OUR TWIN CITIES
OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY:
NORFOLK AND PORTSMOUTH
THEIR PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE.
Robert W. Lamb, Editor.
Norfolk, VA: Barcroft, Publisher.
Norfolk Landmark Steam Presses.
Reproduced by Donna Bluemink.
Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1888, by HENRY C. PERCY in the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
IN MEMORY OF
JOHN W BARCROFT.
BORN AT NORFOLK, VA., JUNE 20, 1860.
DIED AT NORFOLK, VA., DECEMBER 26, 1887.
To some men it is given to fulfill life's plans, and live to realize bright hopes and the rich rewards of a well-spent life; while others, unable to stem the tide of adverse fortune, go out of life leaving but a memory and the sad record of honest but unavailing endeavor.
To this latter class belonged our young friend Mr. Barcroft; and it is fitting that one page of this book, the last work of his brief but energetic life, should bear his name and record.
Why his early removal from these scenes of his active usefulness was best, is a question beyond the answer of us all. May the lesson of his honest life prove a rich inheritance to those who knew him, and to all who shall read his book.
"God's ways seem dark, but soon or late
They touch the shining hills of day."
The conception and production of this idea is wholly the work of the publisher, and to him belongs the credit of its handsome execution. He is also responsible for its title, which we regard as a misnomer, though a popular one, which of course covers a multitude of sins.
Norfolk and Portsmouth cannot be regarded as twins. "Ye towne" on the north side of the Elizabeth was seventy years the senior of its southern sister, and in fact was a flourishing borough of nearly sixteen years before the incorporation of the latter, and was thirteen years a city before her younger sister attained to that dignity.
Sisters they are, bound by the closest and tenderest ties of affection, as well as of material interests. Sufferers together in the fearful scourge of 1855, and walking hand in hand through the bloody four years of civil strife, they came out each rich in honor but equally denuded in material wealth to start the race anew together and aid one another in attaining to the high destiny that awaits them. But we hope soon to see the time when the union between them, complete as it is, shall have become so perfect that, all jealousy and rivalry buried forever, we shall have one corporation with absolute identity of interests covering the shores of our beautiful harbor.
Our part of this work has been merely to teach this fair creation of another's taste and skill to tell a plain, unvarnished tale of the birth, growth and prosperity of our Cities by the Sea; to recall reminiscences of some of the old landmarks of the town and borough days that yet remain and point out the numerous and beautiful improvements that have taken the place of others.
It has been our pleasant labor, too, to trace the advent to our common harbor of the many splendid vehicles of traffic, active trade feeders, that are doing a good work in maintaining a steady growth and prosperity of the sister cities on its shores.
We regret that it has been so inadequately performed. Were we given to apology, we have numberless good excuses for our shortcomings; but apart from the influence of an early training, that taught us that an adept at apology was good at nothing else, we feel that an intelligent public will accept the work more cheerfully as it is without being bored by them.
With so much by way of a preface, we leave the work to the tender mercies of our friends.
OUR TWIN CITIES
NORFOLK AND PORTSMOUTH
IT is said that nearly five hundred years before that venturesome mariner whose exploits in crossing the ocean blue always tickle the fancy of the youthful student of history and make so lasting an impression that Christopher Columbus never ceases to be one of the ideal heroes of our American youth, the North-men—the old-time sailors of the world—had discovered our American continent, and at different periods through the intervening centuries other navigators present their claims, as stoutly maintained by faithful adherents, for the first honors of discovery.
But these questions of the past centuries are really of little practical value to us, though sometimes their solution may gratify a curiosity not altogether idle.
In this connection we may be permitted to say that even so far back as the primeval days of the happy Garden of the Old World in which our first parents reigned supreme, even here on the shores of our New World could be found "a big swell pitching into a little cove "—the veritable first inhabitants. But far be it from us to detract from our old-school friend Christopher Columbus, and to him we would award the palm of discovery as we hail Columbia, happy land."
Nearly a century later, in 1585, Raleigh fitted out an expedition, commanded by Sir Richard Grenville, which reached Roanoke Island, in Albemarle Sound, and Capt. Ralph Lane, of this expedition—who ex-  tended his investigations and discoveries northward about 130 miles to the Indian town of Chesapeakes, on what is now called the Elizabeth River—is the first white man of whom history speaks that visited the present location of our sister cities.
These Chesapeakes were a brave warlike people, and a thorn in the side, it is said, of the subsequent white settlers. We can hardly believe, therefore, that the inhabitants of our peaceful city of Norfolk are their descendants—nor even the good neighbors of the South Side, which the records of the day make rather more belligerent—but following Mr. Jefferson's notes, locate the site of the old town of Chesapeakes in what is now called Princess Anne County, on a branch of the River of Chesapeakes, now known as Lynn Haven River. And in this we give but honor where honor is due, nor cast any reflection on our worthy neighbors in this county of so many natural advantages.
Another century, however, had nearly rolled by before, on the 16th of August, 1682, the site of Norfolk Towne was selected on the land of Nicholas Wise, in Lower Norfolk County, on the entrance of the Eastern Branch of the Elizabeth River.
This land was purchased from the son of the original Nicholas Wise, who was also a Nicholas and displayed his hereditary wisdom by reserving his father's shipyard, which occupied the present location of Atlantic City.
That portion of the Wise tract purchased for the site of the town only consisted of 50 acres, but subsequently an additional 150 acres were included in the limits of the town and owned by Anthony Walke. That portion of it from Bermuda street to Plume's Cove, including Fenchurch street and the whole of Briggs's Point, remained in the Walke family for over a century.
Twenty years after the purchase from Wise the favorable location of Norfolk for trade and commerce had attracted such a considerable population that in October, 1705, an Act of Assembly regularly established a town.
This town continued to make rapid strides in prosperity, and in 1728 it had attained no mean eminence as a port, its extensive commerce being principally with the West Indies. Not only were the merchants busy and prosperous, but improvements were being rapidly made giving steady and remunerative employment to mechanics and laborers.
Col. Byrd writes of Norfolk at this date as follows:
"The two cardinal virtues that make a place, thrive, industry and frugality, are seen here in perfection; and so long as they can banish luxury and idleness the town will remain in a happy and flourishing condition."
And such indeed appears to have been the case when, on September 15, 1736, the existence of the town of Norfolk came to an end and by Royal charter Norfolk Borough began its existence.
 "A rare place" was our old borough, so historians tell us, with extensive commerce, that kept its harbor filled with vessels, not a few of a large size, while money was plentiful.
No grumblings in those days about "hard times." All were too busy and prosperous to leave room for grumblers, and yet there was always time enough to spare for amusements and recreation. And by the way, we think it a noticeable fact that this is always the case with the truly prosperous, whether individuals or communities.
The harbor was pretty well monopolized by the heavy trade with the West Indies, out of which many fortunes were realized.
 The markets were held on Tuesdays and Saturdays in the Market Place; and here also, on October 3, began an annual fair, lasting four days exclusive of Sunday, the middle of the Square on these occasions being appropriated to fun and frolic, and was open to all who chose to take part in the amusements, which were of a character to suit every taste, though generally full of hilarity and boisterousness.
Apropos of the commerce of the old Borough, we find an entry in 1769 stating that the imports of the State of Virginia, principally received through the port of Norfolk, amounted to 851,000 pounds sterling.
The Virginia Gazette, published in 1776, speaks of Norfolk on the eve of a great crisis in its history, which well-nigh put a finishing stroke to its existence, as follows: "It is the most nourishing and richest town in the colony. Its happy site, combining all those natural advantages which invite and promote navigation and commerce, have been actively seconded by the industry and enterprise of its inhabitants. In the two years from 1773 to 1775 the rents of the houses increased from £8,000 to £10,000 a year. Its population exceeds 6,000 citizens, many of whom possess affluent fortunes." And this brings us, in our brief outline of Norfolk's history, to the war of the Revolution, in which she occupied a very conspicuous position and out of which grew the calamity to which we have before alluded. But we have so far neglected our sister city, and must now take a step backward to begin with that period in which she made her debut into the arena of the world's history.
And here we may take occasion to say that there is one aspect in which our sister city always most favorably impresses the stranger, especially in comparison with Norfolk, and that is the beauty and regularity in the laying off of her streets; but whether attributable to a better natural taste on the part of our South-Side friends, or whether they profited by the mistakes of the elder sister, we leave it for others to decide.
It was in February, 1752, just sixteen years subsequent to the Borough charter and twenty-three before the outbreak of the Revolution, that the town of Portsmouth was established on the land of William Crawford; and to these limits were added, eleven years later, the lands of Mr. Veale.
History tells us little specifically of its growth and progress during the intervening years up to the Revolution; but, enjoying in common with Norfolk a magnificent harbor, which appears to have been almost constantly filled with vessels, and being peopled by the same thrifty class of settlers; Scotch and Irish, principally engaged in mercantile pursuits, there is little doubt that it shared largely in the prosperity of its sister town, still too young and struggling to advance any pretensions to rivalry, and therefore the more ready to recognize the identity of interests and work for the mutual good.
It was on the first of January, 1776, that the first sad blow fell on Norfolk Borough—its complete destruction by the fleet of Lord Dunmore,  who bombarded the town in the spirit of revenge for his recent defeat at the battle of Great Bridge.
The actual loss on this unfortunate occasion was computed at over 300,000 pounds sterling, to say nothing of the incalculable distress which was a necessary consequence. The Old Parish church, built three years  after the chartering of the borough, and now known as Old St. Paul's, is said to have been the only building of any consequence that escaped destruction.
The town of Suffolk, whose doors had been thrown open with a humanity and hospitality still characteristic of its people, was crowded with houseless and distressed refugees from Norfolk, who there found home and comfort.
