A Day At Castle Garden, 1871
In the lower part of Broadway, on our way I down to the Battery, we met groups of immigrants, newly landed, strolling along on the sidewalk, and bestowing a look of wonder on everything they saw.
Trinity Church and the new magnificent " Equitable Building" on the corner of Cedar Street seemed to be special objects of attention. In passing I beard a German woman say of the latter building, "Das muss der Palest sein," an opinion that seemed to be instantly shared by her companions.
For a city without a "Palest" of some kind or other is an impossibility in Germany. At length, we passed through the venerable iron gate into the Battery grounds. Sad sight What was years ago a blooming garden is now a barren waste, on which hardly a sprouting grass is to be seen.
It looks like a large drilling field, with a few trees standing in clusters near the entrance on Broadway, and in the background looms Castle Garden, with its outbuildings, hospitals, and offices—all encircled by a large wooden wall.
Before long the grounds will have assumed their old, almost forgotten, aspect; gangs of laborers are at work with pickaxe, shovel, and wheel-barrow, the whole ground is being surveyed and laid out, and before another summer we may hope to see the Battery as it ought to be—one of the most attractive parks in the city.
The location could not be better. There is the fresh sea, with cooling breezes in the hot summer; nearly opposite lies Governor's Island, and in the distance the Jersey shore and the verdant hills of Staten Island.
Entering the Grand Castle Garden
Here the groups of immigrants became more frequent, and as we approached the entrance to Castle Garden we found it almost impossible to make our way through, the passage was so blocked up with vehicles, peddlers of cheap cigars, apple-stands, and runners from the different boarding-houses and intelligence-offices that abound in the neighborhood.
However, we succeeded in getting through, after encountering an outpouring stream of new arrivals, and being nearly deafened by the repeated shouts of " D'ye want a conveyance?" "Hotel Stadt Hamburg!" " Zum goldenen Adler l" "This way, gents, this way !" etc.
We presented our passport to the officer on guard at the entrance, were admitted, and ushered into the yard of the Garden, amidst a crowd of passengers, children, and baggage of all kinds. Into this yard open the different offices connected with the Garden. We enter the main building, which a sign over the tremendous doorway announces as " Castle Garden" proper.
Truly it looks like a "castle," but the "garden" is less observable. Open port-holes stare us in the face as we approach, but excite no alarm. In the good old times, when this pile was built for a castle, it must have answered its purpose pretty well; the walls are at least fully six feet thick, and built of heavy square blocks of brownstone, closely cemented.
The old nail-studded gates of the fort arc there yet, but they are never closed now, a lighter and smaller gate having been made to supersede them.
Passing through the gateway, we have on the left side a roomy and cleanly kept wash-room for females, and on the opposite side one for males, both plentifully supplied with soap, water, and large clean towels on rollers, for the free and unlimited use of all immigrants. From these rooms, we emerge into the rotunda —the main feature of Castle Garden.
Landing of Immigrant Steerage Passengers
The steamer Holland, from Liverpool, had just arrived, and the steerage passengers were being landed. It was a motley, interesting throng. Slowly, one by one, the new-comers passed the two officers whose duty it is to register every immigrant's name, birthplace, and destination in large folios—a work that is often rather more difficult than it would first appear to be.
In the first place, the officer in charge must be able to speak and understand nearly every language under the sun. This, however, can be learned and mastered; but then arises a second difficulty—the remarkable want of intelligence and the regularly recurring misapprehension shown by some of the passengers. These latter instances are very numerous, and to deal with them requires a great deal of patience.
Some of their answers are exceedingly comical, as, for instance: a young fellow in corduroy knee-breeches and nailed shoes was asked in my presence if he was alone.
"No, Sir," he said, boldly; and upon being asked who was with him, then, he answered, "Sure my box."' Another wanted to register two gamecocks he had brought with him from Tipperary.
"Sure I paid for their passage," he said. Still another—an old woman—on being asked her name, said that that was on her box, "an' if we wanted to know, sure we could go and see;" and upon being asked by a bystander how, then, her box would be found, her answer was, "Ah, be jabers, an isn't me name painted plainly on it?" It was with difficulty that her name was finally ascertained.
