This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
The design of this house was made for the purpose of giving each room a sunny southern exposure, and out of ten rooms nine have at least one lookout to the southeast, and one, the small room over the hall, has a southwest window. There is a fine cellar under the whole house, the rear of which can be finished for a laundry, and has an outside cellar door.
The principal floor is so managed that the spacious hall with winding staircase presents an attractive feature on entering. The chimney is in the center of the house, and sliding doors connect each of the principal rooms, so that when occasion requires, hall, parlor, library, and dining-room may be thrown together, the octagon form of these rooms adding much to their beauty; back of the dining-room is a side hall, closets, side door, and back stairway, and back of these the kitchen, provided with sink and force pump, connecting with a thoroughly constructed cistern of 8,000 gallons capacity, which receives all the water from a slate roof. Rain water from a slate roof is pure and clean, free from color, and used with ice in summer is better and healthier than well water.
The kitchen is well ventilated, windows both sides, and doors so arranged as to secure all comfort; an independent chimney, etc.
The second floor has large and well-ventilated bedrooms, ceilings are square and of good height, abundant closet room, etc.
Above this, in the tower, is a fine octagon room of fifteen feet radius, that can be used for a bedroom, smoking-room, or any other purpose; a good garret also for storage, etc.
The house to be heated with a furnace. In the parlor and library are marble mantles, and each is fitted with Dixon's low-down Philadelphia polished steel grates for burning wood or coal - the best open fire known.
All the wood-work about the house is of selected stuff, and handsomely stained and varnished - the best and most effective interior finish. The walls and cornices are hard finished in the best manner.
The frame is substantial, and lined throughout with unworked lumber, and covered with narrow-lapped siding, making a stiff, warm house.
All the work has been done by the day, in the best and most substantial manner.
The house is located on the high dividing ridge between the Hackensack and Passaic rivers, one hundred feet above tidewater; ten miles from Broadway, and five eighths of a mile from the first station on the Erie Railway; from thirty-three to forty minutes is the running time from New York to the station, and twelve trains each way daily afford the most ample accommodation. A New Yorker living above Thirty-eighth Street has no such facilities for getting to and from his business if below Chambers Street; he must spend more time, accept the poorest class of cars or coaches, pay more for his ride, and in stormy weather hang up or go a-foot; he can not get home with the same reliance and promptness as he could if he lived out on the Erie Railway. The fact exists beyond all contrary proof, that business men can and do every day go ten miles out into the broad, beautiful, and healthy country that lies beyond the west bank of the Hudson in less time and with greater comfort and certainty than they can go from Chambers Street to any point above Thirty-eighth Street in New York. They can, if necessary, be at their business at 7 a.m., and leave it as late as 11 p.m.; enjoy the amusements of the city, and, if preferred, attend church there on Sundays; live in the country and enjoy every luxury of city life, and all those luxuries unknown to city residents.
The city of New York is now, in point of population, which is the measure of size, rapidly falling behindhand in comparison with its suburbs; draw a circle of twenty miles radius, with its center at Union Park, and it would inclose a population not varying much from 2,000,000, of which more than one half are outside the city limits of New York; this suburban population is growing at a rate, per cent., nearly two and a half times faster than the population of the city.
Without some rapid method of reaching up town, or annexation of territory beyond city limits, in ten years New York becomes the second city in the country. In the same period, the comparatively unknown city of Newark swallows its suburbs, and becomes a competitor for the fourth position on the list. In accordance with the rate of growth for the last fifty years, this circle of twenty miles radius will contain in fifteen years more a population of 4,000,000, and the value of property will be enhanced enormously.
It does not vary much from twenty years since commutation rates on steam railroads were generally introduced; in fact, many of the principal roads have been built since then. No railroad company that we know of has ever advertised commutation fares or trains, and it is safe to say that a large majority of the citizens of New York are unaware of their existence. The time is now at hand when business men will ascertain their bearing, and even this present spring will see a growth of suburban population hitherto unparalleled.
At the head of the list, in all the requirements for steam suburban travel for business men who must under all circumstances be carried promptly, stands the Erie Railway. It is not only the best, but has peculiarities of its own which no other road enjoys. It is the largest railroad corporation running out of the cityits resources in engines and cars are of the most extensive kind. The cars are wider, larger, longer, and more elegantly fitted up than any. other. It has full telegraphic communication and a broad guage double track, a consideration of the utmost importance to a daily traveler. Its commutation rates are lower than any other road, and free from all petty restrictions and annoyances. In punctuality, ease, comfort, safety, freedom from dust and noise it takes the lead, and can always keep it It is managed on broad-guage principles, and is the first road that is adopting the finished nicety of construction and grade that characterizes the suburban roads of London.
This matter of going home daily by steam will bear considerable ventilation; it is difficult to say what is the best medium of time one can devote to it. Some parties we know ride sixty miles in and out daily - an hour and one half is very common. But to find every desirable advantage, there is no necessity of exceeding sixty minutes from place of business to place of residence. In New Jersey, within fifty minutes of the City Hall, New York, including the time required to walk to the ferry, the time in crossing, taking the train, and the walk or ride home from the station, are thousands of acres of building sites of the very best class, in superior, noted health localities that are now undeveloped and unknown to the great world that is clustering thicker and thicker in the limited space of this busy hive; but considerations of time, of money, and, last thought of, but not least, health, must add to the throng now setting toward the elegant suburbs of this city.
New York capitalists have during the last winter purchased about eight hundred acres of land lying about the first depot of the Erie Railway, ten miles from New York, which is now being divided into country seats of from one to five acres. A large number of dwellings are to be put up, a first-class hotel opened the first of May, and schools and other public improvements carried out.
I like this house, all except the little cockscomb ridge board finish. All the rest is plain, substantial, and characteristic of comfort, while it is of a sufficiently high range of architecture to be agreeable, if not beautiful. But, leaving the house, I am particularly interested in what you say about the position of the country on the Jersey side of New York. It is a pretty startling statement, that New York should be outdone by "mean little New Jersey;" but people must live somewhere, and when old prejudices are cast aside, New Jersey is found to have as many pleasant sites for residences as any other State. I must come and take a look at that new place on the Erie Railway, for I like New York city to do business in, but I must live in the country. Couldn't live without my trees, etc.