Letter from George Baker

From the Castle Lite, Spring 1986


The following excerpt is taken from a letter sent by George McCague Baker to his sister-in-law Vinie Collier DeVine in Riverside California, on the eve of the opening of the Statue of Liberty.  Baker was a Paterson resident, but he wrote the letter from his law office in New York city.  Baker’s grandson, John Allen Baker recently (1985) donated a copy of the letter to the Historical Society.


October 27, 1886

My Dear Vinie:

……Tomorrow we expect to have a big time in New York.  I hope the day will not be as stormy as today has been for there has been a wild Northeaster going all day.  The World Newspaper has thrown an immense arch across Park Row in front of its building, under which the procession is to pass, and another smaller arch over each sidewalk.  There will be a rather general holiday tomorrow.  The public schools will close, all of the exchanges I believe, except the stock exchange… would bring Emily down to see the fun tomorrow but there is no place I can take her to, as you know she cannot go around much or stand up long.  Everything on Broadway and Fifth Avenue is taken and the procession can’t be seen from this building.  A great many Paterson people are coming down and I expect there will be several hundred thousand visitors in New York on that day.  It is impossible to get a ticket to Bedloes (Liberty) or Governors Islands.  The tickers are large and handsome.  The Frenchmen are here and the President, Cabinet and other officials are expected in the morning.  In the evening there will be a fine display of fireworks on both islands and the battery.

(letter continues)  October 28, 1886 Bertholdi or Liberty Day

…… Even at this hour the city is crowded with people.  All incoming trains are full and celebration bids fair to be a grand success…There is to be a salute of 1000 guns, fireworks etc. at the Hotel Normandie tonight.  Some of the French guests are stopping there.

…… I can hear nothing but bands playing.  The procession is passing through City Hall Park and down Broadway.  It has been passing for two hours and I don’t know when the ends coming.  The streets are densely packed and I doubt if I can get across Broadway or even to it.