Some do not understand a word of English, and can only speak Irish, but these are few, and are nearly always very old people.
Booker - Railway Association Clerk
On they passed, one by one, in single file, till a few steps farther down they came to the desk of the so-called "booker," a clerk of the Railway Association, whose duty it is to ascertain the destination of each passenger, and furnish him with a printed slip, upon which this is set forth, with the number of tickets wanted, and their cost in currency.
Having received this, the passenger is passed over to the railway counter, where, if he so desires, he purchases his ticket. It is left to his own option what road he will patronize and whether he will go by the first-class or the immigrant train.
This arrangement is productive of much good, as by buying his ticket here he will be only charged the just price, and get the full value for his money if he pays with a foreign exchange. It is too often the case that passengers, buying their tickets in outside offices, are shamefully swindled; the daily press exhibits numerous instances of this fact.
That it is not always easy to furnish an immigrant with the proper and correct ticket, may be conjectured from one example. A passenger (a Swede) desired to go to Farmington.
But as there are no less than twenty-one cities and Tillages of that name in the United States, this address was hardly satisfactory. He was asked by the Danish clerk attached to the Railway Bureau what Stale that particular Farmington lay in; but this he could not tell.
He had no further address than Farmington, U. S. The probability was that it was away out West, as nearly all the Swedes are far travelers, and Illinois or Iowa were consequently suggested; but he did not know.
Finally he remembered something about "Da," or " Dada," or "Dakota;" and it was found to be "Farmington, Dakota County, Minnesota," a fact which was proved correct by letters which he afterward produced from his trunk. He received a ticket accordingly, and went on his way rejoicing the same afternoon.
Instances of this kind—of passengers knowing only the name of the city to which they are destined, but not those of county and State—are of frequent occurrence, and give a deal of trouble to the railway employees.
It is of the first importance to ascertain the right place, and it sometimes requires considerable skill and experience to avoid mistakes. In some instances, it becomes wholly impossible to discover the destination, and forward the passenger.
The Railway Agency is under the strict control of the Commissioners of Emigration, and is held responsible to the purchaser of a ticket for any mistake that may occur. It will be readily understood that but few outside ticket offices, not so controlled, care about exercising the same care and vigilance in forwarding a passenger; they only want his purchase of a ticket and departure out of the way.
If he arrives at his destination, he is lucky, unless it is some such point as Chicago, or of similar importance, where mistakes cannot easily take place. And if he gets a couple of hundred miles out of the way, what does it matter? He paid down his money, and is too far away and too unsophisticated to complain!
Foreign Exchange Brokers
Directly opposite the railway counter are the desks of the exchange brokers, which are at present occupied by four firms, each working in its own interest. A blackboard conspicuously displayed announces the current rates at which foreign and domestic coins are exchanged—at a rate that is but a trifle below the Wall Street quotation.
Whenever a change takes place in the street, it is instantly reported to the brokers in the Garden, and the rate on the blackboard altered accordingly. And this, too, seems to puzzle our transatlantic friends. An Englishman comes along and changes a sovereign, for which he receives, say $5.70, according to the then present rate. A moment later gold goes down one percent, or one and a half in Wall Street; it is instantly recorded at the Garden, and the prices are altered accordingly.
Our friend comes along again with some more sovereigns to change for himself and comrades, but now he only receives $5.65 for his gold. "Ay, Sir, you have made a mistake," he says. The broker's clerk says he has not, and tries to explain. But it is no use. Less than two minutes ago he got $5.70 for his sovereign, and now he gets five cents less!
That surpasses his comprehension. "No, no," says he, shaking his head incredulously; "gold is gold. This 'ere is good British money; no change in that; that stands to reason." He is offered his sovereigns back if he chooses, but lets it pass, scratching his head and saying, "Blast the durned paper-money, that one can't make neither head nor tail out of!"
Often, of course, the opposite thing happens, and the price of gold is advanced in the interim between a customer's changing his coin. Then he gets the higher price for the last lot, but, in this case, never complains.
