Page:Memoirs of Henry Villard, volume 1.djvu/38

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.




one of her sisters. But I did not remember their addresses. I knew, however, that another distant relative, Dr. George Engelmann, was a physician in good practice in St. Louis, and so I ventured to address a letter to him, enclosing another for my father's brother Theodor, with a request to forward it. Next I took counsel with the landlord regarding employment, got a number of addresses, including that of the Bavarian consul and the German Emigrant Aid Society, from him and from advertisements in the two German daily papers for help in various occupations, and, thus equipped, began my search for something to do by which I could earn my daily bread.

In the pursuit of my object I saw much of New York. The city had then only about three hundred thousand inhabitants, but, unless my memory deceives me, its leading business streets presented as striking and stunning a picture of intense commercial activity as to-day. The sidewalks on Broadway were certainly very crowded with people, and the street proper jammed full of vehicles of every description. But, of course, the city had comparatively small dimensions. Fourteenth Street was the limit of animated street-life. Beyond it the rows of buildings began to thin out, and above Twenty-third Street things still had an open-country appearance. The Fifth Avenue Hotel was not then built. Between the City Hall and Canal Street there were still whole streets exclusively occupied by private residences. The best and most frequented hotels seemed to be located south of Canal Street. I remember very clearly being struck with astonishment at the sight of the lounging habits of their guests, visible through the great windows of the reading- and smoking-rooms on the ground floor. Whole rows of elevated legs were presented to the passers-by on Broadway. The black servants in several of them astonished me also.

The most renowned hotel was then the Astor House. Several of my fellow-boarders had, like myself, read at home descriptions of its grandeur, and we were all very