The Western expansion of the United States during the nineteenth century coincided with the mass publications of newspapers, almanacs, and dime novels, all of which chronicled to a receptive audience the daring deeds of frontiersmen, gunfighters, lawmen, and outlaws. The hardships to be overcome in settling the West, and the virtues to do so would come to define the American character. Throughout the twentieth century the Western remained the most popular genre of book, play, television series, and motion picture. What is not generally known is that many of the legendary figures of the Old West, at one time or another found themselves in the young Country’s media and cultural capital: New York City. Western figures like Bat Masterson, Libbie Custer, and Mark Twain spent significant periods of time in the Big Apple. Others, like Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, Buffalo Bill Cody, and David Crockett, only passed through, but the time they spent in the city had a crucial impact not only on their lives but also on the history of the still growing nation.
To discover for yourself the Old West’s many links to New York City join author and licensed tour guide Michael P. O’Connor for this 2 hour walking tour focusing on little known sites associated with the Old West.
Located at the tip of Battery Park, Castle Garden, was originally a Fort built prior to the War of 1812. Castle Garden, through the decades, would be used as a beer garden (serving as host to David Crockett in 1834) , entertainment arena, and immigration center where between 1855 and 1890 over 8 million immigrants were processed, many of whom were bound for the West.
Five Points Intersection:
Notorious slum, and breeding ground for the gangs of New York .
David Crockett walked through the neighborhood in 1834, and noted that : “ I thought I would rather risque myself in an Indian fight than venture among these creatures after night.”
This rowdy theater, known as “ the worst and wickedest” stood from 1826 to 1929. David Crockett attended a performance of “King Lear” here in 1834, and in 1872, Buffalo Bill Cody was called unto the stage to take a bow, and “spoke a few utterances that were inaudible even to the leader of the orchestra.”
St. Nicholas Hotel:
Part of this luxurious hotel, where Mark Twain met his future wife in 1867, still stands on Broadway.
This privately financed college has been the venue for scores of notable speakers including Frederick Douglas, Ulysses S. Grant, Mark Twain, Theodore Roosevelt , and in 1870, the Lakota Sioux Chief Red Cloud.
Reservations and info:
Please check back here for upcoming tour dates and times
Meet: Flag pole at Battery Park
Private tours can be arranged for groups of 8 or more.