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For nearly fifty years I have watched
I lived for twenty years, coming back ten was the first cemetery that I knew as a there are many pretentious buildings, years later to engage in social and re- boy, and it had a peculiar fascination for usually
usually former Protestant churches, ligious work in the same general district. me. Here rest the bodies of many old which have been converted into orthoIn an area in this section of about three- New Yorkers—among them Adam and dox synagogues. Once this was a Protquarters of a square mile there were in Noah Brown, who during their lifetime estant stronghold, but in recent years 1920, 219,256 people living, or at the built ships for Commodore Perry's fleet scores of Protestant churches have moved rate of 327,040 people per square mile. in 1812; and John Ericsson, builder of out. The population per square mile for the the Monitor, of Civil War fame; and for United States is only 35. There are only many years President James Monroe was 'OR 30 cities in the entire country which have buried here. The names on the tomb- this boyhood neighborhood of mine a greater population than is found in this stones in this old cemetery are all but grow. Sweeping through it there have East Side district. If all of New York effaced, and yet here and there one can followed successively the Yankees, the City were as densely populated, it would make out the name of a former Knick- Irish, the Germans, the Bohemians, the contain more than the entire population erbocker who would be shocked beyond Russians, the Italians, the Greeks, beof the United States. If all the people measure could he walk through these sides a great smattering of smaller races, living in this district were suddenly side-streets which were open fields when each naturally leaving behind a remnant, seized with a desire to rush into the he lived there.
until to-day there is scarcely a country street, there wouldn't be room enough for It must not be imagined 'that the on the face of the globe which isn't repthem to stand.
neighborhood is irreligious. Jewish and resented. It is a mosaic of nations, and There are many places of historical Catholic enterprises flourish, and there about as picturesque as mosaics usually interest in this neighborhood, among are scores of little synagogues scattered are with all their form and color. them the old Marble Cemetery, on Sec- throughout the tenements, meeting in The product has been no outstanding ond Street just off Second Avenue. This the tenement-houses themselves, although race, but "East Siders.” Much has been
said about New York being a great "melting-pot of the nations.” But it is unquestionably true that the East Side of New York is strongly, persistently Amer. ican in spirit. While many of the for eign-born retain some of their old coun try customs, it should be remembered that not all "Americans” were born in America.
Only two per cent of the people living here are native white of native parents that is, white persons both of whose par ents were born in America. In the mind of many people, this constitutes a real peril to our American institutions, but i does not necessarily follow. For exam ple, the attendance at the public schoo in this area is greatest among children both of whose parents were foreign-bom Wise leaders among the foreign-bor encourage them to emulate the best that they left in the old country—and who can deny that each of their native lands contains histories and traditions of which they might well be proud, and which they would do well to remember, and thus become better Americans?
My parents came to the East Side di New York when they were quite young my mother was only six. Her father was a prosperous German baker who had city-wide reputation because of the rye bread he sold, having a fairly large delivery-wagon service. I remember dis tinctly my mother's businesslike air as she helped fill in as special saleswoman on Saturday nights when the bakery shop on Eldridge Street was crowded with customers. My grandfather ad cumulated a considerable fortune, and returned to Hanover, Germany, his na
tive town. The young gentleman standing nonchalantly beside his brother is Charles Stelzle My father was a brewer by trade. He at the age of nine
probably was a good workman, but he
was a poor business man, and the gen- And so the struggle began. She, who even to-day on the East Side, when conerous wedding dowry which he put into had enjoyed the comforts of a prosperous ditions are undoubtedly worse in some a brewery of his own soon disappeared. home, with no cause for financial anxiety, respects than they were forty years ago, One of the heritages which he left con- was now to spend many years in a hand- would be unfair to the poorer tenement sisted of a big book of unpaid accounts. to-hand battle with all the horrors of people, who are by no means morbid in And, as my mother had married against poverty, asking favors of no one, but their outlook on life. There is no doubt the distinct wishes of her parents, her determining to keep strong so that she that I suffered as much on account of pride would not permit her to appeal to might work for the sake of her chil- poverty as does the average youngster them for help. So when my father died, dren.
