Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bureau of Incumbrances

In researching the lowly Callery Pear, I came across the name of this outfit, run out of the Manhattan Borough President's office around the turn of the century. When I saw the name, I laughed aloud and wished we still had such a bureau, which sounds as though it is meant to create and investigate incumbrances.

In fact, the the Bureau of Incumbrances was created in 1882 (page 46) to remove obstructions from the streets if the Street Cleaning Commissioner doesn't take care of it (page 551). The penalty, in 1912, was $5. In 1793 the penalty was 5 shillings. Did we know that in the 18th century we used shilling, and not dollars? I did not.

From now on, we shall refer to Scott Stringer as the Chief of Incumbrance.

All of this makes my head turn black and white with flickering images of the Three Stooges cleaning the streets and moving big cinder blocks from one to the other, falling on their toes and hooting all the while.

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