New York Times, “The Hard Times in the City,” October 13, 1857

    Source citation
    “The Hard Times in the City,” New York Times, October 13, 1857, p. 4: 6; p. 5: 1.
    Newspaper: Publication
    New York Times
    Newspaper: Headline
    The Hard Times in the City
    Date Certainty
    Don Sailer, Dickinson College
    Transcription date
    The following text is presented here in complete form, as true to the original written document as possible. Spelling and other typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.

    The Grocers’ Bank Suspended --- More Running on the Savings Banks --- A Suicide.
    How the Panic Affects Publishers and Music Men, &c. – Statistics of the Unemployed.

    There was no let up to the pressure yesterday. We are in the midst of the Indian Summer, and that is about all that keeps people’s spirits up. The wolf–business–goes over the ferry, up Broadway, in the omnibus, in the car, wherever man, woman or the shop-girl goes, in close companionship. He will not be preached away, laughed away, read away. In Brooklyn the run on the Brooklyn Savings Bank caused such a crowd as to obstruct at times the passage of the cars. In New-York, a target company obstructed the passage of the car all the passengers fell to talking of the folly of target expeditions while the times are so hard. The panic haunts all circles. It cannot but be the one topic of conversation everywhere. Every new failure throws some new gang of workmen out of employment. Yesterday’s formidable catalogue, however, including, principally drygoodsmen, furnishes, fortunately, a short list of discharged persons than might be expected from its length.
    There were runs upon several of the Banks, and rumors that two of them had suspended specie payment. It was true of the Grocers’ Bank, which stopped paying out at a quarter to 11, A. M., and hung a placard marked “suspended” on its door. The Marine Bank held open till 6 o’clock, to accommodate its bill holders with the gold in exchange. There were onsets made upon the Bowery Savings Bank again, and one or two others of these institutions enjoyed more frequent calls from depositors than is quite usual.

    The bluest of all the blue times has fallen on the dealers of luxuries. And by luxuries we do not mean the ornaments of the outer man or woman–diamonds, Jersey pearls, emeralds, opals, or gold and sliver gew-gaws. Books and music are luxuries now, as much so as new silk and satin dresses, and their adornments. Our great publishing firms are crushing in, and the retail stores are in a state of thorough stagnation. Yesterday several bookselling and publishing houses went to the wall, while the retailers, for two weeks, have done nothing, literally nothing, –have not, as they acknowledge. sold books enough to cover, in profit, half the amount of their clerks’ salaries. It is the same, or even worse, with the print and music sellers. In one of the latter houses, –a very large one too, –we are positively assured that during the last week less than $17 was taken, including orders from the country, where the average daily receipts, before the crisis, was from $50 to $70 daily. And this is only an example of the state of thinks, under the present pressure, in similar establishmen’s.
    The effect of the troubles upon the Dry Goods Trade is very marked. The wholesale dealers are doing very little. One of them, LAMBERT & Co , in Chambers-street. has hit upon an expedient which, we presume, will be imitated. He proposes to throw open his entire stock at retail, but at wholesale price-preferring to meet the sacrifice which this will involve rather than make no sales at all. He can in this way, probably, dispose of ten or fifteen hundred thousand dollars’ worth, and procure the money which all heavy dealers need so much just now.

    The misery that is sure to come in the train of this panic to the homes of the poor was foreshadowed in Brooklyn in the case of one poor girl who learned in the morning that she had been discharged, went home and cut her throat. A run for help had already commenced upon the Children’s Aid Society, the Home for the Friendless, and the other charitable institutions of the City. The intelligence offices are crowed past all precedent. We cannot begin to enumerate the people thrown out of business by this terrible financial revulsion. knowing that our figures in almost every case fall below the truth, while from whole branches of industry our information is so indefinite, we are not justified in reducing it to tabular form. The following, however, are compiled from definite data which we have already published.

    Cigar-makers… 4,050
    Novelty, (Iron)… 200
    Allaire, (Iron)… 100
    J. A. & J. D. Secor, (Iron)… 79
    Delamater’s, (Iron)… 69
    Neptune, (Iron)… 59
    Morgan, (Iron)… 69
    Dry Dock, (Iron)… 55
    Fulton, (Iron)… 59
    Faron’s, (Iron)… 75
    Bogardns, (Iron)… 30
    S. Secor, (Iron)… 15
    Herring (Safes)… 230
    Singer (Sewing Machines)… 200
    Crover & Baker, (Sewing Machines)… 10
    Douglas & Sherwood, (Skirts)… 325
    Fayes (Paper-hanging)… 20
    Hoe & Co., (Printing Press)… 75
    American Tract Society… 80
    Williams & Stevens… 6
    Brockway, (Brewery) … 27
    Bookbinders and printers… 700
    Piano-forte, Melodeon and Billiard-table-makers… 70
    Clothiers… 530
    A. M. & R. Davies… 520
    E. Mills. No. 97 Chambers-street… 520
    Brodie, Canal-street… 304
    McKenzie, Canal-street… 126
    Isadore Bernard, Grand-street… 92
    M. Bell, No. 80 Canal-street… 428
    S. M. Hendricks, Eighth-avenue… 96
    Bulpin, the Cloak and Mantilla-Maker… 57
    Strauss & Rosenbaum of Brooklyn… 97
    A. T. Steward & Co… 220
    McCormick & Co… 110
    Allendorf & Myers… 97
    J. Van Cotton… 284
    Eire Railroad Tunnel (Jersey City)… 1200
    Central Park… 700