For nearly seven years the old borough remained in this deplorable state before she majestically arose from her ashes; and it seems truly remarkable that Portsmouth should not have taken advantage of this state of affairs and gain and hold an ascendancy which seemed so easily within her reach. Unfortunately, however, the patriotic spirit in the breasts of her most influential citizens then, as now, burned so brightly that they opposed bitterly the settlement in their midst of the commission merchants and mercantile agents from England, Scotland and Ireland, who had been living in Norfolk when it was destroyed and wished to recommence business in Portsmouth, and in fact carried their intolerance so far as not only to treat repulsively some of the Scotch and English factors and traders visiting the town with a view to settlement there, but even required them to leave at short notice.
This fact was taken advantage of by the property owners on the Norfolk side, where a more liberal spirit prevailed, and the result was the town was not only soon rebuilt but regained in a short space an ascendancy in wealth, population and commercial facilities over her sister town, which she has ever since maintained.
We note, however, a very handsome increase shown by the statistics of Portsmouth from 1796, when she contained 300 houses and 1,700 people, to 1806, when over 400 new houses had been built during the decade and the population had reached 3,000 inhabitants. During that period, in 1801, the establishment of the United States Navy Yard on the southern branch of the Elizabeth River at Gosport, the removal of the County Court to the town, and the opening of the Dismal Swamp Canal added no little to her prosperity. And we find several square-rigged and other vessels owned by her merchants, and no inconsiderable trade, chiefly to the Antilles, carried on.
Turning our attention once again to the old borough, we find her population had reached, in 1800, nearly 7,000, or an increase in ten years of 4,000, while the value of exports during that year exceeded $4,000,000.
There were not only scores of vessels at the wharves receiving and discharging cargoes and the streets and lanes from Main street to the river thronged with a heterogeneous mass of human beings of all nations and tongues, but there were also four shipyards in Norfolk and two in Portsmouth kept as busy as they could be, and with no questions asked as to prices, only "How soon can the work be done?"
 Such were the prosperity and brilliant prospects of our nourishing sister towns at the dawn of the nineteenth century.
From 1804 to 1807 we find the exports of the borough varying from $5,000,000 to $7,000,000, but the imports were not equal to the demand. The annual entries of vessels from foreign ports during the same period was from 350 to 480. The population at the last date approximated 10,000.
This commercial prosperity of our towns was suddenly brought to an end by the Embargo Act of December 22, 1807, which then became the law of the land and seriously interrupted the business of the towns on the coast, reducing it to a mere interstate trade.
We must pass over rapidly the history of the next succeeding years, leaving to a more graphic pen the pictures of the war of 1812, in which our townsmen took an active part, and the never-to-be-forgotten glories of Craney Island, with its brilliant defense, resulting in the signal discomfiture of the enemy.
With peace came prosperity, and the citizens of both communities were  not slow to avail themselves of it and to take such steps as would develop and improve their respective towns.
In Norfolk we note that the first Council under the renewed order of things ordered the construction of what was so long known as Stone Bridge on Granby street, the erection of a tobacco warehouse on Town Point and other improvements, besides effecting many healthful changes in the police arrangements of the borough.
About this period, 1816, the Mayor of the borough became for the first time a salaried officer, and Granby and Catharine (now Bank) streets were extended to their present limits.
We can find no specific statement of the improvements in the South Side sister during this period, but we know that the same spirit of progress was prevalent among its good people, and in 1819 the records show the passage of an Act of the Assembly making the trustees a body corporate and politic, with power to pass by-laws, etc., which power they were not slow to make judicious use of.
Unfavorable legislation in May, 1820, again gave a serious check to our commercial prosperity. The passage of the "Navigation Law," restricting vessels from bringing the produce of the British colonies to our ports and taking ours in return, had a most disastrous effect, as was shown by the rapid falling off in our West Indies trade and consequent suspension of many of our principal merchants, who had been able to do a very heavy business through the liberal accommodations of the branch of the United States Bank located here, carrying with them in their downfall many of the smaller traders to actual poverty.
The following year was deeply marked with gloom, and everything seemed to conspire to retard the growth of our sister corporations on the Elizabeth.
Business was dull, our foreign trade still rapidly declining and money growing tighter and tighter. In the month of August a malignant sickness, fortunately, however, confined to one portion of the town, was introduced by a vessel from a foreign and infected port; and as a finale, on September 3, the great gale, surpassing anything in the memory of the oldest inhabitant, swept over the two towns and demolished or unroofed many houses. The drawbridge over the Eastern Branch was swept away and the shipping in the harbor met with very serious damage.
Despite these serious discouragements, however, we find enterprise enough left in our citizens to rebuild the drawbridge in the next yean 1822, and to supplant the old "teamboat," which had done the ferry service for many a year, on the 19th of January by a real steamboat—the old blind horses, which had furnished the motive power, being transferred to the "mud machine," we presume to conciliate the "mud turtles," who then as now, no doubt, were willing and anxious to have our communities stuck fast in their native element, while progress and general prosperity [13 St. Vincent Hospital jpg]  were scattered to the winds. At this early date it was certainly an evidence of a spirit of progressiveness that might now be imitated much to the comfort and convenience of passengers between our cities.
There was little to mark the year 1823 in either community, except the great fire in February, the month noted for numerous conflagrations, on Market Square of the borough, a location which seems to be particularly unfortunate in its many visitations of a similar character, which resulted in some loss of life and considerable destruction by fire.
The next year is marked with a white stone in our history by the visit of La Fayette, when our people were able to evince their gratitude for his noble self-sacrifice in our behalf, as the tried and true friend and associate of our own Washington in the bloody struggle of the first Revolution, and right nobly did they do their part, and the gallant Frenchman felt and appreciated it.
Such a gala season in the two communities had not been seen, and its joyous festivities were unrivalled even by the pristine days of the old borough, when mad fun and frolic ran rampant.
The violent storm of 1825, with its high tide inundating the lower portions of our towns and doing great damage to the sugar, salt and tobacco and other merchandise stored on our water front, was the only remarkable event of that year.
In 1826 the Non-intercourse Laws and commercial restrictive system between the United States and Great Britain were most seriously felt in respect to our West Indies trade by our port in common with our Southern sisters generally, and the disastrous consequences predicted by Mr. Tazewell were fully realized.
As we recall these numerous drawbacks to our commercial prosperity, scattered almost like milestones through our business history, it seems a wonder that the project of making a great port out of our harbor had not long ago been abandoned to the visionary; but nature has done so well for us that we cannot give up the hope that as more enlightened and progressive views of inter-commerce with all the nations of the globe take possession of the universal mind these natural advantages of our port must make themselves felt and be the means of attracting capital and enterprise to our shores. But let us remember that we must neither supinely wait for them nor meet them when they come with that prescriptive and illiberal spirit which in other days drove enterprising strangers away and left us in such a languishing condition that no subsequent efforts, though arduous and earnest, have enabled us to recover the lost ground.
We have now to record an event which we know for over a quarter of a century was the town talk of our people and seemed to have made a lasting impression on the youngest inhabitant of the borough at the time it occurred. We refer to the fire which started in a frame workshop that  occupied the present site of the Purcell House, in the early morning of March 9, 1827. The workshop and adjacent buildings were not only rapidly consumed but a strong gale from the southwest blew the sparks far up Church street and along the western part of Mariner street, entailing an immense loss.
Among the prominent buildings destroyed by this fire was the original Episcopal church built by the congregation who followed Parson Whitehead in the division of the congregation which had occupied the Old Church (now known as St. Paul's). This church stood immediately across the street from the Old Church, where the First Presbyterian Church now stands.
The embers from the burning church were in turn wafted on the gale over half a mile, until they ignited the large and elegant wooden mansion of Walter Herron, built by Mr. Plume and situated in the beautiful enclosure on the corner of Wood and Church streets, now occupied by the Hospital St. Vincent de Paul. Every part of the town was brilliantly illuminated, and the heat was so intense that the citizens generally were  filled with alarm, while many families were entirely deprived of shelter. In fact, for miles around the light of this immense conflagration was so bright that the country people coming to town in their market carts, turned back at the sight and reported that the whole town was consumed—no doubt regarding it as a just visitation for the sins of the old borough. The actual loss amounted to over sixty houses destroyed, and upon the next night the Council promptly passed an ordinance prohibiting the erection of wooden buildings within certain limits under a severe penalty.
The year 1828 opened more auspiciously for our communities by the beginning on the first day of January of that splendid work the Dry Dock, at our Navy Yard, which for many years was justly a source of pride and pleasure to our people. It is still useful as well as-ornamental, though not now quite up to all the requirements of modern progress in naval architecture.
This year (1828) Christ church was erected on its present location by the congregation who had lost their sheltering fold in the conflagration of the preceding year.
The closing event of the year was equally favorable to our joint commercial interests—the completion and opening for vessels, on the very last day, of the Dismal Swamp Canal, which ever since has played no unimportant part in bringing to our markets the numerous products of the adjoining counties of Virginia and North Carolina.
The building of the Naval Hospital, in close proximity to the site of old Fort Nelson, on the Portsmouth side of our river, marks the year 1829. Its handsome appearance continues to elicit the admiration of all visitors to our harbor, and it is justly one of the landmarks in which we all take pride.
We now pass over several years of the existence of our sister cities in which nothing worthy of note can be found, and take up the thread of our narrative in January, 1832, when the supreme privilege of electing their Chief Magistrate was vouchsafed to the freeholders and qualified voters of the borough by an act of the General Assembly.
Whether from this cause or other more potent reasons we will not undertake to decide, but it is certain that this year (1832) is noted as one in which trade and commerce seemed to take a fresh start. For despite the depressing influences of the cholera, which raged through the summer of this year, our old borough and her sister town began a sure though slow march, it maybe, on the road to prosperity. It was in this year the lumber trade, for which this section had long been noted, began once more to revive, and its revival was followed by a healthy reaction in all branches of business.
