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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
NoHo in Manhattan in New York County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Astor Place Riot!

1849

 
 
Astor Place Riot! Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Larry Gertner, July 14, 2016
1. Astor Place Riot! Marker
Inscription.  On May 10, 1849, one of NYC’s largest riots occurred on this square at the Astor Place Opera House. Blamed on long-standing trans-Atlantic rivalry between famous Shakespearean actors – American-born Edwin Forrest and Englishman Edward Macready – the event was also the culmination of years of ethnic and class resentments against the city’s Anglophile elite. While the rich embraced Macready’s refined style, the masses championed Forrest’s muscular approach. Class war erupted with their rival productions of Macbeth – Forrest’s at the Broadway Theatre below Canal, and Macready’s at the fancy Astor Place Opera House which required kid gloves and clean shaves.

“Shall Americans or English rule in this city/” read leaflets, challenging nativist Bowery Boys and Irish anger over the Famine. On May 7th, hundreds attended and shut down Macready’s performance by hurling insults, eggs and chairs. Three nights later, thousands converged on the Opera House. Refusing to disperse, rocks were thrown through windows and at the State Militia, who fired into the crowd, killing some 30 people, many just bystanders.

Macready fled to England, never
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to return. The reviled “DisAstor Place Opera House” soon closed. As disparity between rich and poor increased, theaters ceased being democratic gathering places, and instead were segregated by economic class.

-Eric Ferrara, author of The Bowery and founder of Lower East Side History Project (leshp.org)
 
Erected 2016 by Bowery Alliance of Neighbors.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Arts, Letters, MusicDisasters. A significant historical date for this entry is May 10, 1849.
 
Location. 40° 43.801′ N, 73° 59.49′ W. Marker is in Manhattan, New York, in New York County. It is in NoHo. Marker is at the intersection of Lafayette Street and Astor Place, on the left when traveling north on Lafayette Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: New York NY 10003, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. City Lore (within shouting distance of this marker); The Cooper Union (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Cooper Union (about 300 feet away); A Tower Of Music (about 300 feet away); Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (about 300 feet away); Astor Library (about 400 feet away); Colonnade Row (about 400 feet away); Peter Cooper (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Manhattan.
 
More about
Astor Place Riot! Marker site image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Larry Gertner, April 28, 2015
2. Astor Place Riot! Marker site
Clinton Hall, 13-25 Astor Place. The marker is at the Starbuck.
this marker.
One of more than sixty entries in the “Windows on the Bowery” series.
 
Also see . . .  The Lost Astor Place Opera House -- No. 13 Astor Place. "Daytonian in Manhattan" entry. (Submitted on March 20, 2020, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York.) 
 
Inset image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Larry Gertner, July 14, 2016
3. Inset
May 9, 1849 poster
Inset image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Larry Gertner, July 14, 2016
4. Inset
Edwin Forrest (1806-1872)
Inset image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Larry Gertner, July 14, 2016
5. Inset
William Charles Macready (1793-1873)
Inset image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Larry Gertner, July 14, 2016
6. Inset
The Astor Place Riot
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on July 19, 2023. It was originally submitted on July 14, 2019, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. This page has been viewed 981 times since then and 86 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on July 14, 2019, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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Apr. 19, 2024