Island and New York Counties

The New York of 1760 and 1770 was no longer a collection of settlements; it was fast taking on the form of a State. The shape of its peopled territory was that of a letter Z ; the Mohawk Valley and Long Island are the upper and lower lines of the letter; the Hudson Valley is the connecting bar.

The Island Counties

Long Island was divided into counties as now, with Suffolk at the eastern end. The inhabitants here were largely from New England; they preserved their puritan ideas and manners and much preferred to be part of Connecticut*, Huntingdon, Brookhaven, Southampton and Southold were the principal towns.

Passing into Queens county the Dutch element became noticeable. Further on, Kings county also had its present limits, but its cities were hardly begun. Lower New York was not so crowded nor ferry passage so safe and rapid as to give impetus to the growth of Brooklyn, so that it was still a village smaller than neighboring towns which are today enclosed within its spreading boundaries. The Dutch element prevailed in Kings county and grew rich in market gardening. Staten Island composed the Richmond county of those days also; but there were few settlers, except here and there a Dutch or French farmer and "one poor, mean village," Richmond.

*New England customs prevail on the east end of Long Island today; and indeed it would be more convenient for the people to sail up the Connecticut than up the Hudson to their capital city.

New York County

Turning northward, the island of Manhattan, with Bedloe's, Governor's, Blackwell's and other islands of the bay and East river comprised the city of New York. The city itself was then about a mile long and half a mile wide; and its crooked streets extended to the present City Hall. Beyond the "Broad way" passed straggling houses and then stretched away as a country road among the farms which have since been given up to the great retail trade of the continent. The business centre of those days was Hanover Square; while the place for a fashionable residence was lower Broadway or Wall Street.

"In the city," says McMaster, "scarce a street was paved and these few were so poorly done that Franklin observed that  a New Yorker could be told by his walk as he shuffled over the smooth pavements of Philadelphia." The streets were crooked ; Pearl street had been extended along the line of the cow path to the common pasture. Where City Hall park is, was a much larger common known as the "Fields" and further north, now without a trace, was a large fresh water pond, where the city fisherman often tried his luck.