In tracing the outlines of the history of our sister cities it is of course impossible to dwell long upon any one point, or in fact to do more than to bring to notice the more salient ones. Thus far we fail to find in the  records on either side of the river any attempt to construct a park for the health and enjoyment of the citizens. The Act of Assembly of February 27, 1833, which authorized the filling up of that portion of Back Creek which was east of Bank street, to establish a public square in the old borough, is the nearest approach to it. This square was subsequently established, and has proved both useful and ornamental as the site of our City Hall and other public buildings.
The first step towards building a railroad from our common harbor was taken this year, and though Portsmouth was to have the honor of being its terminus, on the 3d day of April an ordinance was passed by the Councils of Norfolk subscribing $60,000 for 1,200 shares of the Portsmouth and Roanoke Railroad Company, and December 4 an additional $40,000 for 800 shares more, making a total of $100,000.
This amount, though apparently sunk in the subsequent disaster of the scheme, was doubtless good seed sown, from which an abundant crop has been reaped in the shape of a remunerative trade from the Roanoke and other sections of the Old North State.
It was on the 19th of January, 1834, that the passage of the bill chartering this road was announced; and though it was the Sabbath, so great was the joy of our people both in Norfolk and Portsmouth over the victory won, that was to bring a brighter future, full of the most cheering anticipations of prosperity, wealth and commercial greatness, that the bells all rang out a merry peal, while the booming of cannon announced the glad tidings for miles around, the news having been actually conveyed to Suffolk in this way within a few minutes after its receipt at Portsmouth.
Bonfires blazed on ail the wharves and principal streets, and rockets illuminated the air, and for more than two hours the towns were almost wild in their exhibitions of joy.
Unfortunately, however, the result proved that the rejoicings were premature; for despite its brilliant auspices, the difficulties subsequently encountered proved insurmountable, the road had to be abandoned, and our most sanguine hopes were all blasted.
In 1834 we find the trustees of Portsmouth were granted the power of prohibiting the erection of wooden buildings within a certain area—a very important step, which marked its transition into a real town.
The year 1835 opened very encouragingly, there being more square-rigged vessels in port than at any time since 1820. Quite a number of them were British vessels engaged in the West Indies trade. In 1836 we note another progressive step in Portsmouth, the authority being vested in the trustees to pave, grade and light the streets, regulate the construction of wharves, erect town hall and purchase land for public squares. While on the Norfolk side future interments in the old burying-ground (St. Paul's Church) were prohibited after February 29, and June 8 an or-  dinance was passed to provide for the payment of the contract for the new almshouse.
The crowning act of the year, however, occurred on September 15, when the good people of the old borough celebrated her first centennial.
The Egyptian, doubtless, in the shadow of his ancient pyramids and the light of a civilization of twenty centuries and more, would look with supreme condescension upon our single century; while the hoosier, with just pride glancing at his magic city of scarcely a hundred months, would wonder at our great rejoicing over a century evincing to his progressive spirit so little of real advance—such small return for arduous and continuous labor. But this September 15, 1836, was a great and never-to-be-forgotten day in the old borough. She had passed through the fire; war and pestilence had done their work of havoc and destruction; but phoenix-like she had risen from the flames, and, wounded and battle, scarred, she had come forth from all her trials with renewed strength and beauty to take no mean place in the great struggle for position among the commercial rivals of our great and growing country, with the  bright hope of realizing the brilliant future which our own Jefferson had foretold for her.
And so, right royally, 'midst the ringing of bells and the booming of cannon, did our people, young and old, rejoice over our existence of a hundred years, and earnest resolves were taken that the next century's close should show such progress and advance as would well repay the children for all the labor and toil expended by their parents and secure the position for our coming city that nature had designed for.
And here we pause in our narrative to ask pardon for giving so few items in our sketch of special interest in the history of our younger sister. The will has not been wanting, but the ability to procure them. In fact, though, the commercial history of either side of our common harbor is so closely identified with that of the other that at no time do we find the trade of one flourishing while that of the other is languishing. The same causes have always operated to produce like results, and the differences, always slight, have been in degree and not in kind. Much of the improvement which from time to time has been witnessed on the Norfolk side has been brought about by the energy and enterprise of those whose roof-trees found root on the other side, while on the other hand Norfolk capitalists have sought to promote their own interests by making improvements on the Portsmouth side. And this spirit of a common interest in our one harbor is the one that must be fostered until every feeling of petty jealousy and rivalry is stamped out lest it retard our mutual prosperity and the general good.
In November, 1838, we find held in Norfolk for four days one of those assemblies gathered from different sections of our own and neighboring States in the interest of Direct Trade, Agriculture and Internal Improvements—composed, too, of the best talent of the land —from which we have so often hoped, even against hope, for big results. It may be that from the seed so sown slowly but surely a rich crop is maturing whose fruit shall be a consummation commensurate with our highest cravings, but the lesson of the past seems too surely to indicate that their proceedings consist mostly of good resolutions, that are made only to be read, admired and forgotten or recalled at some subsequent meeting.
If resolutions and rhetorical flourishes could have built a city the shores of the Elizabeth River would have teemed today with a thriving population extending from the railroad bridge over the Southern Branch to its broad mouth at Seawell's Point. We do not mean to discourage these meetings that bring our people in friendly contact with their fellow-countrymen— who should be their neighbors indeed—but we can but look with sincere regret at the little actual good that our citizens have ever reaped from these golden opportunities. Has it been willful neglect, or a mistaken sense of self-satisfied ease, that declined an effort to pluck the fruit so  near at hand as unworthy the dignity of citizens of the great metropolis in embryo?
We have already mentioned incidentally that the first intimation of that great desideratum—as yet, unfortunately for the health and happiness of our people, unrealized—a park, came up in 1810, when the matter of filling up the creeks and marshes for the purposes of a public square was discussed. It appears from the records that this discussion actually  resulted in the filling up of the cove between Bank street and the southern terminus of Cumberland street, enclosing and ornamenting it with shade trees and, further, giving it the high-sounding title of the "Public Square."
The laying of the corner stone of the Norfolk Military Academy, an institution destined to be of inestimable benefit in the education of our boys, marked the year 1840. The census of this year showed the old borough with a population of nearly 11,000—a very slight advance, truly, in this direction—while our sister town now numbered about 7,000. The year closed with the great Whig jubilee over "Tippecanoe and Tyler too."
Four more years of that slow and tedious struggle for the mastery which seems from the outset to have characterized our sister towns, and nothing special of dire import or pleasant greeting to mark their still onward and upward progress. The sinking of the artesian well on Market square in 1843 and the visit of Henry Clay in 1844, which gave our good citizens that opportunity of showing off before strangers, the love of which is probably not confined to any clime, race or condition of life—but above this paltry consideration, that of extending to a welcome guest the unbounded hospitality a reputation for which our old borough and her sister city have so well earned and kept—were perhaps the most signal events of the years between 1840 and 1845.
And now the period had arrived when the old borough, with all its trials and triumphs, its varied and hallowed associations, and its memories, bitter or sweet, had become a thing of the past—a page in history; and a new-born child, a city of the nineteenth century, yet in its first half, stretching out feeble hands it may be, but to grow stronger day by day and grasp and call its own the commerce of the world, borne toward it on the wings of the wind or the puffings of the steam giant, cries out for recognition among the sisterhood of American cities.
From this time, then, Norfolk began her history as a city, while her younger sister still remained a town; and historians unite in the statement that immediate prosperity attended her new state as evinced by a handsome increase of assessed values and a rapid growth in trade as well as a wonderful spirit of progress which had seized the citizens on both sides of the river and given promise of a more rapid advance in material wealth and population.
The only avenues to the interior at this time, however, were the country roads, the waters tributary to the Chesapeake, and the Dismal Swamp Canal, which had been opened in 1828 and poured into our common harbor from the sounds and rivers of North Carolina a heavy and very remunerative trade in lumber and naval stores.
The new Court House for Norfolk County, designed by one of Portsmouth's sons, was begun this year, and when completed made a very handsome and tasteful architectural display.
 The old borough held the honor of county seat until removed to the town of Washington (now Berkley), which in time relinquished it to Portsmouth, under an act of the Assembly January 20, 1801, and there it still remains, despite the strenuous efforts of many dissatisfied county men to the contrary.
The March gale of 1845 is a never-to-be-forgotten event in the history of our harbor. The tide was the highest for over 20 years and the loss of property considerable. The wharves and streets on the water front were completely submerged and navigable for boats, recalling vividly Venetian street scenes and incidents.
In December of this year our people were greatly stirred up on the subject of the Mexican war, and a company was raised in Norfolk and vicinity, of which O. E. Edwards, of the city, who subsequently distinguished himself in Mexico, was elected Captain; while, not to be behind her sister, Portsmouth had also her company, commanded by the gallant John P. Young.
Early in the year 1847 another disastrous fire occurred in Norfolk, in that unfortunate locality Market square, destroying nearly $75,000 worth of property. The spring of this year witnessed one of the greatest trade developments that has occurred in the history of our harbor. The famine in Ireland and the consequent demand for grain and other provisions resulted in our wharves being crowded with large vessels, both English and American, and a general activity in business circles.
The result was the enriching of the most enterprising and experienced, while, as is usually the case on such occasions, the less judicious encountered heavy losses. This activity, however, was only temporary; and while beneficial so long as it lasted, was more an index of what could be done under favorable circumstances than of any permanent prosperity in the near future. Nearly 800,000 bushels of corn were inspected during the months of April, May and June, the greater part of which had been exported in response to the demand from the famine-stricken people of Ireland, and our own supply as a consequence was growing scarce and our people began to suffer from the proportionately higher prices of bread-stuffs. Thus it became a serious question whether or not this very heavy export business was a real benefit to our communities.