All kinds of money are here exchanged, and often in considerable quantities. One of the gentlemen doing business there informed me that as much as two to three hundred sovereigns, and one to two thousand Prussian thalers, were not infrequently changed into paper-money by one individual.
While I was there, a passenger changed a bag of sovereigns containing at least fifty pieces, for which he received the full value in United States promises to pay, with a memorandum of the transaction signed by the broker.
It is unnecessary to say that this department also is under the strictest control and surveillance of the Commissioners, who, with a jealous eye, look out for the interest of the immigrants.
Sovereigns and Prussian thalers form the bulk of exchange : but other coins, of nearly all countries and denominations, are also daily exchanged. American gold is very frequently brought over, and, if not changed at the Garden, often leaves the unsuspecting immigrant's pocket at par.
Twenty-dollar pieces, eagles, and half-eagles are the denominations most used; but many bring over small one-dollar gold pieces, of which one out of every four or five is perforated with a hole, as if it had been used for a charm.
This is an artifice frequently resorted to on the other side; the pieces are drilled, by which they lose on an average about fifteen to twenty per cent. of their value, but are still, of course, sold for the full price, "and often more, to the emigrants at Liverpool. The fine dust thus drilled out makes a handsome extra profit for the unscrupulous broker.
Others bring bags full of American silver of small denominations, which they have also obtained in Liverpool, where it is imported at a considerable discount from Canada.
Strange to say, spurious coin or paper is seldom found in the possession of the immigrants, although one would naturally suppose that there would be a wide and comparatively safe field for imposing these upon emigrants previous to their departure from Europe.
Passengers via Bremen very often bring with them American greenbacks, having changed their money previous to their departure, and the currency is almost always genuine. In some few instances a corner is missing, or a bill otherwise somewhat mutilated.
Some time ago a Mecklenburg farmer arrived, who had quite a considerable sum of money in greenbacks on his person. To keep it safe he had sewed it in the lining of his shirt, where he had worn it during the whole voyage.
When he came to open his package he found that two fifty-dollar bills had become stuck together, caused by the perspiration of his body and some adherent matter probably sticking to the paper. It was found impossible to detach them. They stuck together as one bill as nicely as if they had been glued together by an artist.
Loud were his lamentations and great his distress. He tried to peel them carefully asunder with his thumb-nail, but only succeeded in tearing the paper. He commenced crying, when somebody advised him to give the refractory bills a cold-water bath.
He caught the idea, and did so, and lo! the bills came apart as nicely as two sheets of mica, and his one fifty dollar-bill was made good for a hundred dollars. Great now was his joy, and he was shortly after seen treating at least a score of his shipmates to schnapps and lager.
One poor fellow, who came over in the Holland, a Frenchman, brought with him a Parisian bank-note for fifty francs—all the money he had. Under other circumstances the note would have been exchanged at the Garden at par; but owing to the present uncertain value of French paper-money, caused by the war, it could not be redeemed there.
He could not possibly understand how a note for fifty francs on the Bank of France could not be equal to the same amount in bright silver or gold; it was at par at home when he left, and his faith in the Bank of la belle France was unshaken. He refused to change it at a discount, and left, doubting and disgusted, to be fleeced by some outside sharper.
The paper-money of Prussia has also been depreciated by the war. Formerly the paper tinder stood a trifle above par. (probably one-quarter percent.), for the facility in carrying; but now it stands about two and a half percent, below. This puzzles German immigrants.
The thaler is in their country a thaler, whether silver or paper and if the latter even a little more; and why should it be otherwise here? "Das Kann ich nit verstehen," they say. However, as a class, they are easily satisfied that it is correct, and accept their fate without grumbling.
Most of them bring "harte" (silver) thalers; but when they do it is generally in large amounts. It is not seldom that one paterfamilias brings with him a chest full of bright thalers that it takes two or more men to carry.
This money they exchange, purchase their railway tickets, and then go out West, buy lands, settle down, and form one of the most desirable classes of citizens of this great republic.
Immigrants From Many Countries
The German immigrants seem altogether to be those who give the least trouble in the Garden. They are willing, obey instructions, and try to help each other along.
