The American Patent Steam Ice Cream Company was established in 1847 as a wholesale and retail ice cream producer. This commercial business was located at 184 Chatham Square in New York City.
The American Patent Steam Ice Cream Company of 1847
The American Patent Steam Ice Cream Company was established in 1847 as a wholesale and retail ice cream producer in New York City. This company utilized a steam engine driven ice cream freezer and appears to be the largest of the commercial ice cream businesses that operated in America during the first half of the Nineteenth Century. Located in Lower Manhattan, the business made use of milk and cream furnished by nearby Hudson River Valley dairy farms in Orange and Dutchess Counties.
G. R. Lillibridge announces the ice cream company in the April 17, 1847 issue of The New-York Tribune. He states: “the Company will be enabled, by their extensive arrangements, to supply the whole city at half the usual rates.”
This ice cream company research is related to my recent Second Saturday Lecture at the York County History Center; which was entitled “Origins of Mechanical Cooling.” A video of my talk is made available by the History Center at this LINK; starting at about the 4-minute mark.
Within that talk, stories of the development of mechanical cooling are interweaved with why and how it replaced a lucrative natural ice trade. Most attending were surprised at the extensiveness of Frederick Tudor’s ice trade in the early 1800s, which supplied ice harvested in New England to U.S. cities on the eastern and southern seaboard, plus the Caribbean Islands. The ice trade then expanded to a global enterprise in the 1830s; with ships loaded with Tudor’s ice, first reaching India in 1833, Rio de Janeiro in 1834, and Sydney in 1839. That followed with London in 1842 and Yokohama, Japan, in 1854.
As increasing supplies of Tudor’s natural ice reached seaboard cities, ice cream became one of the treats produced. As a result of the first half of the 1800s research for this post, I discovered ice cream was not just being produced by individuals, but also by commercial businesses that sprung up.
W. L. Hall and G. R. Lillibridge indicate The American Patent Steam Ice Cream Company, located at 184 Chatham Square, in New York City is now open; per this ad in the June 21, 1847 issue of The Evening Post. Ice cream is offered at $1.50 per gallon, with liberal discount to dealers. On the second floor, above stores at 178, 180, 182, 184 and 186 Chatham Street in Chatham Square, they claim the have the Largest Ice Cream Saloon in the city.
William L. Hall and Albert Hall are the individuals running the ice cream company; per directories through 1857. Gardner R. Lillibridge appears to be the main investor and developer of the business. G. R. Lillibridge was involved in many business ventures before and after this ice cream company; also several U.S. Patents were issued to him. He appears to sell his interest in the business about 1857, after which the firm operates as Hall Steam Ice Cream Company.
Directories indicate William L. Hall resides at 188 Chatham Square, which is in the upper floor(s), above the business. Albert Hall resides at 82 Frankfort Street; a short distance east of the ice cream factory. Gardner R. Lillibridge appears to take many extended trips throughout the country since he rarely shows up in New York City directories; however in 1856 he does reside in New York at 166 West 37th Street. The following map pinpoints where Chatham Square is located in Lower Manhattan.
The American Patent Steam Ice Cream Company received press coverage around the country during June of 1847. Articles appeared in such newspapers as the Gettysburg Compiler, the Baltimore Sun, the Alexandria Gazette, the Louisville Daily Courier, and The Daily in Augusta, Georgia. It appears the use of a steam engine to power the ice cream manufacturing machinery was innovative. An article in the Scientific American magazine, that year, provides the detail a ten horsepower steam engine is utilized.
Here is the company ad, touting their ability to supply ice cream over the Fourth of July weekend.
A Perris & Browne Fire Insurance map of 1857 and a Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of 1894 are used to show changes in house numbering from when The American Patent Steam Ice Cream Company operated at 178 through 186 Chatham Square during mid-1800s. Today that same location is 1 through 4 Chatham Square; thus the Ice Cream Company was on a lot that is now the footprint of CitiBank 2 Mott Street tower.
Steamboats on excursions around Manhattan and Ice Cream Parlor Cars on trains were supplied ice cream by The American Patent Steam Ice Cream Company.
To keep ahead of increasing demand, a new steam engine and boiler was added at summer’s end of 1847.
“New York By Gas-Light” is an 1850 publication by newspaperman George G. Foster. In Chapter 8 (pages 64 through 71) he features The Ice Creameries of New York. The American Patent Steam Ice Cream Company received coverage on pages 68 and 69; from which: “The ‘saloon’ is quite as spacious, quite as airy and quite as handsomely ‘got up’ as the more exclusive establishment in Broadway. The company, although the bonnets are a little too short and worn rather far back on the head for strict beauty, and shawls and dresses, ribbons and trimmings, may be a little exuberant in color and arrangement, are generally better looking than on the other side of town.”
“But the company at the Patent Steam Ice Cream Saloon are neither helots nor shelots, but the wives and daughters of the substantial tradesmen, mechanics and artisans of the city, the great middle class, where aspirations, reaching the full standard of well-to-do content, wisely fall short of that snobbish longing after social notoriety which so many of their class mistake for exclusiveness and aristocracy.”
The following ad indicates the Ice Cream Saloon part of the business closes during the winter months, although the ice cream making machinery will run all winter for the purpose of manufacturing ice cream for Parties, Balls, etc.
When the Ice Cream Saloon is closed during the winter months, their 45 by 35 feet heated Assembly Room is available for renting out for Concerts, Lectures, Exhibitions, etc.
Click on this LINK for a yorkblog.com Full View of the photos in this post.
Links to related posts include:Reading the Headlines: A Quick Index to All YorksPast Posts