    Total… 11,009

    It must be remembered that besides this number actually discharged, there are few large establishments in the City in which either the wages or the time of those that remain has not been reduced.


    There was as big a crowd about the Bowery Savings Bank yesterday as on either of the preceding days. It was less largely composed of depositors, however, than on Saturday, a great number of those who hung around during the day being loafers, pick-pickets, watching for an opportunity to practice their profession, or more respectable but not less curious and idle spectators, attracted by the novelty of the thing. Sveenteen thousand dollars less of deposits were withdrawn yesterday than on Saturday, although the Bank was kept open three-and-a-half hours later.

    The Bank was opened as usual at 10 A. M. A strong force of policemen, detailed from the adjacent Wards, –the Fourteenth Ward Police, in whose precinct this Bank is, were off on a target excursion, -- was posted at 9 A. M., within and without the building, and preserved good order throughout the day. Five policemen from the Eight Ward, in charge of Officer JONES, kept order inside: eight men from the Tenth Ward, and seven men from the Ninth Ward, were placed about the doors, with instructions to admit those only who had a right to come in. During the evening a platoon of about eighteen men of the Fourteenth Ward, under Sergeant WILLIAMS, were placed on duty at the Bank towards evening, having returned from their excursion. Officer JOHN VAN TASSEL, aid, from the Deputy Superintendent’s office, was also on duty there. Each depositor was compelled to show his pass-book before entering the doors. Inside they kept in line, and one by one transacted their business at the Paying Teller’s desk, and one by one departed. There are three places of entrance to the Bank ; at one the males went in, at another the females, and through a third, the middle door, they all went out again. The police experienced a good deal of trouble in keeping the people in their places ; individuals would keep pushing forward out of line, and the officers often had to march them back the whole length of the room. It was very warm in the building, and several of the females fainted during the day. At about 12 o’clock the crowd outside made a sudden rush upon the entrance for the males. Eight policemen were drawn up in front of the doorway, and easily repelled the crowd, but not until the latter had pushed them against the outside “winter door,” breaking two large panes of glass worth $10 apiece. Two-thirds probably of the depositors who withdrew their money yesterday were Germans, most of the remainder were Irish, and nearly one-half of the of the entire number were females. The latter of course made a good deal more noise than the representatives of the other sex ; if women had been in the habit of making a run occasionally on Savings Banks in the days of the Prophet, MOHAMMED’S paradise would never have been foretold. Old Mammon must have trembled in his vaults under the bank when he heard those women’s tongues clamoring, like so many Shylocks’, for pounds (and pence) of his substance. One woman brought $300 in bills on the Bowery Bank, and demanded specie payment for it ; she was informed that the Bowery Bank and the Bowery Savings Bank were two distinct institutions, not at all connected ; that they would take the bills of the Bowery Bank on deposit, but would not pay out gold in exchange for them. It was a long while before the poor woman could be made to understand the difference. Several thousand dollars was deposited yesterday in the Bank ; much of it money that was drawn out since the run commenced. One man yesterday got in the line, and after waiting half the day for his turn to come, –it was slow work for all of them, –finally arrived opposite the paying teller’s desk. He was the assignee of two other depositors, and presented their books with his own and drew his money. After it was given to him he fumbled with it awhile, rolled it about in his hands and looked at it–the next man awaiting his turn kept thumping him in the bank all the time and urging him to give way–and at last, laying it down on the counter, “There,” said he, “I kept thinking I was a fool while I was in the line, and now I’m sure of it ; take it back.” An Irishman who had drawn out $500 a day or two before, came up to the bar. “Biddy and I have been sleeping on it,” said he, “ever since I got it out, and now I’ve left her sleeping on it to come and ask yer worship if you’d be so good as to take it back again.” There were plenty of similar cases.
    The following is a statement of the present conditions of the Bank, obtained from the Directors:

    The Bowery Savings Bank has paid out during the last three days: On Friday, the 19th alt, $80,000 bank open from 10 A. M. till 2 P. M., and 5 P. M. till 7 P. M. On Saturday, 10th, $177,000 ; bank open from 10 A. M. till 4 P. M. On Monday, 12th, $160,000 ; bank open from 10 A. M. till 7 P. M., over and above the deposits received on those days, which it ha promptly met, and has now one million dollars cash in hand, over two millions dollars in New-York State and City Stocks, over three millions in Bonds and Mortgages on New-York City property worth more than double the amount loaned, together with call loans on good security, such as New-York State and City and other Stocks to the amount of two hundred and eighty-five thousand dollars, and have a surplus of over five hundred thousand dollars beyond their indebtedness.

    When the hour for closing the Bank, 7 o’clock, arrived, the banking-room was still pretty full of people. By the time these were served it was 7 ½ o’clock. Mr. FRANCIS BOS, one of the Trustees, then went outside and called upon all who were there desiring to draw out money, to go in and do so before the doors were closed for the night ; there were still a good many people standing outside, but none offered to enter and the doors closed for the night. The Clerks were busy during the evening making up their accounts, and the Directors held a solemn conclave in their Chamber of Council, in the rear of the Banking room, to which reporters were not admitted. The Bank will open this morning at 10 A.M., as usual, to give up or receive deposits. The Directors appeared confident of surviving the present storm. This Bank has paid out $317,000 since the run commenced.

    There was no particular call for deposits at any of the other Savings Banks in the City. There were more demands for money at the Bleecker-street Bank for Savings than common, but they did not by any means amount to a run upon it.


    The run upon the Brooklyn Savings Bank was continued yesterday, but the amount withdrawn was small, compared with that of Saturday. The Bank was open from 10 o’clock A. M. to 3 P. M. A number of Police of the First Precinct were stationed on the steps to preserve order. They allowed only six persons to enter the Bank at one time. In this manner the business was transacted without embarrassment. It is a noticeable feature of this run that quite a number who took their money out on Thursday last came back on Saturday to deposit again. It was refused then, because the officers could not attend to receiving money. Many of that and some who took their money out during the excitement of Saturday, returned yesterday and their money was received back into the bank. A number of gentleman stoad in front of the Bank, yesterday, and purchased all the deposits they could, paying in bankable money. This turned many away. About noon, the following statement, in circular form, was passed into the crowd, and caused many a smile upon faces where before nothing was indicated but alarm:

    STATEMENT of the affairs of the Brooklyn Savings Bank on the 1st day of July, 1857, being the last semi-annual Report:


    Bonds and mortgages on property in the City of New-York and Brooklyn, worth double the
    amount loaned thereon… $1,058,500 00
    State stocks, and stocks and bond of the cities of New York and Brooklyn at their par
    value… 1,276,781 00
    Reat estate as estimated by the Assessors… 45,000 00
    Cash on hand and cash funds at sight, since realized… 101,839 93

    Total… $2,482,111 93


    Amount due to depositors… 2,272,567 65
    Surplus… $209,544 28

    It is supposed that to-day the receipts will fully equal the amount drawn out.


    A young woman residing at No. 3 DeBevoise-street, Brooklyn, who has for a long time been employed by a Fulton-street dry goods house in the manufacture of mantillas, early yesterday morning went as usual to the store for work, when she was told that they could give her no more work, as they were reducing their business to meet the exigencies of the times. She returned to her boarding-house dreadfully cast down at being thrown out of employment, knowing not where to obtain more money or how to pay her way during the approaching Winter. Returning to her room, she drew a razor across her throat, inflicting a fearful gash. She was reported dead at the Coroners’ office last evening, but we subsequently ascertained that her case was not considered hopeless by her attending physician.


    The run upon this Bank had entirely ceased before the closing yesterday, and a number of depositors appeared, who sensibly concluded that in these trying times there was no safer place for their money.

    The promptness with which every demand has been met by this and the older institution, (the Brooklyn Savings Bank,) aided by the sober second thought of the depositors, has brought about this graceful result.

    CORRECTION – HARD TIMES. – The New-York Hemp and Flax Company, in East Brooklyn, have not stopped their works, as reported ; but they have found it expedient, for their own interests, as well as for the protection of the large number whom they employ, to reduce to half-time. They have heretofore paid off their hands every thirteen days, but on the 1st of October they decided to run six and a half days, and then stop the same length of time – thus affording employment one-half of the time to their whole force, instead of discharging a portion, or cutting down wages. This establishment has been running for twenty years, and has never stopped, except to repair. The present curtailment of work is owing to a temporary falling off in orders for goods, but they hope to resume full time at no distant day.

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