If one of their numbers is short a couple of dollars in the purchase of a railway ticket, it is very seldom that he can not raise that by the assistance and cooperation of a few countrymen.
The Irish are a little more troublesome from their innumerable and repeated questions, but the most troublesome and patience-exhausting fellow-creatures are undoubtedly the Swedes.
They are an excellent class of people, and form outstanding and most desirable citizens, but cause a great deal of trouble on their arrival. In the first place, they smell of a compound of leather, salt herring, onions, and perspiration, difficult to describe, but most apparent to the sense. Then they talk a language that none but a native Scandinavian can understand.
They are, moreover, though by nature rather suspecting and doubting, still made more so by parties in the old country who find it in their interest to guard them against the Castle Garden and its provisions, as if it were some terrible institution.
Therefore they are very difficult indeed to deal with. They shun questions, and often refuse to give explanations. But after some time, when they learn to know the country and the character of its inhabitants better, they find out that we are not so bad as we are painted, and they assimilate with us, and become hardy laborers and honest citizens.
They are nearly all far travelers, finding their way to Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and Minnesota, where they find a climate, not unlike their own, and soon become settled down as thrifty farmers.
Of late years the Swedes have formed a very conspicuous part of our annual immigration. Not less than 23,453 arrived during 1869, nearly 10,000 more than arrived in 1868, and nearly 20,000 above the arrivals during 1867. Of these, it is safe to say that ninety percent go out West as agriculturists.
I may perhaps here remark that, according to the annual report for the year 1869, published by the Board of Commissioners of Emigration, the total arrival of immigrants landed at Castle Garden from foreign ports during 1869 was as follows:
- Germany, 99,605
- Ireland, 66,204
- England, 41,090
- All other countries together (including Swedes, Norwegians, Danes, etc.), 52,090
... thus making a total for 1869 of 258,989 souls.
The arrivals from France are comparatively few, only 2,870 arriving during that year. Among the other nationalities we find five from Greece, five from the Celestial Empire (whether shoemakers or not I do not know), twenty-three from Africa, four from Australia, two from Armenia, seven from Turkey, and two from Jerusalem—the latter probably the Wandering Jew and his brother.
Having got his money changed and his railway ticket purchased if he is a traveler, our citizen in embryo proceeds to have his 'baggage weighed and checked through to his point of destination.
But before he does that he has probably received a letter addressed to him at the Garden, which has been awaiting him there, or perhaps he desires to announce by letter his safe arrival at New York to friends far away. If so, he will find a clerk at his proper desk, ready to write for him and forward his letter free of charge.
If there is a letter for him, his name is called out loudly after the landing and registering are performed, and before be is permitted to leave the premises, and he is furnished with a card announcing that there is a letter awaiting him, which will be delivered upon presentation of the card at the letter desk.
If there is money for him, it is paid him promptly, or a ticket is purchased for part of it, if the sender so desires. If he wishes to telegraph, there is a telegraph-office at hand, and the operator at his post. If, after having accomplished all this to his satisfaction, he feels faint and hungry, thou there is a restaurant over in the corner. All these appliances are under one roof and one management.
To be sure, the fare in the restaurant, or bread-stand, is of the plainest kind, consisting chiefly of white and brown bread, pies, coffee, milk, and sausages; but it is good, substantial, and cheap, and tastes well after the hard-tack and salt mess on board ship.
And if be, finally, wants a thorough ablution before he starts for his new Western home, then there is the washroom already mentioned, where cold water, stone troughs, and fresh towels invite him to a bath and a change of linen.
The Landing of Immigrants
All this having been done, be prepares to start. Outside on the dock, where the passengers are landed, are the baggage-room and scales, where his boxes and "kistes" are weighed and checked according to his ticket. There, also, are several small wooden structures, containing offices for the Custom-house officers and police detailed for service at the Garden.
There is one lady-inspector, whose duty it is to examine the dresses of suspicious-looking female immigrants; and often she makes a rich harvest of laces, pieces of velvet or silk, jewelry, or the like, that is concealed upon the person in the most ingenious manner.
he police, in charge of one roundsman, are posted, at the different entrances to the Garden, and serve on board of a vessel or steamship while the passengers are being transferred to the barge previous to their landing.
