Black and White Manhattan

Chapter XI.
Amusements and Sports.

DANIEL DENTON, one of the original settlers of Jamaica, Long Island, wrote “A briefe Description of New York” in 1670. When he speaks of the “fruits natural to the island” of Long Island, he ends his account thus:—

“Such abundance of strawberries is in June that the fields and woods are dyed red; which the country people perceiving, instantly arm themselves with bottles of wine, cream, and sugar, and instead of a coat of Mail every one takes a Female upon his Horse behind him, and so rushing violently into the fields, never leave till they have disrobed them of their red colors and turned them into the old habit.”

“Rushing violently into the fields” seems to have been the normal condition of all the colonists as soon as the tardy American “spring came slowly up the way.” On every hand they turned eagerly to open-air outings. Houses chafed them; gipsy-like were they in their love of fresh air and the country wilds.

In New York were the bouweries close at hand; and Nutten Island (now Governor’s Island), “by ye making of a garden and planting severall walks of fruit trees in it,” made a pretty outing-spot. Mrs. Grant wrote at length of the Albany youth and their love of out-of-door excursions:—

“In spring, eight or ten of the young people of one company, or related to each other, young men and maidens, would set out together in a canoe on a kind of rural excursion, of which amusement was the object. Yet so fixed were their habits of industry that they never failed to carry their work-baskets with them, not as a form, but as an ingredient necessarily mixed with their pleasures. They had no attendants, and steered a devious course of four, five, or perhaps more miles, till they arrived at some of the beautiful islands with which this fine river abounded, or at some sequestered spot on its banks, where delicious wild fruits, or particular conveniences for fishing, afforded some attraction. There they generally arrived by nine or ten o’clock, having set out in the cool and early hour of sunrise....


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