Fifth Avenue: Growth and Progress, 1843–54

William Seraile

in Angels of Mercy

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780823234196
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823240838 | DOI:

Series: Empire State Editions

Fifth Avenue: Growth and Progress, 1843–54

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The Colored Orphan Asylum's (COA) move to Forty-third Street and Fifth Avenue was chaotic. The orphanage's staff had to transport furniture and household goods — along with children of various ages — through Manhattan streets clogged with private and public carriages and wagons ferrying goods around the island. The area, then outside of the city's limits, was described by Mary Murray as an inelegant neighborhood lacking paved streets. Prominent New Yorkers aided the institution. James Lenox, whose funds would immensely aid the future New York Public Library, was a major supporter of the COA. The children helped to lower expenses by doing much of the housework. The public appeals presented the bigoted view of the institution's physicians James MacDonald and James Proudfit, members of the American Colonization Society, that the children's high morbidity and mortality were due to environment, poverty, and their “peculiar constitution and condition.”

Keywords: orphanage; Manhattan; Mary Murray; James Lenox; Colored Orphan Asylum; housework; public appeals; James MacDonald; American Colonization Society

Chapter.  7947 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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