now living in lower New York. But, she moved with her children into the
taking it altogether, I was by no means very heart of the tenement district of the It would be easy to tell harrowing tales an unhappy boy, even when I was living East Side, resolving to fight her way of life among the people with whom in the midst of extreme poverty. It is a through alone. How well she did it, and I lived, and some of these tales ought to question whether the son of the "princely what she suffered in the doing of it, will be told. But any account that leaves merchant” that I read about in the forever make her a heroine in my eyes. out the real joy of living, as one sees it Sunday-school books got as much real
excitement out of life as I did when, for was the only Irish boy in the gang and Not that we cared particularly for Stewinstance, I swam from the end of an he was a born fighter. No doubt he later art; for some reason which I have forEast Side dock, contrary to law and in became a Tammany Hall leader in the gotten, he had not a very good name peril of my life, as passing ferry-boats district.
among the East Siders. swirled the river into dangerous eddies, And while we're on the subject, it Second Avenue was the great promor when I spent a stolen day in the might not be amiss to say that Tammany enade street of the East Side forty years swamps of Long Island hunting for cat- Hall's influence on the East Side was, ago. Even in those days there were many tails and swallows' nests.
and is, largely due to the very human German coffee-houses and reading-rooms Grand Street on Saturday night was qualities shown by its representatives. all along the avenue. It was an event as good as a show. It was the great
It was the great They not only know every one who lives of importance when I was taken to one shopping center of New York's lower in the block, but they know about his
in the block, but they know about his of them by an aunt or an uncle. Most East Side forty years ago.
But not all domestic and economic and social needs. of them served only coffee or chocolate those who thronged the sidewalks came They know about them the whole year and tea, and all kinds of German coffee out to make purchases in Ridley's, the round, and try to supply them; whereas cake. There was a very comfortable, biggest department-store in that part of the reformers live up own and so it homelike atmosphere about these little the city, nor to buy of the peddlers appears to the people—seem to be in coffee-houses, and the people used to whose little carts lined the gutters, .block business for the purpose of taking privi- linger and gossip or read. after block, from the Bowery to Essex leges away from the people, rather than Second Avenue is still the great thorStreet and beyond, spilling over into the furnishing them with jobs, and coal, and oughfare of the East Side. Early in the side-streets and practically filling Hester food, and getting them out of the police morning its wide pavements are crowded Street, which paralleled the main thor- courts if they happen to have trouble with foreign workers who pour out of the oughfare. For those who bargained and with the police. These things Tammany tenements in the side-streets and march cheated, and even for those who did a Hall does.
like a mighty army, all moving in the legitimate business, Grand Street on
same direction, toward the clothing facSaturday night was a serious affair. But RAND STREET was to me the greatest tories and department-stores just beyond for the boys who were out for lark it street in New York. Occasionally Union and Madison Squares. Scores of was a riot of fun. The "movies" did not I took a walk up Broadway, but "the thousands of men and women from the exist in those days, and there were prac- Great White Way" was then unknown, tenements make their daily pilgrimage tically no boys' clubs nor social settle- and Broadway was almost deserted at along this magnificent street, so full of ments, and few institutional churches. night. There were no electric lights, and human and historic interest. At night, There were a great many self-organized when the few gas lamps in the stores from the big theater on Houston Street social clubs that met on the first floors were put out New York's chief thorough- to the Labor Temple on Fourteenth of some of the smaller “private houses” fare was a dreary place. I always came Street, which I organized about fifteen -so called because the front doors were back to Grand Street with a feeling of years ago, the avenue is a blaze of elecusually kept locked-and in rooms back pride that lower New York possessed the tric lights, cafés, bath-houses, motion of saloons. But membership in these finest street in the city.
picture theaters, jewelry shops, and was only for the older •boys who were In strong contrast to the rough life of dozens of other enterprises. Each naearning enough to afford that luxury. the gang and the excitement of Grand tionality has its own particular café or
For the small boy there was only the Street was the influence which the illu- casino, where its favorite old country gang and Grand Street. Sometimes it
minated cross on the steeple of St. dishes are served and where its national was both.
