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New York, October 4, 1849

(1924) [MARC] Author: Fredrika Bremer
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New York, October 4, 1849. Good morning, little sister! or rather good evening in the New World, where I now set firm foot after thirteen days’ rocking on the sea. I am lodging in the Astor House, one of the largest and best hotels in New York, where the inhabitants are as numerous as in the capital of Iceland, namely about five hundred. Opposite the Astor House I see a large so-called museum, with fluttering banners and green shrubs on the roof, and the walls covered with immense paintings representing "The Greatest Wonders in the World," huge, wonderful animals and extraordinary human beings, all of which might be seen within. In front of my hotel is a green space inclosed with trees, and in the centre a large fountain which has a refreshing appearance, and there I have refreshed myself by walking an hour this afternoon. Astor House is situated on Broadway, the great high-street and thoroughfare of New York, where people and carriages pour along in one incessant stream and in true republican intermixture. Long lines of white and gilded omnibuses wind their way at an uninterrupted rapid rate as far as one can see, amid thousands of other vehicles, great and small. The broad sidewalks are thronged with people of all
classes; there are beautiful houses under erection, splendid shops, and much horrible rubbish. There is something confused in this Broadway, which makes one feel a little bewildered in the beginning. When crossing it I think merely of getting to the other side alive. The beautiful little green spot with its lovely fountain seems to me, beside the bustling Broadway, like an oasis in the agitated desert.

I had been less than a quarter of an hour in the Astor House and was standing with my traveling companions in a parlor, when a gentleman dressed in black, with a refined gentlemanly appearance and manner and a pair of the handsomest brown eyes I ever saw, approached me gently and mentioned my name in a remarkably melodious voice. It was Mr. [Andrew Jackson] Downing, who had come from his villa on the Hudson to meet me on my arrival. I had scarcely expected that, as I was very late, and he had already made a journey to New York on my behalf in vain. His exterior and his whole demeanor pleased me greatly. I do not know why, but I had imagined him to be a middleaged man with blue eyes and light hair; and he is a young man with dark eyes and dark hair, of a beautiful brown, and softly curling—in short, of quite a poetical appearance! He will remain here with me over to-morrow; but he insists that on
the following day I shall accompany him to his house in the Highlands on the Hudson, where I can make the acquaintance of his wife at my leisure and plan my future traveling movements.

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