August 23 the corner stone of the present City Hall was laid. We may pass rapidly over the three years next succeeding, as there is little of business interest to make them noteworthy.
A steady though not very rapid growth seemed to prevail in all kinds of business, retarded, perhaps, in the spring of 1849 by the visitation of the Asiatic cholera, from which, in common with many others in this country, our communities suffered. In the fall of 1849 gas lights made their appearance for the first time in Norfolk.
A large meeting was held in Norfolk on January 11, 1850, to confer with a delegation from Clarksville, Mecklenburg County, Va.,  in regard to building a railroad connection from that town to a point near Gaston, N. C, which would thus put it in close connection with Norfolk by means of the Seaboard and Roanoke Railroad, then in course of construction.
In July, 1847, the keel of the U. S. S. Powhatan was laid at the Gosport Navy Yard, and on St. Valentine's day, 1850, she was launched. We may be considered very old-fashioned and behind the progress of the day, but we still agree in the opinion, ante bellum, that she is one of the most beautiful pieces of naval architecture ever sent forth from that or any other establishment, public or private. We have made special mention of this vessel because her engines were constructed at the Gosport Iron Works, a private establishment of large capacity and great facilities, which was located in our sister town, and was an enterprise of which her citizens had a right to be proud.
On the 29th of May, 1850, the Corporation Court of our City convened for the first time in the new City Hall building, which still stands and is occupied for similar purposes. The 4th of July of this year  witnessed another convention, at Old Point Comfort, in the interest of direct trade from our cities on the Chesapeake to foreign ports; more sowing of good seed, to be followed by a patient waiting for the harvest.
September 26 the construction of a series of canals to connect our harbor with the sounds and rivers of North Carolina was advocated by the Hon. Henry A. Wise in a very powerful and convincing speech before a meeting of our citizens. This started the ball in motion which ultimately resulted in the construction of the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal, which has proved a very large factor in promoting the trade and prosperity of our cities.
October 1 a committee was appointed by the Councils of Norfolk to inquire into the propriety of a survey of the harbor with a view of applying to Congress for the purpose of running a stone wall from Town Point to Fort Norfolk. This is a work which has been talked of in Norfolk for nearly three-quarters of a century; and while we believe it must be ultimately done for the protection and in fact the preservation of our harbor, nearly forty years have elapsed since this resolution of the Councils, and it is apparently no nearer accomplishment.
The completion of the pavement of North Church street during the fall of that year caused a rapid advance in the appreciation of value of real estate in that portion of Norfolk, exceeding anything, it is said, that had previously occurred in the city, being in some instances over 100 per cent.
The census this year showed an increase in total population of 30 per cent, in ten years, while the white population had increased nearly 50 per cent.
The 9th of November, 1850, is distinguished in the history of Portsmouth as the first day of its connection with the world of trade by rail and the iron horse. The Seaboard and Roanoke Railroad, which has in fact been a great financial benefit and trade feeder to both our cities, seems peculiarly to belong to our sister town, and to her thus belongs the credit of the first rail connection.
Succeeding the old Portsmouth and Roanoke Railroad, originally chartered in 1832, which had unfortunately proved an abortive attempt, the S. and R. Railroad was completed to Suffolk at this date, which was made a day of universal rejoicing, and from 500 to 600 of our people, by invitation of the president, enjoyed the first trip over the iron rail. One year later the road was completed to Weldon, from whence it has continued to form new and valuable connections, and has met, under a series of able managements, a career of usefulness and prosperity probably unrivaled, at least by any of our Southern roads.
January 1, 1852, the Councils of Norfolk passed a law compelling the owners of cows to keep them in enclosures. This may seem to our readers a trivial matter, only provocative of a smile, but to our citizens, and  especially the women and children, who had suffered the great annoyance occasioned by the mischievous freaks of these animals when at liberty, it seemed a very material advance towards the proprieties of a city.
On the 18th of the same month was discovered the robbery of the Branch Bank of Virginia, in Portsmouth, of which in the next fall a Bostonian named Rand was convicted and sentenced to serve the State ten years in the penitentiary. Some informality, however, gave him a new trial, awaiting which he escaped jail and was never recaptured.
The result was a loss of $66,000, of which nothing was ever recovered and for which no one ever suffered punishment. Fortunately the credit of the bank was not injured by it.
In April of that year the town of Portsmouth once more took a step in the direction which was fast bringing it to the importance and dignity of  a city, in the popular election of its Mayor and Councilmen, substituted for the old Town Trustees, under a recent act of the Assembly.
Perhaps the most important act of the year in Norfolk was performed by the Councils, on the 10th of December, when, in accordance with the wishes of a large majority of the voters, they appointed a committee to subscribe $200,000 to the capital stock of the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad Company (chartered March 15, 1851) with sundry provisos, principal among which was a satisfactory connection, at completion, with the South Side road near Petersburg. This was the inception of that grand consolidation the first fruits of which is the Norfolk and Western Railroad, of which we shall have more to say in a subsequent chapter, and whose final consummation will only be reached in a complete trunk line from the Atlantic at Norfolk via Memphis and over the Mississippi, bridged at that point, to some point on the Pacific coast.
In 1853 there was a final organization of this road, but on account of subsequent unfortunate events its completion was delayed until 1859.
The year 1853 was one of continued growth and progress in our sister communities, with nothing special, however, to record.
The succeeding year dawned upon our people under the most favorable auspices, and the press were buoyant in their new-born hopes of fulfillment of the old-time prophecies of a brilliant future for both communities that peopled the shores of the Elizabeth.
From one of the journals of the day we quote: "The business establishments have nearly doubled in number within the last seven years. New streets have been opened, paved and partly built up. Elegant public and private edifices, becoming a flourishing commercial city, are to be seen now where recently there were sunken grounds, vacant lots and dilapidated buildings; and still the work of improvement and preparations to meet the demands of business enterprise are steadily progressing."
During the fall of this year, 1854, the Internal Improvement Convention of Virginia met in Norfolk, and in connection with the subject of uniting the waters of the Ohio River and Chesapeake Bay, the establishment of ocean steamers between Norfolk and European ports was strongly advocated, and never in its history under more favorable circumstances, and perhaps never with a greater appearance of the near realization of this cherished dream.
That great improvement the Boston wharf, which is now one of the most prominent and busy features of our water front, was commenced by two of our most enterprising citizens, who were soon to fall, alas! too soon for our city's growth and prosperity, victims to the terrible visitant of the next year, 1855.
We come now to a period in the history of our communities on which it is too painful to dwell. Prosperity and wealth seemed to be awaiting on all sides a population never larger nor more healthy since the estab-  lishment of the towns on our river's banks. Enterprise and industry were meeting their due reward, and the brightest anticipations of the past seemed on the eve of realization. Forty years of steady improvement in sanitary statistics had pretty well eradicated an unjust prejudice against our communities, arising in the first instance doubtless from the large death rate in 1812 among the soldiers stationed at Craney Island and vicinity, occasioned by imprudence as well as by the bad water then in use. The death rate of the preceding twelve months had been exceedingly small, when unfortunately the steamship Ben Franklin, from the African coast, was allowed to land and a fearful scourge was introduced, which fell like a deadly blast upon our communities, prostrating our people and sweeping away health, wealth, energy—aye, life itself.
 It was a hard lesson, but we think it was a well-learnt one, and we do not believe that our people will ever again be so lulled into a fancied security arising from years of freedom from epidemic as to allow this insidious foe to steal into our midst again.
The thirty years and upwards of freedom from such a visitant that have passed over our heads, and a remarkable sanitary record in the camps around Norfolk during the five years of civil war, among Confederates and Federals, should convince the most skeptical that with proper precautions we will never again be liable to such a visitation.
It is estimated that during this epidemic fully two-thirds of our population were refugees and one-third of those who remained died, among them some of our most enterprising and influential citizens. Its duration was nearly four months, and in that time every kind of business that was not a necessity was suspended. It has truly been said that the one bright spot in all this sad business was the tender sympathy and noble self-sacrifice which it called forth from every section of the country on behalf of our stricken and bereaved communities.
That our communities should ever have arisen from the death struggle of 1855 and displayed the energy that they did, certainly successfully controverts the theory that they are victims of their own inertia and owe today to a natural indifference and lassitude that lack of prominence among the cities of the earth which was so early foretold for them.
We can but think, however, that despite the most strenuous efforts of some enlightened and enterprising citizens, whose value would be felt and appreciated in any community, our cities had not regained the position which they held when the scourge fell upon them, when in 1861 the civil war came, prostrating their commerce and partially closing the port.
The winter of 1855-6 was, for sanitary reasons, fortunately a severe one, and was followed in 1856-7 by that phenomenal winter which finally closed our port in an ice blockade on January 25, 1857, which continued until nearly St. Valentine's Day. Doubtless this weather was exceedingly beneficial from a sanitary standpoint, but none the less a drawback from a commercial one.
And now we come to the year 1858, when our sister town Portsmouth has risen to her new dignity of a city, as evidenced by the meeting of her first Hustings Court on the 5th of May in that year.
The Norfolk and Petersburg railroad was completed this year, and its successful operations during the year and the succeeding one was not a little encouragement to the commerce of our cities during this struggling period.
On the 6th of January, 1860, the Boston Line of steamers between our port, Boston and Providence was established to run in connection with the N. and P. Railroad. This was the venture that led to that valuable  corporation the Merchants' and Miners' Transportation Company, which has so materially aided in developing the commerce of our port.
On the 8th of August the Great Eastern lay several days at anchor in Hampton Roads and was visited by thousands from every direction.
The ample room for this monster and the surrounding fleet showed to great advantage the magnificent proportions of our grand roadstead.