This made it all the more Augustine's Chapel, on Houston Street airs are played by native musicians. On interesting. Not infrequently the feuds east of the Bowery, had upon me. I was Saturday and Sunday nights many of of the gangs were fought out on Grand just about thirteen or fourteen, the age those who have profited in business and Street, sometimes to the great consterna- at which the religious appeal takes moved uptown or out of town come back tion of the merchants of the carts, the strongest hold of a boy. This cross,' to enjoy a "regular dinner”—with all contents of which were tumbled into the which could be seen for blocks against that goes with it. street in the excitement of a "scrap" be- the deep night sky, appealed tremen- Even a casual stroll down Second tween the Orchard Street and Allen dously to my religious imagination. Avenue and into some of the side-streets Street gangs. Many a plate-glass window Almost directly opposite St. Augus- will reveal the signs of the people's suffered on the same account.
tine's Chapel is Second Avenue. About aspirations. The way they throng the I belonged to the Orchard Street gang. half a mile up this street is St. Mark's public baths—the district supports one Our leader was a short, stocky, red- Church. The impression this church of the biggest Turkish baths in the city, headed Irish youngster, who was abso- made upon me was quite different from conducted exclusively for men-shows lutely fearless and who was known to that made by St. Augustine's. For when the desire for bodily cleanliness. There stand his ground alone, the solitary tar- I thought of St. Mark's it was not with are “beauty shoppes” on nearly every get for the stones of the Allen Street any religious feeling, but always in con- block. Dentists do a profitable business gang, after the rest of the Orchard Street nection with the fact that the body of Even automobile agencies seem to thrive: gang had retreated. And on these occa- A. T. Stewart, the merchant prince who and palms are used for decorative pursions he came back to his crowd with founded the store now known as John poses just as in the automobile district great scorn; what he left unsaid was not Wanamakers', had been stolen from the uptown. Pianos and musical instruments worth mentioning. It did not matter graveyard. What a source of mysteri- are prominently displayed for sale in what he said, however. He was always ous possibilities this story was to us many of the store windows. Apartmen:unanimously chosen as our leader. He
He boys! Nothing that St. Mark's ever did houses are given most royal names, like would probably have been the leader was big enough to overshadow the story “Florence Court,” “Victoria Hall," and whether we had chosen him or not: he of the ghouls who robbed the graveyard. “The Imperial.” The next installment of "An East Side American” will describe some of the neighbors—the queenly school teacher,
the drunken woman, the charity investigator, the mikman, the actor, and the restaurant-keeper
in Danger ?
By HUGH A. STUDDERT KENNEDY On the Pacific coast bankers and business men are asking the question which heads this
article. The author gives the facts upon which the reader can form a judgment
strength of America, and according to its they had themselves just attended, but PRIOR
SHORT time ago an article ap- any occasion, are in a different posi- manity's hopes and fears, aims - and aspeared in a well-known financial tion.
pirations, laughter and tears and anxiemagazine which asked this ques- A short time ago a prosperous bank in ties. The bank president is a man, and tion, and answered it quite definitely in a small town in the West had a strange he has led and is leading his life, and his the affirmative. “Destructive money experience. A prominent citizen in the business is part of his life, enters into a power," it declared, "no longer lairs only town died, and all the business houses in thousand hopes and a thousand dreams. in New York, in the vision of men who the city, in order to do honor to his And so it is all the way down to the are apprehensive that somehow—some memory, agreed to close their doors for youngest recruit among the stenog
. time-somebody is going to domesticate one hour at the time of the funeral. The raphers or booking clerks. The Federal the free wild money of the Nation and
manager of the bank decided to come Reserve Bank is a banker's bank, and as monopolize its powers for selfish pur- into line; he ordered the bank closed, it pays its millions here and receives its poses. The money dragon of the alarms and promptly at the time when the big millions there it requires but little imagiof the moment is environed in California.
