have been written many things that would have been deemed impossible in the charter of a large American city even a decade ago. Initiative and referendum, of course—Johnson and his little band of faithful followers were not satisfied until they had gone to Columbus a few winters ago[195] and written that into the new constitution of the state of Ohio—a department of public welfare to regulate everything from the safety and morals of "three-cent movies" to the larger questions of public health and even of public employment, the very sensible short ballot, and even the newest comer in our family of civic reforms—the preferential ballot, although at the time that this is being written it is being sharply contested in the high courts at Columbus. Cleveland rejected the commission form of government. The fact that a good many other progressive American towns have accepted it, did not, in her mind, weigh for or against it. She has never been a city of strong conventions—witness her refusal to regard the five-cent fare as standard, simply because other towns had it. Neither has tradition been permitted to warp her course. A few years ago her citizens decided that her system of street names was not good enough or expansive enough for a town that was entering the metropolitan class. So she changed most of her street names—almost in the passing of a night. In most American towns that would have been out of the question. Folk cling to street names almost as they cling to family traditions. But Cleveland folk seemed to realize instantly that the new system of numbered cross-streets—with the broad diagonal highways named "roads"—after the fashion of some English cities—was so far the best that she immediately gave herself to the new scheme with heart and soul, as seems to be her way.

To tell of a splendid new charter adopted, of the control gained over her chief utility and necessity, of the progressive social reforms that she houses, is not alone to tell of the splendid heart and soul that beats within the walls and roofs of her houses. It is, quite as much, to tell of a remarkable coöperation, remarkable when you consider that Cleveland has become a city of more[196] than six hundred thousand humans. That coöperation may best be illustrated by a single incident:

A retail dealer in hardware recently opened a fine new store out in Euclid avenue. He opened it as some small cities might open their new library or their new city hall—with music and a reception. His friends sent great bouquets of flowers, the concerns from which he bought his supplies sent more flowers; but the biggest bunch of flowers came from the men who were his competitors in the same line of business. That was Cleveland—Cleveland spirit, Cleveland generosity. Perhaps that is the secret of Cleveland success.

*****

One thing more—the plan for the Cleveland civic center. For the Sixth City having set her mental house in order is to build for it a physical house of great utility and of compelling beauty. You may have heard of the Cleveland civic plan. It is in the possibility that you have not, that we bring it in for a final word. When Cleveland set out to obtain a new Federal Post Office and Court House for herself, a few years ago, it came to her of a sudden that she was singularly lacking in fine public buildings. It was suggested that she should seek for herself not only a Federal building but a new Court House and City Hall as well. In the same breath it was proposed that these be brought into a beautiful and a practical group. It was an attractive suggestion. In the fertile soil of Cleveland attractive suggestions take quick root. And so in Cleveland was born the civic center idea that has spread almost like the proverbial wildfire all the way across the land.

To create her civic group she moved in a broad and decisive fashion. She engaged three of the greatest of American architects—A. W. Brunner, John M. Carrere, D. H. Burnham—two of them poets and idealists, the third almost the creator of America's most utilitarian[197] type of building, the modern skyscraper. To these men she gave a broad and unlocked path. And they created for her, along a broad Mall stretching from Superior street to the very edge of that mighty cliff that overlooks the lake, a plan for the housing of her greatest functions.

It is not too much that Cleveland should dream of this Mall as an American Place de la Concorde. It was not too much when the architects breathed twenty millions of dollars as the possible cost of this civic dream. Cleveland merely breathed "Go ahead," and the architects have gone ahead. The Post Office and the new County Building are already completed and in use, the City Hall should be completed before 1915 comes to take his place in the history of the world. Other buildings are to follow, not the least of them a new Union station—although there will be travelers who will sincerely regret the passing of Cleveland's stout old stone station, whose high-vaulted train-shed seemed to them in boyhood days to be the most lofty and wonderful of apartments. The bulk of this new open square is yet to be cleared of the many buildings that today occupy it. But that is merely a detail in the development of Cleveland's greatest architectural ambition.

The civic group can never be more than the outward expression of the ambitious spirit of a new giant among the metropolitan cities of America. As such it can be eminently successful. It can speak for the city whose civic heart it becomes, proclaiming her not merely great in dollars or in the swarming throngs of her population, but rather great in strength of character, in charity, in generosity—in all those admirable things that go to make a town preëminently good and great. And in these things your Cleveland man will not proclaim his as the Sixth City, but rather as in the front rank of all the larger communities of the United States.


[198]

12
CHICAGO—AND THE CHICAGOANS

Early in the morning the city by the lake is astir. Before the first long scouting rays of earliest sunlight are thrusting themselves over the barren reaches of Michigan—state and lake—Chicago is in action. The nervous little suburban trains are reaching into her heart from South, from North and from West. The long trains of elevated cars are slipping along their alley-routes, skirting behind long rows of the dirty colorless houses of the most monotonous city on earth, threading themselves around the loop—receiving passengers, discharging passengers before dawn has fully come upon the town. The windows of the tedious, almost endless rows of houses flash into light and life, the trolley cars in the broad streets come at shorter intervals, in whole companies, brigades, regiments—a mighty army of trucks and wagons begin to send up a great wave of noise and of clatter from the shrieking highways and byways of the city.

*****

The traveler coming to the city from the east and by night finds it indeed a mighty affair. For an hour and a half before his train arrives at the terminal station, he is making his way through Chicago environs—coming from dull flat monotonies of sand and brush and pine into Gary—with its newness and its bigness proclaimed upon its very face so that even he who flits through at fifty miles an hour may read both—jolting over main line railroads that cross and recross at every conceiv[199]able angle, snapping up through Hammond and Kensington and Grand Crossing—to the right and to the left long vistas with the ungainly, picturesque outlines of steel mills with upturned rows of smoking stacks, of gas-holders and of packing-houses, the vistas suddenly closed off by long trails of travel-worn freight-cars, through which the traveler's train finds its way with a mighty clattering and reverberating of noisy echoes. This is Chicago—Chicago spreading itself over miles of absolutely flat shore-land at almost the extreme southern tip of Lake Michigan—Chicago proudly proclaiming herself as the business and the transportation metropolis of the land, disdaining such mere seaport places as New York or Boston or Baltimore or San Francisco—Chicago with the most wretched approaches on her main lines of travel of any great city of the world.

If you come to her on at least one of the great railroads that link her with the Atlantic seaboard, you will get a glimpse of her one redeeming natural feature, for five or six miles before your train comes to a final grinding stop at the main terminal—the blue waters of the lake. This railroad spun its way many years ago on the very edge of the lake—much to the present-day grief of the town. It gives no grief to the incoming traveler—to turn from the sordid streets, the quick glimpses of rows of pretentious but fearfully dirty and uninteresting houses—to the great open space to the east of Chicago—nature's assurance of fresh air and light and health to one of the really vast cluster-holds of mankind. To him the lake is in relief—even in splendid contrast to the noise, the dirt, the streets darkened and narrowed by the over-shouldering constructions of man. From the intricate and the confusing, to the simplicity of open water—no wonder then that Chicago has finally come to appreciate her lake, that she[200] seizes upon her remaining free waterfront like a hungry and ill-fed child, that she builds great hotels and office-buildings where their windows may look—not upon the town, stretching itself to the horizon on the prairie, but upon the lake, with its tranquillity and its beauty, the infinite majesty of a great, silent open place.

*****

In the terminal stations of the city you first begin to divine the real character of the city. You see it, a great crucible into which the people of all nations and all the corners of one of the greatest of the nations are being poured. Pressing her nose against the glass of a window that looks down into surpassingly busy streets, overshadowed by the ungainly bulk of an elevated railroad, is the bent figure of a hatless peasant woman from the south of Europe—seeing her America for the first time and almost shrinking from the glass in a mixture of fear and of amazement. Next to her is a sleek, well-groomed man who may be from the East—from an Atlantic seaport city, but do not be too sure of that, for he may have his home over on Michigan avenue and think that "New York is a pretty town but not in it with Chicago." You never can tell in the most American and most cosmopolitan of American cities. At a third window is a man who has come from South Dakota. He has a big ranch up in that wonderful state. You know that because last night he sat beside you on a bench in the dingy, busy office of the old Palmer House and told you of Chicago as he saw it.

"I've a farm up in the South Dakota," he told you, in brief. "This is my first time East." You started in a bit of surprise at that, for it had always occurred to you that Chicago was West, that you, born New Yorker, were reaching into the real West whenever you crossed to the far side of Main street, in Buffalo. You looked at the ranchman, feeling that he was joking, and[201] then you took a second look into his tired eyes and knew that you were talking to no humorist.

"The first real big town that I ever ran into," he said, in his simple way, "was Sioux City, and I set up and took a little notice on it. It seemed mighty big, but that was five years ago, and four years ago I took my stock down to Cudahy in Omaha—and there was a town. You could walk half a day in Omaha and never come to cattle country. Just houses and houses and houses—an' you begin to wonder where they find the folks to fill them. This year I come here with the beef for the first time—an' you could put Omaha in this town and never know the difference."

After that you confessed, with much pride, that you lived in New York city, and you began. You knew the number of miles of subway from the Bronx over to Brooklyn, and the number of stories in the Woolworth building, all those things, and when you caught your breath, the stockman asked you if Tom Sharkey really had a saloon in your town, and was Steve Brodie still alive, and did New York folks like to go down to the Statue of Liberty on pleasant Sunday afternoons. You answered those questions, and then you told the stockman more—of London, made of dozens of Omahas, where the United States was but a pleasant and withal a somewhat uncertain dream, of Paris the beautiful, and of Berlin the awfully clean. When you were done, you went with the stockman to eat in a basement—that is the Chicago idea of distinction in restaurants—and he took you to a lively show afterwards.

Now you never would have wandered into a Broadway hotel lobby and made the acquaintance of a perfect stranger, dined with him and spent the evening with him—no, not even if you were a Chicagoan and fearfully lonely in New York. It is the Chicago that gets into a New Yorker's veins when he comes within her[202] expanded limits, it is the unseen aura of the West that creeps as far east as the south tip of Lake Michigan. It made you acknowledge with hearty appreciation the "good mornings" of each man as he filed into the wash-room of the sleeping car in the early morning. You never say "good morning" to strangers in the sleeping cars going from New York over to Boston. For that is the East and that is different.

*****

A Chicago man sits back in the regal comfort of a leather-padded office chair and tells you between hurried bites of the lunch that has been placed upon his desk, of the real town that is sprawled along the Lake Michigan shore.

"Don't know as you particularly care for horse-food," he apologizes, between mouthfuls, "but that's the cult in this neck-o'-woods nowadays."

"The cult?" you inquire, as he plunges more deeply in his bran-mash.

"Precisely," he nods. "We're living in cults out here now. We've got Boston beaten to culture."

He shoves back the remnant of his "health food" luncheon with an expression that surely says that he wishes it was steak, smothered with onions and flanked by an ample-girthed staff of vegetables, and faces you—you New Yorker—with determination to set your path straight.

"Along in the prehistoric ages—which in Chicago means about the time of the World's Fair—we were trying to live up to anything and everything, but particularly the ambition to be the overwhelmingest biggest town in creation, and to make your old New York look like an annexed seaport. We had no cults, no woman's societies, nothing except a lot of men making money hand over fist, killing hogs, and building cars and selling stuff at retail by catalogues. We were not æsthetic[203] and we didn't particularly care. We liked plain shows as long as the girls in them weren't plain, and we had a motto that a big lady carried around on a shield. The motto was 'I will,' and translated it meant to the bottom of the sea with New York or St. Louis or any other upstart town that tried to live on the same side of the earth as Chicago. We were going to have two million population inside of two years and—"

He dives again into his cultish lunch and after a moment resumes:

"The big lady has lost her job and we've thrown the shield—motto and all—into the lake. We're trying to forget the motto and that's why we've got the cult habit. We're class and we're close on the heels of you New Yorkers—only last winter they began to pass the French pastry around on a tray at my club. We learn quickly and then go you one better. We've finally given Jane Addams the recognition and the support that she should have had a dozen years ago. We're strong and we're sincere for culture—the university to the south of us has had some funny cracks but that is all history. Together with the one to the north of us, they are finally institutions—and Chicago respects them as such.

"Take opera. We used to think it was a fad to hear good music, and only the society folks went to hear it—so that the opera fairly starved to death when it came out here. Now they are falling over one another to get into the Auditorium, and our opera company is not only an institution but you New Yorkers would give your very hearts to have it in your own big opera house."

"You'll build an opera house out here then," you venture, "the biggest—"

He interrupts.

"Not necessarily the biggest," he corrects, "but as fine as the very best."

The talk changes. You are frankly interested in the[204] cults. You have heard of how one is working in the public schools, how the school children of Chicago work in classrooms with the windows wide open, and you ask him about it.

"It must be fine for the children?" you finally venture.

"It is," he says. "My daughter teaches in a school down Englewood way, and she says that it is fine for the children—but hell on the teachers. They weren't trained to it in the beginning."

You are beginning to understand Chicago. A half an hour ago you could not have understood how a man like this—head of a giant corporation employing half a hundred thousand workmen, a man with three or four big houses, a stable full of automobiles, a man of vast resources and influences—would have his daughter teaching in a public school. You are beginning to understand the man—the man who is typical of Chicago. You come to know him the more clearly as he tells you of the city that he really loves. He tells you how Sorolla "caught on" over at the Institute—although more recently the Cubists rather dimmed the brilliance of the Spaniard's reception—and how the people who go to the Chicago libraries are reading less fiction and more solid literature all the while. Then—of a sudden, for he realizes that he must be back again into the grind and the routine of his work—he turns to you and says:

"And yesterday we had the big girl and the motto. It was hardly more than yesterday that we thought that population counted, that acreage was a factor in the consummation of a great city."

*****
Michigan Avenue and the wonderful lakefront—Chicago
Michigan Avenue and the wonderful lakefront—Chicago

So you see that Chicago is only America, not boastful, not arrogant, but strong in her convictions, strong in her sincerity, strong in her poise between right and[205] power together, and not merely power without right. A city set in the heart of America must certainly take strong American tone, no matter how many foreigners New York's great gateway may pour into her ample lap in the course of a single twelvemonth. Chicago has taken that dominating tone upon herself.

She is a great city. Her policemen wear star-shaped badges after the fashion of country constables in rural drama, and her citizens call the trolleys that run after midnight "owl cars," but she is a great city none the less for these things. Her small shops along Michigan avenue have the smartness of Paris or of Vienna, the greatest of her department stores is one of the greatest department stores in all the land, which means in the whole world. It is softly carpeted, floor upon floor, and the best of Chicago delights to lunch upon one of its upper floors. Chicago likes to go high for its meals or else, as we have already intimated, down into basements. The reason for this last may be that one of the world's greatest restauranteurs, who had his start in the city by Lake Michigan, has always had his place below sidewalk level on a busy corner of the city.

The city is fearfully busy at all of its downtown corners. New Yorkers shudder at Thirty-fourth street and Broadway. Inside the Chicago loop are several dozen Thirty-fourth streets and Broadways. There you have it—the Chicago loop, designed to afford magnificent relief to the town and in effect having tightly drawn a belt about its waist. The loop is a belt-line terminal, slightly less than a mile in diameter, designed to serve the elevated railroads that stretch their caterpillar-like structures over three directions of the widespread town. Within it are the theaters, the hotels, the department stores, the retail district, and the wholesale and the railroad terminals. Just without it is an arid belt and then somewhere to the north, the west and[206] the south, the great residential districts. So it is a mistake. For, with the exception of a little way along Michigan avenue to the south, the loop has acted against the growth of the city, has kept it tightly girdled within itself.

"Within the loop," is a meaningful phrase in Chicago. It means congestion in every form and the very worst forms to the fore. It means that what was originally intended to be an adequate terminal to the various elevated railroads has become a transportation abomination and a matter of local contempt. For you cannot exaggerate the condition that it has created. It is fearful on ordinary days, and when you come to extraordinary days, like the memorable summer when the Knights Templar held their triennial conclave there, the newspapers print "boxed" summaries of the persons killed and injured by congestion conditions "within the loop." That takes it out of being a mere laughing matter.

It is no laughing matter to folks who have to thread it. Trolley cars, automobiles, taxicabs, the long lumbering 'buses that remind one of the photographs of Broadway, New York, a quarter of a century ago or more, entangle themselves with one another and with unfortunate pedestrians and still no one comes forward with practical relief. The 'buses are peculiarly Chicago institutions. For long years they have been taking passengers from one railroad station to another. A considerable part of Western America has been ferried across the city by Lake Michigan, in these institutions. For Chicago, with the wisdom of nearly seventy-five years of growth, has steadily refused to accept the union station idea. St. Louis has a union station—and bitterly regrets it. Modern big towns are scorning the idea of a union station; in fact, Buffalo has just rejected the scheme for herself. For a union station, no matter how big or how pretentious it may be architecturally, will[207] reduce a city to way-station dimensions. St. Louis is a big town, a town with personality, the great trunk lines of east and south and west have terminals there; but the many thousands of travelers who pass through there in the course of a twelvemonth, see nothing of her. They file from one train into the waiting-room of her glorious station—one of the few really great railroad stations of the world—and in a little while take an outbound train—without ever having stepped out into the streets of the town.

In Chicago—as it is almost a form of lese majeste to discuss St. Louis in a chapter devoted to Chicago we herewith submit our full apologies—four-fifths of the through passengers have to be carried in the omnibuses from one of the big railroad stations to another. They know that in advance, and they generally arrange to stop over there for at least a night. This means business for the hotels, large and small. It also means business for the retail stores and the theaters. And it is one of the ways that Chicago preserves her metropolitanism.

And yet with all of that metropolitanism—there is a spirit in Chicago that distinctly breathes the smaller town, a spirit that might seem foreign to the most important city that we have between the two oceans. It is the spirit of Madison, or Ottumwa, or Jackson, perhaps a little flavor still surviving of the not long-distant days when Chicago was merely a town. You may or you may not know that in the days before her terrific fire she was called "the Garden City." The catalpa trees that shaded her chief business streets had a wide fame, and older prints show the Cook County Court House standing in lawn-plats. In those days Chicago folk knew one another and, to a decent extent, one another's business. In these days, much of that town feeling remains. You sit in the great tomb-like halls of the[208] Union League, or in the more modern University Club, perhaps up in that wonderful bungalow which the Cliff-dwellers have erected upon the roof of Orchestra Hall, and you hear all of the small talk of the town. Smith has finally got that franchise, although he will pay mighty well for it; Jones is going to put another fourteen-story addition on his store. Wilkins has bought a yacht that is going to clean up everything on the lake, and then head straight for laurels on the Atlantic seaboard. You would have the same thing in a smaller western town, expressed in proportionate dimensions. After all, the circle of men who accomplish the real things in the real Chicago is wonderfully small. But the things that they accomplish are very large, indeed.

They will take you out to see some of these big things—that department store, without an equal outside of New York or Philadelphia at least, and where Chicago dearly loves to lunch; a mail-order house which actually boasts that six acres of forest timber are cleared each day to furnish the paper for its catalogue, of which a mere six million copies are issued annually; they will point out in the distance the stacks and smoke clouds of South Chicago and will tell you in tens of thousands of dollars, the details of the steel industry; take you, of course, to the stock-yards and there tell you of the horrible slaughter that goes forward there at all hours of the day and far into the night. Perhaps they will show you some of the Chicago things that are great in another sense—Hull House and the McCormick Open Air School, for instance. And they will be sure to show you the park system.

A good many folk, Eastern and Western, do not give Chicago credit for the remarkable park system that she has builded up within recent years. These larger parks, with their connecting boulevards, make an entire circuit around the back of the town, and the city is making a[209] distinct effort to wrest the control of the water-front from the railroad that has skirted it for many years, so that she may make all this park land, too—in connection with her ambitious city plan. She has accomplished a distinct start already in the water-front plan along her retail shop and hotel district—from Twelfth street north to the river. The railroad tracks formerly ran along the edge of the lake all that distance. Now they are almost a third of a mile inland; the city has reclaimed some hundreds of acres from the more shallow part of Lake Michigan and has in Grant Park a pleasure-ground quite as centrally located as Boston's famous Common. It is still far from complete. While the broad strip between Michigan avenue and the depressed railroad tracks is wonderfully trim and green, and the Art Institute standing within it so grimy that one might easily mistake it for old age, the "made ground" to the east of the tracks is still barren. But Chicago is making good use of it. The boys and young men come out of the office-buildings in the noon recess to play baseball there, the police drill and parade upon it to their heart's content, it is gaining fame as a site for military encampments and aviation meets.

Chicago makes good use of all her parks. You look a long way within them before you find the "Keep off the Grass" signs. And on Saturday afternoons in midsummer you will find the park lawns thronged with picnic parties—hundreds and even thousands of them—bringing their lunches out from the tighter sections of the town and eating them in shade and comfort and the cooling breezes off Lake Michigan. For Chicago regards the lake as hardly more than an annex to her park system, even today when the question of lake-front rights is not entirely settled with the railroad. On pleasant summer days, her residents go bathing in the lake by the thousands, and if they live within half a dozen[210] blocks of the shore they will go and come in their bathing suits, with perhaps a light coat or bath-robe thrown over them. A man from New York might be shocked to see a Chicago man in a bathing suit riding a motorcycle down an important residence street—without the semblance of coat or robe; but that is Chicago, and Chicago seems to think nothing of it. She wonders if a man from Boston might not be embarrassed to see a coatless, vestless, collarless, suspendered man driving a four-thousand-dollar electric car through Michigan avenue.

Chicago is fast changing, however, in these respects. She is growing more truly metropolitan each twelvemonth—less like an overgrown country town. It was only a moment ago that we sat in the office of the manufacturer, and he told us of the Chicago of yesterday, of the big girl who had "I will" emblazoned upon her shield. There is a Chicago of tomorrow, and a hint of its glory has been spread upon the walls of a single great gallery of the Art Institute, in the concrete form of splendid plans and perspectives. The Chicago of tomorrow is to be different; it is to forget the disadvantages of a lack of contour and reap those of a magnificent shore front. In the Chicago of tomorrow the railroads will not hold mile after mile of lake-edge for themselves, the elevated trains will cease to have a merry-go-round on the loop, the arid belt between downtown and uptown will have disappeared, great railroad terminal stations and public buildings built in architectural plan and relation to one another are to arise, her splendid park and boulevard system is to be vastly multiplied.

Chicago looks hungrily forward to her tomorrow. She is never discouraged with her today, but with true American spirit, she anticipates the future. The present generation cares little for itself, it can tolerate the loop and its abominations, the hodge-podge of the queer[211] and the nouveau that distinguishes the city by the lake in this present year of grace. But the oncoming generations! There is the rub. The oncoming generations are to have all that the wisdom and the wealth of today can possibly dedicate to them. There, then, is your Chicago spirit, the dominating inspiration that rises above the housetops of rows of monotonous, dun-colored houses and surveys the sprawling, disorderly town, and proclaims it triumphant over its outer self.


[212]

13
THE TWIN CITIES

A fine yellow train takes you from Chicago to St. Paul and Minneapolis, in the passing of a single night. And if you ever meet in the course of your travel the typical globe-trotter who is inclined to carp at American railroads, refer him to these yellow trains that run from Chicago up into the Northwest. There are no finer steam caravans in all the entire world. And when the globe-trotter comes back at you with his telling final shot about the abominable open sleepers of America—and you in your heart of hearts must think them abominable—tell him in detail of the yellow trains. For a price not greater than he would pay for a room in a first-class hotel over-night, he can have a real room in the yellow trains. Like the compartments in the night-trains of Europe? No, not at all. These are real rooms—a whole car filled with them and they are the final and unanswerable argument for the comfort and luxury of the yellow trains.

In such a stateroom and over smooth rails you sleep—sleep as a child sleeps until Lemuel, the porter, comes and tears you forth by entreaties, persuading you that you are almost upon the brink of—not St. Peter but of St. Paul. Of course, Lemuel has let his enthusiasm carry away his accuracy—even a porter upon a yellow train is apt to do that—but you have full chance to arise and dress leisurely before your train stops in the ancient ark of a Union stationE upon the river level at[213] the capital of the state of Minnesota. For at St. Paul you have come to the Mississippi—the Father of Waters of legendary lore. If you have only seen the stream at St. Louis or at New Orleans, polluted by the muddy waters of the Missouri or the Ohio or a dozen sluggish southern streams, you will not recognize the clear northern river flowing turbulently through a high-walled gorge, as the Mississippi. There are a few of the flat-bottomed, gaily caparisoned steamboats at the St. Paul to heighten the resemblance between the lower river and the upper, but that is all.

E Since the above was written word has come of the destruction of the Union station by fire, an event which will not be regretted by travelers or by residents of the place.  E. H.

St. Paul owes her birth to the river-trade nevertheless. For she was, and still is, at the real head of navigation on the Mississippi and in other days that meant very much indeed. A few miles above her levee were the falls of St. Anthony and a thriving little town called Minneapolis—of which very much more in a moment. From that levee at St. Paul began the first railroad building into the then unknown country of the Northwest. The first locomotive—the William Crooks—which ran into the virgin territory is still carefully preserved. And the man who made railroading from St. Paul into a great trunk line system still lives in the town.

He began by being assistant wharfmaster—in the days when there was something to do in such a job. Today they know him as the Empire Builder. The Swedes, who form so important a factor in the population of the Twin Cities, call him "Yem Hill" and he loves it. But he is entered in all records as James J. Hill.