There are two barges attached to the landing dept, of about 80 or 160 tons each, upon which the passengers and their luggage are transferred from the steamer and brought ashore by the assistance of a tug-boat. It is curious to see such a heterogeneous crowd land.
The Swedes are easily distinguished by their tanned-leather breeches and waistcoats, and their peculiar before-mentioned exhalations; you cannot miss the Irishman with his napless hat, worn coat, and corduroy trousers; the Englishman you know by his Scotch cap, clay pipe, and paper collar.
The Teuton you detect at once by his long-skirted, dark blue woolen coat, high-necked, and brass-buttoned vest, and flat military cap, or gray beaver. Indeed, one of the officers told me that he could tell exactly what part of Germany each individual came from by his dress alone, and I believe he could.
Then there are the Bohemians (the genuine ones), with their many-colored scarfs and glaring jackets for the women, and natty military caps for almost all the men. The French in their blue linen blouses; and finally the Norwegians in their curious national dress, consisting of a gray woolen stiff-necked jacket, which covers only about one-third of their back, while in front it slopes down to a greater length, and is profusely ornamented with huge silver buttons set so close together that they overlap each other.
Their breeches, of dark woolen stuff, therefore reach nearly up to their neck behind, only a small strip of jacket with an enormous stiff collar being between.
You can not properly say a Norwegian in a pair of breeches, but must say a pair of breeches with a Norwegian in them. This, of course, only applies to the farmers from the interior parts of the country, the "Dalkuller" and "Troensere," etc.
One of the most important bureaus of the Garden is the Ward's Island and medicinal departments. These offices are situated In a long wooden building of one story, on the right as you enter the Garden from the Battery, These departments have done a great deal of good, and allayed terrible sufferings and suspense.
Ward's Island - Immigrant Hospital
The Board of Commissioners are on Ward's Island (a little island in the East River, about five miles from the heart of New York) an immigrant refuge and hospital, both always densely peopled.
Here immigrants who are without means of subsistence are kept and taken care of at the expense of the Board, until assistance may come from their friends in the shape of money or tickets, or they can be disposed of as laborers.
I shall not here go into the details of this particular institution, as these alone would fill up and justify a special description, bat merely remark that the buildings are large and excellent, and that their inmates enjoy all the care and comforts suited to their circumstances.
During 1869 there were admitted on the island 11,471 sick or destitute immigrants, 439 children were born, and 11,356 passengers discharged during the same period. On December 31, 1869, there remained in the institution 1,951 souls.
On entering the Ward's Island department, we pass through the areas set aside for the reception of immigrants by their friends. This is a large, well-ventilated room, with wooden benches for the accommodation of the visitors. A large blackboard shows the name of the steamers or ships that are reported "up," whose passengers are being or will be landed.
If, for instance, you expect a friend in the steerage of the City of Paris, all you have to do is to read the list of arrivals in your paper every morning about the time the steamer is due. When you find that she has arrived, you go down to Castle Garden to this office, to which there is a separate entrance from the Battery, and there you give to the clerk in charge the name of the passenger you are expecting.
This will be called out inside in the rotunda, and if she has been on board, she will be sent in to you, when there will be any quantity of questions to put and an-swore to make. It certainly is interesting to witness these 'meetings, as I did.
Here is the name of a comely Irish girl called out, she enters blushing, and is the next moment in the arms of her faithful sweet-heart, who left her home in Ireland three years ago, and has now sent for her to make her his bride.
There is kissing and crying and squeezing, and applause from the bystanders, who far the moment forget that they themselves in a few minutes will probably do the same sort of thing. That is a new version of "Pat Malloy," and, I think, the right one.
Father and son, sister and brother, meet here in fond embraces, with tears of joy, after years I of absence. What shaking of hands, and assurances of love, and inquiries for those dear to the heart, that are still thousands of miles away!
The Labor Exchange - Where Immigrants Find Work
Opposite this building is located the so-called Labor Exchange, to which there is also a separate entrance from the Battery. Not only immigrants, but whoever else wants work, can apply here, and will generally succeed in finding an employer.