grocery store on one side and the big nation to see it all for what it is—a great It abides in San Francisco, and haunts shoe store on the other pulled down their clearing-house for human activity rather Market Street instead of Wall Street. It shades the bank doors were shut and a than for paper and scrip and dollars and is even concrete enough, in one of its card was placed in the window bearing cents. It is, moreover, one of the greatest incarnations, to be named. It is the the legend “Bank Closed.” What fol- guaranties of safety to the depositor, Bank of Italy, thus isolated, and it is, in lowed was remarkable. Some people small or great, which could well be dethe abstract, Branch Banking. The ab- who happened to be depositors, return- vised. It is the great each-for-all and stract ‘reptile' already has its serpen- ing early from the funeral, saw the no- all-for-each of the American people. line folds round a third of the banking tice, never connected it with the function
RIOR to the establishment of the Fed
eral Reserve System, some eleven system and threatens the Federal Re- the bank had suspended payment. The years ago, the cash reserves of the counterve structure.”
news spread rapidly; from all parts of try were scattered among 25,000 differIs this true? Is this article just an- the town terrified depositors flocked to ent institutions, and provided no central ither piece of scare-mongering or is it the bank, and when the doors were reservoir from which banks could draw based on sober fact? It may not be finally opened a real run was in full cash when it was urgently needed. This asy to answer, but one thing is certain swing. It was not stayed until hours system of holding bank reserves has been -it is everybody's business.
after--until currency to the amount of compared to a system of fire protection ountry in the world is banking so much hundreds of thousands of dollars had in which each of the several thousand
question for every one as it is in the been rushed by motor car from the near- families in a city keeps its own cistern of nited States, where the vast majority est Federal Reserve Bank and banks in water instead of having the whole city's f the people have bank accounts, and neighboring towns had come to the aid water supply stored in a common reserhere a check, signed and countersigned of their hard-pressed colleague to the ex- voir connected by conduits with every nd indorsed again and again, may take tent of hundreds of thousands more. part of the city, and so instantly avails place for days with the Nation's cur- Nothing is more delicate, as far as the able in unlimited quantities for the putncy.
depositor is concerned, than the credit ting out of a blaze at any point. The smallest doubt cast on the stabil- of his bank. Faced with the persistent The structure of this Federal Reserve y of the National banking system rumor that his bank is lacking in sta- System was completed just prior to the ould sound like a knell in the dark bility, and the average man is sorely outbreak of the Great War. By Novemaces of fear in millions of homes in the tempted to be on the safe side—that is, ber, 1914, it was in full working order. nited States. The French peasant with the outside.
Without it, or something like it, it is Shoardings under the hearthstone of
doubtful if the United States would have
ND so it is everybody's business, this passed through the early years of the war Tying cash as he goes, with little left banking business, and everybody without a financial panic comparable to 'er, if any, and what he has depos- would assuredly feel more comfortable if that of 1907. Without it, or something d in the post office savings bank or he knew more about it. It is, moreover, a like it, it is quite certain that the World
his local co-operative society, may romantic business, full of drama and full War could never have been internationve little concern with the way the big of kicks, and the most romantic part of ally financed. Any one who desires to nks or the little banks of the country it, in spite of its outward and visible see how near the world came to utter
business. But the people of the austerity, is the Federal Reserve System. financial chaos in the middle years of the iited States, carrying check-books in Every great business, when seen prop- war has only to read Walter Itines ir pockets as a matter of course, and erly, is not a machine, but a wonderful Page's telegram '“of greatest 1 ustomed to use them on every and microcosm of humanity, with all hu- from London to President I
, , A
wards the end of June, 1917. "I am edge to the utmost. The Bank of Italy, holds shares in the most important banks convinced,” the message concludes, “that however, is only one part of its opera- in Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Copenthese men are not overstating their case. tions.
Behind the Bank of Italy is hagen, Dublin, Edinburgh, London, Unless we come to their rescue we are all the Bancitaly Corporation, which was Milan, Montreal, Oslo (Norway), Paris, in danger of disaster. Great Britain will formed, in the words of one of its direc- Rome, Stockholm, Toronto (Canada), have to abandon the gold standard.” tors, “to do everything that the Bank of Vienna, and Zurich. The Corporation At the present moment, with specula- Italy cannot do."