About this time we note the development of a military spirit in our midst and the formation of new volunteer organizations, which was soon to undergo the crucial test; and it is truly gratifying to feel that our boys did not shirk their duty and were not found wanting when the hour of trial came.
The succeeding events in the history of our communities are so much a part of that great struggle in our country's history—about which there may be so much honest difference of opinion and of which so much has already been written by wiser heads and more experienced hands—that we prefer to touch on them very lightly.
On the 17th of April, 1861, Virginia seceded, and our harbor, with its Navy Yard and Dry Dock, soon passed into the hands of the Confederates, to be by the fortunes of war transferred to Federal hands on May 10, 1862, and there to remain until the close of hostilities, June, 1865.
During this period of four years, commerce was practically dead, and we must therefore pass over that period and come to the time when our good people, with little left but "honor and appetite," commenced a struggle for a commercial independence, which must in time give them a name and a place more materially and substantially beneficial, at least, than a political one could ever have given them.
Image p30: East Norfolk, (Car Houses Norfolk & Western RR.)
 CHAPTER II.
THE summer of 1865 had been reached, and though the war was ended and our people found it necessary to settle down to hard work of some kind to provide for themselves and families, it was like starting life afresh with most of them, and in a country cut off in a great measure from its old profitable sources of trade and wealth.
The tracks of our railways were torn up to a considerable extent, and while our watercourses were open to navigation, the means to supply the necessary transportation was wanting, and we were therefore entirely dependent upon such lines as were established by outsiders indifferent to our success and anxious to make the most money possible from curious visitors to the battlefields of the late war, or by furnishing necessary supplies to the people of those regions that were still suffering depletion as a consequence of the ravages of war.
The Dismal Swamp Canal, once a great commercial feeder to our port from the productive regions of North Carolina, was closed in consequence of the neglect of the Federal Government, who had made use of it so long as it was available during the war, and then left it without resources to take care of itself.
The people too of the Sound region of North Carolina, fearing their inability to cope with the great West, which had been brought so close to the Atlantic coast by the iron rail, had abandoned their old crops of corn, which used to flow in large quantities into our midst, and were making the first essay in the production of cotton, which has since become a standard crop. Necessarily, however, at this time, their initial steps were slow and somewhat cautious.
The Merchants' and Mechanics' Exchange was reorganized in October of this year and had its first public opening in November, with Charles Reid, one of our oldest and most esteemed merchants, as its president.
In February, 1866, the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad began its operations again under the management of Gen. Wm. Mahone, its former thorough and energetic president. This was a source of great rejoicing to our cities by the sea as well as to the good people of the Cockade City and along the line, by whom we were visited at the time, and was hailed as an evidence of that returning prosperity towards which this road and its subsequent connections have so much contributed.
This year was further marked by the first venture in the movement of direct foreign trade, our enterprising townsman Col. Wm. Lamb having  completed his arrangements in February for the landing at this port of the steamer Ephesus, a large screw steamer over 300 feet fong. By a series of unfortunate accidents the arrival of this steamer was delayed until June, and she was subsequently lost on Sable Island on her outward voyage. The result of this was the postponement of any further developments of the direct-trade movement; but a bonded warehouse had been established, and we were thus put in a position to hold subsequent importations that might be received for home consumption or transhipment into the interior.
This spring also another enterprising citizen put on a line of sailing-vessels for the resumption of trade with the West Indies, once so large and fruitful in profit to those engaged in it. It was commenced by shipments of lumber to Barbadoes, and in return cargoes of rum, molasses and sugar from the West Indies were received.
This trade was kept up during the year, but the return unfortunately was not in keeping with the energy displayed, and the scheme had finally to be abandoned.
During the succeeding year the export trade of our port showed very active development, twelve steamers being loaded with cotton, corn and tobacco for Liverpool. In fact, 1867 takes the preeminence in this respect of any year between 1865 and 1874. The value of the cotton exports for the year was in excess of a million and a half of dollars, that of tobacco over a half million, while the total reached two million and a half dollars.
October 15, amidst general rejoicings, and with the usual Masonic ceremonies, the corner stone of the new Atlantic Hotel was laid in the Newton lot, on the corner of Main and Granby streets, which for many years had been vacant and the general location of the tents of the circuses that had visited Norfolk from year to year. This building was designed to replace the old Atlantic, built before the war, which had been burned early in the morning of January 8 of the same year.
The present handsome and commodious building, now owned and kept by R. S. Dodson, is the outgrowth of the one erected on this corner stone, and is a decided evidence of the growth and progress of the city.
The year 1868 opened up with a fair promise of business but with no specially interesting developments.
March 30 of this year was issued the celebrated order from Headquarters First Military District, State of Virginia, which took away the elective franchise from our citizens and placed the municipal governments once more in the hands of military appointees.
There was a marked decline in the export business of this year, the foreign shipments being confined entirely to Liverpool. Heretofore this traffic had been conveyed entirely in steamships, but on May 13th the first sailing-vessel of any dimensions—the ship Augusta— was cleared for Liverpool. The decline in the shipments of tobacco was  very marked; in fact, from this year out until quite recently tobacco has ceased to be an article of direct export from this port, that commodity finding its way coastwise to New York and thence to foreign ports.
First Presbyterian Church, Church Street.
Perhaps the most important commercial feature of the year was the Direct Trade Convention, which met in Bristol, Tenn., during the summer and adjourned over to meet in Norfolk in the fall to hear the report of a special committee, of which Gen. Wm. Mahone, of Virginia, was president, as to the best method of raising a joint stock company to establish a line of ocean steamers from Norfolk. This convention, which was composed of representative men of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, and Kentucky, duly assembled in Norfolk on the 15th day of October. Col. Geo. W. Bolling, of Petersburg, presided over the body, with vice-presidents from each of the several States. The visitors were formally welcomed by Col. Wm. Lamb, president of the Norfolk Board of Trade; and the citizens generally of our sister cities vied in their efforts to make a favorable impression on our visiting neighbors.  The session lasted four days, during which the committee reported favorably on a charter already granted for an "Inter-national Commercial Company of Norfolk." This report was referred to a committee on business for the convention and was duly discussed. A subscription was then started to raise the necessary capital of $300,000. Norfolk led off with $50,000, and Petersburg followed with $20,000. Nashville added $25,000 to the lists, and additional subscriptions were made, giving a total of over $125,000. Unfortunately, Memphis and other Southern and Western cities found themselves unable to unite in the subscription on account of the demands of their home transportation lines, and the result of the convention, for the time being at least, was to throw a damper upon rather than give the desired encouragement to this scheme of direct trade. All this, it must be remembered, was in the fall of 1868 and prior to that consolidation of the South Side Virginia roads which was so materially to aid the development of trade, both of our own seaport and the cities of the Southwest, which were by it and its Western connections brought into such close commercial affinity.
The year 1869 was memorable in our communities, as in the residue of the old commonwealth, for the political struggle which brought her back to a recognized position in the sisterhood of States under a new and fairly liberal constitution, and with a Governor selected by her own people and whose views were in accord with the great majority of the more enlightened of them.
While there seemed a steady though perhaps slow growth in general business, we find a continued decline in the amount of our exports. The amount of imports, however, was considerably increased by the shipments of Welch railroad iron, which was brought directly to our port.
The decline of exports in this year and the two succeeding may be in a measure attributable to the failure of the scheme of a direct line from Norfolk, in the commercial convention of the preceding fall.
On January 18,1870, a large meeting of our people was held at Tazewell Hall, in Norfolk, to give expression to their views concerning the consolidation of the railroads from Norfolk, Va., to Bristol, Tenn., and the Clifton Forge connection. These were the initial steps in that great consolidation scheme which has now been consummated so far as the Virginia roads to Bristol are concerned, but is yet in abeyance as to those western connections which should form one grand trunk line from the Atlantic at our harbor to the Mississippi at Memphis—nor resting there, should cross the Father of Waters, as at St. Louis, by an iron span, and thence by a southern route open at all seasons reach the Pacific Slope.
The Clifton Forge connection with our line of roads is still, too, a future consideration—and yet not, perhaps, as far in the remote future as the casual observer might deem.
 Image: Lowenberg Building, Main Street.
On March 30, just two years after the military order to which we have alluded as disturbing our municipal relations, G. C. Walker, our first Governor under the new regime, issued commissions to a number of our well-known and respected citizens as City Council men, who, having taken the required oath, assembled March 30 and elected the necessary Recorder and Aldermen. The Hon. Francis Decordy, who had most faithfully and satisfactorily discharged the duties of Mayor under military appointment, was unanimously elected to fill the unexpired term of that office—a well-  merited compliment to this most worthy gentleman, whose sagacity and integrity cannot be doubted.
The next day the other municipal offices were filled, and the government of the city has been ever since left in the hands of its citizens without military interference.
On the 12th of April W. H. Burroughs took his seat as Corporation Judge by appointment of the Legislature of the State.
On the same date the Board of Trade passed resolutions requesting the representatives in the Legislature to advocate the bill before that body for consolidating the roads between Norfolk and Bristol.
The resolutions met with considerable opposition from some of our most enterprising and well-informed citizens, who were opposed not to consolidation but to the plan of consolidation as submitted by the bill then under consideration. That consolidation has produced beneficial results no one questions, but as to the respective merits of the plans the problem is one that does not now admit of solution.
Just at the close of the month our great and beloved Commander, Robert E. Lee, then the honored president of the Washington and Lee University, arrived on his last visit to our midst by the S. and R. railroad train; and the Portsmouth boys, ever ready to do honor where honor is due, brought out the little gun "Brick Pomeroy " and welcomed our hero with a salute, which was almost drowned by that well-known yell which had so often greeted "Mars Bob" in the brave old days now gone.
The river crossed, a like hearty welcome awaited him on the Norfolk shore—young and old, male and female, pressing forward to welcome him as one whom every soul delighted to honor.
