Wednesday, September 19, 2007

18th Century Roosevelt (Blackwell's) Island For Sale - No Buyers

Continuing the Timeline of Roosevelt Island history compiled by the Main Street Wire, this week's history post focuses on the always topical and fun 18th Century. Roosevelt (Blackwell's) Island was put up for sale in 1782 and 1794 being described as a "pleasant, agreeable situation island" and "remarkable for the number of fish and fowl" caught. Property did not sell. Perhaps a Post Revolutionary War credit crunch?
The property finally sold in 1828 when New York City bought the Island for "$32,500 as a location for a charitable and correction institutions".

XVIII Century
  • 1717 Approximate date of death of Robert Blackwell. His son, Jacob, survives him and marries Mary Hallet. They later have a son, also named Jacob.
  • 1776 Jacob Blackwell is loyal to the American Revolution, so Blackwell's Island is confiscated by the British during their occupation of New York.
  • 1780 Jacob Blackwell dies on October 24. His will leaves "my Island known by the name of Blackwell's Island" to his sons, Jacob and James.
  • 1782 A newspaper notes that "Sir Guy Carlton has visited all the prison ships at New York, minutely examined into the situation of the prisoners and expressed his intentsions of having them better provided for; that they were to be landed on Blackwell's Island in New York harbor during the hot season in the day time."
  • After the Revolutionary War, the Island is advertised for sale:
  • For Sale, that pleasant, agreeable situation Island, known by the name of Blackwell's Island, on the East River, about four miles from this City. It is without exception one of the most healthy situations in this state. It is remarkable for the number of fish and fowl that is caught here in the different seasons. There is on the premises two small dwelling houses, a barn, bake and fowl house, cyder mill, a large orchard containing 450 of the best grafted fruit trees, such as Newton & Golder pippins, spitsinburghs, peirmans, bow apples, pears, peaches, plums, cheerries, etc. There are a number of the best stone quarries ready cleared to begin breaking immediately, etc.
  • There is no sale.
  • 1794 Island again advertised for sale. Again, no takers.
  • 1796 Blackwell house is built. Today, it still stands as the oldest structure on the island.
Here is the prior 16th Century Roosevelt Island Timeline post.


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