The Present Extraordinary Emigration - Scenes of Castle Garden - 1880
Transferring Emigrants from an Inman Steamer to the Castle Garden Barge. Sketch by Clarence O'Dowd. Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 1 May 1880. GGA Image ID # 14ba36a7dd
The richly illustrated article captures the process the immigrants at Castle Garden encounter as they go from department to department in their quest to become immigrants to the United States in 1880.
The good ship City of Brussels having been warped into the dock, a couple of tenders come alongside, and the emigrants step gladly on board. It is not the tender but a floating gangway leading to the eagerly longed for terra firma.
The luggage is disgorged from the hold and transferred to barges in waiting, under the supervision of the obliging luggage-master, Mr. Madan; and the passenger-agent, Mr. Williams, having given the starting word to the pilots of the tenders, in a few seconds the sturdy little vessels are hurrying down the river en route to Castle Garden. What a bright and bustling scene!
View of Castle Garden from the Park. Sketch by Clarence O'Dowd. Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 1 May 1880. GGA Image ID # 14bab6d5f6
The river studded with crafts of every description, from the large ocean steamer to the tiny sailing boat, from the richly-laden and dignified argosy to the impudent little tug, hurrying hither and thither and audaciously darting beneath the very bows of some leviathan, in momentary danger of being crushed like an eggshell.
White-sailed sloops and schooners, ferry-boats speeding from shore to shore with their living and anxious freight, the Battery and Bedloe's and Governor's Islands, backed by the Narrows and Staten Island, all this does the emigrant take in as he is borne onwards.
Still, Castle Garden is his Mecca, and every eye is fixed upon the longed-for spot of earth where the foot is to be planted after ocean incarceration.
Examining Emigrants at Castle Garden. Sketch by Clarence O'Dowd. Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 1 May 1880. GGA Image ID # 14bb0922d8
The tenders speedily reach their destination, and the landing is effected. In a single file, the newcomers filter into the enormous rotunda, and Mr. George Morrel, the courteous police officer in charge, ushers them towards the registering clerk.
Registering Emigrants at Castle Garden. Sketch by Clarence O'Dowd. Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 1 May 1880. GGA Image ID # 14bb52b313
Here each one is asked his or her name, place of birth, and destination, the replies being entered in an enormous ledger. Then comes the question of departure, trains, boats, etc., and the queries uttered in French, Italian, Irish, Danish, Finnish, Russian, and fifty different dialects, are briefly but courteously responded to.
An Emigrant Hotel on Greenwich Street. Sketch by Clarence O'Dowd. Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 1 May 1880. GGA Image ID # 14bac0158e
Those who propose remaining in New York emerge into the Battery Park and are cared for by the agents of the Inman Line, who see them safely housed in respectable boarding-houses.
Scene at the Castle Garden Railroad Ticket Office. Sketch by Clarence O'Dowd. Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 1 May 1880. GGA Image ID # 14ba370fa6
Those who are compelled to wait for the evening trains for the West and South encamp in the rotunda, gypsy fashion, and sit, sprawl, crouch and lie in every attitude of indolent nonchalance.
Some of these groups are intensely picturesque. The quaint costumes of Danish and German villages, the vibrant colors of Connemara cloaks, and the thousand and one hues of the beribboned lassies of many climes, blend in bright contrasts.
Meals are partaken of; the "tay" is wet, and the lager is foamed; children romp and play; the old people doze, and the younger take up the thread of the flirtations commenced on the bounding billows and resolve to make the most of their time ere the bitter word of parting.
Emigrants Embarking at the Railroad Statin in New York for Their New Home in the West. Sketch by Clarence O'Dowd. Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 1 May 1880. GGA Image ID # 14bacbf143
The hour at length arrives when it becomes necessary to move towards the train. Then there is a mighty upheaval of human forms and human impedimenta.
An employee musters the various parties, calling out names and destinations, and, still under the protecting aegis of the agents of the Inman Line, our emigrants march to the railway depot, enter the cars, and Go West!
In a few short months, the almighty dollar rolls across the pond, and the dear ones left behind follow in the footsteps of the pioneers.
"The Present Extraordinary Emigration - Scenes In and About Castle Garden," in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, Vol. L, No., 1283, New York: Frank Leslie's Publishing House, 1 May 1880, pp. 139-140.