holds shares in the Bank of England, the tion running high throughout the United Now the Bancitaly Corporation is un- Bank of Scotland, and the Bank of IreStates and stocks reaching levels never doubtedly one of the largest holding cor- land, has a controlling interest in the before attained, the situation would be porations in the world. "This vast in- Bank of America and the Bank of Italy impossible without some such controlling vestment trust corporation,” as one quite in Rome, and is a considerable shareinfluence as that which the Federal Re- friendly writer recently put it, “whose holder in the Reichsbank in Berlin. serve System exercises with its power to check speculation by raising redis
LL this would be a question of no count rates. Any new developments,
special moment, as far as the Fedsuch as branch banking, which may en
eral Reserve System was concerned, if it danger the efficiency of this system is
were not for the fact that the more powclearly the concern of everybody.
erful financially the Bank of Italy beHow does branch banking endanger
comes, the more surely can it gain control the Federal Reserve System?
of other banks engaged in branch bankIn the first place, it needs to be re
ing, and so gradually establish something membered that many bankers in a posi
very like a monopoly. Now State banks tion to give an unprejudiced judgment
can, of course, become members of the are by no means satisfied that it does.
Federal Reserve System if they so desire, There are, however, a very great number
and the Bank of Italy is a member of who believe that branch banking is un
the System. But State banks are at libAmerican and opposed to the individual
erty to withdraw from the System at istic genius of the American people. The
will, and National banks cannot do so situation is really not difficult to under
without surrendering their charter. The stand. The backbone of the Federal
advantages of belonging to the Federal Reserve System is the National bank,
Reserve System are very great, but there and National banks cannot engage in
can be no doubt that, just as the British branch banking. In States, therefore,
Empire is virtually a league of nations in where branch banking is permitted, and
itself, while still a member of the orwhere this permission is being taken ad
ganization having its headquarters at vantage of, there is a strong tendency for
Geneva, so a vast internationally flung National banks to surrender their Na
banking, branch banking, and holding tional charter and incorporate themselves Representative Louis T. McFadden system is virtually a reserve system in it as State banks. Within the last six years
self, while retaining its membership in some two hundred National banks have
the Federal organization. It is only become State banks, and it is claimed by ramifications now extend all over the question of to what length it can go. one authority that through the elimina- United States by reason of its holdings What is true potentially of the Bank tion of small-town and city National in most of the substantial banks in the of Italy is also true potentially of several banks the Federal Reserve System is country and of its investments in choice other banks. The fight for control rapidly losing touch with the business real estate, has become an eighth wonder quite definitely on. Four other Califorand financial life of millions of the of the world.” The most recent pub- nia banks have 190 branches between American people.
lished list of the holdings of this corpora- them, while eighty-two banks in the How is all this being done?
tion are indeed truly remarkable. In State now own over 600 of the local The question is best answered by a California the Bancitaly Corporation banking agencies of the State. There concrete example, as indicated in the owns shares to any extent from 100 to are, moreover, already some 300 branches opening paragraph of this article, namely, 10,000 in the most important banks in
10,000 in the most important banks in of State banks in Michigan and some the Bank of Italy. It first of all needs the State. It controls two banks in San 250 in New York. Such great banking to be said that this huge organization, Francisco and has shares in seven others. centers as Chicago, Minneapolis and St having its headquarters in San Francisco Through the Americommercial Corpora
Through the Americommercial Corpora- Paul, Portland, and Seattle are saved and known as the Bank of Italy, makes tion, another subsidiary holding com- from the difficulty by reason of the fact no secret at all of its operations. Any pany, it owns banks in Los Angeles and that they are in States which prohibit reasonable information desired is readily has shares in four others. Outside of branch banking. Thus it is seen that obtainable, and from time to time official California, within the United States the branch banking is being developed every statements of the bank's expansion are Bancitaly Corporation owns shares in the where to an amazing extent, and the published in the daily press. Any one most important banks in Atlanta, Bos- more it develops, the more anxiously who travels up and down the Pacific ton, Buffalo, Chicago, Cleveland, Kansas it observed, not only by bankers, but by coast must be struck with its ubiquity. City, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New business men of all kinds, who realize In almost every town one passes through York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Wash- that the stability of their business in the the one building impossible to overlook ington. In New York the corporation last resort depends utterly on the stais the Bank of Italy. It understands the already controls two banks and has bility of the banking system of the coun art of advertising as few business houses shares in twenty others. Outside of the try. understand it, and it exploits this knowl- United States the Bancitaly Corporation The latest development is the so-called
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