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History Of New York Newspapers
History Of New York Newspapers
Contributed by Barbara

Description: History of New York Newspapers

Source: Handbook of the United States, c 1891

The newspapers of New York, and especially the great metropolitan dailies, are among the most powerful agencies in forming and directing American public opinion. Many of the brightest writers in the country are kept busy the year round in preparing the articles for these unrivalled newspapers, the libraries of the people.

The New York World is unanimously admitted to enjoy the distinction of Americas foremost newspaper. From the time of its purchase by its present proprietor, Joseph Pulitzer, it has entirely outstripped all journalistic history in its unheard-of accomplishments, phenomenal growth, and startling innovations. From a circulation of 33,521 copies a day in 1883, The World has advanced by gigantic strides to 316,636 a day in 1890. Its advertising has sustained an equal ratio of increase, the records showing 7,241 advertisements per month in 1883, and 64,223 per month during 1890. The World was founded in 1860, as a religious daily, with large means. It did not succeed; and in 1862 was bought by S. L. M. Barlow, August Belmont, and others, and made the leading Democratic journal of America, under the editorship of Manton Marble, who, in 1860, came into possession of the entire property. In 1876, it passed into other hands, and steadily ran down until Mr. Pulitzer came from St. Louis and bought it, introducing new men, measures and methods, new purposes, policy and principles. The Pulitzer Building, the new home of The World, was erected in 1889-90, from designs by George S. Post, the architect of the Produce Exchange, and is a magnificent business structure, embodying the very latest and best ideas in constructive art. It is the tallest office building in the world, and the highest structure in New York, (309 feet from sidewalk to lantern; 375 feet from foundation to the top of the flagstaff). The floors and dome are carried by a mighty skeleton of iron and steel columns and beams, to which the walls are but as clothing. This colossal and uninflammable 26-story structure lifts its impressive dome high above even the mighty buildings which stand around it, about the City Hall Park; and contains the most perfect and best-equipped newspaper offices in the world. In the carrying to such a wonderful success his gigantic undertaking, Mr. Pulitzer has shown that it is possible for one man to be both a great editor and a great businessman.

The New York Times, one of the most commendable newspapers of the world, was founded in 1851, by George Jones, its present proprietor, who is the oldest and one of the most famous of New York newspaper owners, and Henry J. Raymond, formerly Horace Greeleys assistant on the Tribune, and one of the most brilliant men in America ever produced. The Times started as a one-cent four-page paper, but the price was doubled the next year, and the future of the enterprise became assured. One of the greatest of journalistic achievements was the victorious attack made by the Times on the Tweed ring, the plunderers of New York, all of whose members were driven into prison or exile as a result. Formerly a strong Republican paper, of late years the Times has been independent in politics supporting civil-service reform and tariff reduction, fighting trusts, and generally opposing all the seemingly unworthy actions of the Republican and Democratic administrations. It reports are accurate, concise, and readable, and ample room is given to literature and religious news, art and science, the army and navy, agriculture and market reports, and commercial and industrial progress. The thorough appointments of the counting, editorial, composition, and press rooms put the Times establishment on an equal footing with the best in the world. The Times occupies a magnificent 13-story building of Maine granite and Hoosier Indiana limestone, between Spruce and Nassau streets and Park Row, in the unique newspaper district of New York. The Times building is a most graceful office-edifice, and its simple elegance and admirable construction throughout make it one of the most notable architectural specimens of the city.

The Evening Post is very nearly as old as the century, the first number having been issued on the 16th of November, 1801. It was established by Alexander Hamilton and certain of his political friends, as an organ of the Federalists in New York City. William Coleman, a native of Boston, and at one time the law partner of Aaron Burr, was selected as editor-in-chief, and held that position until his death, 20 years later. William Cullen Bryant became one of the editors of the paper in 1826, but did not assume full control of it until 1828. In the following year he took William Leggett into partnership, and left the latter in editorial charge when he went to Europe in the summer of 1834. He returned to America in the early part of 1836, and soon afterward Mr. Leggett retired, on account of the temporary unpopularity in which he had involved himself and the paper by his vigorous denunciations of the subjection of the Abolitionists to mob law, slavery and other topics. During the administration of President Jackson, The Evening Post was one of the strongest opponents of the United States Bank, and also won wide recognition as an able and consistent advocate of free trade. From that day to this it has been constant in its active resistance to high protection and in its exposure of the fallacies of that theory.

