Time Travelogue, 1853 edition: a Slice of NYC Life
Time traveling FAQs
What's the best way to travel back in time?
The method that I use for time travelling is super secret, so don't try asking me how I did it. Because I'll never tell anyone how it's done.
What's so special about July 5th, 1853?
Let's just say that there were a few important tasks that I had to complete. I can't say any more than that. Sorry.
Indisputable proof that I was there
Tips for getting around NYC in 1853
1. Beware of confused old women
Be forewarned: in 1853 NYC, forgetful old women were roaming wild all over the city. If that doesn't seem like a big deal, know that this was actually a big problem especially for wearers of scarves and handkerchiefs.
During my travels I stumbled into an entire camp of wandering, weak-eyed grandmas who immediately started asking me for directions. I decided to help the most respectable and decent looking of the ladies find her way back to her "stage" (1850s slang for stagecoach) but for my kindness she repaid me by forgetting that my handkerchief wasn't hers. Apparently I wasn't the first to be victimized in this way by absent minded old ladies that wandered into NYC from the west. So keep a watchful eye out.
2. Be careful when using firearms
In the the mid 19th century, it was customary for people to fire their guns into the air during celebrations. Especially the Fourth of July. The problem was that nobody had quite perfected gun manufacturing yet. In 1853, many handmade guns were still around. There were some well-made handmade guns... but there were also more than a few not-so-well-made ones.
So, every Fourth of July someone got their face blown off.
When operating firearms from the 1850s be sure to clean them out thoroughly to avoid having all the bullets fire off at once. If that happens your gun could blow up and metal shards might explode all over the left side of your body.
Also: be careful where you point those things.
I saw one guy by the name of Matthew Wallace interrupt one gentleman who was in the process of discharging his gun. The gentleman wheeled around and shot Wallace in the face. Wallace lost an eye. The incident made the paper. But Wallace wasn't the only one to get mangled up that day due to a grizzly gun accident.
3. Don't-- I repeat, DON'T-- sleep in any of the inns around Broadway
NYC was going through a transition in 1853. Many of the old mansions along Broadway had been bought out by the penny-pinching Brits.
Needless to say, the conditions in these houses were pretty crappy. In 1853, you could get a bed in the middle of NYC for cheap-- only 12 and 1/2 cents. That's the equivalent of about $35 today. On the downside though, you had to sleep in attics that were literally filled to the brim with bums, loafers and vagabonds.
While I was walking along Broadway looking for a crash pad I ran across one particularly nasty English woman who tried to trick me into sleeping in an attic with 40 bums!
When I arrived I was desperate because I didn't have any 1850s cash. But this lady had been drinking in the "drinking shop" on the first story below when I arrived, so she didn't notice the image of some guy named Lincoln on my coins when I slipped her some 2013 pennies as payment.
The lady showed me to the attic, where I was supposed to sleep. This woman was shoving the occupants up there and stacking them up on very narrow bunkbeds and mattresses that were made out of straw. The scent in the attic was overwhelming-- kind of like a barn scent, mixed together with the smell of dirty laundry and spilled liquor. I asked her about the conditions but she only replied with a stern expression and said "You'll get used to it. Now go along, chap."
After that she threw some filthy sheets at me and a small lantern, but she immediately snatched the lantern back after "turn in time." There was no bathroom in there, only a pot outside. I tried to go relieve myself in the pot, but the lady had shut and locked the door to the outside. I had to bang on the door a few times to get her attention. She demanded to search me before I left because she thought I was going to steal her nasty crap from the attic. After an argument she told me to go sleep in the park.
So whatever you do for lodging, avoid Broadway.
Don't stay here when time traveling to 1853.
4. Don't annoy Justice Welsh
One of the bums named William at the house on Broadway told me a story about his friend Patrick who was trying to get his wife arrested. Patrick's wife was a real pain and was always getting on his case, apparently, so Patrick and William had developed a plan to get her arrested for habitual drunkenness.
Patrick got off on the wrong foot with the judge, though, when William slept in and forgot all about showing up to the trial to bear witness to Patrick's wife's drunkenness. Justice Welsh sent Patrick away and was clearly very irritated by the whole situation.
The next time they went before the judge Patrick, his wife and William were all present. However, Patrick and William had gone out drinking the night before. And they were still drunk. The judge was so annoyed that he decided to lock up Patrick and his wife. William almost got locked up with them, but he managed to slide out of the situation with some smooth talking.
5. Stick around for 1854 aka the Dead Year.
Spoiler alert: 1854 is definitely not a sniveling, feeble kind of a year. It's actually kind of an overly dramatic, theatrical kind of a year.
1853 is a pretty decent year that was cool to relax and hang out in. But 1854 is where the excitement starts to happen. So if you're time traveling to the year 1853, why not stay there and check out 1854?
1854 is not one of those sniveling, feeble years. You know, the kind of years for which history has no page. No... 1854 was a year for the ages. Sure, plenty of things happened in 1853. But for 1854, the Muse of History ordered a new gross of pens-- and a new blank book.
All kinds of cool stuff happened in 1854. Basically, Gentle Peace stayed in the whole time, eating fish sticks and doing her nails while banks broke apart. Companies disolved. Almost every part of the business world received a shock, actually.
Put it like this: not-so-gentle War did his prettiest, all year long in 1854. If thousands of people weren't dying and spilling their blood all over the place everyone was like: "Ah, pish. Get out of here with that mere skirmish crap."
Believe me, I've been there for 1854 and it's a blast. Just don't eat the oysters...