To tell the story of the growth of Jim Hill from wharfmaster to master of the railroads, would be to tell the story of one of the two or three really great men who are living in America today. It is a story closely interwoven with the story of St. Paul, the struggling town to which he came while yet a mere boy. He has[214] lived to see St. Paul become an important city, the rival village at the falls of St. Anthony even exceed her in size and in commercial importance, but his affection for the old river town to which he has given so much of his life and abundant personality has not dimmed. He has made it the gateway of his Northwest and when one says "Hill's Northwest" he says it advisedly; for while there might have been a Northwest without Jim Hill, there would have been no Jim Hill without the Northwest.

He found it a raw and little known land over which stretched a single water-logged railroad fighting adversity, and in momentary danger of extinction through receivership; a trunk-line railroad at that time distinguished more for its arrogance than for any other one feature of its being. Somewhere in the late eighties J. J. Hill took a trip over that railroad. He saw Seattle for the first time and found it a mere lumber-shipping town of but a few thousand population and with but little apparent future. He saw great stretches of open country—whole counties the size of the majestic states of New York and of Pennsylvania and still all but unknown. He also saw unbridled streams, high-seated mountain ranges and because J. J. Hill was a dreamer he saw promise in these things.

From that trip he returned to the budding city of St. Paul, enthused beyond ordinary measure, and determined that in the coming development of the half-dozen territories at the northwestern corner of the country he would share no ordinary part. He turned his back on the navigation of the Mississippi—already beginning to wane—and gave his attention to railroading. Purchasing an inconsequential lumber railroad in Minnesota, he laid the foundations for his Great Northern system. There was a something about Jim Hill in those earlier days by which he could give his enthusiasm and his lofty[215] inspiration to those with whom he came in contact. That rare faculty was his salvation. Men listened to the confident talker from St. Paul and then placed their modest savings at his disposal. They have not regretted their steps. The Great Northern, through Hill's careful leadership has, despite much of the sparse territory through which it passes, become one of the great conservative railroad properties of the United States.

But Hill did more. He took that earlier system—the Northern Pacific, so closely allied to his territory—and made it hardly second in efficiency to the Great Northern itself. Both of these great railroads of the Northwest have never reached farther east than St. Paul, which Hill, with that fine sentiment which is so important a part of his nature, has been pleased to maintain as the gateway city of his own part of the land. But, while he has been a most helpful citizen of St. Paul, he has not hesitated to dominate her. A few years ago when the Metropolitan company presenting grand opera came to St. Paul, it was Hill who headed the subscription list for a guarantee—headed it with a good round figure. Three days before the opening night of the opera he walked into the passenger office of the linking railroad that he owned between the Twin Cities and Chicago. The singers were scheduled to come from Chicago.

"Are you going to bring the troupe up in extra cars or in a special train?" he demanded, in his peremptory fashion.

There was confusion in that office, and finally it was explained to him that a rival line, the M——, had been given the haul of the special train, as a return courtesy for having placed its advertisement on the rear cover of the opera programmes. Hill's muscles tightened.

"If the troupe doesn't come up over our road," he said, "I will withdraw the opera subscription."

[216] The M—— road lost the movement of that opera company.

*****

Hill is an advertiser, a patient, persistent and entirely consistent user of public print in every form. Of the really big men of the land he is perhaps the most accessible. His door swings quickly open to any resident of the Northwest. He is in demand at public dinners in the East and at every conceivable function in his own territory. And yet those folk of his own town who come to know Mr. Hill intimately know him rather as a great publicist, no poor musician, a painter of real ability, and a kind-hearted neighbor. His house in Summit avenue contains one of the finest art galleries west of Chicago. In this rare taste for good art he is not unlike the late Collis P. Huntington, or Sir William C. Van Horne, the dominating force of the Canadian Pacific.

Hill has a real faculty not only for judging, but for executing oil paintings. It is related on good authority that, having been a member of a committee to purchase a portrait of a distinguished western railroader, he found the picture as it hung in the artist's studio in Chicago far from his liking.

"He's missed W——'s expression entirely," said the Empire Builder. And so saying he grasped a palette that was resting on a table, dove his brush into the soft paints, and before the astonished artist could recover enough self-possession to protest, Hill was deftly at work upon the canvas. In five minutes he had convinced the little committee of which he was chairman, that the expression of the portrait had been lacking, for it was Hill who made that portrait so speaking a likeness that the artist received warm and undue praise for the fidelity of his work.

*****

There is in St. Paul—a city of wealthy men—a man[217] who is even wealthier than J. J. Hill. His name is Frederick Weyerheuser, and newspapers have a habit of speaking of him as the Lumber King. Mr. Weyerheuser does not court publicity, he shrinks from invitations to speak at public dinners. He has a press agent whose chief work it was for many years to keep his chief out of the columns of the newspapers. It is only within a comparatively short time that Weyerheuser consented to give his first interview to the press.

He is quite typical of the conservatism of St. Paul. Minneapolis snaps its fingers at conservatism, social and business, and signs of progress. But Minneapolis mortgages her downtown business property. St. Paul does not. The two towns are as different as if they were a thousand instead of but ten miles apart. And St. Paul believes that Minneapolis may do as she pleases. St. Paul has a reputation to preserve. She is the capital of the state of Minnesota and as capital her pride and her dignity are not slight.

Perhaps it was that pride that made her set forth to build a capitol that should stand through the long years as the Bulfinch State House in Boston has stood through the long years—a monument to good taste, restraint, real beauty in architecture. She summoned one of her native sons to do the work. He was unhampered in its details. And when he was done and had placed it upon a sightly knoll he must have been proud of his handiwork. In years to come the Capitol of Minnesota may become quite as famous as the capitols of older states, and the name of Cass Gilbert, its architect, may be placed alongside of that of Bulfinch.

St. Paul is hardly less proud of her Auditorium. It is really a remarkable building and perhaps the first theater in the land to be operated by a municipality, although we have a distinct feeling that the small city of Northampton, Mass., has also accomplished something[218] of the sort. But the St. Paul Auditorium is hardly to be placed in the same class as any mere theater. It is a huge building although so cunningly constructed that within ten hours it can be changed from a compact theater into a great hall with some 10,000 seats. And this change can be effected, if necessary, without the slightest disturbance to the audience.

To this great hall come grand opera, well-famed orators, conventions of state and national bodies, drama, concerts of every sort in great frequency and variety. Perhaps no entertainment that it houses, however, has keener interest for the entire city than the free concerts that are given each winter. Last year there were five of these concerts, and it was soon found that the small-sized auditorium with its three thousand seats was too small. It became necessary to utilize the entire capacity of the structure. The concerts were immensely popular from the beginning.

They were but typical of the high public spirit of the capital city of Minnesota, a spirit which showed itself in the early adoption of the commission form of city government, in the establishment of playgrounds and modern markets, in the buildings of the great public baths on Harriet island, in the development of a half hundred active and progressive forms of modern civic endeavor. St. Paul, with all her rare flavor of history and her great conservatism can well be reckoned in the list of the modern cities that form the gateways of what was once called the West and is today rapidly becoming an integral part of the nation.

*****

The first time that we ever came into Minneapolis was at dusk of a July night two years ago. That is, it might have been dusk in theory. For while the clocks of the town spelled "eight," the northern day hung wonderfully clear and wonderfully sharp—a twilight that was[219] hardly done until well towards ten of the evening. We came out of the somewhat barn-like Union station, found an unpretentious cab and drove up Nicollet avenue toward our hotel.

The initial impression that a city makes upon one is not easily forgotten. And the first impression that Nicollet avenue makes upon a first-comer to Minneapolis cannot easily be erased. It is with pleasure that a stranger notes that it has not been invaded by street railroad tracks. The chief shopping and show-street of the largest city of Minnesota thereby conveys a sense of breadth and roominess that the chief streets of some other fairly important American towns lack utterly. And we distinctly recall that upon that July night the cluster lights up and down Nicollet avenue each bore a great flower-box, warm and summerlike with the brightness of geraniums. In the windows of the large stores that lined the avenue were more window-boxes, up to their seventh and eighth floors. The entire effect was distinct and different from that of any other town that we have ever seen. It seemed as if Minneapolis at first sight typified the new America.

Nor was that impression lessened when a little later we drove out in the softness of the summer night to see the residence streets of the city—quiet, shady streets that seem to have been stolen from older eastern towns; drove into the parks, caught here and there the strains of bands, saw the canoes darting here and there and everywhere upon the surface of the park lakes. In other cities they have to build waterways within their parks and boast to you of the way in which they have done it. In Minneapolis they can have no such boast. For they have builded their parks around their lakes, and a man can have a sheet of water instead of greensward at the door of his home if he so choose. Where a modern canoe shoots across the waters of Lakes Cal[220]houn or Harriet, the Indian once shot his birch-bark creation. There are some two hundred lakes in Hennepin county. But the lake of all lakes—the joy of the residents of the Twin Cities for a day's outing, Minnetonka—was the favored gathering spot for the council fires of the Indian tribes for many miles around. Do not forget that the Falls of St. Anthony were the making of Minneapolis—and you can go by trolley within the half-hour from the center of the city to the gentler Falls of Minnehaha and there recount once again the immortal romance of Hiawatha.

Minneapolis has all but forgotten the Falls of St. Anthony—despite the fact that they were the very cause of her existence. They are hemmed in by great flouring-mills, great dusty, unceasing engines of industry with a capacity of some eighty thousand barrels a day, and even if you steal your way to them across one of the roadway bridges over the turbulent Mississippi you will find them lost beneath the artificial works that turn their energy to the aid of man. The roar of the great Falls of St. Anthony are the roar of the flouring-mills, their energy, the bread-stuff of the nation.

St. Paul is still a river town
St. Paul is still a river town

Minneapolis does not affect to forget entirely her mother river. For a long time it irritated her that St. Paul should be regarded as the head of navigation upon the Mississippi, and within the past twenty years she has put the Federal government to much trouble and incidentally the expenditure of something over a million dollars, to make herself a maritime city. A ship-channel has been dredged, locks put in, draws cut in the railroad bridges but all apparently without a very definite purpose in mind—save possible holding her own in the expenditure of the annual rivers and harbors appropriation. For one can hardly imagine water commerce coming in great volume to the docks of Minneapolis, the one exclusive glory of St. Paul—passed long ago by her[221] greatest rival in the commercial race of the Northwest—stolen from the older town. But one could hardly have driven out from the brisk little city of St. Paul forty years ago to the straggling mill village at the Falls of St. Anthony and imagined that in the second decade of the twentieth century it would have become a city of more than three hundred thousand souls. The men who are today active in the affairs of the city have seen her grow from a straggling town into a city of almost first rank.

Here was one of them who sat the other day in the well-ordered elegance of the Minneapolis Club—a structure instantly comparable with the finest club-houses of New York or Boston or Philadelphia—who admitted that he had seen the town grow from eight thousand to over three hundred thousand population, the receipts of his own fine business increase from eighty-eight to twenty-two thousand dollars a day. But he was a modest man, far more modest than many of these western captains of industry, and he quickly turned the talk from himself and to the commercial importance of the town with which he was pressing forward. Still he delighted in statistics and the fact that Minneapolis "was doing a wholesale business of $300,000,000 a year" seemed to give him an immense and personal pride.

But do not believe that Minneapolis is all commercial—and nothing else. A quick ride through those shaded streets and lake-filled parks will convince you that she is a home-city; a cursory glance of the University of Minnesota, so cleverly located that she may share it with her rival twin, together with an inspection of her schools, large and small, would make you believe that she is a city that prides herself upon being well educated. The dominant strain of Norse blood that the Swedish immigrants have been bringing her for more than half a century is a strain that calls for education—and makes the[222] call in no uncertain fashion. And when you come to delve into the details of her living you will make sure that she is a well-governed city. She has not gone deeply into what she calls "the fads of municipal government" but she is a town which offers security and comfort, as well as pretty broad measure of opportunity, to her residents. And in no better way can you gauge the sensible way in which she takes care of her residents than in the one item of the street railroad system. It has never been necessary for either St. Paul or Minneapolis to assume control, actual or subtle, over the street railroad property which they share. And yet each has a street railroad service far superior to that of most American towns—with the possible exception of Washington. The traction company seems to have assimilated much of the breadth of spirit that dominates the Twin Cities of the Northwest.

Nor can you assume that Minneapolis is content to be merely commercially alive, well educated or efficiently governed. Down on one of the quiet business streets of the city is a printing-shop, so unique and so very distinctive that it deserves a paragraph here and now. In that printing shop is published a trade paper of the milling industry which has to make no apologies for its existence, and a weekly newspaper called the Bellman. Some one is yet to write an appreciation of the new weekly press of America, the weekly press outside of New York, if you please, such publications as the Argonaut of San Francisco; the Mirror of St. Louis, the Dial of Chicago and the Minneapolis Bellman. The part that these papers are playing in the making of a broad and cultured America will perhaps never be known; but that it is a large part no one who reads them faithfully will ever doubt. The Bellman holds its own among this distinguished coterie. Its house is a fit temple for its soul, and you may gain a little insight into that soul[223] when you are bidden to join its staff at one of its Thursday luncheons at the dining-board of the printing-house—a fashion quickly and easily brought from London Punch halfway across the continent and into Minneapolis.

No American of taste or appreciation would ever go to Minneapolis and miss one wonderful shop there—no huge box-like structure rearing itself from sidewalk edge and vulgarly proclaiming its wares through the brilliancy of immaculate windows of plate-glass, but a shadowy structure, set in a lawn and giving faint but unmistakable hints of the real treasures that it holds. For it is a rare shop, indeed, and a revelation to folk from the seaboard who may imagine that the interior of the land is an intellectual desolation.

It may have been one of these who dined a little time ago at a house in one of these shaded streets of Minneapolis. After dinner the talk drifted without apparent reason to painting, and the man from the seaboard found his host in sharp touch with many of the new pictures. Definitely the talk turned to Walter Graves, London's newest sensation among the portrait painters, and the possibilities of his succeeding Whistler.

The Minneapolis man beckoned the guest into the hall, and pointed silently to a picture hung there. It was a splendid portrait of Whistler,F painted by Walter Graves.

"I never expected to find a picture like that—out here," frankly stammered the man from the seaboard.

"You will find many things here that you do not expect," was all that the man from Minneapolis said.

F Since writing the above we have been led to believe, by a gentleman from Rochester that a picture of Whistler by Graves is no great prize. He says that he can buy them by the dozen at a certain London shop. Because we claim no wit as an art critic we take no sides in this matter. The facts are here. You may choose for yourself.  E. H.

*****

If a town that is scarce forty years old can accomplish[224] these things, how long will it be before the older cities of the land will have to look sharply as to their laurels? The new cities of America are to be a force in her intellectual progress not to be under-estimated or despised.


[225]

14
THE GATEWAY OF THE SOUTHWEST

There are three great cities, or rather three groups of great cities, along the course of the Mississippi. To the north are St. Paul and Minneapolis, while far to the south is New Orleans, to which we will come in the due order of things. Between these St. Louis stands, close to the business center of the land. For nearly twenty miles she sprawls herself along the west bank of the Mississippi. Throughout her central portion she extends for a dozen miles straight back from her once busy levee. She is a great city, a very great city, in wealth, in industry, in resource. And yet she is a rather unimpressive city to the eye, at first sight and at last.

It takes even a seasoned traveler some time to get used to that. If he dreams of St. Louis as a French city and preserving something of the French atmosphere, as do New Orleans and Quebec, he is doomed to utter disappointment. Save for a few tatterdemalion cottages down in Carondolet, at the south tip of the town, there is no trace of the builders of the city to which they gave the name of one of their kings. And if he has heard of the great German population and dreams of great summer-gardens, of winter-gardens, too, with huge bands and huge steins, he is doomed to no less disappointment. For that sort of thing you go to Milwaukee. St. Louis has as many Germans as that brisk Wisconsin city, and the largest brewery in the world, but she has never specialized in beer-gardens. She is old and yet you could[226] hardly call her quaint. There are rows of small houses in her older streets, their green blinds tightly closed as if seemingly to escape the almost endless bath of soot and cinders that falls upon them, and the flat-bottomed steamboats still are fastened at the wharf-boats along the levee. But these make a pitiful showing nowadays when your mind compares them with the tales of ante-bellum days when there were so many of them that they could only put the noses of their bows against the levees. But tradition still rules the hearts of the rivermen, and the Mississippi steamboat has lost none of those fantastics of naval architecture that has endeared it to every writer from Mark Twain down to the present day.

The streets aroundabout the levee are mean and dirty, and nowadays as silent as the Sabbath. Those convivial resorts, the Widow's Vow and the Boatman's Thirst have long since ceased to exist. As this is being written the Southern Hotel has closed its doors. Cobwebs are growing through its wonderful office, and the glorious marble stair up which a regiment might have marched is silent, save for the occasional halting steps of a watchman. The old Planters'—than which there was no more famous hostelry in the Mississippi valley, unless we choose to except the St. Charles down at New Orleans—is long since gone, torn away twenty years ago to make room for a new Planters', which has already begun to get grimy and aged. The Lindell went its way a dozen years ago. The St. Louis of the riverman is dead. They are tearing away the old warehouses from the levees, and no one looks at the Mississippi any more save when it gets upon one of its annual rampages and makes itself a yellow sea.

The entrance to the University—St. Louis
The entrance to the University—St. Louis

But do not for an instant think that St. Louis herself is dead. There are other hotels, and far finer than those of the war-times and the river-trade. And you have only to walk a few squares back from the levee to find[227] industry flourishing once again, solid squares of solid buildings, grimy, commercial, uncompromising, but each representing commerce. St. Louis is still the very center of the world to the great Southwest and to her it pays its tribute, in demands for merchandise of every sort. That is why she builds shoe-stores and dry-goods stores and wholesale stores of almost every other conceivable sort, and builds them for eight or ten or twelve stories in height, closely huddled together, even through unimportant side streets. That is her reason for existence today—when the river-trade, her first reason for growth and expansion, is dead. But the railroad is a living, vital force, when the rivers are frozen and dead, and railroads slip out from St. Louis in every possible direction. Their rails are glistening from traffic, and there at the city from whence they radiate Commerce sits enthroned.

For you must look upon St. Louis, yesterday and today, as essentially a commercial city. She is not a cultured city, although she has an excellent press, including a weekly newspaper of more than ordinary distinction. Still you will find few real bookshops in all her many miles of streets, she has never leaned to fads or cults of any sort; but she measures the percentage which a business dollar will earn with a delightful accuracy. She is a commercial city. That is why she is to the casual traveler an unimpressive city, although we think that her lack of a dignified main street in her business section is responsible for much of this impression. In other years Broadway—Fifth street upon her city plan and a fearfully long thoroughfare running parallel to the river—ranked almost as a main street and had some dignity, if little beauty. But today St. Louis, like so many other of our American towns, is restless and she has slipped back and away from Broadway, leaving that thoroughfare somewhat forlorn and deserted and[228] herself without a single great business thoroughfare—such as Market street, San Francisco or State street, Chicago. Her downtown streets are narrow and as much alike as peas in a pod.

And yet even a casual traveler can find much to interest him in St. Louis. Let him start his inspection of the levee, let romance and sentiment and memory work within his mind. Let his fancy see the riverboats and then he, himself, inspect one of them. Here is one of them, gay in her ginger-bready architecture. Her stacks rise high above her "Texas" but they are placed ahead of her wheel-house, a fancy peculiar to the old naval architects along the Mississippi. She is driven by sidewheels and if our casual traveler goes upon her he will find that each sidewheel is driven by a separate engine, a marvelous affair painted in reds and blues and yellows. With one engine going ahead and the other reversed a really capable Mississippi pilot—and who shall doubt that a Mississippi river pilot, even in these decadent days, is ever anything less than capable—could send the boat spinning like a top upon the yellow stream. That pretty trick would hardly be possible with one of the flat-bottomed stern wheel boats, and there still are hundreds of these upon the Father of Waters and his tributaries, moving slowly and serenely up and down and all with a mighty splashing of dirty water.

If you are a casual traveler and upon your first visit to the Mississippi valley, you will make a mental reservation to ride upon one of the old boats before you leave St. Louis. They may not be there so very many more years. The steel barges have begun to show themselves, and commerce is looking inquiringly at the idle stream to see if it cannot be brought into real efficiency as a transportation agent. And before you leave that levee, with the grass growing up between its ancient stones,[229] you will find a very small and a very dirty sidewalk that leads from it up into and upon the great Eads bridge.

St. Louis does not think very much of the Eads bridge these days. Yet it was only a few years ago that it was bragging about that wonderful conception of the engineer—who had finally spanned the lordly Mississippi and right at his chief city. But other bridges have come, two huge ungainly railroad structures to the north and a public bridge to the south—that is, it will be a public bridge if the voters of St. Louis ever cease quarreling about it. At the present time it is hardly a bridge, only a great span over the water and for long months absolutely unprovided with approaches because the taxpayers of St. Louis refuse to vote the funds for its completion. So it is that the Eads bridge is today but a single agency out of three or four for the spanning of the river; it, too, has grown grimy in forty years and the railroad travelers who come across through its lower deck only remember that from it there leads under the heart of the city of St. Louis one of the smokiest railroad tunnels in existence—and that is saying much.

But the fact remains that it was the first structure to span the river, and to end the importunities of the unspeakable ferry. And today it is, with all of its grime, the one impressive feature of downtown St. Louis. It is the only wagonway that leads from the sovereign state of Illinois into the sovereign city of St. Louis. Across its upper deck passes at all hours of the day and far into the night a silent parade of trolley cars, mule teams, automobiles, farm trucks, folk of every sort and description, on foot. It is as interesting as London bridge and a far finer piece of architecture. But the modern St. Louis has all but forgotten it, save when it chooses to take a motor run across the Illinois prairies.

*****

The casual traveler finally turns his back upon the[230] river and its oldest bridge, although not without some regret if any real sentiment dwells within him. He threads his way through the narrow streets of downtown St. Louis and finally he enters the oldest residential part, the streets still narrow but the houses of rather a fine sort, many of them transformed into small shops or given these days to lodgers. They are of a type somewhat peculiar to the town. They were built high and rather narrow and as a rule set upon a terrace and detached. Builded of brick, the fancy of those old-time architects seemed to turn almost invariably to a façade of marble, an unblushing and unashamed veneer to the street, with the side walls humble and honest in dark red brick. Steps and lintels were of marble or what must have been marble in the beginning. A Philadelphia housewife would quail beneath the steady bath of smoke and cinders that falls upon St. Louis.

There are many thousands of these red-brick and white-marble houses, finally important cross streets, such as Jefferson and Grand, and then you come into the newer St. Louis—a residential district of which any city might well be proud. In the newer St. Louis the houses are more modern and more attractive perhaps, due partly to the fact that they are farther away from the river and the great factories and railroad yards that line it. You can trace the varying fads in American house architecture in layers as you go back street by street in the new St. Louis—Norman, Italian Renaissance, American Colonial, Elizabethan—all like the slices in a fat layer-cake. Some of the more pretentious of these houses are grouped in great parks or reservations which give to the public streets by entrance gates and are known as Westminster place, or Vandeventer place, or the like. They form a most charming feature of the planning of St. Louis, and one almost as distinctive as the tidy alleys which act as serviceways to all[231] the houses. The houses themselves are almost invariably set in lawns, although there are many fine apartments and apartment hotels. The fearful monotony of the side street of New York or Philadelphia does not exist within the town.

At the rear of these fine streets of the newer St. Louis stands the chief park of the town, not very distinctive and famed chiefly as the site of the biggest World's Fair that was ever held, "considerably larger than that Chicago affair," your loyal resident will tell you. Our individual fancy rather turns to Tower Grove Park and the Botanical Gardens just adjoining it. Tower Grove is in no very attractive section of St. Louis, and as an example of landscape gardening it is rather lugubrious, little groups of stones from the old Southern Hotel, which was burned many years ago and was a fearful tragedy, being set here and there. But intangibly it breathes the spirit of St. Louis, and hard by is the Botanical Gardens that Henry Shaw gave to the city in which he was for so many years a dominating figure. And for even a casual traveler to go to St. Louis and never see Shaw's Gardens is almost inconceivable.

In the first place, it is an excellent collection of plants and of trees and of exceeding interest to those folk who let their tastes carry them that way. And in the second place, Henry Shaw was so typical of the old St. Louis that you must stop for a moment and remember him. You must think of the steady purpose of the man visiting all the great gardens of Europe and then seeking to create one that should outrank all of them, in the mud-bog of St. Louis. For the St. Louis of war-times, the St. Louis to which Shaw gave his benefaction was little more than a bog. And Americans of those days laughed at parks. True there was Fairmount Park in Philadelphia, but the Fairmount Park of those days was a fantastic idea and hardly to be compared with the[232] Fairmount Park of today. Henry Shaw went much farther than the banks of the Schuylkill, although he must have known and appreciated John Bartram's historic gardens there.

Shaw was only forty years of age when he retired from business. He had saved through his keen business acumen and a decent sense of thrift, a quarter of a million dollars—a tremendous fortune for those days. He was quite frank in saying that he thought that $250,000 was all that a man could honestly earn or honestly possess, and he retired to enjoy his fortune as best it might please him to do. He traveled far and wide through Europe, and upon one of the earliest of those trips he visited the World's Fair of 1851, at the Crystal Palace, London; one of the very first of these international exhibitions. He was impressed not so much by the exhibits as by the fine park in which the Crystal Palace stood. A little later he was a guest at Chatsworth House, that splendid English home given by William the Conqueror to his natural son, William Peveril, and he became a frequent visitor at Kew Gardens. It was at that time he decided to make a botanical garden out of the place which he had just purchased outside of St. Louis.