On May 26 the first municipal election was held under the new charter, by which the Mayor and other officers were chosen biennially instead of annually as heretofore.
The Railroad Consolidation bill passed the House of Delegates on June 7, having previously passed the Senate; and on the night of June 8 a grand mass meeting, attended with the booming of cannon and the blazing of tar barrels, was held to attest the rejoicing of our citizens. This bill was approved by the Governor and thus became a law on the 17th of June, 1870, and the consolidation was consummated November 12 by the organization of the A., M. and O. Railroad, with Gen. Wm. Mahone as president.
The Norfolk City railway, which was commenced on April 20, under the superintendence of V. Freeman, civil engineer, was put in operation August 13, and its cars were kept crowded all day long by those anxious to enjoy a novelty at a small expense. The population of Norfolk, according to the census of 1870, was announced in September as 19,284.
This year's statistics show a further decline not only of exports but also of imports.
 We note in the succeeding year, on the 18th April, the laying of the corner stone of the handsome and imposing Masonic Temple which now graces Freemason street. It was a grand occasion and observed in due form under the auspices of State Grand Master Thos. F. Owens.
On the 31st of August the Atlantic Hotel, which had been closed for several months, was opened under the skillful management of its present energetic and successful proprietor, who has since purchased the property and vastly improved it, giving it a rank among the first hotels in the country.
In December of this year the old volunteer fire companies were disbanded, giving place to a regular paid organization under municipal control; and we are happy to note that the fine discipline and efficiency of this excellent organization have thoroughly dispelled the feelings of prejudice which for some time existed against it.
In 1872 we find our girls making quite a sensation by appearing on the streets in the gay and festive "Dolly Varden" dresses, while our boys are going it "on their muscle," as evidenced by the establishment of the Undine and Chesapeake Boat Clubs. This added much to the life of our harbor, which had not shown the desired progress commercially for several years past.
In June of this year Vue de l'Eau Hotel, on Seawell's Point, was opened as a summer resort.
 On the 22d of October the Virginia and North Carolina Agricultural Society began its fair and continued six days. This was the first essay of the kind in our immediate vicinity since the war, and promised to be a great success, but unfortunately the elements combined against it, and the result proved rather discouraging.
It was during this year that there was some promise of a permanent direct trade; for while the exports were still small with little show of increase and the imports still less, the opportunity of increasing the latter was given by the Allan Line of steamers, which, en route from Liverpool to Baltimore, since February 1871 had made this a regular port of call, and from May 1872 began to land emigrants here in considerable numbers, destined for Virginia and the Southwest.
In 1872 the boating mania was still on our boys—and a more healthful and manly sport certainly is not to be found, and it is therefore greatly to be regretted that a sport so invigorating should have been abandoned for lighter pleasures and less ennobling emulations.
This spring we find the Seaboard Boat Club of Portsmouth carrying off the laurels so well won and worn by the Chesapeakes of Norfolk, while later on, in June, the common heart of our harbor is once more filled with pride by the victory of the Chesapeakes over the "crack club" of Washington, the Analostans, on their own Potomac.
July 25, 26 and 27 the severest conflagration since the war occurred on Market square, sweeping nearly the whole block from Main to Union street and destroying nearly a quarter of a million of dollars worth of property.
From September 1 of this year we have enjoyed the benefits of a free mail delivery by Uncle Sam.
On the 6th of October began the second annual exhibition of the Agricultural Society, which lasted four days. Favorable circumstances combined to make it much more successful than its predecessor.
During this year the city of Norfolk made an investment which was bitterly opposed by many of her leading citizens and yet was loudly called for by the necessities of growth and progress. We refer to the Water works, which were erected at an enormous expense about five miles out of town. The machinery is of the Holly system and works well. The character of the water supplied we do not intend to discuss. Incidentally, however, we may remark that though after a drouth it has been objected to for drinking purposes, when there is a full capacity of water in Lake Lawson—as the natural reservoir is called—we think the character will compare favorably with the supply of that of other cities of the country; at the same time a judicious system of filtration we deem both practicable and expedient. Nor will this, in our judgment, prove unnecessary even if a larger supply is added from other neighboring natural reservoirs.
 On the 18th of October, 1873, the Councils elected the first Board of Water Commissioners, which consisted of Messrs. Geo. K. Goodridge, W. W. Chamberlaine and John S. Tucker. Up to January, 1874, only 185 taps or connections had been made.
It was during the fall of this year that the memorable failure of Jay Cooke occurred, which resulted in the terrible monetary crisis or financial panic which for a time prostrated the business energies of the whole country; nor did our sister communities escape its disastrous effects.
Property in this vicinity had reached its highest notch of valuation, and capitalists from the North and abroad were seeking fields for investment in our midst, under the guidance of enterprising citizens of our own communities. All this vantage ground was lost and a depression in values followed, and we doubt if it has ever been entirely regained, though we believe the subsequent advance has been more healthy and the present valuations are less fictitious and on a more solid basis.
It was a result of this financial depression that the Allan Line steamers from Liverpool, which for three years had been calling at our port en route to Baltimore, discontinued their visits after the spring of 1874.
While the importations had been small in the two years from May, 1872, about 2,300 immigrants had landed at our wharves, seeking homes in Virginia and other Southern States. This is no unimportant element towards establishing a direct foreign line to and from our port; for while at present we are able to supply full cargoes all the year round for the outward voyage, the demand for direct importation—which might, however, soon be fostered into a large and remunerative business by a little more enterprise backed by sufficient capital invited to our midst by judicious encouragement; a problem which we respectfully submit to our many able financiers for solution—is too small for the support of a direct inward line. These cargoes might, however, be largely supplemented by passenger travel at cheap rates, the greater part of which would of course be immigrants.
The year 1874, while it shows the complete extinction of our import trade—which has scarcely revived at all since—was marked as the beginning of a new era in our export business. Fifty thousand bales of cotton were exported during the year and the largest cargo of cotton ever shipped from this vicinity, if not from the South, up to that time, was loaded on the British steamship Ontario, which sailed for Liverpool December 4, 1874, with 6,000 bales. The marked feature of this cargo, moreover, was that nearly three-fourths of it came from Memphis, Tenn., via the A., M. and O. railroad and connections forming the Va. and Tenn. Air Line, on through bills of lading. This was the beginning of that system of forwarding which has become so popular since and has done so much towards building up our export business.
 The exportation of staves to the West Indies and Mediterranean ports was also very large at this time. The shipments have been made by two wealthy and enterprising firms, who control this business, one of which operates a large yard on the Portsmouth side, where they have unequalled wharf facilities. This business has been for a long time one of our specialties, and experienced dealers express the opinion without dissent that the excellence of quality and smoothness of finish requisite to pass the rigid inspection at this point, make them superior to all others for general use, but especially for line wine casks.
The entire exports of this year aggregated a value of nearly three and three-quarter millions of dollars, or about three times that of the preceding year. The tonnage required for these values was 48,000, or an advance of 60 per cent, on 1873.
In fact, at the close of the year, despite the depression of the preceding year, which had involved the failure of one of our national banks, all along the line business evinced a healthy growth and gave promise of better things in store in the near future.
 With 1875 three decades of her existence as a city had passed over Norfolk; twenty years since the terrible pestilence had swept over our sister cities; years that for health compared favorably with any of the cities on the Atlantic coast; and now ten years of peace had smiled upon our common country and a consequent prosperity was beginning clearly to manifest itself in our two communities, for despite many setbacks they were making steady progress.
A pleasant feature of this year was the visit of the Norfolk Light Artillery Blues to Boston, Mass., to attend the centennial celebration of the battle of Bunker Hill.
This was a peaceful invasion of the Old Bay State by the sons of the Old Dominion; and while our boys took the modern Athenians by storm, their warm-hearted hospitality and friendly greetings so completely disarmed them that they in turn were captured, and surrendered at discretion. This was as it should be, and thus alone can the Union be perpetually cemented. "Peace hath its victories as renowned as war."
On the 8th of May a large number of the most prominent citizens of Portsmouth and Norfolk County assembled at the City Hall in the city of Portsmouth and organized the Portsmouth City and Norfolk County Monument Association, with Maj. G. F. Crocker president and Maj. W. H. Etheredge and Col. Wm. White vice-presidents, Maj. Geo. W. Grice treasurer and O. N. Smith secretary, and a large directory composed of influential citizens of the city and county.
The following plan, furnished by Capt. C. E. Cassell, architect, was adopted. The Seaboard and Roanoke and Raleigh and Gaston Railroad Companies generously donated the granite from their quarries near Henderson, N. C, Transportation free, provided the association would pay the mere cost of quarrying and handling.
The monument to be a plain granite shaft, ornamented at the cap 35 feet 6 inches high, resting on pedestal 20 feet high and, buttresses included, 15 feet square—making the entire height from the ground 56 feet. To be surrounded by an ornamental iron railing, and upon the buttresses will stand four life-size bronze statues representing the infantry, artillery, cavalry and naval service of the Confederacy. On the face of the capstone fronting south is carved a single star, and beneath it, on the die block, "To our Confederate Dead." Committees were soon actively set to work, and by the aid of the ladies, upon whom always depends the success of all such noble works, the corner stone was laid with the usual ceremonies on December 14, 1876. The monument is now completed, and is hardly surpassed in the South—a credit to the living and an honor to the dead sons of the noble, generous city of Portsmouth.
November 18 the new Masonic Temple on Freemason street, Norfolk, was formally dedicated, under the conduct of Gen, W. B, Taliaferro, Grand  Master of the State. The procession, which numbered thousands, was one of the most imposing ever seen on our streets.