Farm-hands and mechanics have the best chance, and there are always a number of them to he found there, mostly raw hands. Miners from Wales and other places are quite a specialty, and are always in demand. Weavers also seem to find ready employment. Next come laborers on railroads, farm-hands, and gardeners.
There is but a poor chance for office clerks and other nondescripts. Servant-girls form a great proportion of the work-seekers, and may always be seen sitting there like hens on a perch, scrutinizing and criticising the employers who Apply at the office for help.
It is a mistake, however, to suppose that these girls are always green. To be sure, most of them were immigrants once, but that may have been five or perhaps ten years ago. As the office is open to all, it is liberally patronized. Applicants for help are plenty, and the officers in charge of the bureau do everything in their power to suit both parties, and bring about a bargain.
The interests of those soliciting work are well looked after. Everyone applying for help must give their name and residence, and must furnish references. The amount of wages agreed on is stated, and entered in a book. In short, everything is done to guard against the admission of parties of a doubtful character.
German girls lately landed are greatly in demand at this establishment, and I was told that there are applications for them ten deep on the books; but they are very rarely to be found. It is seldom that German girls come to this country alone; they are nearly always in company with their father, mother, and the whole family, and go with them out to the Western States.
If a stray one happens to stop in New York, she is picked up immediately, and her services secured at high wages. The wages at which girls obtain situations from this exchange vary from nine to fourteen dollars per month, sometimes higher, according to worth and specialty of work; cooks and chamber-maids receive the highest pay.
By far the greater portion of the applicants are Irish, and a good many of them are old " rounders," who take a place for perhaps a month, and then leave it without the slightest notice.
Danish and Swedish girls are also in great demand, but difficult to obtain; they, as the German girls, very seldom leave the family where they are employed, if only decently paid and treated.
The female department of this office is in charge of a lady, who tries to accommodate both employer and employee, and no charge is made to or received from either.
This makes the establishment extensively patronized; as will also be proved by the following statistics: In 1,559 situations were obtained for no less than 11,073 house servants, 438 cooks, laundresses, etc.; and, of the male branch, for 17,250 agricultural and unskilled laborers, and 5594 mechanics of various classes. This is a fair exhibit, and helps to illustrate the vastness of the operations conducted at Castle Garden.
The City Express Office
From the Labor Exchange we proceed to the City Express office, and here a busy scene awaits us. Wagons are being loaded, heavy boxes and trunks rolled on trucks along the smooth asphalt flooring, bundles, beds, and baskets carried hither and thither, confusion and noise every where.
For a trilling cost every immigrant can have his luggage carried by express to any point of the city, and but few fail to avail themselves of this opportunity. Consequently there is a steady asking for and delivery of addresses in all the languages of the world.
The Boarding House Keepers
An important feature in Castle Garden is the attendance of boarding-house keepers. A certain number are admitted into the Garden, where they ply their vocation after the landing of passengers, and alter these have passed the registering and railway officials, etc.
They are all provided with cards setting forth, in several languages, the name of their house and the prices charged. These vary from $1 to $1.60 per day for board and lodging, or $6 to $9 per week, all payable in paper, which is distinctly put forth on the card.
Their houses are mostly located in Greenwich and Washington streets, in the immediate vicinity of Castle Garden, and most of them have very conspicuous and imposing names, announcing the nationality of the proprietor, as for instance, Intel de Paris, Würtemberger Hof, Zuni Grüdi (Swiss House), Miners' Arms, and the Cork House.
Some have a Masonic title, as the Square and Compasses. In these the immigrants can rest themselves for a day or two previous to their departure for the West. The board furnished is said to be good and substantial, and complaints of extortion, etc., are seldom made.
Different it is, however, with the outside houses, or those not represented on the premises. Hero complaints are frequent, and justly so, as in many instances these establishments are nothing but pitfalls for the unsuspecting immigrant, where he is fleeced of his last dollar, and then thrust out into the street, sent to a brick-yard, or " shanghaied" on board of some ship for a three years' cruise.