A luxurious home in the newer St. Louis
A luxurious home in the newer St. Louis

Henry Shaw must have remembered his boyhood days in St. Louis and the wonderful garden of Madame Rosalie Saugrain. In those earlier days St. Louis was small enough in population but large enough in the material for social enjoyment. The French element was still dominant, although Madame Saugrain was comparatively a newcomer, an accomplished lady who had brought the manners and tastes of Paris into the wilds of western America. Her garden, which was then in open country beyond the struggling town, was close to what is today Seventh street, St. Louis. Great skyscrapers and solid warehouses have sprung up where formerly[233] Madame's roses and hollyhocks bloomed, and one would have to go weary blocks to find a spear of grass, unless within some public park.

But Shaw's Gardens still exist, although their founder lived to a ripe old age and has now been dead a quarter of a century. Older folk of St. Louis remember him distinctly, a vigorous and seemingly lonely man, unmarried, but who seemed to be content to live alone in his great house in the Gardens, giving a loving and a personal care to his flowers and then, as dusk came on, invariably sitting in his room and reading far into the night. They will show you his will when you go to the museum in the Gardens, a curious old document, keenly prepared and devising to the remaining members of his family, servants and intimates, everything from immensely valuable real estate in the very heart of St. Louis down to the port and sherry from his cellars. But the part that interested St. Louis most was that part which gave the Gardens to the town, although not without restrictions. And the old Missouri town made Shaw's Gardens quite as much a part of its existence as its County Fair.

The St. Louis Fair was a real institution. There have been far greater shows of the kind in our land, but perhaps none that ever entered more thoroughly into the hearts of the folk to whom it catered. Every one in St. Louis used to go to the Fair. It had a social status quite its own. When, after the hot and gruelling summer which causes all St. Louis folk who possibly can to flee to the ocean or to the mountains, they came home again in the joys of Indian summer there was the Fair—up under the trees of Grand avenue in the north part of the town—to serve for a getting together once again. It had served that way since long before wartime. And with it ran that mighty social bulwark of St. Louis, the Procession of the Veiled Prophet. One night in "Fair[234] Week"—locally known as "Big Thursday"—was annually given to this pageant, frankly modeled upon the Mardi Gras festivities at New Orleans. Through the streets of the town the pageant rolled its triumphal course, all St. Louis came out to see it, and afterwards there was a ball. To be bidden to that ball was the social recognition that the city gave you.

But in 1904 there came that greater fair—the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, to which the world was bidden. It was a really great fair and it has left a permanent impress upon the town in the form of a fine Art Gallery and the splendid group of buildings at the west edge of the city which are being devoted to the uses of Washington University. But the big fair spelled the doom of the smaller. The town had grown out around its grounds and they were no longer in the country. So the career of the old St. Louis Fair ended—brilliantly in that not-to-be-forgotten exposition. Although some attempts have recently been made to reëstablish it in another part of the town, the older folk of St. Louis shake their heads. They very well know that you cannot bring the old days back by the mere waving of a wand.

Upon a crisp October evening, the Veiled Prophet still makes his way through the narrow streets of the town. The preparations for his coming are hedged about with greatest secrecy, and the young girls of St. Louis grow expectant just as their mothers and their grandmothers before them used to grow expectant when October came close at hand. At last, expectancy rewarded—out of the unknown an engraved summons to attend the court of a single night—with the engraved summons some souvenir of no slight worth; the prophet's favor is a generous one.

Absurd, you say? Not a bit of it. It is a pity that we do not have more of it in our land. We have been[235] rather busy grubbing; given ourselves rather too much to utility and efficiency, to the sordid business of merely making money. A Veiled Prophet is a good thing for a town, a Mardi Gras a tonic. It is an idea that is spreading across America, and America is profiting by it.

*****

This is a personality sketch of St. Louis and not a guide-book. If it were the latter, it would recount the superb commercial position of the city, each of the bulwarks of its financial fortresses. The river-trade is dead indeed; even the most optimistic of those who are most anxious to see it revived doubt, in their heart of hearts, if ever it can be revived. But commerce is not dead at St. Louis. As St. Paul and Minneapolis are gateways to the Northwest remember that she is one of the great gateways to the Southwest. To the man in Arkansas or Oklahoma or Texas she is another New York; she stands to him as London stands to the folk of the English counties. And this relation she capitalizes and so grows rich. She is solid and substantial—the old French town of the yesterdays has taken her permanent place among the leading cities of America.


[236]

15
THE OLD FRENCH LADY OF THE RIVERBANK

At the bend of the river she stands—this drowsy old French lady of the long ago. They have called her the Crescent City. But the Mississippi makes more than a single turn around the wide-spreading town. And the results are most puzzling, even to those steadyminded folk who assert that they are direction-wise. In New Orleans, east seems west and north seems south. It must almost be that the Father of Rivers reverses all the laws of Mother Nature and runs his course up-stream.

New Orleans is upon the east bank of the Mississippi. All the guide-books will tell you that. But in the morning the sun arises from over across the river, and in the cool of evening his reddish radiance is dying over Lake Ponchartrain, directly east from the river—at least, so your direction-wise intelligence seems to tell you. But east is east and west is west and Old Sol has made such a habit of rising and setting these many thousand years that his reliability is not to be trusted. As to the reliability of the Father of Waters—there is quite another matter.

Truth to tell, the Mississippi river is probably the most utterly unreliable thing within the North American continent. He has shifted his course so many times within the brief century that the white-skinned men have known him, that the oldest of them have lost all trace of his original course. And so to steer a vessel up and down the stream is a doubly difficult art. The[237] pilot does not merely have to know his steering-marks—the range between that point and this, the thrust of some hidden and fearfully dangerous reef, the advantage to be gained between eddies and currents for easy running—he has to learn the entire thing anew each time he brings a craft up or down the river. Mark Twain has long since immortalized the ample genius of the Mississippi pilots. The stories of the river's unreliability, of its constant tendency to change its channel are apocryphal—almost as old as the oldest of the houses of old New Orleans. And this is not the story of the river.

Yet it must not be forgotten that the river almost is New Orleans, that from the beginning it has been the source of the French lady's strength and prosperity. Before there was even thought of a city the river was there—pouring its yellow flood down from an unknown land to the great gulf. Bienville, the real founder of New Orleans, saw with the prophetic sight of a really great thinker what even a river that came to the sea from an unexplored land might mean in years to come to the city of his creation. His prophecy was right. When the river, with the traffic upon its bosom, has prospered, New Orleans has prospered. And in the lean years when the river traffic has dwindled, New Orleans has felt the loss in her every fiber. There are old-timers in the city who shake their heads when they tell you of the fat river-boats crowding in at the levee, of the clipper-ships and the newer steam-propelled craft at the deeper docks, of the crowds around the old St. Louis and the St. Charles Hotels, the congested narrow streets, the halcyon days when the markets of the two greatest nations in the world halted on the cotton news from Factors Row. And New Orleans awaits the opening of the Panama canal with something like feverish anticipation, for she feels that this mighty nick finally cut[238] into the thin neck of the American continents, her wharves will again be crowded with shipping—this time with a variety of craft plying to and from the strange ports of the Pacific. So much does her river still mean to her.

Factors Row still stands, rusty and somewhat grimed. No longer is it consequential in the markets of the world. In fact, to put a bald truth baldly, no longer is New Orleans of supreme consequence in the cotton problem of all nations. A great cotton shipping port she still is and will long remain. But the multiplication of railroad points and the rapid development of such newer cotton ports as Galveston, to make a single instance, have all worked against her preëminence.

This is not a story of the commercial importance of New Orleans, either. There are plenty who are willing to tell that story, with all of its romantic traditions of the past and its brilliant prophecies for the future. This is the story of the New Orleans of today, the city who with an almost reverential respect for the Past and its monuments still holds her doors open to the Present and its wonders.

Of the Past one may know at every turn. North of Canal street—that broad thoroughfare which ranks as a dividing path with Market street in San Francisco—the city has changed but little since the Civil War. South of Canal—still called the "new" part of the city—there has been some really modern development. Prosperous looking skyscrapers have lifted their lordly heads above the narrow streets and the compactly built "squares" which they encompass; there are several modern hotels with all the momentary glory of artificial marbles and chromatic frescoes, department stores with show windows as brave and gay as any of those in New York or Chicago or Boston. But even if the narrow streets were to be widened, New Orleans would never[239] look like Indianapolis or Kansas City or St. Paul—any of the typical cities of the so-called Middle West. Too many of her stout old structures of the fifties and the sixties still remain. And hung upon these, uncompromising and triumphant, are the galleries.

The galleries of New Orleans! They are perhaps the most typical of the outward expressions of a town whose personality is as distinct as that of Boston or Charleston or San Francisco. They must have been master workmen whose fingers and whose ancient forges worked those delicate and lacelike traceries. And it has been many thankful generations who have praised the practical side of their handicraft. For in the long hot summer months of New Orleans these galleries furnish a shade that is a delight and a comfort. On rainy days they are arcades keeping dry the sidewalks of the heart of the town. And from the offices within, the galleries, their rails lined with growing things, are veritable triumphs. Once in a great while some one will rise up and suggest that they be abolished—that they are old-fashioned and have long since served their full purpose. That some one is generally a smart shopkeeper who has drifted down from one of these upstart cities from the North or East. But New Orleans is smarter still. She well knows the commercial value of her personality. There are newer cities and showier within the radius of a single night's ride upon a fast train. But where one man comes to one of these, a dozen alight at the old French town by the bend of the yellow river.

"Give J—— a few French restaurants, some fame for its cocktails or its gin-fizzes—just as New Orleans has—and I will bring a dozen big new factories here within the next three years," said the secretary of the Chamber of Commerce of a thriving Texas town the other day. He knew whereof he spake. And now, we[240] shall know whereof we speak. We shall give a moment of attention to the little restaurants and the gin-fizzes.

Let the gin-fizzes come first, for they are nearly as characteristic of the old town as her galleries! You will find their chief habitat just across a narrow alley from the St. Charles Hotel. There is a long bar on the one side of the room, upon which stand great piles of ice-bound southern oysters—twelve months of the year, for New Orleans never reads an "R" in or out of her oyster-eating calendar. But any bar may bring forth oysters, and only one bar in the world brings forth the real New Orleans gin-fizz. Two enterprising young men stand behind the bar-keepers in a perpetual shaking of the fizzes. If it is tantalizing to shake that whereof you do not taste, they show it not. And in the hours of rush traffic there are six of the non-bar-keeping bartenders who give the correct amount of ague to New Orleans' most delectable beverage. A hustler from North or East would put in electric shakers instanter—a thousand or is it ten thousand revolutions to the minute? He would brag of his electric shakers and the New Orleans gin-fizz would be dead—forever. Romance and an electric shaker cannot go hand in hand.

"The ingredients?" you breathlessly interrupt. "The manner of the mixing?"

Bless your heart, if the Gin Fizz House published its close-held secret to the world, it would lose its chief excuse for existence and then become an ordinary drinking-place. As it is, it holds its head above the real variety of saloons, even above the polished mahogany bar of the aristocratic hotel across the narrow street. For its product, if delightful, is still gentle, although insidious, perhaps. It is largely milk and barely gin. You can drink it by the barrel without the slightest jarring of your faculties. And it is rumored that some of the men of New Orleans use it as a breakfast-food.

[241] From the Gin Fizz House to the Absinthe House is a long way,—in more meanings than one. The Absinthe House is hardly less famed, but in these days when drinking has largely gone out of fashion and wormwood is under the particular ban of the United States statutes, it is largely a relic of the past. It stands in the heart of the old French town and before we come to its broad portal, let us study the fascinating quarter in which we are to find it.

We have already spoken of Canal street, so broad in contradistinction to the very narrow streets of the rest of the older parts of the town, that one can almost see the narrow water-filled ditch that once traversed it, as the dividing line of the city. South of Canal street, the so-called American portion of the city, with many affectations of modernity—north of that thoroughfare—curiously enough the down-stream side—the French quarter, architecturally and romantically the most fascinating section of any large city of the United States. The very names of its streets—Chartres, Royal, Bourbon, Burgundy, Dauphine, St. Louis—quicken anticipation. And anticipation is not dulled when one comes to see the great somber houses with their mysterious and moth-eaten courtyards and the interesting folk who dwell within them.

We choose Royal street, heading straight away from Canal street as if in shrinking horror of electric signs and moving-picture theaters. In a single square they are behind and forgotten and, if it were not for the trolley cars and the smartly dressed French girls, we might be walking in Yesterday. The side streets groan under the same ugly, heavy patterns of Belgian block pavement that have done service for nearly a century. Originally the blocks—brought long years ago as ballast in the ships from Europe—were in a pretty pattern, laid diagonally. But heavy traffic and the soft sub-strata of[242] the river-bank town have long since worked sad havoc with the old pavements. And a new city administration has finally begun to replace them with the very comfortable but utterly unsentimental asphalt.

Here is the Absinthe House, worth but a single glance, for it has descended to the estate of an ordinary corner saloon. Only ordinary corner saloons are not ordinarily housed in structures of this sort. You can see houses like this in the south of France and in Spain—so I am told. For below Canal street is both French and Spanish. Remember, if you please, that the French of the Southland shared the same hard fate of their countrymen in that far northern valley of the great St. Lawrence—neglect. The French are the most loyal people on earth. Their fidelity to their language and their customs for nearly two centuries proves that. That faith, steadfast through the tragedy of the indifference and neglect of their mother country, doubly proves it. And the only difference between the Frenchman of Quebec and the Frenchman of New Orleans was that in the South the Spaniard was injected into the problem. But the Frenchman in the South was not less loyal than his fellow-countryman of the North. A dissolute king sitting in the wreck of his great family in the suburbs of Paris might barter away the title of his lands, but no Louis could ever trade away the loyalty of the older French of New Orleans to their land and its institutions. In such a faith was the French quarter of the city born. In such faith has it survived, these many years. And perhaps the very greatest episodes in the history of the city were in those twenty days of November, 1803, when the French flag displaced the Spanish in the old Place d'Armes, to be replaced only by the strange banner of a newborn nation which was given the opportunity of working out the destiny of the new France.

[243] So it was the Spaniard who took his part in the shaping of the French quarter of New Orleans. You can see the impress of his architects in the stout old houses that were built after two disastrous and wide-spread fires in the closing years of the eighteenth century—even in the great lion of the town; the Cabildo which rises from what was formerly the Place d'Armes and is today Jackson square. And the old Absinthe House, with its curiously wrought and half-covered courtyard is one of these old-time Spanish houses.

Now forget about the absinthe—as the rest of the French folk of the land are beginning to forget it—and turn your attention to the courtyards. In another old Southern city—Charleston—the oldest houses shut the glories of their lovely-aging gardens from the sight of vulgar passers-by upon the street by means of uncompromising high fences. The old houses of New Orleans do more. Their gardens are shielded from the crowded, noisy, horrid streets by the houses themselves. And he who runs through those crowded, noisy, horrid streets, must really walk, for only so will he catch brief glimpses of the glories of those fading courtyard gardens.

Sometimes, if you have the courage of your convictions and the proper fashion of seizing opportunity by the throat you may wander into one of the tunnel-like gateways of one of these very old houses. No one will halt you.

Here it is—old France in new America. The tunnel-like way from the street is shady and cool. From it leads a stair to the right and the upper floor of the house, a stair up which a regiment might have walked, and down which the old figure of a Balzac might descend this moment without ever a single jarring upon your soul. The stair ends in a great oval hall, whose scarlet paper has long since faded but still remains a memory[244] of the glories of the days that were. The carved entablatures over the doors, the bravado of cornice and rosette where the plaster has not finally fallen, proclaim the former grandeur of this apartment. And in some former day a great chandelier must have hung from the center of its graceful ceiling. Today—some one of the neighboring antique stores has reaped its reward, and a candle set in a wall-lantern is its sole illumination. A shabby room will not bear the glories of a gay chandelier. And the old Frenchman and his wife who live in the place have all but forgotten. They have a parrot and a sewing-machine and what are the glories of the past to them?

Of course, such a house must have its courtyard. And if the huge copper-bound tank is dry, and the water has not forced its way through the battered fountain these many years, if the old exquisite tiles of the house long since went to form the roof of the new garage of some smart new American place up the river—the magnolia still blossoms magnificently among the decay, and Madame's skill with her jessamine and her geraniums would confound the imported tricks of those English gardeners in the elaborate new places.

Here then is the old France in the new land—the priceless treasure that New Orleans wears at her very heart. And here in the very heart of that heart is an ugly old building boarded up by offensively brilliant advertising signs.

You still see white steamboats at the New Orleans levee
You still see white steamboats at the New Orleans levee

An ugly old building did we say, with rough glance at its rusty façades? Can one be young and beautiful forever? Rusty and beautiful—oh no, do not scorn the old St. Louis Hotel for following the most normal of all the laws of Nature. For within this moldering and once magnificent tavern history was made. In one of its ancient rooms a President of the United States was unmade, while in another chamber human life was[245] bought and sold with no more concern than the old Creole lady on the far corner shows when she sells you the little statues of the Blessed Virgin.

These wonders are still to be seen—for the asking. The concierge of the old hotel is a courteous lady who with her servant dwells in the two most habitable of its remaining rooms. There is no use knocking at the hotel door for she is very, very deaf indeed, poor lady. But if you will brave a stern "No Admittance" sign and ascend the graceful winding stair for a single flight—such a stair as has rarely come to our sight—you will find her—ready and willing. One by one she shows you the rooms, faded and disreputable, for the hotel is in a fearful state of disrepair. The plaster is falling here and there, and where it still adheres to the lath the old-time paper hangs in long shreds, like giant stalactites, from the ceiling. Once, for a decade in the "late eighties," an effort was made to revive the hotel and its former glories—a desperate and a hopeless effort—and the pitiful "innovations" of that régime still show. But when you close your eyes you do not see the St. Louis Hotel of that decade, but rather in those wonderful twenty years before the coming of the cruel war. In those days New Orleans was the gayest city in the new world, uptilting its saucy nose at such heavy eastern towns as New York or Boston. Its wharves were crowded with the ships of the world, the river-boat captains fought for the opportunity of bringing the mere noses of their craft against the overcrowded levee. Cotton—it was the greatest thing of the world. New Orleans was cotton and cotton was the king of the world.

No wonder then that the St. Louis Hotel could say when it was new, that it had the finest ballrooms in the world. They still show them to you, in piecemeal, for they were long since cut up into separate rooms. The great rotunda was ruined by a temporary floor at the[246] time the state of Louisiana bought the old hotel for a capitol, and used the rotunda for its fiery Senate sessions.

All these things the concierge will relate to you—and more. Then she takes you down the old main-stair, gently lest its rotting treads and risers should crumble under too stout foot-falls. Into the cavernous bottom of the rotunda she leads you. It is encumbered with the steam-pipes of that after era, blocked with rubbish, very dark withal. The concierge, with a fine sense of the dramatic, catches up a bit of newspaper, lights it, thrusts it ahead as a lighted torch.

"The old slave mart," she says, in a well-trained stage whisper, and thrusts the blazing paper up at full arm's length. As the torch goes higher, her voice goes lower: "Beyond the auction block, the slaves' prison."

As a matter of real fact, the "slaves' prison" is probably nothing more or less than the negro quarters that every oldtime southern hotel used to provide for the slaves of its planter patrons. But the concierge does not overlook dramatic possibilities. And she is both too deaf and too much a lady to be contradicted. She has given you full value for the handful of pennies she expects from you. And as for you—a feeling of something like indignation wells within you that the city of New Orleans has permitted the stoutly built old hotel to fall into such ruin. In an era which is doing much to preserve the monuments of the earlier America, it has been overlooked.

Such resentment softens a little further down. You are in Jackson square now—the Place d'Armes of the old French days—and facing there the three great lions that have stood confronting that open space since almost the beginning of New Orleans. The great cathedral flanked by the Cabilda and the Presbytery is not, of itself, particularly beautiful or impressive. But it is[247] interesting to remember that within it on a memorable occasion Andrew Jackson sat at mass—interesting because he had just fought the battle of New Orleans and ended the Second War with England. And the Te Deum that went up at that time was truly a thankful one. The Cabilda and the Presbytery, invested as they are with rare historical interest, are more worth while.

But to our mind the chief delight of Jackson square are the two long red-brick buildings that completely fill the north and south sides of that delectable retreat. In themselves these old fellows are not architecturally important, although by close inspection you may find in the traceries of their gallery rails the initials of the wife of the Spanish grandee—Madama de Pontalba—historically they are not distinguished, unless count the fact that in one of them dwelt Jenny Lind upon the occasion of a not-to-be-forgotten engagement in New Orleans—but as the sides of what is perhaps the most delightful square in the entire Southland they are most satisfying. Jackson square has fallen from its high estate. Its gardens were once set out in formal fashion for the elect of New Orleans, nowadays they are visited by swarms of the cheaper French and Italian lodgers of the neighborhood, and scrawny felines from the old Pontalba buildings use it as a congregating place. But, even in decadent days, its fascination is none the less.

Beyond Jackson square rests the French market, the very index to all that New Orleans' love of good eating that has become so closely linked with the city. The market-scheme of the city as this is being written is being greatly revised. Up to the present time the market-men have been autocrats. The grocers of the city have been forbidden to sell fresh fruits or vegetables; if a retailer be audacious enough to wish to set out with a private market, he must be a certain considerable number of squares distant from a public institution[248]—and pay to the city a heavy license fee as penalty for his audacity. Nor is that all. The consumer is forbidden to purchase direct from the producer, even though the producer's wagon be backed up against the market curb in most inviting fashion. New Orleans recognizes the middleman and protects him—or has protected him until the present time. Even peddlers have been barred from hawking their wares through her streets until noon—when the public markets close and the housewives have practically completed their purchases for the day.

But—banish the thoughts of the markets as economic problems, cease puzzling your blessed brains with that eternal problem of the cost-of-living. Consider the French market as a truly delectable spot. Go to it early in the morning, when the sun is beginning to poke his way down into the narrow streets and the shadows are heavy under the galleries. Breakfast at the hotel? Not a bit of it.

You take your coffee and doughnuts alongside the market-men—at long and immaculate counters in the market-house. And when you are done you will take your oath that you have never before tasted coffee. The coffee-man bends over you—he is a coffee-man descended from coffee-men, for these stalls of the famous old markets are almost priceless heritages that descend from generation to generation. In these days they never go out of a single family.

"Café lait?" says the coffee-man.

You nod assent.

Two long-spouted cans descend upon your cup. From one the coffee, from the other creamy milk come simultaneously, with a skill that comes of long years of practice on the part of the coffee-man.

That is all—café lait and doughnuts. They make just as good doughnuts in Boston, but New England has[249] never known the joys of café lait. If it had, it would never return to its oldtime coffee habits. And the older markets of Boston do not see the fine ladies of the town coming to them on Sunday morning, after mass, negro servants behind, to do their marketing, themselves.

Hours of joy in this market—the food capital of a rich land of milk and honey. After those hours of joy—breakfast at the Madame's.

The Madame began—no one knows just how many years ago—by serving an eleven o'clock breakfast to the market-men, skilled in food as purveyors as most critical of the food they eat. The Madame realized that problem—and met it. So well did she meet it that the fame of her cookery spread outside the confines of the market-houses, and city folk and tourists began drifting to her table. In a few years she had established an institution. And today her breakfast is as much a part of New Orleans as the old City Hall or the new Court House.

She has been dead several years—dear old gastronomic French lady—but her institution, after the fashion of some institutions, lives after her. It still stands at the edge of the market and it still serves one meal each day—the traditional breakfast. It is sad to relate that it has become a little commercialized—they sell souvenir spoons and cook-books—but you can shut your eyes to these and still see the place in all of its glories.

A long, low room at the back of and above a little saloon, reached from the side-door of the saloon by a turning and rickety stair. A meagerly equipped table in the long, low room, from which a few steps lead up to a smoky but immensely clean kitchen. From that kitchen—odors. Odors? What a name for incense, the promise of preparation. You sometimes catch glimpses of busy women, fat and uncorseted. Cooks?[250] Perish the words. These are artists, if artists have ever really been.

Finally—and upon the stroke of eleven—the breakfast. It shall not be described here in intimate detail for you, dear reader, will not be sitting at the Madame's hospitable table as you read these lines. It is enough for you to know that the liver is unsurpassable and the coffee—the coffee gets its flavor from an adroit sweetening of cognac and of sugar. What matter the souvenirs now? The breakfast has lost none of its savor through the passing of the years.

For here is New Orleans where it seems impossible to get a poor meal. There is many and many an interior city of size and pretentious marbleized and flunkeyized hotels of which that may not be said. But in New Orleans an appreciation of good cookery is an appreciation of the art of a real profession. And of her restaurants there is an infinite variety—La Louisiane, Galatoire's, Antoine's, Begue's, Brasco's—the list runs far too long to be printed here. Nor does the space of this page permit a recountal of the dishes themselves—the world-famed gumbos, the crawfish bisque, the red-snapper stuffed with oysters, the crabs and the shrimps. And lest we should be fairly suspected of trying to emulate a cook-book, turn your back upon the fine little restaurants, where noisy orchestras and unspeakable cabarets have not yet dared to enter, and see still a little more of the streets of the old French quarter.

More courtyards, more old houses, a venerable hall now occupied by a sisterhood of the Roman church but formerly gay with the "quadroon balls" which gave spicy romance to all this quarter. And here, rising high above the narrow thrust of Bourbon street, the French Opera, for be it remembered that New Orleans had her opera house firmly established when New York still regarded hers as a dubious experiment. To come into[251] the old opera house, builded after the impressive fashion of architects of another time, with its real horseshoe and its five great tiers rising within it—is again to see the old New Orleans living in the new. It is to see the exclusive Creoles—perhaps the most exclusive folk in all America—half showing themselves in the shadowy recesses of their boxes. And to be in that venerable structure upon the night of Mardi Gras is to stand upon the threshold of a fairy world.