Visiting Masons were present from all parts of the country, among them, as organizations, Morton Commandery of New York and St. John's Commandery of Philadelphia. The banquet at Johnson's Hall, gotten up by the well-known caterer Tom Morrisett, will not be soon forgotten by any of the participants, and what it was, will be understood by those who were not, but know what Norfolk can do in that line, when we record that it was reputed to surpass anything of the kind ever given in Norfolk.
The ball room, which has since been the scene of many triumphs in the german, was opened the next night by a ball given to the visiting brethren by Grice Commandery.
But while hospitality and festivity were flourishing this year, trade and commerce were not at a standstill, for we find that our shipments of staves to the West Indies during this year reached an aggregate value of $405,446, and the exports of grain (Indian corn) were valued at $111,800.
Other branches of trade flourished, and the export of other articles showed up very well at this time, but this year began what might be called the cotton decade of our port, when not only the receipts of that commodity but the value of its exports called attention to its fast advancing rank as a cotton port.
The total value of cotton exported this year reached $5,634,022; valuation of all exports, $6,444,919—requiring a tonnage for carrying of 52,211.
Prior to this year nothing had been done towards obtaining the necessary aid from the General Government for the improvement of our harbor, which had certainly deteriorated through neglect, if not actual abuse, during the fifteen years which had elapsed since the commencement of the civil war.
Steps, however, were taken in the right direction in February of this year and a law passed by the General Assembly under which, in April, the Governor appointed a Harbor Commission for the port of Norfolk and Portsmouth.
Very excellent selections were made for this purpose, and their wisdom and ability were supplemented by an advisory board of experienced engineer officers, detailed by the President of the United States at the request of the State Executive.
The influence of this body, operating through our Representatives in Congress, finally secured considerable appropriations for the improvement of our harbor, which, though hardly adequate to the merits and magnitude of the work, still by judicious management have produced very favorable results, and we have thereby secured a channel from the U. S. Navy Yard to Hampton Roads fully 500 feet wide and 25 feet deep at low water.
On the 1st of December of this year that very successful system of street sweeping by the chain gang was adopted, proving very effective while it  lasted; and while it was not perhaps pleasant to the eye, and rather grating on sensitive nerves, we think its utility should have prevented its discontinuance merely to gratify a few ill-grounded prejudices. Our streets were certainly kept in a condition while it was in vogue which has not been equalled since.
Christ Church, Freemason Street.
The year 1876 opened with a very graceful tribute from our good friends the Boston ladies, who showed their appreciation of our boys by present- [45[ ing the N. L. A. Blues, their late visitors at the Bunker Hill centennial, with a beautiful memento of the occasion and a peace offering—a very handsome banner, brought to Norfolk by a special committee of ladies and gentlemen.
The A., M. and O. railroad—the consolidation of the Virginia railroads between Norfolk and Bristol—although doing a good business, became financially embarrassed in 1874 in consequence of the great commercial crisis of 1873, followed by a series of unfortunate accidents occasioned by floods, etc., which had caused a considerable destruction of bridges and other property; so that despite a vigorous and skillful management a default of interest on its mortgage bonds followed.
The result was an appeal to the courts by the trustees, instigated principally by the foreign bondholders; and though vigorously opposed by the City Councils of Norfolk, who represented 7,000 shares of stock held by the city and other Virginia interests, this road passed into the hands of receivers in June, 1876.
While we believe that returning prosperity and a continued good management would have enabled this road in due time to meet all demands on it, rendering the steps taken unnecessary, still, as the result has shown,—and we will have occasion to dwell more fully on the subject as we proceed with this sketch,—they proved in the end, by introducing new capital and thus renewed vitality, the most advantageous course that could have been taken for the road, the section of country which it traversed, and, last but not least, our seaport terminus of the line.
Our city had the honor of sending its Light Artillery Blues to Philadelphia to fill the position assigned to "Old Virginia" in the Legion of Honor during the Centennial parade which took place in Philadelphia on the 4th of July. They took their departure July 1, fully officered and with over fifty men, rank and file.
July 9, 10 and 11 were memorable days in our communities as being the hottest on record. Many persons were made ill by the heat, and, what is most uncommon in our vicinity, four actually died from sunstroke.
In September of this year our citizens had the opportunity of showing their gratitude to Savannah, Ga., for their kind and liberal aid during the dark days of 1855, and were not slow to respond to the appeals of that noble city, who in turn were plague-stricken by that ghastly visitant, yellow jack. The Councils met and promptly appropriated $1,000, which was supplemented several thousands by the private contributions of our citizens.
Turning once more from pleasure and charity to the hard, matter-of-fact business of figures, that will not lie, we find the evidence of our continued prosperity in exports of all kinds valued at $7,833,318 for the  year, of which $7,330,035 was cotton, requiring tonnage to the extent of 65,521 for its transportation.
The 13th of January, 1877, was marked by an event which, if not of great commercial importance, certainly produced a great stir in our social world and gave quite a pleasant excitement to our good people of both communities.
We refer to the visit of the frigate Swetlana, the flagship of Admiral Boutakoff, of the Imperial Russian Navy, which was commanded by no less a personage than the Grand Duke Alexis, with his cousin, the Grand Duke Constantine, as his Lieutenant. These officers and their associates proved to be courteous, pleasant and sociable gentlemen, who soon mingled freely in our best society and were handsomely feted and entertained by our citizens at large and the officers of our Navy serving at this station.
The complimentary german by the Norfolk German Club on the 25th of January, followed by the grand Naval ball on the 8th of February at the Navy Yard and the Grand Duke's matinee on board the Swetlana, are events which will never be forgotten by the participants, which included the beauty and fashion of our sister cities.
Such events, while partaking largely of a social nature, have an excellent effect, we think, in bringing our people into contact with the outer  world and thereby broadening and enlarging their ideas, making them more cosmopolitan in their views and helping to break down narrow prejudices as to race and caste.
We hope too that the good impression made by our people may be good seed sown to be reaped in future business connections.
The Norfolk and Portsmouth Cotton Exchange, which was organized in 1874 and had already commenced its career of usefulness, was incorporated in 1877, and with renewed vigor has faithfully worked up every advantage of our port and kept them constantly before the commercial world at large. How great an advantage has accrued to our commercial interests through the labors of this most useful corporation is clearly apparent to those who have studied its statistics showing the receipts of cotton at our port from year to year and the steady advance of our exports of this staple. It graced its old quarters the Cotton Exchange building, on Water street, for nearly a decade, but for the past two years has occupied its more elegant and appropriate home in the Dodson Marble Front building, Main street, over the Citizens' Bank.
With a steady increase in our cotton receipts and exports under these favorable auspices, we have also to note, beginning with 1877, a new item of our export trade in the shape of timber for continental ports reaching a valuation of $47,709, which continued to increase until it reached in 1880 a value of $84,375. This represents but the infancy of this trade, which is destined yet to reach gigantic proportions from our port, as its facilities for handling and forwarding become well known. But we forget that it is our past we are now discussing, and must wait till we consider our future prospects in the light of the past and present before we bring our views on this and kindred subjects fully to the light of day.
Manganese ore from the mountains of Virginia and Tennessee in considerable quantities found its way to our harbor for export for the first time in 1878, when the exports of that article reached a valuation of $12,000, increasing to $17,724 in 1879, and further increased in 1880 to the handsome valuation of $55,141.
The total values of exports during these years were as follows :
1878............................$10,028,965, of which $ 9,433,768 was cotton.
1879............................ 12,300,976, of which 11,778,181 was cotton.
1880.............................. 18,005,158, of which 17,508,724 was cotton.
While much has been said and written about the production of truck or garden produce in the vicinity of our sister cities the magnitude of the business was not fully realized until a tabulated statement of the year 1878 was made public in a letter of G. F. B. Leighton, president of the Horticultural and Pomological Society, which appeared in the mammoth special August 5, 1879, of that enterprising paper the Norfolk Virginian.
We have not the space to give this interesting table in detail, but would state that its main features show 16,000 bbls. apples, 3,000 bbls. asparagus,  45,000 bbls. beans, over 3,000,000 quarts strawberries, 36,000 quarts of other small fruits, 175,000 bbls. cabbage, 60,000 bbls. kale, 12,500 bushels peaches, 8,000 bushels pears, 58,000 bbls. peas, 275,000 bbls. Irish potatoes, 200,000 bbls. sweet potatoes, 525,000 watermelons, 250,000 quarts of grapes, and other vegetables, aggregating in value $1,751,645.
At this date we may specially note the lumber business, which had been steadily increasing in our immediate vicinity, as each year new mills have been put into operation and the power and facilities of the old ones added to. Beginning with Atlantic City, which ought at this time to be within our corporate limits but is still, as at the date mentioned, only a flourishing suburb, thence to Berkley and up the southern branch of the Elizabeth River, were to be found lumber yard after lumber yard, with great stocks of material adjoining the mills with their towering stacks. During this year 1878 there were manufactured and handled by these mills 48,150,000 feet of lumber. The total business of our communities in the lumber trade in all its branches aggregated during the year over one million and a half of dollars.
During this year the oyster trade of Norfolk reached about 1,000,000 bushels, at a value of about $350,000, and gave employment to nearly 2,500 hands.
In another article of trade our communities enjoyed a preeminence at this time which we are happy to state still continues. We refer to peanuts, which the uninitiated might be disposed to look down upon as a small matter—an article for the small boy in the higher circles of the theatre. When we place the amount handled in our market during the year 1878 as 600,000 bushels, at an average valuation of $1 per bushel, giving an aggregate of $600,000, the matter begins to assume an importance before unrealized.
This little article flowed freely into our markets over the Seaboard and Roanoke Railroad, which traverses the neighboring counties, in which it is largely raised, to Portsmouth, and the Atlantic, Mississippi and Ohio (now the Norfolk and Western) Railroad to Norfolk. Here they were polished and cleaned up in the factories, giving employment to hundreds of hands, and then shipped to all parts of our country—and, in fact, to many parts of the Old World.