The immigrants are in Castle Garden repeatedly warned against these outside dens; but, of course, sometimes they fall a prey to their own folly in not heeding these warnings.
The outside labor exchanges or intelligence-offices, also in the vicinity of Castle Garden, are mostly nothing but swindles, where a dollar or two is exacted under the plea of procuring labor; but very seldom is this furnished, and if at all it is of the meanest sort and poorest paid for.
Above the washrooms, on the second-floor, are the various offices of the Commissioners of Emigration, their meeting rooms, Treasurer's office, and the office of the General Agent and Superintendent. This gentleman has, for a number of years, managed and directed the interior working of this vast establishment to the benefit of hundreds of thousands of immigrants.
Fie is a man unflinching in his duty, with years of experience, and with a warm heart for the true welfare of the immigrant. He is assisted by the Board of Commissioners, who form a body of the most experienced and esteemed men of the metropolis, including the Mayors of the cities of New York and Brooklyn.
On the occasion of my visit I had a good opportunity offered me for inspecting this establishment in all its details, and I availed myself of this in the fullest measure. I have tried to describe what I saw, and hope to have succeeded in imparting to the reader some idea of what Castle Garden really is, and how it looks on a busy day.
The War in Europe
The war in Europe has made sad havoc with the emigration, the German steamships having stopped running, and but very few of this nationality arriving. It was curious to notice the lauding of about a hundred passengers, who had arrived in a sailing ship from Bremen.
They were mostly Germans, with some few French and Italians, and had left their homes previous to the war being even talked of Their astonishment upon hearing the news up to the hour of their arrival can better be imagined than described.
The French looked downhearted and the Germans exultant; the Italians were neutral. Some few of the Germans, young, strapping fellows, inquired for the way to the German consul, as they wanted to go home again and fight for "Vaterland."
Their enthusiasm, however, seemed to evaporate after some time, and they took tickets for Kansas. The French, on their part, in the mean time regained their faith in la belle France, and thought that it might not be so bad after all.
Statistics from the Board of Emigration
I can not refrain from adding a few figures out of the statistics of the Board of Emigration, as this will, better than anything else, show the importance of this establishment and the quantity of business transacted.
During the year 1869 there were written, for immigrants to their friends, 2,884 letters, to which answers were received at Castle Garden containing $41,615.55; remittances, amounting to $50,549.49, were also received in anticipation of the arrival of passengers; 5,393 telegraph messages were forwarded, to which 1,351 answers were received; 504 steamers arrived with passengers, and 209 sailing vessels, during the year.
For the passage of destitute immigrants back to Europe, or to their friends in the interior, $10,876.89 were expended out of the funds of the Commissioners.
Problems After Leaving Castle Garden
When we left the Garden our ears were again I assailed by the same noises that had greeted us in the morning. As we came out among a large party of newly landed immigrants, and the light was but feeble, we were evidently supposed to belong to them.
A fellow grasped my arm, and tried in half English, half German, to persuade me to go with him to some obscure " hotel," " des beste in der Stadt !" Not till we came within the full glare of a gas-lamp did he discover his mistake, and let me go, though I had not spoken a word. A minute after I saw him carry off some really verdant ones with better success.
It is a common dodge among these runners to seize a portmanteau, or, better yet, a baby, belonging to some large family, for then the whole crowd is sure to follow.
I encountered such a gang. The wily runner was carrying a huge bag in the left hand, and had on the right arm a yelling baby, which he vainly tried to pacify or smother, I do not know which; behind him came the mother with another baby in her arms, and a lot of children clinging to her petticoats; after her came "victor," smoking his Dutch porcelain pipe and carrying some bundles; and finally "grossvater" and "grossmutter" made up the rear.
The lights were shining feebly on the Battery. The lamps are bnt few and tar between, and an almost total darkness prevails at some places. Behind me were the crowds of immigrants still emerging from Castle Garden, whose dome loomed up splendidly out of a sea of darkness—a beacon for the guidance of immigrants who arrive on our shores.
Bagger, Louis, "A Day in Castle Garden," in Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Vol XLII, No. CCL, March 1871, p. 547-556.