*****

It is not meet that the details of the greatest annual carnival that America has ever known should be fully described here. It is enough here and now to say that New Orleans merely exists between these great parties at the eve of each Lent; that nearly a twelvemonth is given to preparations for the Mardi Gras. One festa is hardly done before plans are being made for the next—rumor runs slyly up and down the narrow streets, costumiers are being pledged to inviolate secrecy, strange preparatory sounds emerge from supposedly abandoned sheds and houses, rumors multiply, the air is surcharged with secrecy. Finally the night of nights. Canal street, which every loyal resident of New Orleans believes to be the finest parade street in all the world, is ablaze with the incandescence of electricity, a-jam with humanity. For a week the trains have been bringing the folk in from half-a-dozen neighboring states by the tens of thousands. There is not a single parish of venerable Louisiana without representation; and more than a fair sprinkling of tourists from the North and from overseas.

Finally—after Expectancy has almost given the right hand to Doubt, the fanfare of trumpets, the outriders of Parade. From somewhere has come Rex and The Queen and all the Great and all the Hilariously Funny and the rest besides. From the supposedly abandoned[252] sheds and houses, from the costumiers? Do not dare to venture that, oh uncanny and worldly minded soul!

Fairyland never emerged from old sheds, a King may not even dream of a costumier. From thin air, from the seventh sense, the land of the Mysterious, this King and Queen and all their cavalcade. Then, too, the Royal Palace—the historic French Opera House floored and transformed for a night. More lights, more color, the culinary products of the best chefs of all the land working under a stupendous energy, music, dancing, white shirts, white shoulders, gayety, beauty—for tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, and Catholic New Orleans takes its Lent as seriously as it gaily takes the joyousness of its carnivals.

*****

For three-quarters of a century these carnivals have been the outspoken frivols of the old French lady by the bend of the yellow river. In all that time the carnival has progressed until it today is the outward expression of the joyousness of a joyous city. In all that time did we say? There was an interregnum—the Four Years. In the Four Years the little French restaurants were closed, the lights at the Opera extinguished—there could be no Carnival, for Tragedy sat upon the Southland. And in a great house in Lafayette square there sat a man from Massachusetts who ruled with more zeal than kindness. And that man New Orleans has not forgotten—not even in the half-century that has all but healed the sores of the Four Years.

"It is funny," you begin, "that New Orleans should make so much of the Boston Club, when Butler came from—"

It is not funny. You saw the Boston Club which vies for social supremacy in the old French city with the Pickwick Club, there in Canal street, at least you saw its fine old white house in that broad thoroughfare.[253] It is not funny. Your New Orleans man tells you—courteously but clearly.

"We named our club from that game," he says.

"Boston was a fine game, sir," he adds. "And that without ever a thought of that town up in Massachusetts."

*****

From a carnival to a graveyard is a far cry indeed, and yet the cemeteries of New Orleans are as distinctive of her as her Mardi Gras festivities. We have spoken of the river and the great part it has played in the history of the city that rests so close to its treacherous shore. And it is that very treacherous shore that makes it so exceedingly difficult to arrange a cemetery in the soft and marshy soil on which the city is built.

So it is that the New Orleans' cemeteries are veritable cities of the dead. For the bodies that are buried within them are placed above the ground, not under them. Tombs and mausoleums are the rule, not the exception, and where a family is not prosperous enough to own even the simplest of tombs, it will probably join with other families or with some association in the ownership of a house in the city of the dead. And for those who have not even this opportunity there are the ovens.

The ovens are built in the great walls that encompass the older cemeteries and make them seem like crumbling fortresses. Four tiers high, each oven large enough to accommodate a coffin—the sealed fronts bear the epitaphs of those who have known the New Orleans of other days. A motley company they are—poets, pirates, judges, planters, soldiers, priests—around them the scarred regiments of those who lived their lives without the haunting touch of Fame upon the shoulder—no one will even venture a guess as to the number that have been laid away within a single one of these cities.

And when you are done with seeing the graves of[254] Jean Lafitte or Dominique You—why is it that the average mind pricks up with a more quickened interest at the tomb of a pirate than at a preacher—the Portuguese sexton begins plucking at the loosely laid bricks of one of these abandoned ovens. Abandoned? He lifts out a skull, this twentieth century Yorick and bids you peep through the aperture. Like the concierge of the old hotel, looking is made more easy from a blazing folding copy of the morning Picayune. In the place are seemingly countless skulls, with lesser bones.

"He had good teeth, this fellow," coughs the Portuguese.

You do not answer. Finally—

"Do they bury all of them this way?"

Not at first, you find. The strict burial laws of New Orleans demand that the body shall be carefully sealed and kept within the oven for at least a year. After that the sexton may open the place, burn the coffin and thrust the bones into the rear of the place. And New Orleans can see nothing unusual in the custom.

*****

"New Orleans is more like the old San Francisco than any other community I have ever seen," says the Californian. Not in any architectural sense and of course two cities could hardly be further apart in location than the city in the flat marshlands whose trees are below the level of the yellow river at flood-tide, and the new city that rises on mountainous slopes from the clear waters of the Golden Gate. But there is an intangible likeness about New Orleans and his city that was but never again can be, that strikes to the soul of the Californian. Perhaps he has come to know something of the real life of the Creoles—of those strange folk who even today can say that they have lived long lives in New Orleans and never gone south of Canal street. Perhaps he has met some of that little company[255] of old French gentlemen who keep their faded black suits in as trim condition as their own good manners, and who scrimp and save through years and months that they may visit—not Chicago or New York—but Paris, Paris the unutterable and the unforgettable.

"New Orleans is more like the old San Francisco than any other community that I have ever seen," reiterates the Californian. "It is more like the old than the new San Francisco can ever become."

And there is a moral in that which the San Franciscan speaks. In the twinkling of an eye the old San Francisco disappeared—forever. Slowly, but surely, the old New Orleans is beginning to fade away. There are indubitable signs of this already. When it shall have gone, our last stronghold of old French customs and manners shall have gone. One of the most fascinating chapters in the story of our Southland will have been closed.


[256]

16
THE CITY OF THE LITTLE SQUARES

In after years, you will like to think of it as the City of the Little Squares. After all the other memories of San Antonio are gone—the narrow streets twisting and turning their tortuous ways through the very heart of the old town, the missions strung out along the Concepcion road like faded and broken bits of bric-a-brac, the brave and militant show of arsenal and fort—then shall the fragrance of those open plazas long remain. The Military Plaza, with its great bulk of a City Hall facing it, the Main Plaza, where the grave towers of the little cathedral look down upon the palm-trees and the beggars, the newer, open squares—always plazas in San Antonio—and then, best of all, the Alamo Plaza, with that squat namesake structure facing it—the lion of a town of many lions. These open places are the distinctive features of the oldest and the best of the Texas towns. They lend to it the Latin air that renders it different from most other cities in America. They help to make San Antonio seem far more like Europe than America.

One of the little squares—and the big cathedral—San Antonio
One of the little squares—and the big cathedral—San Antonio

To this old town come the Texans, always in great numbers for it is their great magnet—the focusing point that has drawn them and before them, their fathers, their grandfathers and their great-grandfathers—far reaching generations of Texans who have gone before. For here is the distinct play-ground of the Lone Star State. Its other cities are attractive enough in their several ways, but at the best their fame is distinctly com[257]mercial—Fort Worth as a packing-house town, Dallas as a distributing point for great wholesale enterprises, Houston as a banking center, Galveston as the great water-gate of Texas and the second greatest ocean port of the whole land. San Antonio is none of these things. While the last census showed her to be the largest of all Texas cities in point of population, it is said by her jealous rivals and it probably is true, that nearly half of that population is composed of Mexicans; and here is a part of our blessed land where the Mexican, like his dollar, must be accepted at far less than his nominal value.

But if it were not for these Mexicans—that delicate strain of the fine old Spanish blood that still runs in her veins—San Antonio would have lost much of her naïve charm many years ago. The touch of the old grandees is everywhere laid upon the city. In the narrow streets, the architecture of the solid stone structures that crowd in upon them in a tremendously neighborly fashion shows the touch of the Spaniard in every corner; it appears again and again—in the iron traceries of some high-sprung fence or second-story balcony rail, or perhaps in the lineaments of some snug little church, half hidden in a quiet place. The Cathedral of San Fernando, standing there in the Main Plaza, looks as if it might have been stolen from the old city of Mexico and moved bodily north without ever having even disturbed its fortress-like walls or the crude frescoes of its sanctuary. The four missions out along the Concepcion road are direct fruit of Spanish days—and remember that each of the little squares of San Antonio is a plaza, so dear to the heart of a Latin when he comes to build a real city.

But the impress of those troublous years when Spain, far-seeing and in her golden age, was dreaming of Texas as a mighty principality, is not alone in the[258] wood and the stone of San Antonio, not even in the delirious riot of narrow streets and little squares. The impress of a Latin nation still not three hundred miles distant, is in the bronzed faces of the Mexicans who fill her streets. Some of them are the old men who sit emotionless hours in the hot sun in the narrow highways, and vend their unspeakable sweets, or who come to affluence perhaps and maintain the marketing of tamales and chile con carne at one of the many little outdoor stands that line the business streets of San Antonio, and make it possible for a stranger to eat a full-course dinner, if he will, without passing indoors. These are the Mexicans of San Antonio who are most in evidence—the men still affecting in careless grandeur their steeple-crowned, broad-brimmed hats, even if the rest of their clothing remain in the docile humility of blue jeans; the women scorning such humility and running to the brilliancy of red and yellow velvets, although of late years the glories of the American-made hat have begun to tell sadly upon the preëminence of the mantilla. These are the Mexicans who dominate the streets of the older part of the town—they are something more than dominant factors in the West end of the city, long ago known as the Chihuahua quarter.

But there is another sort—less often seen upon the streets of San Antonio. This sort is the Mexican of class, who has come within recent years in increasing numbers to dwell in a city where unassuming soldiery afford more real protection for him and for his than do all of the brilliantly uniformed regiments with which Diaz once illuminated his gay capital. Since our neighbor to the south entered fully upon its troublous season these refugees have multiplied. You could see for yourself any time within the past two years sleeping cars come up from Laredo filled with nervous women and puzzled children. These were the families of pros[259]perous citizens from the south of Mexico, who in their hearts showed no contempt for the comfortable protection of the American flag.

*****

A man plucks you by the sleeve as you are passing through the corridors of one of the great modern hotels of San Antonio, hotels which, by the way, have been builded with the profits of the cattle-trade in Texas.

"That hombre," he says, "he is the uncle of Madero."

But a mere uncle of the former Mexican President hardly counts in a town which has the reputation of fairly breeding revolutions for the sister land to the south; whose streets seem to whisper of rumors and counter-rumors, the vague details of plot and counterplot. There is a whole street down in the southwestern corner of San Antonio lined with neat white houses, and the town will know it for many years as "Revolutionary Row." For in the first of these houses General Bernardo Reyes lived, and in the second of them this former governor of Nuevo Leon planned his coup d'etat by which he was to march into Mexico City with all the glory of the Latin, bands playing, flags flying, a display of showy regimentals. Reyes had read English history, and he remembered that one Prince Charlie had attempted something of the very sort. In the long run the difference was merely that Prince Charlie succeeded while Reyes landed in a dirty prison in Mexico City.

Here then is the very incubator of Mexican revolution. There is not an hour in San Antonio when the secret agents of the United States and all the governments and near-governments of our southern neighbor are not fairly swarming in the town and alive to their responsibilities. The border is again passing through historic days—and it fully realizes that. It is twenty-four hours of steady riding from San Antonio over to El Paso—the queer little city under the shadows[260] of the mountains and perched hard against the "silver Rio Grande," this last often so indistinguishable that a young American lieutenant marched his men right over and into Mexican soil one day without knowing the difference—until he was confronted by the angry citizens of Ciudad Juarez and an affaire nationale almost created. Every mile of that tedious trip trouble is in the air.

And yet El Paso does not often take the situation very seriously. It is almost an old story, and if the revolutionists will only be kind enough to point their guns away from the U.S.A. they can blaze away as long as they like and the ammunition lasts. In fact El Paso feels that as long as the Mexican frontier battles have proper stage management they are first-rate advertising attractions for the town—quite discounting mere Mardi Gras or Portola or flower celebrations, Frontier or Round-up Days, as well as its own simpler joys of horse-racing and bull-fighting. On battle-days El Paso can ascend to its house-tops and get a rare thrill. But when the atrocious marksmanship of ill-trained Mexicans does its worst, and a few stray bullets go whistling straight across upon American soil, El Paso grows angry. It demands of Washington if it realizes that the U.S.A. is being bombarded—the fun of fighting dies out in a moment.

San Antonio is a safer breeding ground for insurrection than is El Paso. For one thing it is out of careless rifle-shot, and for another—well at El Paso some Mexican troopers might come right across the silver Rio Grande in a dry season, never wetting their feet or dreaming that they were crossing the majestic river boundary, and pick up a few erring citizens without much effort. There is a risk at El Paso that is not present in San Antonio. Hence the bigger town—in its very atmosphere emitting a friendly comfort toward plottings and plannings—is chosen.

[261] You wish to come closer to the inner heart of the town. Very well then, your guide leads you to the International Club which perches between the narrow and important thoroughfare of Commerce street and one of the interminable windings of the gentle San Antonio river. It was on the roof of the International Club that Secretary Root was once given a famous dinner. It is an institution frankly given "to the encouragement of a friendly feeling between Mexico and the United States." It is something more than that, however. It is a refuge and sort of harbor for storm-tossed hearts and weary minds that perforce must do their thinking in a tongue that, to us, is alien. Most of the time the newspaper men of the town sit in the rear room of the club and look down across the tiny river on to the quiet grounds of an oldtime monastery. They play their pool and dominoes—two arts that seem hopelessly wedded throughout all Texas. The International Club nods.

Suddenly a tall bronzed man, with mustachios, perhaps a little group of Mexicans will come into the place. The pool and the dominoes stop short. There are whisperings, flashy papers from Mexico city are suddenly produced, maps are studied. One man has "inside information" from Washington, another lays claim to mysterious knowledge up from the President's palace of the southern capital, perhaps from the constitutionalists along the frontier. There is a great deal of talk, much mystery—after all, not much real information.

But when some real situation does develop, San Antonio has glorious little thrills. To be the incubator of revolution is almost as exciting as to have bull-fights or a suburban battle-field, the treasures for which San Antonio cannot easily forgive her rival, El Paso. Each new plot-hatching of this sort gives the big Texas town fresh thrills. Gossip is revived in the hotel lobbies and restaurants, the cool and lofty rooms of the Interna[262]tional Club are filled with whisperers in an alien tongue, out at Fort Sam Houston the cavalrymen rise in their stirrups at the prospect of some real excitement. San Antonio does not want war—of course not—but if it must have war—well it is already prepared for the shock. And it talks of little else.

"Within ten years the United States will have annexed Mexico and San Antonio will have become a second Chicago," says one citizen in his enthusiasm. "And what a Chicago—railroads, manufactories and the best climate of any great city in the world."

Even in war-times your true San Antonian cannot forget one of the chief assets of his lovely town.

The others say little. One is a junior officer from out at the post. He can say nothing. But he is hoping. There is not much for an army man in inaction and the best of drills are not like the real thing. For him again—the old slogan—"a fight or a frolic."

*****

Not all of San Antonio is Spanish—although very little of it is negro. An astonishing proportion of its population is of German descent. These are largely gathered in the east end of the town, that which was formerly called the Alamo quarter, and like all Germans they like their beer. The brewing industry is one of the great businesses of San Antonio—and the most famous of all these breweries is the smallest of them. On our first trip to "San Antone" we heard about that beer; all the way down through Texas—"the most wonderful brew in the entire land."

San Juan Mission—a bid of faded bric-a-brac outside of San Antonio
San Juan Mission—a bid of faded bric-a-brac outside of San Antonio

The active force of this particular Los Angeles brewery consisted of but one man, the old German who carried his recipe with him in the top of his head, and who had carefully kept it there throughout the years. In the cellar of the little brewery he made the beer, upstairs and in the garden he served it.[263] In the mornings he worked at his cellar kettles, in the late afternoon and the early evening he stood behind his bar awaiting his patrons. If they wished to sit out in the shady garden they must serve themselves. There were no waiters in the place. If a man could not walk straight up to the bar and get his beer he was in no condition for it. The old German was as proud of the respectability of his place as he was of the secret recipe for the beer, which had been handed down in his family from generation to generation.

Only once was that secret given—and then after much tribulation and in great confidence to an agent of the government. But he had his reward. For the government at Washington in its turn pronounced his the purest beer in all the land. Men then came to him with proposals that he place it upon the market. They talked to him in a tempting way about the profits in the business, but he shook his head. His beer was never to be taken from the brewery. It was a rule from which San Antonians and tourists alike had tried to swerve him, to no purpose. Of course, every rule has its exceptions but there was only a single exception to this. Each Saturday night Mr. Degen used to send a small keg over with his compliments to a boyhood friend—he believed that friendship of a certain sort can break all rules and precedents.

All the way down through dry Texas we smacked our lips at the thought of Degen's beer. Before we had been in San Antonio a dozen hours we found our way to the brewery; in a quiet side street down back of the historic Alamo. But we had no beer.

The brewer was dead. In a neighboring street his friends were quietly gathering for his funeral, and rumor was rife as to whether or no he had confided his recipe to his sons. It was a great funeral, according to the local newspapers, the greatest in the recent history[264] of San Antonio. It was a tribute from the chief citizens of a town to a simple man who had lived his life simply and honestly—who in his quiet way had builded up one of the most distinctive institutions of the place.

Rumor was soon satisfied. The secret of the recipe of the beer had not died. In a few days the brisk little brewery in the side street was in action once again. The stout Germans in their shirt-sleeves were again tramping with their paddles round and round the great vat while their foaming product was being handed to patrons in the adjoining room. But, alas, the traditions of the founder are gone. The beer is now bottled and sold on the market—in a little while is will be emblazoned in electric lights along the main streets of New York and Chicago. We are in a commercial and a material age. Even in San Antonio they are threatening to widen Commerce street—that narrow but immensely distinctive thoroughfare that cuts through the heart of the town—threatening, also, to tear down the old convent walls next the Alamo and there erect a modern park and monument. By the time these things are done and San Antonio is thoroughly "modernized" she will be ready for an awakening—she is apt to find with her naïve charm gone the golden flood of tourists has ceased to stop within her walls. Truly she will have killed the goose that laid the golden egg.

*****

You will like to think of it as the City of the Little Squares. After all the other memories of San Antonio are gone you will revert to these—gay open places, filled with palms and other tropical growths, and flanked by the crumbling architecture of yesterday elbowing the newer constructions of today. You will like to think of those squares in the sunny daytime with the deep shadows running aslant across the faces, there is delight in the memory of them at eventide, when the clus[265]ter lights burn brightly and the narrow sidewalks are filled with gaily dressed crowds, typical Mexicans, tall Texans down from the ranches for a really good time in "old San Antone," natives of the cosmopolitan town, tourists of every sort and description. Then comes the hour when the crowds are gone, the town asleep, its noisy clocks speaking midnight hours to mere emptiness—San Antonio breathes heavily, dreams of the days when she was a Spanish town of no slight importance, and then looks forward to the morrow. She believes that her golden age is not yet come. Her plans for the future are ambitious, her opportunity is yet to come. In so far as those dreams involve the passing of the old in San Antonio and the coming of the new, God grant that they will never come true.


[266]

17
THE AMERICAN PARIS

A great bronze arch spans Seventeenth street and bids you welcome to Denver. For the capital of Colorado seems only second to the Federal capital as a mecca for American tourists. She has advertised her charms, her climate, her super-marvelous scenery cleverly and generously. The response must be all that she could possibly wish. All summer and late into the autumn her long stone station is crowded with travelers—she is the focal point of those who come to Colorado and who find it the ideal summer playground of America.

To that great section known as the Middle West, beginning at an imaginary line drawn from Chicago south through St. Louis and so to the Gulf, there is hardly a resort that can even rival Colorado in popular favor. Take Kansas, for a single instance. Kansas comes scurrying up into the Colorado mountains every blessed summer. It grows fretfully hot down in the Missouri bottoms by the latter part of July, and the Kansans begin to take advantage of the low rates up to Denver and Colorado Springs and Pueblo. And with the Kansans come a pretty good smattering of the folk of the rest of the Middle West. They crowd the trains out of Omaha and Kansas City night after night; at dawn they come trooping out through the portal of the Denver Union station and pass underneath that bronze arch of welcome.

They find a clean and altogether fascinating city[267] awaiting them, a city solidly and substantially built. Eighteen years ago Denver decided that she must discontinue the use of wooden buildings within her limits. She came to an expensive and full realization of that. For Colorado is an arid country nominally, and water is a precious commodity within her boundaries. The irrigation ditches are familiar parts of the landscapes and ever present needs of her cities. To put out fire takes water, and Denver sensibly begins her water economy by demanding that every structure that is within her be built of brick or stone or concrete. And yet her parks are a constant reproach to towns within the regions of bountiful water. They are wonderfully green, belying that arid country, and the water that goes to make them green comes from the fastnesses of the wonderful Rockies, a full hundred miles away.

The brick buildings make for a substantial city, but Denver herself has a solidity that you do not often see in a Western city. Giant office buildings in her chief streets do not often shoulder against ill-kempt open lots, have as unbidden neighbors mere shanties or hovels. Moreover, she is not a "one-street town." Sixteenth and Seventeenth streets vie for supremacy—the one with the great retail establishments, the other with the hotels, banks and railroad offices. There are other streets of business importance—no one street not even as a via sacre of this bustling town for the best of her homes.

*****

The Paris of America, is what she likes to call herself and when you come to know her, the comparison is not bad. But Paris, with all of her charms, has not the location of Denver—upon the crest of a rolling, treeless plain, with the Rocky Mountains, jagged and snow-capped, to serve as a garden-wall. Belasco might have staged Denver—and then been proud of his work.[268] But hers is a solitary grandeur and a very great isolation. She is isolated agriculturally and industrially, and before long we shall see how difficult all this makes it for her commercial interests. It makes things difficult in her social life, and Denver must, and does, have a keen social life.

The isolation and the altitude, constantly tending to make humans nervous and unstrung, demands amusement, self-created amusement of necessity. If Denver is not amused she quarrels; you can see that in her unsettled and troubled politics, and her endless battles with the railroads. So she is wiser when she laughs and it is that faculty of much laughing, much fun, expressed in a variety of amusements that have led magazine writers to call the town, the Paris of America, although there is little about her, save the broad streets and her many open squares and parks to suggest the real Paris. But, on the other hand, the Seine is hardly to be compared to the majesty of the backbone of the continent, Denver's greatest glory.

In winter Denver society has a fixed program. On Monday night it religiously attends the Broadway Theater, a playhouse which on at least one night of the week blossoms out as gayly as the Metropolitan Opera House. Denver assumes to prove herself the Paris of America by the gayness of its gowns and its hats and a Denver restaurant on Monday night after the play only seems like a bit of upper Broadway, Manhattan, transplanted. On Tuesday afternoon society attends the vaudeville at the Orpheum and perhaps the Auditorium or one of the lesser theaters that night. By Wednesday evening at the latest the somewhat meager theater possibilities of the place are exhausted and one wealthy man from New York who went out there used to go to bed on Wednesday until Monday, when the dramatic program began anew.[269] For him it was either bed or the "movies," and he seemed to prefer bed.

In summer the Broadway is closed, and Elitch's Gardens, one of the distinctive features of the town, takes its place as a Monday rendezvous. It is a gay place, Elitch's, with a quaint foreign touch. A cozy theater stands in the middle of an apple orchard—part of the one-time farm of the proprietress' father. Good taste and the delicate skill of architect and landscape gardener have gone hand in hand for its charm. You go out there and dine leisurely, and then you cross the long shady paths under the apples to the theater. And even if the play in that tiny playhouse were not all that might be expected—although the best of actors play upon its stage—one would be in a broadly generous mood, at having dined and spent the evening in so completely charming a spot.

But the Parisians of Colorado are not blind to the summer joys of the wonderful country that lies aroundabout them. They quickly become mountaineers, in the full sense of the word. They can ride—and read riding not as merely cantering in the park but as sitting all day in the saddle of some cranky broncho—they can build fires, cook and live in the open. A Denver society woman is as particular about her khakias as about her evening frocks. When these folk, experienced and well-schooled, go off up into the great hills, they are the envy of all the tourists.

Do not forget that we started by showing Denver as a mecca for these folk. When you come to see how very well the Paris of America takes care of them you do not wonder that they return to her—many times; that they are with her more or less the entire year round. Her hotels are big and they are exceedingly well run. There are more side trips than a tourist can take, us[270]ing the city as a base of operations, than a man might physically use in a month. The most of these run off into the mountains that have been standing sentinel over Denver since first she was born. In a day you can leave the bustling capital town, pass the foothills of the Rockies and climb fourteen thousand feet aloft to the very backbone of the continent. Indeed, it seems to be the very roof of the world when you stand on a sentinel peak and look upon timber line two thousand feet below, where the trees in another of Nature's great tragedies finally cease their vain attempts to climb the mountain tops.

A man recommended one of the mountain trips over a wonderfully constructed railroad, poetically called the "Switzerland Trail."

"You'll like that trip," he said, with the enthusiasm of the real Denverite. "It's wonderful, and such a railroad! Why, there are thirty-two tunnels between here and the divide."

The tourist to whom this suggestion was made looked up—great scorn upon his countenance.

"That doesn't hit me," he growled, "not even a little bit. I live in New York—live in Harlem, to be more like it, and work down in Wall street—use the subway twelve times a week. I don't have to come to Colorado to ride in tunnels."

