One of the walking tours I’m mapping, from Carol J. Binkowski’s book Musical New York (1999), starts with a surprising story from 1736. It has nothing to do with a musician, composer or singer, or even a performance venue, but rather a newspaper (it could in fact be pertinent to Juliana’s project). It explains that William Bradford established New York City’s first printing press in 1693 at 81 Pearl Street, and then founded the city’s first newspaper, the New-York Gazette, in 1725 (it was published weekly until 1744). The paper’s offices were in Hanover Square (where Binkowski’s tour begins). The musical connection comes in January of 1736, when Bradford’s paper is the first to advertise New York City’s first ever public musical performance, a concert by Johann Pachelbel at the home of Robert Todd on January 21, 1736. Though reproductions of newspaper ads and articles appear throughout Binkowski’s tour, this clipping is conspicuously absent–but clearly it exists, and she has seen it, since it’s her first major archival referent. She also provides no information as to the frequency of publication, scope of circulation, or which specific issue of the Gazette first carried the ad. Perhaps I could rectify these omissions in my map.

Sure enough, NYU’s Bobst library has a nearly complete microfilm archive of the New-York Gazette, from its second year in publication (1726) to its fourth-to-final year, 1741. Two floors under the library, in a room full of metal drawers, are extensive archives for all the city’s major dailies and weeklies dating back to the first half of the 18th century. The library’s collection of Bradford’s humble publication fits onto two rolls of microfilm, and has been rendered even more miniscule because the alphabetical labeling system on the drawers only features the names of the New York Evening Post and the New York Herald. Sandwiched in between, the Gazette seems a minor artifact, though of course it’s very much the opposite, being the first newspaper established in what became the print media capital of the world. (Bradford is fascinating too, a British immigrant who apprenticed with a Quaker printer in London before marrying his master’s daughter and emigrating to Pennsylvania, where he was the first person in the colony to ever be tried for upholding the freedom of the press.) In any event, grabbing the small box that contains the first half of the library’s collection of the Gazette on microfilm, I sat down at one of the nearby viewing stations–someone at a nearby resources desk had pointed me to the room full of drawers, but otherwise the microfilm collection is completely self-serve.

After some fiddling and fast scrolling, I reached the issues from 1736, and sure enough, on page two of the two-page issue of Tuesday January 6, the first item in the section under the header “Advertisements” there’s a five-sentence annoucement for the Pachelbel concert at Robert Todd’s house, to “begin percifely a 6 a’Clock.” Tickets could be purchased “at the Coffee-Houfe” for 4 Shillings. The exact same advertisement appears in the following issue of the Gazette on January 13. Just below it is an ad taken out by a Mr. Hunt, a tavern keeper offering “Negros for sale.” Perhaps this is why Binkowski didn’t include these ads in her book–maybe their historical media context undermined her book’s subtle but unmistakable narrative of a rapidly-developing and increasingly sophisticated cosmopolitan scene in early New York. In any case, I’ll be glad to include these advertisements on my map. And I feel much less intimidated at the idea of looking through microfilm than I did last week.