Sam's view of New York City, 1853:
My boarding house is more than a mile from the office; and I can hear the signal calling the hands to work before I start down; they use a steam whistle for that purpose. I work in the fifth story; and from one window I have a pretty good view of the city, while another commands a view of the shipping beyond the Battery; and the “forest of masts,” with all sorts of flags flying, is no mean sight. You have everything in the shape of water craft, from a fishing smack to the steamships and men-of-war; but packed so closely together for miles, that when close to them you can scarcely distinguish one from another.
Of all the commodities, manufactures—or whatever you please to call it—in New York, trundle-bed trash—children I mean—take the lead. Why, from Cliff street, up Frankfort to Nassau street, six or seven squares—my road to dinner—I think I could count two hundred brats. Niggers, mulattoes, quadroons, Chinese, and some the Lord no doubt originally intended to be white, but the dirt on whose faces leaves one uncertain as to that fact, block up the little, narrow street; and to wade through this mass of human vermin, would raise the ire of the most patient person that ever lived. In going to and from my meals, I go by the way of Broadway—and to cross Broadway is the rub—but once across, it is the rub for two or three squares. My plan—and how could I choose another, when there is no other—is to get into the crowd; and when I get in, I am borne, and rubbed, and crowded along, and need scarcely trouble myself about using my own legs; and when I get out, it seems like I had been pulled to pieces and very badly put together again.
“SLC to Jane Lampton Clemens, 31 Aug 1853, New York, N.Y. (UCCL 02712).” In Mark Twain’s Letters, 1853–1866. Edited by Edgar Marquess Branch, Michael B. Frank, Kenneth M. Sanderson, Harriet Elinor Smith, Lin Salamo, and Richard Bucci. Mark Twain Project Online. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press. 1988, 2007. Mark Twain Project
Sam Returned to New York January 12, 1867:
From an Editorial narrative following 15 Dec 1866:
He stayed for nearly three weeks at the Metropolitan Hotel, ...
New York itself had greatly changed since the first time Clemens saw it, in the summer of 1853, “when I was a pure and sinless sprout.” For one thing, it was more expensive: you could pay as much as “$30 a week for the same sort of private board and lodging you got for $8 and $10 when I was here thirteen years ago.” It was also more spread out, more populous—and, of course, colder. From the time of his arrival the temperature hovered around 25⁰F, and a heavy snowfall snarled the city on 17 January. A New York correspondent of the San Francisco Evening Bulletin said on 24 January that he had met Mark Twain “a few days after his arrival” and
found him shivering and chattering his teeth at the “damnation cold weather,” and complaining of the “infernal long distances” he had to travel in getting about the city from one place to another. He said he had already frozen two of his teeth, had corns on all his fingers, and a gum-bolt on each heel, and he almost regretted that he had ever wandered away from the clear skies, the balmy atmosphere, and the umbrageous shades of the Washoe country.... but it will, doubtless, be gratifying intelligence to his numerous friends on the Pacific Coast to learn that he bears up nobly under these trials and smiles unconcernedly at them as a true humorist should. In proof of this I need only state, that as I was about parting with him I said: “Marcus, will you smile?” whereat, without the least hesitation, he replied: “W-a-l, it [’]s s-o d-a-r-n-a-t-i-o-n c-o-l-d I d-o-n-t c-a-r-e if I do.” (“Gossip from New York,” letter dated 24 Jan, San Francisco Evening Bulletin, 19 Feb 67, 1)