A broad arch spans Seventeenth Street and bids you welcome to Denver
A broad arch spans Seventeenth Street and bids you welcome to Denver

Tourists form no small portion of Denver industry. She has restaurants and souvenir shops, three to a block; seemingly enough high-class hotels for a town three times her size. Yet the restaurants and the hotels are always filled, the little shops smile in the sunshine of brisk prosperity. And as for "rubberneck wagons," Denver has as many as New York or Washington. They are omnipresent. The drivers take you to the top of the park system, to the Cheesman Memorial, to see the view.[271] All the time you are letting your eyes revel in the glories of those great treeless mountains, the megaphone man is dinning into your ears the excellence of his company's trips in Colorado Springs, in Manitou, in Salt Lake City. He assumes that you are a tourist and that you will have never had enough.

Tourists become a prosperous industry in a town that has no particular manufacturing importance. Great idle plants, the busy smelters of other days, bespeak the truth of that statement. Denver, as far as she has any commercial importance, is a distributing center. Her retail shops are excellent and her wholesale trade extends over a dozen great western states. Her banks are powers, her influence long reaching. But she is not an industrial city.

That has worried her very much, is still a matter of grave concern to her business men. Their quarrels with the railroads have been many and varied. Denver realizes, although she rarely confesses it, that she has disadvantages of location. These same mountains that the tourist comes to love from the bottom of his heart, just as the Coloradians have loved them all these years, are a real wall hemming her in, barriers to the growth of their capital. When the Union Pacific—the first of all the transcontinental railroads—was built through to the coast it was forced, by the mountains, to carry its line far to the north—a bitter pill to the ambitious town that was just then beginning to come into its own. Denver sought reprisals by building the narrow-gauge Denver & Rio Grande, a most remarkable feat of railroad engineering; bending far to the south and then to the north and west through the narrow niches of the high mountains. But hardly had the Denver & Rio Grande assumed any real importance in a commercial fashion and the mistake of its first narrow-gauge tracks cor[272]rected, before it was joined at Pueblo by direct routes to the east and Denver was again isolated from through transcontinental traffic. She was then and still is reached by side-lines.

This was a source of constant aggravation to the man who was until his death two or three years ago, Denver's first citizen—David H. Moffat. Mr. Moffat's interest and pride in the town were surpassing. He had grown up with it—in the later years of his life he used to boast that he once had promoted its literature, for he had come to Denver when it was a mere struggling mining-camp as a peddler, selling to the miners who wanted to write home a piece of paper and a stamped envelope, for five cents.

Moffat saw that a number of important lines were making Denver their western terminal—particularly the Burlington and the Kansas stems of the Union Pacific and the Rock Island. He felt that he might pick up traffic from these roads and carry it straight over the mountains to Salt Lake City, a railroad center suffering the same disadvantages as Denver. He sent surveyors up into the deep canyons and the impasses of the Rockies. When they brought back the reports of their reconnoissances, practical railroad men laughed at Mr. Moffat.

The big bankers of the East also laughed at him when he came to them with the scheme, but the man was of the sort who is never daunted by ridicule. He had a sublime faith in his project, and when men told him that the summit of 10,000 feet above the sea level where he proposed to cross the divide was an impossibility, he would retort about the number of long miles he was going to save between the capital of Colorado and the capital of Utah and he would tell of the single Routt county stretch, a territory approximating the size of the state of Massachusetts and estimated to hold enough coal[273] to feed the furnace fires of the United States for three hundred years. When he was refused money in New York and Chicago he would return to Denver and somehow manage to raise some there. The Moffat road was begun, despite the scoffers. Its promoter made repeated trips across the continent to secure money, and each time when he was home again he would raise the dollars in his own beloved Denver and move the terminal of his road west a few miles. He was at it until the day of his death and he lived long enough to see his railroad within short striking reach of the treasures of Routt county.

At his death it passed into the hands of a receiver, and Denver seemed to have awakened from its dream of being upon the trunk-line of a transcontinental railroad. But there were hands to take up the lines where Moffat had dropped them. Times might have been hard and loan money scarce around Colorado, but the men who were taking up what seemed to be the deathless project of Denver's own railroad were hardly daunted. Instead, they boldly revised Moffat's profile and prepared to cut two thousand feet off the backbone of the continent and shorten their line many miles by digging a tunnel six miles long and costing some four millions of dollars. Now a tunnel six miles long and costing $4,000,000 is quite an enterprise, even to a road which has boasted thirty-two of them in a single day's trip up to the divide; a particularly difficult enterprise to a road still in the shadows of bankruptcy. But the men who were directing the fortunes of the Denver & Salt Lake—as the Moffat road is now known—had a plan. Would not the city of Denver lend its credit to an enterprise so fraught with commercial possibilities for it? Would not the city of Denver arrange a bond issue for the digging of that tunnel—incidentally finding therein a good investment for its spare dollars?

[274] Would Denver do that? Ask this man over there. He is well acquainted with the Paris of America.

"Of course it would," he answers. "If some one was to come along with a scheme to expend five million dollars in building a statue to Jupiter atop of Pikes Peak, he would find plenty of supporters and enthusiasm in Denver. The only scheme that does not succeed out there is the one that is practical."

The gentleman is sarcastic—and yet not very far from the truth. For last year when the bond issue for the railroad tunnel went to a vote it was carried—with enthusiasm. Thereafter Denver was upon the trunk-line railroad map. The mere facts that the nine miles of tunnel were yet to be bored and many additional miles of the most difficult railroad construction of the land builded to its portals were mere details. The thin air of the Mile-High city lifts its citizens well over details. And they are far too broad, far too generous to trouble with such minute things.

For in them dwells the real spirit of the West—by this time no mere gateway—and it is a rare spirit, indeed. The town, as we have already intimated, has a strong social tendency. She has sent her men and women, her sons and her daughters to the East and they have won for themselves on their own merits. The Atlantic seaboard has paid full tribute to the measure of her training—and why not? Her schools are as good as the best, her fine homes and her little homes together would be a credit to any town in the land, her big clubs would grace Fifth avenue. Her whole social organism from bottom to top is well fibered. It is charmingly exclusive in one way, warmly democratic in many others.

A girl tourist from Cleveland, a recent summer, essayed to make the ascent of the capitol dome between two connecting trains. She miscalculated distances during the hour and a half that was at her disposal and[275] almost missed her outbound train. She surely would have missed it, if it had not been for the courtesy of a well-dressed Denver woman. The girl stood at the corner of Seventeenth street and Broadway, where a group of large hotels center, waiting for a trolley car to take her to the station. She could see its sightly tower a long way down Seventeenth street, but there were no cars in sight at that instant. She spoke to the woman, who was coming out of a drug store, and asked about the car service to the station. In the East she might have had a perfunctory answer, if she received an answer at all. The Denver woman began explaining, then she checked herself:

"Better yet," she smiled, "I have my automobile here and I'll take you down there while we are talking about it."

The car was a big imported fellow and the girl made her train. Some time after, she discovered that the woman who had been of such courteous attention was one of the very biggest of Denver society leaders. Imagine, if you can, such a thing coming to pass upon the Atlantic seaboard—in New York, in Boston, in Philadelphia—or in Charleston!

*****

There is still another phase of life in Denver—and that is the fact that most of her residents, for one reason or another, have drifted out to her from the East. Once in a long while, if you loaf over your morning newspaper on a shady bench in the Capitol grounds, you will become acquainted with some whiskered old fellow who will tell you that he chased antelope where the big and showy City Park today stands, that he remembers clearly when a nearby street was the Santa Fé Trail and then a country road, and that two generations after him are living in Denver; or sometimes if you go down into Larimer street, which is old Denver,[276] you can find a veteran who likes to prate of other days—of the time when he used to pack down to the capital from his mountain claim, one hundred and twenty-five miles over the mountain snows, for his winter's bacon. But the majority of these Denverites have come from the East. There is some old town in New England with avenues of giant trees that is still home to them, and yet they all have a heap of affection for the city of their adoption.

Some of them have gone to Denver against their will, and that is the tragic shadow of Colorado. They are expatriates—exiles, if you please—for Colorado is the American Siberia. This dread thing, this thing that is impartial to all low altitudes—the white plague—marks the victims, who go shuffling their way to die among the hills—in the gay Paris of North America. It is the gaunt tragedy of Denver, and even though the Denverites speak lightheartedly of the "T. B.'s" who have come to dwell among them, they themselves know best the bitter tragedy of it all.

Here were two girls, sisters, who worked in a restaurant. A customer held his home newspaper spread as he supped alone. Its title, after the fashion of country weeklies, was emblazoned that all might read; the widespread eagle has been its feature for three-quarters of a century now. One of the waitresses made bold to speak.

"So you are from near Syracuse?" she said.

It was affirmed. She beckoned to her sister to come over. The little restaurant—Denver fashion, it made specialities of "short orders," cream waffles and T-bone steaks—was almost deserted. She spoke to her sister.

"He's from Syracuse," she said. The sister was a delicate, colorless little thing, but the blood flushed up into her pale cheeks for an instant.

[277] "We're from Syracuse," she said proudly. "We used to live up on the hill, just around the corner from the college. It was great fun to see the students go climbing up around Mount Olympus there. It was twice as great fun in winter, when the north wind was blowing the snow right up into our faces."

Exiles these. They had left their nice, comfortable home there in the snug, New York state city to make the long dreary trek to Denver. They were clever girls, and it seemed certain that they might find work in some nice office in the big and growing Colorado city. They were fairly competent stenographers, and it seemed to them that they might live in peace and comfort in the new home. It was a change from their big Syracuse house to a narrow hallroom in a Denver boarding house. Then upon that came the fruitless search for a "nice place." Hundreds of other girl stenographers, driven on the long trip West, were pressing against them. The two Syracusans held their heads high—for a time. Then they were glad to get the menial places as waitresses.

The man who checks trunks at one of the biggest transfer companies confessed that he was an exile, too.

"Came out here a dozen years ago with a busted lung," he admitted with a quizzical smile. "Guess I'll stay for a while longer. But I want to go back to Baltimore. Before I am done with it I am going back to Baltimore. I'm going to walk down Charles street once again and breathe the fragrance of the flowers in the gardens, if it kills me."

A girl in a boarding house leaned up against the wall of the broad and shady piazza and said she liked Denver "really, truly, immensely."

"Do you honestly?"

"Honestly," she drawled gravely. "God knows, I've got to. I'm a lunger, although they don't know it here.[278] I've only got one lung, but it's a good lung," she ended with a little hysterical laugh.

Another exile. The American Siberia, in truth, save that this Siberia is a near Paradise—a kingdom for exiles where the grass is as green as it is back in the old East, where the trees cast welcome shade and the strange new flowers blossom out smiles of hope. But a Siberia none the less. The big sanitariums all about the city tell that. The keeper of the Denver Morgue will tell it, too. The suicide rate in Denver runs high. Desperate folk go out to Colorado to shut the door in the face of death—and go too late. They are far from home, alone, friendless, penniless in despair—the figures of the statisticians cannot lie.

The East has this as a debt to pay Denver, and generally she pays it royally. Denver does not forget the times when the Atlantic seaboard has come to her assistance—despite the troubles of David H. Moffat in raising capital for his railroad. Once in a business council there while the East was getting some rather hard knocks for its "fool conservatism"—perhaps it had been refusing to buy the bonds of the mountain-climbing railroad—a big Denver banker got the floor. He was a man who could demand attention—and receive it.

"I want you to remember one thing," he said; "fifteen years ago we were laying out and selling town-lots for a dozen miles east of Denver; we were selling them to Easterners—for their good money. When they came out and looked for their land what did they see? They saw plains—mile after mile of plains—peopled by what? They were peopled by jackrabbits, and the jackrabbits were bald from bumping their heads against the surveyors' stakes. Until we have redeemed those lots and built our city out to them and upon them, gentlemen, we have not redeemed our promise to the East."

[279] And no one who knows Denver doubts that the time will yet come when she will redeem that promise. Her railroad may or may not come to be a transcontinental route of importance, manufacturing may or may not descend upon her with its grime and industry and wealth, but her magnificent situation there at the base of the Rockies will continue to make her at least a social factor in the gradually lengthening roll of really vital American cities.


[280]

18
TWO RIVALS OF THE NORTH PACIFIC—AND A THIRD

"When you get to Portland you will see New England transplanted. You will see the most American town on the continent, bar only Philadelphia."

The man on the train shrieking westward down through the marvelous valley of the Columbia spoke like an oracle. He had a little group of oddly contorted valises that bespoke him as a traveling salesman, and hence a person of some discrimination and judgment. He was ready to talk politics, war to the death on railroads, musical comedy and the condition of the markets with an equally uncertain knowledge, a fund of priceless information that never permitted itself to undergo even the slightest correction.

But he was right, absolutely right, about Portland. From the cleanest railroad station that we have ever seen, even though the building is more than twenty years old, to the very crests of the fir-lined hills that wall her in, here is a town that is so absolutely American, that it seems as if she might even boast one of the innumerable George Washington headquarters somewhere on her older streets. Her downtown streets are conservatively narrow, her staunch Post Office suggests a public building in one of the older cities on the Atlantic coast, and her shops are a medley of delights, with apparently about thirty percent of them given over to the retail vending of chocolate. Our Portland guide was grieved when we made mention of this last fact.

[281] "I once went to Boston," said he, "and found it an almost continuous piano store."

Which was, of course, a mere evasion of the truth of our suggestion as to the chocolate propensities of the maids of Portland. They are very much like the girls in Hartford or Indianapolis or St. Paul or any other bustling town across this land, attending the Saturday matinées with an almost festal regularity; rollicking, flirting girls, grave and gay, girls dancing and girls driving their big six-cylinder automobiles with almost unerring accuracy up the tremendous hills of the town.

Hills they really are and well worth the tall climb to Council Crest, the showiest of them all. If your host does not mind tire expense and the wear and tear on his engine, he may take you up there in his automobile. The street car makes the same ascent, and the managers of the local traction system who have to pay for all the repairs and renewals to the cars do not hesitate to say that it is the least profitable line in creation. But the final result at Council Crest is worth a set of tires, or a six-months' ageing of a trolley car.

You have climbed up from the heart of the busy town, past the business section, spreading itself out as business sections of all successful towns must continue to do, past the trim snug little white Colonial houses—that must have been stolen from old Salem or Newburyport—all set among the dark greens of the cedars and the firs, and belying the Northland tales of the tree foliage by the great rose-bushes that bloom all the year round, up on to the place where tradition says the silent chiefs of red men used to gather.... Below you from Council Crest the town—the town, at dusk, if you please. The arcs are showing the regular pattern of trim streets, the shops and the big office buildings are aglow for the night with the brilliancy of artificial illumination. It is dark down in the town—night has closed in upon it.

[282] Now lift your eyes and let them carry past the town and the black gloom of the river, over the nearest encirclings of the fir-clad hills and see the day die in the most high place. You see it now—a peculiar pink cloud, which is not a cloud at all, but a snow-capped cone-shaped peak rising into the darkening heavens. Mount Hood is an asset for Portland, because for any habitation of man it would be an inspiration. And beyond Mount Hood—fifty miles distant—but further to the north are Mount Adams, Mount St. Helen's and sometimes on a fine clear evening Rainier bidding alike brilliant farewells to the dying day.

Belasco might have staged Seattle
Belasco might have staged Seattle

This then is the city into which a traveler may enter on an autumn day to find the innumerable cedars and firs, the changing brilliancy of the maple leaves proclaiming it North, with the gaily blossoming rose-bushes and the home-grown strawberries of October telling a paradoxical story and locating the Oregon metropolis to the South. The publicity experts of the town can—and do—sound its praises in no faint terms. They will tell you of a single day when twenty-two wheat vessels were at Portland docks gathering the food-stuffs for a hungry Orient, they will reel off statistics as to the shipping powers of the great lumber port in all the world and then, without a lessening of the pride, will go further and explain Portland's hopes for the further inland navigation of the streams that make her an important ocean port although fifty miles distant from the sight of the sea. The Columbia river is already navigable for four hundred miles inland and Portland is today coöperating with the Canadian authorities in British Columbia for extending the waterway's availability as a carrier for another four hundred miles. A great work has been performed in pulling the teeth of the mighty Columbia where it meets the sea—in building jetties at the mouth of the river. The government with unusual[283] energy is making new locks at the impressive Cascades. Portland has good reason for her faith in the future. Her railroad systems are in their infancy; a part of Central Oregon as large as the state of Ohio is just now being reached by through routes from Portland. What future they shall bring her no man dares to predict.

But we, for ourselves, shall like to continue to think of Portland as a gentle American town set between guardian fir-clad hills and sentineled by snow-capped peaks; we shall enjoy remembering the yellow and red leaves of Autumn, the luxuriant roses, the strawberries and the crisp October nights in one delightful paradoxical jumble.

*****

To make a great seaport city out of a high-springing ridge of volcanic origin was a truly herculean task, but Seattle sprang to it with all the enthusiasm of her youth. "Re-grading" is what she has called it, and because even armies of men with pick and with shovel could not work fast enough for her own satisfaction, she borrowed a trick from the old-time gold miners and put hose-men at work. Hydraulic science supplanted men and teams and picks and even the big steam shovels. The splashing hose wore down the crest of the great hills until sturdy buildings teetered on their foundations and late moving tenants had to come and go up and down long ladders.

In 1881 President Hayes came to this strange little lumbering town and spoke from the platform of the two-storied Occidental Hotel in the center of the village to its entire population—some five hundred persons. The Occidental Hotel was gone within ten years, to be replaced by a hostelry that in 1890 was big and showy for any town and that in 1912, Seattle regarded almost as a relic of past ages. And stranger still, the hills—the eternal hills, if you please—that looked upon the Occi[284]dental Hotel only yesterday, have gone. Not that Seattle will not always be a side-hill town, that the cable cars will not continue to climb up Madison street from the waterfront like flies upon a window-glass, but that a tremendous reformation has been wrought, with the aid of engineers' skill and the famous "hard money" of the Pacific coast.

For here was a town that decided almost overnight to be a seaport of world-wide reputation. She looked at her high hills ruefully. Then she called for the hose-men. The hills were doomed.

There was Denny hill, with a park of five acres capping it. The surveyors set their rival stakes five hundred feet below the lowest level of the little park and a matter of almost a million cubic yards of earth went sploshing down the long hydraulic sluices to make the tide-water flats at the bottom of the hills into solid footing for future factories and warehouses. And when the "regraders" were done the architects and the builders were upon their heels.

Denny hill had boasted a hotel upon its summit, which in the late eighties Seattle regarded as an architectural triumph, a wooden thing of angles and shingles and queer Queen Anne turrets and dormers. The name of the old hotel went to a new one which supplanted it at a proper altitude for a city that was determined to be metropolitan—and the new hotel was a dignified structure worthy of the best town in all this land.

"We had to do it," the Seattle man will tell you, without smiling. "We have got to be ready for a population of a million or more. Our house has got to be in order."

It is not every day that one can see an American metropolitan city in the making.

*****

Back of the high-crested hills that have been suffered[285] to remain as a part of the topography of this remarkable town—for its residents still like to perch their smart new houses where they may command a view of Puget Sound or the snow-capped Rainier—is as lovely a chain of lakes as was ever given to an American city. Boston would have made the edges of these the finest suburbs in the land; she is trying some sort of an experiment of that kind with her dirty old Charles river. Seattle saw in the great bowl of Lake Washington something more.

"We can crowd into Portland a little more," said the shrewdest of her citizens, "by making this lake into a fresh-water harbor."

Just what the advantages of a fresh-water harbor may be to Seattle which already possesses one of the finest deep-water harbors on the North Pacific, may be obscure to you for the moment. Then the Seattle man informs you that Portland has a fresh-water harbor, that the masters of ships, still thirty days' sailing from port, make for its haven, knowing that in fresh water the barnacles that make so great a drag upon a vessel's progress will fall away from the hull. A fresh-water bath for a salt-water hull is better than a drain-off in a dry dock—and a great sight cheaper.

Here, then, is a masterful new town seeking new points of advantage over its rivals, piercing canals through to its backyard lakes so that it may eventually be as completely surrounded by docks and shipping as are New York and Boston. It is impossible to think of Seattle ever hesitating. Seattle proceeds to accomplish. Before she has a real opportunity to count the cost, the improvements which she has undertaken are rolling in revenue to her coffers.

*****

Tacoma is smaller than either Seattle or Portland—and not one whit less vigorous than either of them. She has not undergone the wholesale transformations of her[286] sister to the north and still retains all the aspects of a busy port of the Far North—long reaching wharves, busy, dirty railroad yards reaching and serving them, fir-clad hills rising from the water, the smell and industry of lumber—and back of all these her mountain. It is her mountain—"The Mountain that was God" as the Indians used to say—and if for long weeks it may stay modestly hidden behind fog-banks, there do come days when its great snow-capped peak gazes serenely down upon the little city.

Do not dare to come into this town and call her mountain Rainier, after the fashion of government "map sharps" and railroad advertisements. It is Mount Tacoma, if you please, and woe be to any man who calls it anything else. Former President Taft once shouldered the question upon reaching the northwestern corner of the land like a true diplomat. At the dinners in both Seattle and Tacoma he referred to the great guardian peak of Washington as "the mountain" thereby offending no one and leaving a pleasant "lady or the tiger" mystery as to which of the two names he would use in private conversation.

But whether the mountain be Rainier or Tacoma, it is going to be one of the great playgrounds of the nation—and that within very few years. Think of starting out from a brisk American city of a hundred thousand population and within two hours standing at the foot of a giant glacier grinding down from the heavens, a cold, dead, icy thing but still imbued with the stubborn sort of life that stunted vegetable growths possess, a life that makes the frozen river travel toward the sea every day of the year. A man living in Tacoma, or Seattle, or Portland, for that matter, can have both the dangers and the joys of Swiss mountain climbing but a few hours distant. It takes knowledge and courage to make the ascent of Rainier—a tedious trip which starts through the[287] three summer months in which it is possible at five o'clock in the morning so as to reach the summit before the snows begin to melt to the danger point. And yet, in the hands of skilled guides, so many women cross the crevices and climb the steep upward trails, that the record of their ascents is no longer kept.

This great Swiss mountain—higher than Blanc, and vastly more impressive from the fact that its fourteen thousand foot summit rises almost directly from the sea—is the central feature of the newest of all the government parks. It is in the stages of early development and already the tourists are coming to it in increasing numbers. Given a few years and Rainier will vie in popularity with the Yellowstone, the Yosemite and the Grand Canyon of the Colorado. In scenic beauty of its own inimitable sort it already ranks with these.

The man who makes the ascent of Rainier—if poetry and imagination rest within his soul—may truly feel that he has come near to God. He can feel the ardor and the inspiration of the red men who gave the mountain its mystic symbolism. He can look up into the clouds and feel that he is at the dome of the world. He can look down, down past the timber line off across miles of timber land and catch the silver of Puget Sound and the distant horizon flash of the Pacific. He can see smoke to the south—Portland—smoke to the north and west—Seattle—and nearer than these—the brisk Tacoma that hugs this mountain to herself.

If imagination rest within him he can now know that these cities, at the northwest corner of America, are barely adult, just beginning to come into their own. A great measure of growth and strength is yet to be given to them.


[288]

19
SAN FRANCISCO—THE NEWEST PHŒNIX

We came upon it in the still of an early Sunday evening—the wonderful city of Saint Francis. Throughout that cloudless Sabbath we had journeyed southward through California. At dawn the porter of the sleeping car had informed us that we were in the Golden State, not to be distinguished in its northern reaches from Oregon. Men were talking of the wonders of the Klamath country into which the civilizing rails of steel are being steadily pushed, the breath of tomorrow was upon the lips of every one who boarded the train, but the land itself was wild, half-timbered, rugged to the last degree. Through the morning grays the volcanic cone of Shasta was showing ever and ever so faintly, and if an acquaintance of two hours with the peak that Joaquin Miller has made so famous did not enthuse the man behind the car-window, it must have been that he was still a bit dazed, not surfeited, with the wonders of Rainier.

At the foot of Shasta our train stood for a bare ten minutes while travelers descended and partook of the vilest tasting waters that nature might boast in all California. Shasta spring water is supposed to be mightily beneficial and that is probably true, for our experience with spring waters has been that their benefits have existed in an inverse ratio to their pleasantness of taste. But if Nature had given her benefactions to Shasta a sort of Spartan touch, she has more than compensated for the severity of her gifts by the beauty of their set[289]ting. You literally descend directly upon the springs. The railroad performs earthly miracles to land a passenger in front of them. It descends a vast number of feet in an incredibly short length of track—the conductor will reduce these to cold statistics—and your idea is a quick drop on a gigantic hair-pin. At the base of the lowest leg of this hair-pin is the spring, set in a deep glen, the mossy banks of which are constantly adrip and seemingly one great slow-moving waterfall, even throughout the fearfully dry seasons of California. The whole thing is distinctly European, distinctly different—a bit of Swiss scenery root-dug and brought to the West Coast of the United States.

After Shasta and the springs, another of the desolate, fascinating canyons to be threaded for many miles besides the twistings of a melancholy river, then—of a sudden—open country, farmers growing green things, ranch-houses, dusty county-roads, with automobiles plowing them dustier still, little towns, more ranches—everything in California from two to two million acres is a ranch—then a grinding of air-brakes and your neighbor across the aisle is fumbling with his red-covered time-table to locate the station upon it. As for you, you don't care about what station it really may be. It is a station. You are sure of that. There is the familiar light yellow depot, but in the well-kept lawn that abuts it grows a giant tree. That tree is a palm, and the palm-tree typifies California to every tingling sense of your mentality.

