Henry James Kickin’ It in New York

Above: Map of Manhattan with Henry James, Sr & Jr,  The Village, Levi Asher

The following is an excerpt from Fred Kaplan’s book Henry James: The Imagination of Genius

“Henry junior remembered voyages northward from New York City on the newly built Hudson River Railroad, whose construction he and his friends celebrated with frequent treks from Fourteenth Street to the ‘upper reaches of the city,’ where there was ‘a riot of explosion and great shouting and waving of red flags.’  They imagined their visits ‘beset with danger.’  The city inexorably grew, avenues, transport, and housing yardsticking northward; the area between Union Square and Forty-second Street – Murray Hill, Chelsea, the Reservoir – a mixture of farms and newly built homes. Pigs snouted garbage in streets that would one day be the bright-lit center of the world. The first brownstones began to make what seemed to the elite of mid-nineteenth-century New York their monotonous chocolate extensions east and west from Broadway. To Henry junior, Broadway was ‘the joy and adventure of one’s childhood,’ stretching, ‘prodigiously, from Union Square to Barnum’s great American Museum by the City Hall.’  It was the street on which the city pulsated and from which everything radiated toward the distant rivers.  At one end of it, in the few square miles of lower Manhattan, trade, trading houses, and the stock exchange touched the piers from which wood-masted vessels connected New York with the rest of the world.”

And click here for Levi Asher on Greenwich Village at Literary Kicks.

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