Astor Place Riot!

Astor Place Riot! (HM2IWE)

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N 40° 43.801', W 73° 59.49'

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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 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 (
Year Placed2016
Placed ByBowery Alliance of Neighbors
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Thursday, July 18th, 2019 at 2:04pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18T E 585162 N 4509276
Decimal Degrees40.73001667, -73.99150000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 43.801', W 73° 59.49'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 43' 48.06" N, 73° 59' 29.4" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling South
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