This is the real California. The mountains have already become accustomed things to you, the broad ranches were coming into their own before you ever reached Denver, but the palm is exotic in your homeland, a glass-protected thing. That it grows freely beside this little unidentified railroad station proclaims to you that you are at last in a land that bids defiance to that trinity[290] of scourging giants—December, January and February—and calls itself summer the whole year round.

This palm has brought you to a sense of your location—to California. The romance that has been spelled into you of a distant land, and of the men who toiled that it become a great state peopled with great cities, of Nature's lavish gifts and terrific blows laid alike upon it, came into your heart and soul and body at the first glimpse of that tree. Before the train is under way again your camera has been called into action—mental processes are supplemented by a permanent record chemically etched upon a film of celluloid.

After that pioneer among palm-trees, more of these little yellow depots and more of these rarely beautiful palms standing beside them. The ranches multiply, this valley of Sacramento is a rarely fertile thing. Growth stretches for miles, without ever a hint of undulation. California is the flattest thing you have ever seen. And again and again you will be declaring it the most mountainous of all our states. The flat-lands carry you beyond daylight into dusk. The towns multiply, a glow of arc reflection against the shadows of evening is Sacramento a dozen miles distant. Then there is a rattle of switches, a halt at a junction station, and mail is being gathered from the impromptu literature makers on our train to go east. The main line is reached. And a little later the Straits of Costa are crossed. Here is a broad arm of the sea and if it were still lingering daylight you might declare that Holland, not Switzerland, had been transplanted into California. The sea laughs at bridges, and so from Benecia to Port Costa we go on a great ferryboat, eleven Pullmans, a great ten-drivered passenger locomotive—all of us together. For twenty minutes we slip across the water, breathing fresh air once again and standing in the ferry's bow looking toward the shadowy outline of a high, black hill carelessly punctuated here[291] and there by yellow points of light. A new land is always mysterious and fascinating; by night doubly mysterious, doubly fascinating.

The ferry boat fast to its bridge, the locomotive is no longer an impotent thing. We are making the last stage of a long trip across the continent by rail. The little towns are multiplying. The subtle prescience of a great city is upon us. We turn west, then south and the suburban villages are shouldering one another all the more closely the entire way. We skirt and barely miss Berkeley, hesitate at Oakland and then come to a grinding final stop at the end of a pier that juts itself far out beyond the shallow reaches of San Francisco bay. Again there is a ferry boat—a capacious craft not unlike those craft upon which we have ridden time and time again between Staten island and the tip of Manhattan—and when its screws have ceased to turn we will finally be in the real San Francisco, reached as a really great metropolis may be reached, after an infinitude of time and trouble. It is still October—the warmest month of the year in the city by the Golden Gate—and the girls and their young men fill the long benches on the open decks of the ferry. The wind blows soft from the Pacific, and straight ahead is San Francisco—a mystery of yellow illumination rising from the water's edge.

As the ferry makes her course, the goal is less and less of a mystery. Street lights begin to give some sort of half-coherent form to the high hills that make the amphitheater site of San Francisco, they dip in even lines to show the course of straight avenues. A great beer sign changes and rechanges in spelling its lively message, there is a moon-faced clock held aloft, you pinch your memory sharply, and then know that it must be the tower of the great ferry-house, the conspicuous waterfront land-mark of San Francisco.

In another five minutes you are passing under that[292] tower—a veritable gate-keeper of the city—and facing up Market street; from the beginning its undisputed chief thoroughfare. A taxicab is standing there. You throw your hand-baggage into it, come tumbling after, yourself. There is a confusion of street-lights, a momentary intimacy of a trolley car running alongside—a little later the glare and confusion of a hotel lobby, the fascinating fuss of getting yourself settled in a strange town. There is a double witchery in approaching a great new city at night.

In the morning to tumble out of your hotel into that same strange town in the clarity of early sunshine, to have this great street or that or that—Market or Geary or Powell—stretching forth as if longing to invite your explorations—here again is the fascination of travel. The big trolley cars come rolling up Market street in quick succession, and for an instant their appeal is strong. But over there is a car of another sort, running on narrow-gauge tracks and with the roar of an endless cable ever at work beneath the pavement. The little cars upon those narrow tracks interest you. They are as gaily colored and as bravely striped as any circus wagon of boyhood days, and when you pay your fare you can take your choice—between the interior of a stuffy little cabin amidships or open seats at either end arranged after the time-honored fashion of Irish jaunting cars. San Franciscans do not hesitate. They range themselves along the open seats of the dinky cars and look proud as toads as the cars go clanking up the awful hills.

The San Francisco cable car is in a transportation class by itself. It clings tenaciously to early traditions. For in San Francisco the cable railroad was born—and in San Francisco the cable railroad still remains. One Andrew S. Halladie was its inventor—somewhere early in the "seventies." Up Clay street hill, and to know and appreciate the slope of Clay street hill one must[293] have seen it once at least, Halladie's first car struggled, while its passengers held their breaths just as first-comers to San Francisco still hold their breaths as they ride up and down the fearful hills. The telegraph told to the whole land how a street railroad was running on a rope out in that little-known land of marvels—California. But the telegraph could not tell what the railroad on a rope meant to San Francisco—San Francisco encompassed and held in by her high sand hills. The Clay street cable road had conquered one of the meanest of these hills and they began to plan other roads of a similar sort. Like a blossoming and growing vine the city spread, almost overnight. Sand-dunes became building-lots of high value and a new bonanza era was come to San Francisco. And, with the traditional generosity of the coast, she gave her transportation idea to other cities. In a little while St. Louis, Chicago, Washington and New York were banishing the horse cars from their busiest streets. A new era in city transit was begun.

A few years later the broomstick trolley—cheaper and in many respects far more efficient—displaced the cable-cars in many of these cities. But San Francisco up to the present time has stuck loyally to her old-time hill conquerors. And the nervous lever-clutch of the gripman as he "gets the rope" is as distinctive of her as are the fantasies of her marvelous wooden architecture.

Some of the cable cars have disappeared—they began to go in those wonderful years of reconstruction right after the fire, and they are already obsolete in the city's chief thoroughfare, Market street. The others remain. Over on Pacific avenue is a little line that the San Franciscans dearly love, for it is particularly reminiscent of the trams that used to clatter through Market street before the fire—a diminutive summer-house in front and pulling an immaculate little horseless horse car behind. Eventually all will go. One road's franchise has already[294] expired and upon it San Francisco is today maintaining the first municipally operated street car line in any metropolitan city of America. If the experiment in Geary street succeeds, and it is being carefully operated with such a hope clearly in view, it will probably be extended to the cable lines when their franchises expire and they revert automatically to the city.

*****
Where the Pacific rolls up to San Francisco
Where the Pacific rolls up to San Francisco

The distinctive mannerisms of San Francisco are changing—slowly but very surely indeed. Some of them still remain, however, in greater or less force. At the restaurants, in the shops and in the hotels you receive your change in "hard money"—gold and silver coin. Your real San Franciscan will have nothing else. There is something about the substantial feeling of a coin, something about the tinkling of a handful of it that runs straight to the bottom of his heart. Since the fire—which worked ever more fearful havoc with San Francisco comforts than with the physical structure of the city—the use of paper money has increased. But your true Californian will have none of it. When he goes east and they give him paper money he fusses and fumes about it—inwardly at least. He thinks that it may slip out of that pesky inner pocket or vest or coat. He wants gold—a handful of it in his trousers-pocket to jingle and to stay put. And as for pennies. You who count yourself of the East will have to come east once again before you pocket such copper trash—they will have none of them upon the West Coast. Small change may be anything else but it is not Western.

"Western," did we say?

Hold on. San Francisco is not western. California is not western. To call either western is to commit an abomination approaching the use of the word "Frisco."

"California is to all purposes, practical and social—a great island," your San Franciscan will explain to you.[295] "To the east of us lies another dividing sea—the broad miles of desert and of mountains, and so broad is it that Hong Kong or Manila or Yokohama seem nearer to us than Chicago or St. Louis. We recognize nothing west of New York and Washington. Between is that vast space—the real West—which fast trains and good, bridge in a little more than four days. In there is your West—Illinois, Mississippi, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado—all the rest of that fine family of American states.

"In Los Angeles, now, it is different. The lady that you take out upon your arm there is probably from Davenport or Kokomo or Indianapolis, whether she will admit it or not. Los Angeles is western. We are not. We are 'the Coast' and be exceeding careful, young man, how you say it."

He has spoken the truth. Your typical San Franciscan is quite as well versed in the streets and shops and hotels of London, Paris and Vienna, as your typical New Yorker or Bostonian. The four days bridging across the North American continent is no more to him than the Hudson river ferries to the commuter from New Jersey. His city is cosmopolitan—and he is proud of it. Her streets are cosmopolitan and so are her shops and her great hotels. To the stately Palace reared from the site of the old, and with a new glass-covered court rivaling the glories of its predecessor, still come princes and diplomats, globe-trotters of every sort and bearing in their train wondrous luggage of every sort, prosperous miners from the North, bankers from the East, Californians from every corner of their great state, and look with curious interest at the elect of San Francisco sipping their high tea there in the court yard.

And the cosmopolitanism of the streets is still more marked. Portuguese, Italian, sour-doughs from Alaska, hundreds of the little brown Japs who are giving California such a tremendous worry these days, Indians,[296] French Kanakas, Mexicans, Chinese—the list might be run almost interminably. Of these none are more interesting than the Chinese. You see them in all the downtown quarters of San Francisco—the men with that inscrutable gravity and sagacity that long centuries of civilization seem to have given them, the women and the little girls, of high caste or low, invariably hatless and wearing loose coat and trousers—in many cases of brilliant colors and rare Oriental silks. And when you come to their own city within a city—San Francisco's famous Chinatown—they are the dominant folk upon the street. Of course the new Chinatown is not the old—with its subterranean labyrinths of unspeakable vileness and dirt, with danger and crime lurking in each of its dark corners. That passed completely in the fire. But it had begun to pass even before that great calamity. It was being exploited. Paid guides, with a keen sense of the theatrical, were beginning to work the damage. The "rubberneck wagons" were multiplying.

Today Chinatown is frankly commercial. It is clean and new and clever. Architects have brought more of the Chinese spirit into its buildings than the old ever had. It does not lack color—by day, the treasures of its shops, the queer folk who walk its streets, even the bright red placards upon the door-lintels; by night the close slow-moving throngs through Grant avenue—its chief thoroughfare—the swinging lanterns above their heads, the radiance that comes out from brilliantly lighted and mysterious rooms along the way—the new Chinatown of San Francisco. But it is now frankly commercial. The paid guides and the "rubberneck wagons" have completed the ruin. If you are taken into an opium den, you may be fairly sure that the entire performance has been staged for the delectation of you and yours. For the real secrets even of the new Chinatown are not shown to the unappreciative eyes of white folk.

[297] At the edge of Chinatown slopes Portsmouth square and here the cosmopolitanism of San Francisco reaches its high apex. Around it chatters the babel of all tongues, beyond it stretches the "Barbary Coast,"G that collection of vile, if picturesque resorts that possesses a tremendous fascination for some San Franciscans and some tourists but which has no place within the covers of this book. To Portsmouth square come the representatives of all these little colonies of babbling foreigners, the men who sail the seven seas—the flotsam and the jetsam not alone of the Orient but of the whole wide world as well. There is a little man who sits on one side of the square and who for a very small sum will execute cubist art upon your cuticle. Among tattooers he acknowledges but two superiors—a one-legged veteran who plies his trade near the wharves of the Mersey, and a Hindu artist at Calcutta. The little shops that line Portsmouth square are the little shops of many peoples. Over their counters you can buy many things practical, and many, many more of the most impractical things in all the world. And the new Hall of Justice rises above the square in the precise site of the old.

G As this goes to press a "vice crusade" has swept San Francisco and the "Barbary Coast" has been forced to close its doors. It is not unlikely that they may be opened once again.  E. H.

Portsmouth square has played its part in the history of San Francisco. From it the modern city dates. It was the plaza of the old Spanish town, and within this plaza Commodore Montgomery of the American sloop-of-war Portsmouth first raised the Stars and Stripes—in the strenuous days of the Mexican war. After that the stirring days of gold-times with the vigilantes conducting hangings on the flat roofs of the neighboring houses of adobe. Portsmouth square indeed has played its part in the history of San Francisco.

"Portsmouth square," you begin to say, "Portsmouth[298] square—was it not Portsmouth square that Stevenson—"

Precisely so. There are still some of the shop-keepers about that ancient plaza who can recall the thin figure of the poet and dreamer who loafed lazy days in that open space—hobnobbing with sailors and the strange dark-skinned vagabond folk from overseas. There is a single monument in the square today—a smooth monolith upon whose top there rests a ship, its sails full-bellied to the wind but which never reaches a port. Upon the smooth surface of that stone you may read:

TO REMEMBER
ROBERT LOUIS
STEVENSON
To be honest    To be
kind — To earn a lit-
tle    To spend a lit-
tle less — to make
upon the whole a
family happier for
his presence — To re-
nounce when that shall
be necessary and not
be embittered — To
keep a few friends but
these without capitula-
tion — Above all on
the same grim condition
to keep friends
with himself — Here is
a task for all that a
man has of fortitude
      and delicacy

That is the lesson that Portsmouth square gives to the wanderers who drag themselves today to its benches—the words that come as a sermon from one who knew and who pitied wrecked humanity.

There are other great squares of San Francisco[299]—and filled with interest—perhaps none other more so than Union square, in the heart of the fine retail section with its theaters and hotels and clubs. Of these last there is none more famous than the Bohemian. More showy clubs has San Francisco. The Pacific Union in its great brown-stone house upon the very crest of Nob Hill, where in other days the bonanza millionaires were wont to build their high houses so that they might look across the housetops and see the highways in from the sea, has a home unsurpassed by any other in the whole land. But the Bohemian does not get its fame from its fine town club-house. Its "jinks" held in August in a great cluster of giant redwood trees off in the wonderful California hills are world-renowned. In the old days all that was necessary for a man to be a Bohemian, beyond the prime requisite of being a good fellow, was that he be able to sing a song, to tell a story or to write a verse. In these days the Bohemian Club, like many other institutions that were simple in the beginning, has waxed prosperous. Some of its members have rather elaborate cottages in among the redwoods and go back and forth in automobiles. But much of the old spirit remains. It is the spirit which the San Franciscan tells you gave first American recognition to such an artist as Luisa Tetrazzini, which many years ago gave such a welcome to the then famous Lotta that the generous actress in a burst of generous enthusiasm returned with the gift to the city of the Lotta fountain—at one of the most famous of the Market street corners. It is the spirit which makes San Francisco give to art or literature the quickest appreciation of any city in America. It is, in fact, the same spirit that gives to San Francisco the reputation of having the gayest night life of any city in the world—with the possible exception of Paris.

Night life in a city means the intoxication of many lights, the creature comfort of good restaurants. San[300] Francisco does not lack either. When the last glimmer of day has disappeared out over the Golden Gate, Market street, Powell street, all the highways and the byways that lead into them are ablaze with the incandescent glories of electricity. Commerce and the city's lighting boards vie with one another in the splendor of their offerings.

And as for the restaurants—San Francisco boasts of twelve hundred hotels, alone. Each hotel has presumably at least one restaurant. And some of the finest of the eating-places of the city at the Golden Gate are solely restaurants. As a matter of real fact, San Francisco is the greatest restaurant city on the continent—in proportion to her population even greater than New York. In New York and more recently in Chicago the so-called "kitchenette apartment" has come into great vogue among tiny folks—two or three rooms, a bath and a very slightly enlarged clothes-press in which a small gas or electric stove, a sink and a refrigerator suffices for the preparation of light breakfasts and lunches. Dinners are taken out. In San Francisco the "kitchenettes" are omitted in thousands of apartments. All the meals are eaten in public dining-rooms and the restaurants thrive wonderfully. The soft climate does much to make this possible.

Living in these new apartments of San Francisco is a comparatively simple matter. Your capital investment for house-keeping may be small. A few chairs, a table or two, some linen—you are ready to begin.

Beds?

Bless your soul, the builder of the apartment house solved that problem for you. Your bed is a masterpiece of architecture which lets down from the wall, à la Pullman. By day it goes up against the wall again and an ingenious arrangement of wall-shutters enables the bedding to air throughout the entire day. In some[301] cases the beds will let down either within, or without, to a sleeping-porch, for your real San Franciscan has a healthy sort of an animal love for living and sleeping in the open. The glories of the open California country that lie within an hour or two of the city tempt him into it each month of the year, and he is impeccable in his horseback riding, his fishing and his shooting.

To return to the restaurants—a decided contrast to that rough life in the open which he really loves—here is one, quite typical of the city. It is gay, almost garish with color and with light. Its cabaret almost amounts to an operatic performance and its proprietor will tell you with no little pride that he was presenting this form of restaurant entertainment long months before the idea ever reached New York. He will also tell you that he changes the entire scheme of decoration each three months—the San Franciscan mind is as volatile as it is appreciative.

Little Jap girls pass through the crowded tables bringing you hot tea biscuits of a most delicious sort. Other girls, this time in Neapolitan dress, are distributing flowers. The head-waiter bends over you and suggests the salad with which you start your dinner, for it seems to be the fashion in San Francisco restaurants to eat your salad before your soup. The restaurant is a gay place, crowded. Late-comers must find their way elsewhere. And the food is surprisingly good.

But we best remember a little restaurant just back of the California market in Pine street—into which we stumbled of a Saturday night just about dinner-time. It was an unpretentious place, with two musicians fiddling for dear life in a tiny balcony. But the table d'hôte—price one dollar, with a bottle of California wine after the fashion of all San Francisco table d'hôtes—was perfection, the special dishes which the waiter suggested even finer. Soupe l'oignon that might linger in the[302] mind for a long time, a marvelous combination salad, chicken bonne femme—which translated meant a chicken pulled apart, then cooked with artichokes in a casserole, the whole smothered with a wonderful brown gravy—there was a dinner, absolute in its simplicity yet leaving nothing whatsoever to be wished. And a long time later we read that Maurice Baring, author and globe-trotter, had visited the place and pronounced its cookery the finest that he had ever tasted.

The Mission Dolores—San Francisco
The Mission Dolores—San Francisco

There are dozens of such little places in San Francisco—named after the fashion of its shops in grotesque or poetic fashion—and they are almost all of them good. There is little excuse for anything else in a town whose very cosmopolitanism proclaims real cooks in the making, whose wharves are rubbed by smack and schooner bringing in the food treasures of the sea, whose farms are vast truck gardens for the land, whose markets run riot in the richest of edibles. Your San Franciscan is nothing if not an epicure. It is hardly fair, however, to assume that he is a glutton or that he merely lives to eat. For he is, in reality, so very much more—optimistic, generous, brave—and how he does delight to experiment. California is still in the throes of what seems to be a social and political earthquake, with each shake growing a little more rough than its predecessor. She has just overturned most of her political ideals for the first fifty years of her life. She delights in politics. She really lives. San Francisco, standing between those two great schools of thought, the University of California at Berkeley, and Leland Stanford University at Palo Alto, prides herself upon her growing intellectuality. From the folk who dally with advanced thought of every sort down to those who are merely puzzled and dissatisfied, the population of this Californian metropolis demands a new order of things. That as much as anything else explains the recent political revolutions. Since the[303] great fire, the plans for those revolutions have been under progress.

The mention of that fire—if you make any pretense to diplomacy you must never call it an earthquake around the Golden Gate—brings us back to the San Francisco of today. You look up and down Market street for traces of that fire—and in vain. The city looks modern, after the fashion of cities of the American west, but its buildings do not seem to have arisen simultaneously after the scourge that leveled them—simultaneously. But turn off from Market street, to the south through Second or Third streets or north through any of the parallel throughfares that lead out of that same main-stem of San Francisco.

Now the fullness of that disaster—which was not more to you at the time than the brilliancy of newspaper dispatches—comes home to you for the first time. In the rear of your hotel is an open square of melancholy ruins, below it a corner plat still waste, others beyond in rapid succession. On the side streets, fragments of "party-walls," a bit of crumbling arch, a stout standing chimney remind you of the San Francisco that was and that can never be again. When you go out Market street, you may see where stood the pretentious City Hall—today a stretch of foundation-leveled ruins with a single surviving dome still devoted to the business of the Hall of Records. Still, to get the fullness of the disaster you must make your way into San Francisco's wonderful Golden Gate Park, past the single standing marble doorway of the old Towne house—a pathetic reminder of one of the great houses of the old San Francisco—and straight up to the crest of the high lifted Strawberry Hill. On that hill there stood until the eighteenth of April, 1906, a solid two-storied stone observatory. It seemed to be placed there for all time, but today it vaguely suggests the Coliseum of Rome—a half[304] circle of its double row of arches still standing but the weird ruin bringing back the most tragic five minutes that an American city has ever spent. Or if you will go a little farther, an hour on a quick-moving suburban train will bring you to Palo Alto and the remains of Leland Stanford University, that remarkable institution whose museum formerly held whole cases of Mrs. Stanford's gowns and a papier-mache reproduction of a breakfast once eaten by a member of her family.

It must be discouraging to try to bring order out of the chaos that was wreaked there. The great library, which was wrecked within a month of its completion, and the gymnasium have never been rebuilt, although the dome of the latter is still held aloft on stout steel supports. The chapel, which was Mrs. Stanford's great pride and for which she made so many sacrifices still rears its crossing. Nave and transepts, to say nothing of the marvelous mosaics, were leveled in the twinkling of that April dawn. The long vistas of arched pergolas, the triumph of the master, Richardson, still remain. And the ruin done in that catastrophe to the high-sprung arch he placed over the main entrance to the quadrangle has been in part eradicated.

For Leland Stanford University today represents one of the bravest attempts ever made in this land to repair an all but irreparable loss. It has never lost either faith and hope, and so the visitor to its campus today will see the beginnings toward a complete replacement of the buildings of what was one of the "show universities" of the land. With a patience that must have been infinite, the stones of the old chapel have been sorted out of the ruin—even fragments of the intricate mosaics have been carefully saved—numbered and placed in sequence for re-erection. Already the steel frame of nave and transepts is up again and the tedious work of erecting the masonry walls upon it begun. Leland Stanford[305] has, quite naturally, caught the spirit of San Francisco—the city that would not be defeated.

To analyze that spirit in a sweeping paragraph is all but impossible. Incident upon incident will show it in all its phases. For instance, there was in San Francisco on the morning of the earthquake a sober-minded German citizen who had put his all into a new business—a business that had just begun to prove the wisdom of his investment. When Nature awoke from her long sleep and stretching began to rock the city by the Golden Gate the German rushed upstairs to where his wife and daughter slept. He found them in one another's arms and frantic with terror.

"Papa! Papa!" they shrieked. "We are going to die. It is the end of the world—the business is gone. We are going to die!"

He smiled quietly at them.

"Well, what of it?" he asked quietly. "We die together—and in San Francisco."

A keen-witted business man once boasted that he could capitalize sentiment, express the spirit of the human soul in mere dollars and cents. What price could he give for a love and loyalty of that sort? That was, and still is, the affection that every San Franciscan from the ferry-house back to the farthest crest of the uppermost hill gives to his city—it is the thing that makes her one of the few American towns that possess distinctive personality.

A young matron told us of her own experience on the morning of the fire.

"Of course it was exciting," she said, "with the smoke rolling up upon us from downtown, and the rumors repeating themselves that the disaster was world-wide, that Chicago was in ruins and New York swallowed by a tidal wave, but there was nothing unreal about a single bit of it. I bundled my children together and hurried[306] toward the Presidio—my knowledge of army men assured me that there could be no danger there. I took the little tent handed me and set up my crude house-keeping in it. It still seemed very real and not so very difficult.

"But when those odd little newspapers—that had been printed over in Oakland—came, and I saw the first of their head-lines 'San Francisco in Ruins' then it came upon me that our city, my city, was no more, and it was all over. It was all the most unreal thing in the world and I cried all that night, not for a single loss beyond that of the San Francisco that I had loved. But the next morning they told me how they had telegraphed East for all the architects in sight, and that morning I began planning a new house just as if it had been a pet idea for months and months and months...."

*****

Out of such men and women a great city is ever builded. San Francisco may be wild and harum-scarum, and a great deal of its wildness is painfully exaggerated, but it is a mighty power in itself. Your San Franciscan is rightly proud of the progress made since the great disaster. More than $375,000,000—a sum approximating the cost of the Panama canal—has already been spent in rebuilding the city, and now, like a man who has spent his last dollar on a final substantial meal, the western metropolis calls for cake and scrapes up an additional $18,000,000 for a World's Fair "to beat everything that has gone before." That takes financing—of a high order. It takes something more. It has taken a real spirit—enthusiasm and love and courage—to build a new San Francisco that shall gradually obliterate the poignant memories of the city that was.


[307]

20
BELFAST IN AMERICA

Concerning Toronto it may be said that she combines in a somewhat unusual fashion British conservatism and American enterprise. Her neat streets are lined with solid and substantial buildings such as delight the heart of the true Briton wherever he may find them; and yet she has among these "the tallest skyscraper of the British Empire," although the sixteen stories of its altitude would be laughed to scorn by many a second-class American city.

Still, many a first-class American city could hardly afford to laugh at the growth of Toronto, particularly in recent years. She prides herself that she had doubled her population each fifteen years of her history and here is a geometrical problem of growth that becomes vastly more difficult with each oncoming twelvemonth. At the close of the second war of the United States with England, just a century ago, Toronto was a mere hamlet. Beyond it was an unknown wilderness. The town was known as York in those days, and although Governor Simcoe had already chosen the place to be the capital of Upper Canada, it was a struggling little place. Still, it must have struggled manfully, for in 1817 it was granted self-government and in 1834, having garnered in some nine thousand permanent residents, it was vested with a Mayor and the other appurtenances of a real city. Since then it has grown apace, until today in population and in financial resource it is very close upon the heels of Montreal, for so many years the undisputed metropolis of the Dominion.