In the early days of Mr. Bryants editorship the policy of the paper was Democratic, but it became Republican when the slavery extension question arose. From 1849 until 1861 John Bigelow was Mr. Bryants partner, and acted as managing editor. Upon Mr. Bigelows retirement his interest reverted to Isaac Henderson, who was the active business manager of the paper for many years, but had no authoritative voice with respect to its policy, which Mr. Bryant was careful to retain in his personal control. When Mr. Bryant died, his son-in-law, Parke Godwin, who had been connected with the paper in different capacities for many years, succeeded to the editorship, and retained it until the present proprietors came into possession, in 1881. Since that time, The Evening Post has been conducted in a spirit of complete independence, under the editorship of E. L. Godkin and Horace White.

The Independent stands by general consent at the head of the religious papers of the United States, if not of the world. It was started in 1848 as an organ of the younger liberal Congregationalists, and backed by five young business men, one of whom, Henry C. Bowen, soon became its sole owner, and has continued such to the present time. Its first editors were Leonard Bacon, R. S. Storrs, Joseph P. Thompson, and Joshua Leavitt. Seven years later Henry Ward Beecher became editor, assisted by Theodore Tilton, who succeeded him after a few years. During Mr. Beechers control, the paper enlarged its scope, and was made an undenominational journal. In 1871 Mr. Tilton retired, and Mr. Bowen assumed editorial charge. Among his assistants have been Dr. Edward Eggleston, Dr. William Hayes Ward, Justin McCarthy, Dr. Washington Gladden, Dr. Henry K. Carroll, Prof. Borden C. Bowne, and Prof. C. H. Toy. It is the largest religious journal; not only discussing all current religious questions, but providing an extensive combination of literary attractions in poems, stories, and essays, by the most distinguished writers, and also giving financial, commercial, and general news and discussions. It appeals especially to thinking people, and it pays more for contributions from outside writers than any other three or four religious papers; and of necessity carries exceptional influence.

The New York Ledger, one of the most successful of American periodicals, was founded in 1856 by Robert Bonner, the father of its present editors and proprietors. Its success was due entirely to the originality and enterprise of its founders. Nothing like it was known before, and the methods pursued in its production and distribution were equally new. The best writers were engaged, an unexampled rates of compensation, and the paper was advertised on a scale altogether without precedent. A new industry was created to distribute it to the public; and the system of news agencies, then in its infancy, sprang up at once into its full growth. The success then initiated has been maintained. There is the same splendid liberality in procuring the best contribution from the most popular writers, and placing them in an attractive form before the public. The Ledger continues to be one of the best advertised papers in the United States. Among its contributors are Mrs. Frances Hodgson Burnett, Robert Louis Stevenson, Amelia E. Barr, John G. Whittier, James Russell Lowell, Judge Albion Tourgee, Anna Katherine Green, James Parton, Herbert Ward, Harold Frederic, and Robert Grant. The present proprietors have begun to issue, in book form, the popular works published as serials in The Ledger, and these form an important department in the publishing business of the firm. The house of Robert Bonners Sons succeeded to the business of Robert Bonner, in 1887, and are the editors and proprietors of the Ledger and the Ledger Library.

The New York Tribune, founded in 1841, by Horace Greeley, and conducted by Whitelaw Reid, has been for many years the beacon star of the Republican party in the Nation, and the ideal journal of current reform. The Sun, Charles A. Danas great paper, has a colossal circulation among the people of the whole country, and is the favorite paper for journalists. The New York Herald, founded in 1835 by James Gordon Bennett, is especially rich in foreign news, and is regarded as a typical American newspaper, in enterprise and ability. The German-Americans are represented by the Staats-Zeitung; and other races by other papers. The magazines of New York, Harpers, The Century, Scribners and others, enjoy enormous circulations, the world over.

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Submitted: 04/09/05

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