From the same valuable record to which we are largely indebted for the statistics of the business of 1878 we find that the aggregate amount of capital engaged in business of all kinds during the year 1878 was nearly $16,500,000, and that during the year there were only ten failures, with liabilities amounting to about $144,000 and assets $36,700. During the year 41 brick and 47 frame buildings were erected, valued at nearly $115,000.
The succeeding year, 1879, was marked by a steady—in fact, heavy—
 Eastern Branch of Elizabeth River.
 increase in our cotton receipts and, as shown by our previously given figures, in our export cotton business.
The peanut business also gave evidence of a still further advance, though not proportionately so great as the phenomenal increase of the preceding year.
On the 18th of August of this year occurred that memorable storm which for a while raged with the force of a cyclone and but for the brief duration of its violence might have done incalculable damage to this whole vicinity. It began about 9 A. M. with a furious easterly wind and driving rain, which lasted several hours, though the height of the gale was probably not over fifteen minutes. The wharves and gardens near the river were submerged, vessels were driven ashore, and the bark David Dudley was torn from her moorings at one of the Norfolk wharves, capsized and drifted bottom up on Berkley flats. Many chimneys went down; trees were uptorn by the roots and roofs of houses stripped off.
One of the saddest evidences of the storm was the downfall of the handsome spire of the beautiful Gothic building occupied as a place of worship by the Freemason-street Baptist Church, which had been the pride of its people and the admiration of the citizens generally. This church was a monument to the piety, energy and industry of its builders, who had given freely of their time and means to complete it in its original beauty; and Wm. Dey and Thos. D. Toy, the leading workers, had passed to their well-earned reward before this downfall came. Across the street lived one of our respected citizens, of another sect, and while the church was being built he protested against the erection of the tall spire that might fall and crush him at any time. "Ah! Doctor," said one of the constructors, "you need have no fear; the devil would never look under a Baptist steeple for a Presbyterian elder." The Presbyterian elder had gone to his honored grave nearly a quarter of a century, when his son, watching the gale of August 18, saw the steeple bending and swaying in the blast. Suddenly there was a shift of wind, an increased violence of the blast—and the supreme moment, long talked of, had come. The spire was lifted clear of its surrounding battlements and, kept perpendicular by its own weight, descended straight to the ground with the force of a thunderbolt, burying itself some four or five feet in the ground, then harmlessly fell, following the curb of the pavement in an easterly direction, and was shattered into fragments. The trumpet vane that surmounted it was missing for some time, but was finally found buried in a neighboring lot at a considerable distance, to which it had been hurled by the force of the fall. But the hand of our good and all-wise Father had guided it, even in its fall.
In September of this year was opened a new candidate for public favor, the Norfolk and Ocean View Railroad, a narrow-gauge line eight miles long to Ocean View, on the Chesapeake Bay—long a popular local resort.  It cannot perhaps be regarded in the light of a great trade feeder; but whether it be considered as a means of pleasant enjoyment or healthful recreation to our own people, to whom it has in a great measure had to supply the place of a park,—be it said to the disgrace of our corporate authorities,—or as a good measure for drawing visitors from abroad by making an attractive summer resort available, it has certainly been a great acquisition to the citizens of Norfolk and has been enjoyed by them in common with those of our sister city. And here, as in many other respects, the good people across the water have a great advantage over our Norfolk citizens; for while they may not boast a park prepared by their municipal authorities, they enjoy all the benefits of one in the beautiful Fort Woods, immediately adjoining their corporate limits, which is open to all, and where the beauties of nature are often enhanced by art in the soul-stirring music of the bands from the naval station at the yard or the ships at the naval anchorage.
Business is all-important, but healthful recreation is no less necessary to make a perfect organization—for "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" is as true of our manhood as it was in our school days. So while we dwell upon our natural advantages and seek to develop them from a business standpoint, we would feel recreant to our duty as public monitor, self-appointed though it may be, if we did not pause from time to time to inculcate the lesson of a necessity for some healthful and con-  venient resort for our laboring population when the hours of toil are ended or the scant holidays occur among the many working days. And we would therefore earnestly invoke our city's chief magistrate, who seems brimful and overrunning with the spirit of improvement, not to rest until the talk which from time to time has cropped out in this direction in our City Councils has taken form in decided action.
By all means let us have rings, if they are necessary to improvement, for it is far better to have our city beautiful and attractive to strangers at the cost of some extravagance than to have it languish through a niggardly policy of so-called reform.
But to return to business as the records of 1880 show it. Our cotton exports witnessed an increase of 50 per cent, in value over the preceding year, while the exports of timber amounted to $84,375, head cattle $117,100, and manganese $55,141—a very decided improvement over 1870. One million bushels of peanuts, valued at as many dollars, were handled in Norfolk alone—an amount which equalled the whole Virginia crop of the year previous. There were three large cleaning establishments or factories at work, which gave employment to over 200 hands.
The statistics of trade showed an aggregate business for the year of over $40,000,000, with a promise of a healthy increase in the trade area, while the banks appeared to be in an unusually healthy condition and afforded business men readily all the accommodation required. Noting the business of the Clearing House for November, 1880,—and we select that month as the height of the cotton season, when there is most activity in money circles—we find it aggregates over two millions of dollars, as against one and a half millions in 1879, or about one and a quarter millions in 1878.
The Norfolk Knitting and Cotton Manufacturing Company was organized by a number of our enterprising citizens in connection with Northern capitalists, and put up a factory in Atlantic City, not far from the Norfolk city limits, and got to work early in the summer of this year.
This year was also marked in the character of the buildings erected. Not only were they numerous but more substantial and ornate in design, and evidenced a decided improvement in architectural taste.
Among the buildings of a public character we would especially note as erected during this year Van Wyck's Academy of Music on Main street, the Norfolk College for Young Ladies on Granby street, corner of Washington street, and the Leache-Wood Seminary on Freemason street, near Granby street; the last two for the purposes of female education, which had attained a very high standard in our city, and which has been fully maintained, as the reputation of and liberal patronage to both these excellent schools bear witness.
During this year the increased business of the A., M. and O. Railroad under the excellent management of Maj. Henry Fink and his associate,  Mr. Perkins, of New York, and the expectation of further increase by the addition of a Western grain trade, gave promise that this road might soon be in the hands of its stockholders and under its old vigorous management yet prove thriving and remunerative. But the hope was never realized; in the judgment of the court which controlled the matter a sale was deemed expedient, and the result has proved most beneficial to Norfolk.
The Norfolk and Western Railroad Company took possession of the property and franchises of the old A., M. and O. Railroad acquired by purchase on February 10, 1881, and the title was subsequently perfected by act of the Legislature approved by the Governor. While in the hands of the receivers, however, decided improvements had been commenced at Norfolk in the erection of a new freight depot and in extending the depot grounds by the deposit of one million and a half bushels of oyster shells. The water front at the depot was also excavated and the wharf extended to a length of 715 feet, 20 feet wide and 6 feet above high water. The depth of water attained by the excavations was about 20 feet.
The facilities afforded by our railroads for transporting fertilizers to the interior, the Seaboard and Roanoke Railroad, with its immense warehouses and extensive rolling stock, on the Portsmouth side, and the Atlantic, Mississippi and Ohio Railroad on the Norfolk side, afforded opportunities  that were not left to Baltimore to be absorbed and utilized for her own benefit; but in our midst at this time, 1880, were to be found one incorporated company and two firms actively engaged in the manufacture of fertilizers that were not surpassed for purity and general excellence by those of any foreign makers, and this reputation has become established. Daring the year for the first time German potash salts were imported direct from Hamburg and unloaded at our wharves for the use of our own factories.
The year 1881 was full of business accomplishments that promised a great future for our harbor and not a remote one. For we find in our old sleepy fish and oyster city, whilom [formerly] the overfed borough of Norfolk, and her sister city there had been actually added to supply the demands of trade, within the year, 114,580 feet, or nearly three miles, of new wharf front in our harbor—such an addition as had not been made in the preceding 75 years. Upon this frontage immense warehouses were built, with a demand for still more.
The Seaboard Compress Company were running three powerful compresses, the third a new one erected in Portsmouth during the year. The Virginia Compress Company, who lost its old press by fire in March, 1881, erected the "Mastodon," claimed to be the most powerful press for compressing cotton in existence, while the new organization, the Shippers' Compress Company, owned one in Portsmouth and one in Norfolk on the great McCullough improvement.
The original scheme proposed in our City Councils for transforming the unsightly flats west of Stone Bridge and Granby street into a business locality had been postponed, perhaps indefinitely, but for the enterprise and pluck of our townsman A. A. McCullough, who took hold of the matter on his own responsibility and account and transformed that old cesspool into a busy mart of real healthy business life. This improvement added 60 acres of land to the area of our city, with wharves and warehouses.
A canal running east and west up to Granby street, which can be kept open to a sufficient depth by occasional dredging, was left to make a dock for vessels of considerable size to the point where it is crossed by the drawbridge for the Norfolk and Western railroad track, over which pass the cars with cotton for the compress and other shipments for export.
The Norfolk Knitting and Cotton Manufacturing Company's factory in Atlantic City, destroyed in 1880 by an unfortunate accident, was rebuilt and at work again this year, but it continued the single venture of the character, and we regret to say continues so to this day.
The oyster business, however, continues to thrive and give employment to a large number of that race who make excellent citizens when employed and encouraged to pursue industrial callings, but are dangerous, as in  fact are all large masses of men, when compelled to live and herd together in idleness.
We note another fertilizer company was incorporated this year, and other evidences that this business was still advancing. We find, however, the peanut crop of Virginia fell off over 40 per cent, during the year 1881, and our business in that article was affected accordingly. The short crop, which occurred also in Tennessee, was attributed to the prolonged drouths of the season.