[308] But perhaps the spur that has advanced Toronto has been the knowledge that west of her is Winnipeg, and that Winnipeg has been doubling her population each decade. And west of Winnipeg is Calgary, west of Calgary, Vancouver; all growing apace until it is a rash man who today can prophesy which will be the largest city of the Dominion of Canada, a dozen years hence. The Canadian cities have certainly been growing in the American fashion—to use that word in its broadest sense.

And yet the strangest fact of all is that Toronto grows—not more American, but more British year by year. Within the past twelve or thirteen years this has become most marked. She has grown from a Canadian town, with many marked American characteristics, into a town markedly English in many, many ways. Now consider for a moment the whys and the wherefores of this.

We have already told of the rapid progress of Toronto, now what of the folk who came to make it? In the beginning there were the Loyalists—"Tories" we call them in our histories; "United Empire Loyalists," as their Canadian descendants prefer to know them—who fled from the Colonies at the time of the Revolution and who found it quite impossible to return. In this way some of the old English names of Virginia have been perpetuated in Toronto, and you may find in one of the older residential sections, a great house known as Beverly, whose doors, whose windows, whose fireplaces, whose every detail are exact replicas of the Beverly House in Virginia which said good-by to its proprietors a century and a half ago.

Those Loyalists laid the foundations of Toronto of today. The municipality of Toronto of today is, as you shall see, most progressive in the very fibers of its being, ranking with such cities as Des Moines and Cleveland and Boston as among the best governed upon the North American continent. Such civic progress was not[309] drawn from the cities of England or of Scotland or of Ireland. And Toronto was a well organized and governed municipality, while Glasgow and Manchester were hardly yet emerging from an almost feudal servility. Because in Toronto the old New England town-meeting idea worked to its logical triumph. The Loyalists who had left their great houses of Salem and of Boston brought more to the wildernesses of Upper Canada than merely fine clothes or family plate.

To this social foundation of the town came, as stock for her growth through the remaining three-quarters of the nineteenth century, the folk of the north of Ireland. The southern counties of the Emerald Island gave to America and gave generously—to New York and to Boston; to New Brunswick and to Lower Canada. The men from the north of Ireland went to Toronto and the nearby cities of what is now the Province of Ontario. And when Toronto became a real city they began to call her the Belfast of America. For such she was. She was a very citadel of Protestantism. Her folk transplanted, found that they would worship God in their austere churches without having the reproachful phrase of "dissenter" constantly whipped in their faces. Toronto meant toleration. So came the Ulster men to their new Belfast. For more than sixty years they came—a great migrating army. And if you would know the way they took root give heed to a single illustration.

One of these Irishmen had founded a retail store in the growing little city of Toronto. It thrived—tremendously. News of its success went back to the little north-of-Ireland village from whence its owner came.

"Timothy Eaton's doin' well in America," was the word that passed through his old county. Timothy Eaton and those who came after him took good care of their kith and kin. For the Eaton business did prosper. Today the firm has two great stores—one in Toronto and[310] one in Winnipeg—and they are not only among the largest in North America but among the largest in the world.

This is but one instance of the way that Toronto has grown. And when, after sixty years of steady immigration there was little of kith and kin left to come from Ireland, there began a migration from the other side of the Irish channel, a new chapter in the growth of Toronto was opened.

No one seems to know just how the tide of English emigration started, but it is a fact that it had its beginning about the time of the end of the Boer war. It is no less a fact that within ten or fifteen years it has attained proportions comparable with the sixty years of Irish immigration. The agents of the Canadian government and of her railroads have shown that it pays to advertise.

There is good reason for this immigration—of course. Canada, with no little wisdom, has given great preference to the English as settlers. She has not wished to change her religions, her language or her customs. The English, in turn, have responded royally to the invitation to come to her broad acres and her great cities. The steamship piers, at Quebec and Montreal in the summer and at Halifax and St. Johns in the winter, are steadily thronged with the newcomers, and they do not speak the strange tongues that one hears at Ellis island in the city of New York. They bring no strange customs or strange religions to the growing young nation that prides herself upon her ability to combine conservatism and progress.

And just as Toronto once did her part in depopulating the north of Ireland, so today is the Province of Ontario and the country to the west of it draining old England. It is related that one little English village—Dove Holes is its name and it is situate in Derbyshire—has been sadly depleted in just this fashion. Eight years ago[311] and it boasted a population of 1250 persons. Today 500 of that number are in America—a new village of their own right in the city of Toronto, if you please—and Dove Holes awaits another Goldsmith to sing of its saddened charms. One resident came, the others followed in his trail to a land that spelled both opportunity and elbow-room. Your real Englishman of so-called middle class, even gentlemen of the profession or service in His Majesty's arms, seem to have one consuming passion. It is to cross Canada and live and die in the little West Coast city of Victoria. Victoria stands on Vancouver island and they have begun to call Vancouver island, "Little England." In its warm, moist climate, almost in its very conformation, it is a replica of the motherland of an Englishman's ideal; a motherland with everything annoying, from hooliganism to suffragettes, removed.

But Victoria is across a broad continent as well as a broad sea, and so your thrifty emigrant from an English town picks Toronto as the city of his adoption. Winnipeg he deems too American; Montreal, with her damnable French blood showing even in the street-signs and the car-placards, quite out of the question. But Toronto does appeal to him and so he comes straight to her. There are whole sections of the town that are beginning to look as if they might have been stolen from Birmingham or Manchester or Liverpool—even London itself. The little red-brick houses with their neat, small windows are as distinctively British as the capped and aproned house-maids upon the street. In the States it takes a mighty battle to make a maid wear uniform upon the street. In Toronto it is not even a question for argument. The negro servant, so common to all of us, is unknown. The service of the better grade of Toronto houses is today carefully fashioned upon the British model—even to meal hours and the time-honored[312] English dishes upon the table. And in less aristocratic streets of the town one may see a distinctively British institution, taken root and apparently come to stay. It is known as a "fish and chip shop" and it retails fried fish and potato chips, already cooked and greasy enough to be endearing to the cockney heart.

*****

Remember also that the city upon the north shore of Lake Ontario is an industrial center of great importance. You cannot measure the tonnage of Toronto harbor as you measured the harbor of Cleveland—alongside of the greatest ports of the world—for Ontario is the lonely sister of the five Lakes. No busy commercial fleet treks up and down her lanes. But Toronto is a railroad center of increasing importance; they are still multiplying the lines out from her terminals and, as we have just intimated, she is a great and growing manufacturing community. Her industrial enterprises have been hungry for skilled and intelligent men. They have gradually drafted their ranks from the less-paid trades of the town. Into these places have come the men from the English towns. The street cars are manned by men of delightful cockney accent, they drive the broad flat "lourries," as an Englishman likes to call a dray, they fit well into every work that requires brawn and endurance rather than a high degree of intellectual effort.

Just how this invasion will affect the Toronto of tomorrow no one seems willing to prophesy. The men from Glasgow and from Manchester are used to municipal street railroads and such schemes and the New England town-meeting ideas, which were the products of Anglo-Saxon spirit, come home to rest in English hearts. The street railroad system of Toronto may groan under its burden—it is paying over a million dollars this year to the city and is constantly threatened with extinction as a private corporation. But the Englishman[313] of that city merely grunts at the bargains it offers—six tickets for a quarter; eight in rush-hours, ten for school children and seven for Sabbath riding, all at the same price—and wonders "why the nawsty trams canna' do better by a codger that's workin' like a navvie all the day?"

Toronto will see that they do better—that is her vision into the future. But just how the new blood is to infuse into some of the Puritan ideas of the town—there is another question. Here is a single one of the new puzzling points—the temperance problem. It was not so very long ago that Canada's chief claim for fame rested in the excellence of her whiskey—and that despite the fact that the Canadian climate is ill-adapted to whiskey drinking. The twelfth of July—which you will probably recall as the anniversary of the battle of the Boyne—used to be marked by famous fights, which invariably had marine foundations in Canadian rye. However, during the past quarter of a century, the temperance movement has waxed strong throughout Ontario. Many cities have become "dry" and it is possible that Toronto herself might have been without saloons today—if it had not been for the English invasion. For your Englishman regards his beer as food—"skittles and beer" is something more than merely proverbial—and he must have it. He looks complacently upon the stern Sabbath in Toronto—Sunday in an English city is rarely a hilarious occasion—but he must have his beer. Up to the present time he has had it.

But these problems are slight compared with the problem of assimilation of alien tongues and races, such as has come to New York within the past two decades. The Englishman is but a cousin to the Canadian after all, and he shows that by the enthusiasm with which he enters into her politics. He entered into Mr. Taft's pet reciprocity plan with an enthusiasm of a distinct[314] sort. With all of his anti-American and pro-British ideas he leaped upon it. And when he had accomplished his own part in throttling that idea he exulted. Whether he will exult as much a dozen years hence over the defeat of reciprocity is an open question. But the part that the transplanted Englishman in Canada played in that defeat is unquestioned, just as the part he is playing in providing her with useless Dreadnoughts for the defense of other lands is undisputed.H The Englishman is no small factor in Canadian politics; he is a very great factor in the political situation in the city of Toronto.

H This plan is temporarily blocked in Canada, whose enthusiasm for Dreadnoughts seems to be waning.  E. H.

Lest you should be bored by the politics of another land, turn your attention to the way the Toronto people live. They have formal entertainments a-plenty—dinners, balls, receptions—a great new castle is being built on the edge of Rosedale for a gubernatorial residence and presumably for the formal housing of royalty which often comes down from Ottawa. There are theaters and good restaurants, and no matter what you may say about her winters, the Canadian summers are delightful. For those who must go, there are the Muskoka Lakes within easy reach, Georgian bay and the untrod wildernesses beyond. But if we lived in Toronto, we think we should stay at home and enjoy that wonderful lake. There are yacht-clubs a-plenty alongside it, bathing beaches, sailing, canoeing—the opportunity for variety of sport is wide. In the milder seasons of the year there is golf and baseball, football, or even cricket, and in the wintertime tobogganing and snowshoeing and iceboating. No wonder that the cheeks of the Toronto girls are pink with good health.

In the autumn there is the big fair—officially the Canadian National Exhibition—which has grown from a very modest beginning into a real institution. Last[315] year nearly a million persons entered its gates, there were more than a hundred thousand admissions upon a single very big day. Delegations of folk came from as far distant as Australia—there were special excursion rates from all but three of the United States. It is not only a big fair but a great fair, still growing larger with each annual exhibition. Toronto folk are immensely proud of it and give to it loyalty and support. And the Canadian government is not above gaining a political opportunity from it. We remember one autumn at Toronto three or four years ago seeing a great electric sign poised upon one of the main buildings. It was a moving sign and the genius of the electrician had made the semblance of a waving British banner. Underneath in fixed and glowing letters you might read:

ONE FLAG, ONE KING, ONE NATION
*****

To see Toronto as a British city, however, you must go to her in May—at the time of her spring races. The fair is very much like any of the great fairs in the United States. The race-meet is distinctly different. In the United States horse-racing has fallen into ill-repute, and most of the famous tracks around our larger cities have been cut up into building lots. The sport with us was commercialized, ruined, and then practically forbidden. In Canada they have been wiser, although the tendency to make the sport entirely professional and so not sport at all has begun to show itself even over there. But in Toronto they go to horse-races for the love of horse-racing, and not in the hopes of making a living without working for it.

The great spring race-meet is the gallop for the King's Guineas. It is at the Woodbine and in addition to being the oldest racing fixture in America it is also just such a day for Canada as Derby Day is for England. If you[316] go to Toronto for Plate Day—as they call that great race-day—you will be wise to have your hotel accommodations engaged well in advance. You will find Plate Day to be the Saturday before the twenty-fourth of May. And, lest you should have forgotten the significance of the twenty-fourth of May, permit us to remind you that for sixty-four long years loyal Canada celebrated that day as the Queen's birthday. And it is today, perhaps, the most tender tribute that the Canadians can render Victoria—their adherence to her birthday as the greatest of their national holidays.

If you are wise and wish to see the English aspect of Toronto, you will reserve your accommodations at a certain old hotel near the lakefront which is the most intensely British thing that will open to a stranger within the town. Within its dining-room the lion and the unicorn still support the crown, and the old ladies who are ushered to their seats wear white caps and gently pat their flowing black skirts. The accents of the employés are wonderfully British, and if you ask for pens you will surely get "nibs." The old house has an air, which the English would spell "demeanour," and incidentally it has a wonderful faculty of hospitality.

From it you will drive out to the track, and if you elect you can find seats upon a tally-ho, drawn by four or six horses, properly prancing, just as they prance in old sporting-prints. Of course, there are ungainly motor-cars, like those in which the country folk explore Broadway, New York, but you will surely cling to the tally-ho. And if your tally-ho be halted in the long and dusty procession to the track to let a coach go flying by, if that coach be gay in gilt and color, white-horsed, postilioned, if rumor whispers loudly, "It's the Connaughts—the Governor-General, you know," you will forget for that moment your socialistic and republican ideas, and strain[317] your old eyes for a single fleeting glimpse of bowing royalty.

For royalty drives to Plate Day just as royalty drives to Ascot. Its box, its manners and its footmen are hardly less impressive. And in the train of royalty comes the best of Toronto, not the worst. Finely dressed women, jurists, doctors, bankers—the list is a long, long one. And in their train in turn the artisans. The plumber who tinkers with the pipes in your hotel in the morning has a dollar up on the "plate," so has the porter who handles your trunk, so have three-quarters of the trolley-car men of the town—and yet they are not gamblers. The "tout" who used to be a disagreeable and painfully evident feature of New York racing is missing. So are the professional gamblers, the betting being on the pari-mutuel system. And the man who loses his dollar because he failed to pick the winning horse feels that he has lost it in a patriotic cause. It should be worth a miserable dollar to see royalty come to the races in a coach.

*****

From Toronto we will go to her staunch French rival, Montreal. If we are in the midsummer season we may go upon a very comfortable steamer, down the lonely Ontario and through the beauties of the Thousand Islands. And at all seasons we will find the railroad ride from Toronto filled with interest, with glimpses of lake and river, with the character of the country gradually changing, the severe Protestant churches giving way to great tin-roofed Roman churches, holding their crosses on high and gathering around their gray-stone walls the houses of their little flocks.


[318]

21
WHERE FRENCH AND ENGLISH MEET

Our hotel faces a little open square and in the springtime of the year, when the trees are barely budding, we can still see the sober gray-stone houses on the far side of the square, each with its brightly colored green blinds. At one is the "Dentiste," at another the "Avocat," a third has descended to a pension with its "Chamber d'Louer." There are shiny brass signs on the front of each of these three old houses, and every morning at seven-thirty o'clock three trim little French Canadian maids attack the signs vigorously with their wiping cloths. Then we know that it is time to get up. By the same fashion we should be shaved and ready for our marmalade and bacon and eggs as the regal carrier of the King's mail trots down the steps of the French consulate and rings at the area door of the neighboring "Conservatoire Musicale." In a very little time that row of houses across the Place Viger Gardens has become a factor in our very lives. It is the starting-point of our days.

In the morning, when the marmalade and the bacon and eggs are finished, we step out into the Gardens for the first breath of crisp fresh air of the north. There is a line of wonderful cabs waiting at its edge, and a prompt driver steps forward from each to solicit our patronage. The cab system of Montreal is indeed wonderful—it first shows to the stranger within that city's gates its remarkable continental character. For you seemingly can ride and ride and ride—and then[319] some more—and the cabby tips his hat at a quarter or a half a dollar. He has an engaging way of smiling at you at the end of the trip, and leaving it to you as to what he gets. You can trust to the Montreal cabby's sense of fairness and he seems to feel that he can trust to yours. But that is not all quite as altruistic as it may seem at first glance. Back of the cabby's smile is the unsmiling, sober sense of justice always existent in a British city, and it is that which really keeps the Montreal cab service as efficient as it really is, as cheap and as accessible. For at every one of the almost innumerable open squares of the city, are the cab-stands, the long line of patiently waiting carriages, and the little kiosk from which they can be summoned. It is all quite simple and complete and an ideal toward which metropolitan New York may be aspiring but has never reached.

*****

On sunny mornings we scorn the cabs and stroll across the Gardens. Sometimes we drop for a moment on one of the clumsily comfortable benches under the shade of the Canadian maples, and glance at the morning paper—a ponderous sheet much given to the news of Ottawa and London, discoursing upon the work of two Parliaments, but only granting grudging paragraphs to the news of a home-land, scarce sixty miles distant. That is British policy, the straining policy of trying to make a unified nation of lands separated from one another by broad seas. That England has done it so well is the marvel of strangers who enter her dominions. Montreal is loyal to her mother land, despite some local influences which we shall see in a moment. A surprising number of her citizens go back and forth to the little island that governs her, once or twice or three times a year. There are thousands of business men in the metropolis of Canada who know Pall Mall or Piccadilly far more intimately than either Wall street or Times square[320]—and New York is but a night's ride from Montreal. So much can carefully directed sentiment accomplish.

The paths that lead from the Gardens are varied and fascinating. One stretches up a broad and sober street to Ste. Catherine's, the great shopping promenade of the town, where the girls are all bound west toward the big shops that stretch from Phillips to Dominion squares—another at the opposite direction three blocks to the south and the harbor-front, a wonderful place now in a chaos of transformation that is going to make Montreal the most efficient port in the world. We can remember the water-front of the old town as it first confronted us a quarter of a century ago, after a long all-day trip down the rapids of the upper St. Lawrence—back of the gay shipping a long stretch of sober gray limestone buildings, accented by numerous domes, the joy of every British architect, the long straight front of Bonsecours market, the little spire of Bonsecours church, and the two great towers of Notre Dame rising above it all. There was a curving wall of stone along the quay street and it all seemed quite like the geography pictures of Liverpool, or was it Marseilles?

A church parade in the streets of Montreal
A church parade in the streets of Montreal

Nowadays that quiet prospect is gone. A great waterside elevator of concrete rises almost two hundred and fifty feet into the air from the quay street; there are other elevators nearly as large and nearly as sky-scraping, a variety of grim and covered piers and the man from a boat amidstream hardly catches even a glimpse of Notre Dame or Bonsecours. And Montreal gave up her glimpses of the river that she loves so passionately, not without a note of regret; the market-men gently protested that they could no longer sit on the portico of the Bonsecours and see the brisk activity of the harbor. But Montreal realizes the importance of her harbor to her. She is a thousand miles inland from "blue water" and for five months of the year her great[321] strength giving river is tightly frozen; despite these obstacles she has come within the past year to be the most efficient port in the world, and among twelve or fourteen of the greatest. And commercial power is a laurel branch to any British city.

There are other paths that lead from Place Viger Gardens—that lead on and on and to no place in particular, but all of them are filled with constant interest. The side streets of Montreal are fascinating. Their newer architecture is apt to be fantastic, ofttimes incongruous, but there are still many graystone houses in that simple British style that is still found throughout the older Canada, all the way from Halifax to the Detroit river. There are the inevitable maple trees along the curbs that make Montreal more of a garden city than unobservant travelers are apt to fancy it. And then there are the institutions, wide-spreading and many-winged fellows, crowned with the inevitable domes and shielded from the vulgarity of street traffic by high-capped walls. These walls are distinctive of Montreal. Often uncompromising, save where some gentle vine runs riot upon their lintels and laughs at their austerity, they are broken here and there and again by tightly shut doors, doors that open only to give forth on rare occasions; to let a somber file of nuns or double one of cheaply uniformed children pass out into a sordid and sin-filled world, and then close quickly once again lest some of its contaminations might penetrate the gentle and unworldly place. And near these great institutions are the inevitable churches, giant affairs—parish churches still dominating the sky-line of a town which is just now beginning to dabble in American skyscrapers, and standing ever watchful, like a mother hen brooding and protecting her chicks. These chance paths often lead to other squares than the Gardens of the Place Viger—squares which in spring and in summer are bright green carpets spread[322] in little open places in the heart and length and breadth of the city, and which are surrounded by more of the solid graystone houses with the green blinds. When we go from Montreal we shall remember it as a symphony of gray and green—remember it thus forever and a day.

But best of all we like the path that leads from the Place Viger west through the very heart of the old city and then by strange zig-zags, through the banking center, Victoria square, Beaver Hall Hill and smart Ste. Catherine's to Dominion square and the inevitable afternoon tea of the British end of the town. We turn from our hotel and the great new railroad terminal that it shelters, twist through a narrow street—picturesquely named the Champ d'Mars—and follow it to the plain and big City Hall and Court House. They are uninteresting to us, but across the busy way of Notre Dame street stands the Chateau de Ramezay, a long, low, whitewashed building, which has had its part in the making of Montreal. This stoutly built old house was built in 1705 by Claude de Ramezay, Governor of Montreal, and was occupied by him for twenty years while he planned his campaigns against both English and Indians. Then for a time it was the headquarters of the India company's trade in furs, and for a far longer time after 1759 the home of a succession of British governors. Americans find their keenest interest in the Chateau de Ramezay, in the fact that it was in its long rambling low-ceilinged rooms that Benjamin Franklin set up his printing-press, away back during the days of the first unpleasantness between England and this country. After that, all was history, the Chateau was again the Government House of the old Canada—until Ottawa and the new Dominion came into existence. Nowadays, it faces one of the busiest streets of a busy city—and is not of it. It is like a sleeping man by the roadside, who, if he might[323] awake once more, could spin at length the romances of other days and other men.

Beyond the Chateau de Ramezay is a broad and open market street that stretches from the inevitable Nelson monument, that is part and pride of every considerable British city, down to that same water-front, just now in process of transformation. Sometimes on a Tuesday or a Friday morning we have come to the place early enough to see the open-air market of Montreal, one of the heritages of past to present that seems little disturbed with the coming and the passing of the years. Shrewd shoppers coming out of the solid stone mass of the Bonsecours pause beside the wagons that are backed along the broad-flagged sidewalks. The country roundabout Montreal must be filled with fat farms. One look at the wagons tells of low moist acres that have not yet lost their fertility. And sometimes the market women bring to the open square hats of their own crude weaving, or little carved crosses, or even bunches of delicate wild-flowers and sell them for the big round Canadian pennies. There is hardly any barterable article too humble for this market-place, and with it all the clatter of small sharp pleasant talk between a race of small, sharp, pleasant folk.

From the market-place leading out from before the ugly City Hall and the uninteresting Court House, our best walk leads west through Notre Dame street up to the nearby Place d'Armes. It is a very old street of a very old city and even if the history of the town did not tell us that some of the old houses, staunch fellows every one of them, high-roofed and dormered, with their graystone walls four and five feet thick and as rough and rugged as the times for which they were built, would convince us, of themselves. They are fast going, these old fellows, for Montreal has entered upon boom times with the multiplication of transcontinental railroads[324] across Canada. But it seems but yesterday that they could point to us in the Place d'Armes the very house in which lived LaMothe Cadillac, the founder of Detroit, nearby the house of Sieur Duluth. Montreal seems almost to have been the mother of a continent.

*****

It is in this Place d'Armes, this tiny crowded square in the center of the modern city, hardly larger than the garden of a very modest house indeed, that so many of the romantic memories of the old Montreal cluster. With the great church that has thrust its giant shadow across it for more than three quarters of a century, the Place d'Armes has been the heart of Montreal since the days when it was a mere trading post, a collection of huts at the foot of the lowest rapids of the mighty river. Much of the old Montreal has gone, even the citadel at the west end of the town gave way years ago to Dalhousie square, which in turn gave way to the railroad yards of the Place Viger terminals. But the Place d'Armes will remain as long as the city remains.

At its northwest corner is the colonnaded front of the Bank of Montreal, one of the finest banking-homes in Canada.

"It is the great institution of this British Dominion," says a very old Canadian, whom we sometimes meet in the little square. "It is the greatest bank in North America."

Offhand, we do not know as to the exact truth of that sweeping statement, but it is a certain fact that the Bank of Montreal is the greatest bank in all Canada, one of the greatest in the world, with its branches and ramifications extending not only across a continent four thousand miles in width but also over two broad seas. To Montreal it stands as that famous "old lady of Threadneedle street" stands to London.

"And yet," our Canadian friend continues, "right[325] across the Place d'Armes here is an institution that could buy and sell the Bank of Montreal—or better still, buy it and keep it."

Our eyes follow his pointing hand—to a long, low building on the south side of the little square. It is very old and exceeding quaint. Although built of the graystone of Montreal, brought by the soot of many years to almost a dead black, it seems of another land as well as of another time. Its quaint belfry with delicate clock-face and out-set hands is redolent of the south of France or Spain or even Italy. It does not seem a part and parcel of Our Lady of the Snows—and yet it is.

"You know—the Seminary of St. Sulpice," says our Canadian friend. "It was the original owner of the rich island of Montreal. No one knows its wealth today, even after it has parted with many of its fee-holds. It still holds title to thousands of acres and no one save the Gentleman of the Corporation of St. Sulpice, themselves, knows the wealth of the institution. To say that it is the richest ecclesiastical institution of the Americas is not enough, for here is an organization that for coherency, wealth and strength surpasses Standard Oil and forms the chief financial support of the strongest church in the world."

And this time we feel that our acquaintance of the Place d'Armes is not by any chance over-stepping the mark. In the quaint little Seminary that stands in the half-day shadow of the second largest church on the continent—a church that it easily builded in the first third of the nineteenth century from its accumulated wealth—there centers much of the mystery of Montreal, a mystery which to the stranger takes concrete form in the high walls along the crowded streets, in whispered rumors of this force or that working within the politics of the city, in the so-called Nationalist movement, and flaunts itself in rival displays of Union Jack and the[326] historic Tricolor of France. There is little of mystery in the outer form of the Seminary. The quiet folk who live within those very, very old walls are hospitality itself—even though their ascetic living is of the hardest, crudest sort. The only bed and carpeted room within the building is reserved for the occasional visits of bishop, or even higher church authority. But hidden from the street by the earliest part of the Seminary—almost unchanged since its erection in 1710—and enclosed by a quadrangle of the fortress-like stone buildings of the institution, is a most delicious garden with old-fashioned summer flowers and quaint statues of favored saints set in its shaded place. We remember a garden of the same sort at the mission of Santa Barbara, in California. These two are the most satisfactory gardens that we have ever seen. And it is from the rose-bushes in the Seminary of Montreal that one gets a full idea of the size and beauty of the exterior of the parish church of Notre Dame. Like so many of the cathedrals of Europe, it is so set as to have no satisfactory view-point from the street.

And yet Notre Dame is one of the most satisfying churches that we have ever seen. It is not alone its size, not alone its wonderfully appropriate location facing that historic Place d'Armes, not any one of the interesting details of the great structure that comes to us, so much as the thing which the parish church typifies—the intact keeping of the customs, the language and the faith of a folk who were betrayed and deserted by their motherland, more than a century and a half ago. One rarely hears the word of English spoken in the shadowy and worshipful aisles of Notre Dame. It is the babbling French that is the language of three-quarters of the residents of Montreal.

For there stands French, not only entrenched in the chief city of England's chief possession, but a language[327] that, in the opinion of unprejudiced observers, gains rather than loses following each twelvemonth. There are reasons back of all this, and many of them too complicated and involved to be entered upon here. Suffice it to say here and now that the city school taxes are divided pro rata between Protestants and Roman Catholics for the conduct of their several schools of every sort. And that in most of the Catholic schools French is practically the only language taught, a half-hour a day being sometimes given to English, whenever it is taught at all. The devotion of these French Canadians to their language is only second to their religion, and is closely intermingled with it. There is something pathetic and lovable about it all that makes one understand why the habitans of a little town below Montreal tore down the English sign that the Dominion government erected over their Post Office, a year or so ago. And the Dominion government took the hint, made no fuss, but replaced its error with a French sign. Remember that there are more Tricolors floating in lower Canada than British Union Jacks.

The signs of Montreal point the truth. Half of the street markers must be in English, half in French, just as the city government that places them divides its proceedings, half in one language, half in the other. This even division runs to the street car transfers and notices, the flaring bulletins on sign-boards and dead-walls, even so stolid a British institution as the Harbor Commissioners giving the sides of its brigade of dock locomotives evenly to the rival tongues.

To attend high mass in Notre Dame is to make a memory well-nigh ineffaceable. It is to bring back in future years recollections of a great church, lifted from its week-day shadows by a wealth of dazzling incandescents, to be ushered past silent, kneeling figures to a stout pew, by a stout Suisse in gaudy uniform; to look[328] to a high altar that stands afar and ablaze with candles, while priests and acolytes, by the hundreds, pass before it chanting, and the Cardinal sits aloft on his throne silent and in adoration; to hear not a word of English from that high place or the folk who sit upon the great floor or in the two encircling galleries, but to catch the refrain of chant and of "Te Deum;" these are the things that seem to make religion common to every man, no matter what his professed faith. And then, after it is all over, to come out of the shadows of the parish church into the brilliant sunshine of the Place d'Armes, the place where they once executed murderers under the old French law by breaking their backs and then their lesser bones, and to hear Gros Bourdon sing his chant over the city from the belfry of Notre Dame—this is the old Montreal living in the heart of the new. They do not swing the great bell any more—for even Notre Dame grows old and its aged stones must be respected—but they toll it rapidly, in a sort of sing-song chant. We have stood in the west end of the town, three miles distant from the Place d'Armes, and heard the rich, sweet tones of his deep throat come booming over the crowded city—a warning to a half a million folk to turn from worldier things to the thought of mighty God.

*****

Our best path leads west again from the Place d'Armes, past the newly reconstructed General Post Office, more stately banks here concentrating the wealth of the strong, new Canada; smart British-looking shops and restaurants. In these last you may drink fine ales, munch at rare cheeses, of which Montreal is connoisseur, and eat rare roast beef done to a turn, with Yorkshire pudding, six days in a week. But you will look in vain for real French restaurants with their delectable cuisines. We have looked in vain in our almost innumerable trips to the city under the mountain. We have enlisted our[329] friend Paul, who avers that he knows Montreal as he knows the fingers on his hand. Paul is a reporter on a French paper. He works not more than fourteen consecutive hours on dull days, at a princely salary of nine dollars a week, and the rest of the time he is our entertainment committee—and an immense success at that. Paul has taught us a smattering of Montreal French, and he has shown us many curious places about the old city, but he has never found us a French restaurant that could even compare with some we know in the vicinity of West Twenty-seventh street in the city of New York. Sometimes he has come to us with mysterious hints of final success and we have girded our loins quickly to go with him. But when we have arrived it has been a place white-fronted like the dairy lunches off from Broadway, and we have never seen one of them without the listing of breakfast foods from Battle Creek, Michigan, mince-pie or other typical dishes from the States. And at Paul's rarest find we interviewed Monsieur le proprietaire, only to have the dashing news that he had once served as second chef in the old Burnet House, in Cincinnati. There is, after all, a closer bond between two neighboring nations than either Ottawa or London is willing to admit and even Paul, loyal to his language and to his traditions, admits that.

"Some day—some day," he dreams to us between cigarettes, "I am going down to see the Easter parade on Fifth avenue. Last year twelve thousand went from Montreal"—he chuckles—"and folks from Bordeaux ward looked at the swells from Westmount and thought they were real New Yorkers."

And a little while later, between another change of cigarettes, he adds:

"And I may not come back on my ticket. I understand—that reporters get fifteen or twenty dollars a week on the New York city papers."

[330] Paul's collar is impossible and his appetite for cigarettes fiendish, but he has ambitions. Perhaps he shares the ambitions of the city which, old in heart and traditions, is new in enterprise and hope, and looks forward to being the mighty gateway of the greatest of all English great possessions—a city filled with more than a million folk.

*****

We pass through the splendors of Victoria square and up the steep turn of Beaver Hall Hill into Phillips square and smart Ste. Catherine street. In a general way, the French element have preëmpted the eastern end of the city for themselves, while the English-speaking portion of the population clings to the section north and west of Phillips square and Ste. Catherine street right up to the first steep slopes of Mount Royal. This part of the city looks like any smart, progressive British town—with its fine Gothic Cathedral of the Church of England facing its showy main street, its exclusive clubs and its great hotels. And nowadays smart modern restaurants are also crowding upon Ste. Catherine street, for modern Montreal will proudly tell you, and tell you again and again, that it is more continental, far more continental than London, which in turn is tightly bound down by the traditions of English conservatism. Montreal is not very literary—Toronto surpassing it in that regard—but it has a keen love of good paintings, good art of every sort. It ranks itself next to New York and Boston and among North American cities in this regard.

"We are more proud of our public and private galleries," says the citizen of the town who sips tea at five o'clock with you in the lounge of the Windsor, "than we are of our New Yorkish restaurants that have imported themselves across the line within the past year or two. We have smiled at our daughters drifting in here for their tea on matinée afternoons, but dinners and[331] American cocktails—well there are some sorts of reciprocity that we decidedly do not want."

We understand. Montreal wants her personality, her rare and varied personality, preserved inviolate and intact. That is one great reason why she has cherished the pro-British habits of her press. New York is well enough for a trip—Montreal delights in our metropolis, as she does in our Atlantic City—as mere pleasure grounds, and the Easter hegira, in which Paul is yet to join, grows each year. But New York is New York, and Montreal must be Montreal. With her wealth of tradition, her peculiarly unique conservatism of two languages and two great peoples working out their problems in common sympathy, without conceding a single heritage, one to the other, the city of the gray and green must keep to her own path.


[332]

22
THE CITY THAT NEVER GROWS YOUNG

He stands, hat in hand, facing the city that honors his memory so greatly. To Samuel de la Champlain Quebec has not merely given the glory of what seems to us to be one of the handsomest monuments in America, but here and there in her quiet streets she brings back to the stranger within her walls recollections of the doughty Frenchman who braved an unknown sea to find a site for the city, which for more than three hundred years has stood as guardian to the north portal of America. Other adventurous sea spirits of those early days went chiefly in the quest of gold. Champlain had loftier ambitions within his heart. He hoped to be a nation-builder. And not only Quebec, but the great young-old nation that stands behind her, is his real monument.

Still, the artist's creation of bronze and of marble is effective—not alone, as we have already said, because of its own real beauty—but also very largely because of its tremendously impressive setting at the rim of the upper town—facing the tiny open square that as far back as two hundred and fifty years ago was the center of its fashionable life. Champlain in bronze looks at the tidy Place d'Armes—older residents of Quebec still delight in calling it the Ring—with its neat pathways of red brick and its low, splashing fountain, as if he longed to return to flesh and blood and walk through the little square and from it down some of the narrow streets that he may, himself, have planned in the days of old.

[333] Or perhaps he would have chosen that once imposing main thoroughfare of Upper Town, St. Louis street, which out beyond the city wall has the even more distinctive French title of the Grande Allee. We have chosen that main street many times ourselves, leading straight past the castellated gateways of the Chateau, fashioned less than a score of years ago by a master American architect—Mr. Bruce Price—and since grown very much larger, quite like a lovely girl still in her teens. On the other side of the street, close to the curb of the Place d'Armes, is the ever-waiting row of Victorias and caleches, whose drivers rise smilingly in their places even at the mere suggestion of a coming fare. Beyond these patient Jehus stands the rather ordinary looking Court House, somewhat out of harmony with the architectural traditions of the town—and then we are plunged into the heart of as fascinating a street as one may hope to see in North America. It is clean—immaculate, if you please, after the fashion of all these habitans of lower Canada—and it is bordered ever and ever so tightly by a double row of clean-faced stone houses, their single doors letting directly upon the sidewalk, and, also after the fashion of all Quebec, surmounted by steep pitched tin roofs and wonderfully fat chimneys, covered with tin in their turn. Quebec seems to have a passion for tin. It is her almost universal roofing, and in the bright sunshine, glittering with mirror-like brilliancy of contrast against the age-darkened stone walls, it has a charm that is quite its own.

One of these old houses of St. Louis street sets well back from the sidewalk in a seeming riotous waste of front lawn, and bears upon its face a tablet denoting it as the one-time home of the Duke of Kent. This distinguished gentleman lived in Quebec many years before he became father of Queen Victoria. In fact, Quebec remembers him as a rather gay young blade of a fellow[334] who had innumerable mild affairs with the fascinating French-Canadian girls of the town. These things have almost become traditions among the older folk of the place. Those girls of Quebec town seem always to have held keen attractions for young blades from afar. When you turn down Mountain Hill and pass the General Post Office with its quaint Golden Dog set in the façade, they will not only make you re-read that fascinating romance of the old Quebec, but they will tell you that years after the Philiberts and the Repentignys were gone and the English were in full enjoyment of their rare American prize, that same old inn, upon whose front the gnawing dog was so securely set, was run by one Sergeant Miles Prentice, whose pretty niece, Miss Simpson, so captivated Captain Horatio Nelson of His Majesty's Ship Albemarle that it became necessary for his friends to spirit away the future hero of Trafalgar to prevent him from marrying her.

Beyond the old house of the Duke of Kent, St. Louis street is a narrow path lined by severe little Canadian homes all the way to the city gate. Many of these houses are fairly steeped in tradition. One tiny fellow within which the ancient profession of the barber still works is the house wherein Montcalm died. And to another, Benedict Arnold was taken in that ill-starred American attack upon Quebec. A third was a gift two centuries ago by the Intendant Bigot to the favored woman of his acquaintance. Romance does creep up and down the little steps of these little houses. They change hardly at all with the changing of the years.

Lower Town, Quebec—from the Terrace
Lower Town, Quebec—from the Terrace

Here among them are the ruins of an old theater—its solid-stone façade still holding high above the narrow run of pavement. It has been swept within by fire—the evil enemy that has fallen upon Quebec again and again and far more devastatingly than even the cannon that have bombarded her from unfriendly hands.

[335] "Are they going to rebuild?" you may inquire, as you look at the stolid shell of the old theater.

"Bless you, no," exclaims your guide. "The Music Hall was burned more than a dozen years ago. Quebec does not rebuild."

But he is wrong. Quebec does rebuild, does progress. Quebec progresses very slowly, but also very surely. To a man who returns after twenty years' absence from her quiet streets, the changes are most apparent. There are fewer caleches upon the street—those quaint two-wheeled vehicles which merge the joys of a Coney island whirly-coaster and the benefits of Swedish massage—although the drivers of these distinctive carriages still supply the American's keen demand for "local color" by shouting "marche donc" to their stout and ugly little horses as they go running up and down the steep side-hill streets. Nowadays most tourists eschew the caleche and turn towards trolley cars. That of itself tells of the almost sinful modernization of Quebec. It is almost a quarter of a century since the electric cars invaded the narrow streets of the Upper Town, and in so doing caused the wanton demolition of the last of the older gates—Porte St. Jean. The destruction of St. Jean's gate was a mistake—to put the matter slightly. It came at a time when the question was being gently raised of the replacement of the older gates that had gone long before—Palace, Hope and Prescott. Nowadays but two of these portals remain, the St. Louis and the Kent gates, and these are not in architectural harmony with the solid British fortifications.

Indeed, that is one of the great crimes to be charged against the modernization of Quebec. Other old towns in America have brought their architects to a clever sense of the necessity of making their newer buildings fit in absolute harmony with the older. They have clung jealously to their architectural personality. Quebec has[336] missed that point. With the exception of the lovely Chateau which fits the traditions of the town, as a solitaire fits a ring setting, the newer buildings represent a strange hodge-podge of ideas.

Quebec herself rather endures being quaint than enjoys it; for in this day of Canadian development she has dreamed of the future after the fashion of those insistent towns further to the west. It has not been pleasant for her to drop from second place in Canadian commercial importance to fourth or fifth. She has had to sit back and see such cities as Winnipeg, for instance, come from an Indian trading-place to a metropolitan center two or three times her size, while her own wharves rot. It is a matter of keen humiliation to the town every time a big ocean liner goes sailing up the river to Montreal—her river, if you are to give ear to the protests of her citizens whom you meet along the Terrace of a late afternoon—without halting at her wharves, perhaps without even a respectful salute to the town which has been known these many years as the Gibraltar of America.

So she has given herself to the development of transcontinental railroad projects. When one Canadian railroad decided to use her as the summer terminal of its largest trans-Atlantic liners without sending those great vessels further up to Montreal, Quebec saw quickly what that meant to her in prestige and importance. When the railroads told her, as politely as they might, that they could not develop her as a mighty traffic center because of the broad arm of the St. Lawrence which blocked rail access from the South, she put her wits together and set out to bridge that arm with the greatest cantilever in the world. The fall of the Quebec bridge five years ago with its toll of eighty lives, was a great blow to the commercial hopes of the town. But they have begun to arise once more. The wreckage of that[337] tragedy is already out of the way and the workmen are trying again, placing fresh foundations for the slender, far-reaching span that is going to mean so very much to the portal city of Canada.

*****

But progress has not robbed Quebec of her charm. It seems quite unlikely that such a brutal tragedy shall ever come. They may come as they did a year or two ago and tear down the impressive Champlain market—one of the very great lions of the Lower Town—but they do not understand the habitans from those back country villages around Quebec. Progress does not come to those obscure communities—no, not even slowly. The women still gather together at some mountain stream on wash-days and cleanse their laundry by placing it over flat rocks by the waterside and pounding it with wooden paddles, there are more barns roofed with thatch than with shingles, to say nothing of farms where a horse is an unknown luxury and men till the soil much as the soil was tilled in the days of Christ. From those places came the habitans to Champlain market—within my memory some of them in two-wheeled carts drawn by great Newfoundland dogs—and it was a gay place on at least two mornings of the week. One might buy if one pleased—bartering is a fine art to the French-Canadian and one dear to his soul—or one might pass to the next stall. But one could never pass very many stalls, with their bright offerings of food-stuffs or simple wearing apparels alike set in garniture of the brilliant flowers of this land of the short warm summer.

And now that the sturdy Champlain market is no more—literally torn apart, one stone from another—a few of these folk—typical of a North American race that refuses to become assimilated even after whole centuries of patient effort—still gather in the open square[338] that used to face the market-house. They do not understand. There are only a few of them, and their little shows of wares are still individually brave, still individually gay. But even these must see that the folk with money no longer come to them. Perhaps they see and with stolid French-Canadian indifference refuse to accept the fact. Such a thing would be but characteristic of a folk, who, betrayed and forgotten by their home-land for a little more than one hundred and fifty years, still cling not merely to their religion, but to traditions and a language that is alien to the land that shelters them. In Montreal the traveler from the States first finds French all but universal, the hardy Tricolor of France flying from more poles than boast British Union Jacks. In Quebec that feeling is intensified. We hunted through the shops of the town for a British standard, and in vain. But every one of the obliging shop-keepers was quick to offer us the flag of France. And the decorative motif of the modern architecture of new Quebec lends itself with astonishing frequency to the use of the lilies of old France.

"It is that very sort of thing that makes Britain the really great nation that she is," an old gentleman told us one afternoon on the Terrace. We had been discussing this with him, and he had told us how the city records of Quebec—a British seaport town—were kept in French, how even the legislative proceedings in the great new parliament building out on the Grande Allee beyond the city wall were in that same prettily flavored tongue. "Yes, sir," he continued, "we may have a King that is English in title and German in blood, sir, but here in Canada we have one who through success and through defeat is more than King—Sir Wilfred Laurier—our late premier, sir."

We liked the old gentleman's spunk. He was typical of the old French blood as it pulses within the new[339] France. We liked the old gentleman, too. To us he was as one who had just stepped from one of Honoré Balzac's stories, with his mustaches, waxed and dyed into a drooping perfection, his low-set soft hat, his vast envelope of a faded greatcoat, his cane thrust under his arm, as Otis Skinner might have done it. We had first met him one morning coming out of the arched gateway of the very ancient whitewashed pile of the Seminary; again as he stepped from his morning devotions out through the doorway of the Basilica into the sunlight of what was once the market-square of the Upper Town—after that many more times. Finally we had risked a little smile of recognition, to be answered by the salute courtly. We had conquered. We knew that romance personified was close to him. Perhaps our old gentleman was an army man; he must have been able to sit on the long porch of the Garrison Club, that delectable and afternoon-teable place that looks out upon the trim grass-carpeted court-yard, and tell stories at least as far back as the Crimea.

"A Frenchman?" you begin, as if attacking the very substance of our argument of romance, "fighting the battles of the English Queen?"

Bless your heart, yes. The Frenchmen of lower Canada have never hesitated at helping England fight her battles. Within sixteen years after their own disastrous defeat before the walls of the citadel city that they loved so dearly, they were fighting alongside of their conquerors to hold her safe from the attacks of the tremendously brave, and half-fed little American army which ventured north through the fearful rigors of a Canadian winter, hopelessly to essay the impossible.

But our old gentleman was not a soldier. He was a seller of cheeses in St. Roch ward, who had retired in the sunset of his life. He knew the Quebec of the days when the Parliament house stood perched at the ram[340]parts at the Prescott gate, and the old gateways themselves were narrow impasses at which the traffic of great carts and little caleches in summer, and dancing, splendid sleighs in winter, was forever fearfully congested; he could tell many of the romances that still linger up this street and down that, within the stout walls of this house or in the sheltered garden of some nunnery or half-hidden home. He could speak English well, which, for a Frenchman in Quebec, is a mark of uncommon education. But, best of all, he knew his Quebec. He was in a true sense the old Quebec living in the new.

Even among the cosmopolitan folk of the Terrace in the shady late afternoons, you could recognize him as such. He was apart from the throng—a motley of bare-footed, brown-cloaked friars, full-skirted priests, white nuns and gray and black, red-coated soldiers from the Citadel to give a sharp note of color to the great promenade of Quebec, millionaires real and would-be from New York, tourists of every sort from all the rest of our land, funny looking English folk from the yellow-funnelled Empress, which had just pulled in from Liverpool and even now lay resting almost under the walls of old Quebec—he was readily distinguished. To be with him was, of itself, a matter of distinction.

Four Brethren upon the Terrace
Four Brethren upon the Terrace

To walk the staid streets of the fascinating old town with him was a privilege. Always the excursion led to new and unexpected turns; one day up the narrow lane and through the impressive gates of the Citadel, where a petty officer detained our American cameras and assigned us to a mumbling rear private for perfunctory escort around the old place. It is no longer tenanted by British troops. The last of these left forty years ago. These red-coats are counterfeit; raw-boned boys from Canadian farms being put through their military paces by a distant government which may sometimes overlook, but not always. The Citadel as a military work is[341] tremendously out-of-date. Even as it now stands, it is almost a century old, and that tells the story. The guns that have so wide a sweep and so exquisite a view from the ramparts may look fear-inspiring, but the ramparts are of stone and would be quickly vulnerable to modern naval ordnance.

The gun that is unfailingly shown to Americans is a small field-piece which is said to have been captured from us at Bunker Hill. Whereupon our tourists, with a rare gift of repartee, always exclaim:

"Ah, you may have the gun, but we have the hill!"

And the military training of the young Canadian militiaman is so perfect that he smiles politely in response. As a matter of fact, there is no record of the fact that the gun was ever taken from the Americans, although each little while there is a request from the States for its return, which is always met with derision and scorn by the Canadians. Politics in Our Lady of the Snows is almost entirely beyond the understanding of an American.

*****

Sometimes our friend of old Quebec led us to the churches of the town—many of them capped with roosters upon their steeples, instead of the Roman cross which we had believed inevitable with the Catholic church. Since then we have been informed that many of the Swiss churches of the same faith have that high-perched cock upon the steeple-tops. We paused once at a new church on the rim of the town, where the very old habit of having a nun in constant adoration of the Host is perpetuated, paused again at the ever fascinating Notre Dame des Victoiries in Lower Town, with its battlemented altar and its patriotic legends in French, which a British government has been indulgent enough to overlook, stood again and again at the wonderful Van Dyke which hangs in the clear, cool, white and gold[342] Basilica. From the churches, we sometimes went to the chapels; the modern structure of the Seminary, or the fascinating holy places of the Ursulines, where the kind-hearted Mother Superior turned our attention from the imprisoned nuns chanting their prayers behind an altar screen, like the decorous and constant hum of honey-bees, to the skull of Montcalm. Then we must see his burial place in the very spot in the chapel wall cleft open by a rampant British shell sent to harass his army.

"Montcalm," said our gentleman of the old Quebec. "He was, sir, the bravest soldier and the finest that France ever sent overseas."

And we could only remember that other fine monument of Quebec, out on the Grande Allee toward the point where Abraham Martius's cows, chewing their cuds on an open plain, awoke one day to find one of the world's great battles being fought—almost over their very heads. In that creation of marble and of bronze, the great figure of Fame is perched aloft, reaching down to place her laurel branch upon a real French gentleman—Montcalm—at the very hour of his death. That memorial is something more. In a fashion somewhat unusual to monuments, it fairly vitalizes reality.

*****

There must be a real reason why Quebec is such a Mecca for honeymoon journeys. You can see the grooms and the brides out on the Terrace, summernight after summernight. Romance hovers over that high-hung place. It sometimes saunters there of a sunshiny morning—a couple here, or a couple there in seemingly loving irresponsibility as to the fact that ours is a workaday world, after all. It lingers at the afternoon tea, along the Terrace promenade. It comes into its own, night after night, when the boys and girls of the town promenade back and forth to the rhythmical crash of a[343] military band, or in the intervals stand at the rail looking down at the rough pattern of street-lights in Lower Town, the glistening string of electrics at Levis, or listening to the rattle of ship's winches which give a hint that, after all, there is a world beyond Quebec.

When night comes upon the Terrace, one may see it at its very best. He may watch the day die over the Laurentians, the western sky fill with pink afterglow, and the very edge of those ancient peaks sharpen as if outlined with an engraver's steel. For a moment, as the summer day hesitates there on the threshold of twilight and good-by, he may trace the country road that runs its course along the north bank of the St. Lawrence by the tiny homes of the habitans that line it, he may raise his eyes again to the sharp blue profile of the mountains. He may hear, as we heard, the old gentleman from St. Roch, whisper as he raises his pointing cane:

"I come here every night and look upon the amphitheater of the gods."

So it is the night that is the most subtle thing about Quebec. It is night when one may hear the bells of all the churches that have been a-jangle since early morning ring out for vespers before the many altars, the sharp report of the evening gun speaking out from the ramparts of the Citadel. After that, silence—the silence of waiting. There is a surcease of the chiming bells—the Terrace becomes deserted of the army of pleasure-seekers who a little time before were making meaningless rotation upon it, the bandmen fall asleep in their cell-like casements of the Citadel, the lights of Lower Town and of Levis go snuffing out one by one. Silence—the silence of waiting. Only the sentinels who pace the ramparts of the crumbling fortifications, the occasional policeman in the narrow street, the white-robed[344] sister who sits in perpetual adoration of the Sacrament, proclaim Quebec awake. Quebec does not sleep. She lives, like an aged belle in memory of her triumphs of the past, keeps patiently the vigil of the lonely years, and awaits the coming of Christ.

THE END


TRANSCRIBER'S NOTES:

Punctuation and spelling standardized.

Frequent inconsistent hyphenation not changed.






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