All day long a crowd had been gathering in the Park around the City Hall, growing more restless as night came on. The railroad-cars [ED: streetcars] passing it were searched, to see if any negroes were on board, while eyes glowered savagely on the Tribune building…. [T]he Park and Printing-house Square* were black with men, who, as the darkness increased, grew more restless; and "Down with it! burn it!" mingled with oaths and curses, were heard on every side.
At last came the crash of a window, as a stone went through it. Another and another followed, when suddenly a reinforcing crowd came rushing down Chatham Street*. This was the signal for a general assault, and, with shouts, the rabble poured into the lower part of the building, and began to destroy everything within reach. Captain Warlow, of the First Precinct, No. 29 Broad Street [joined forces with] Captain Thorne, of the City Hall [Precinct]….. Everything being ready, the order to "Charge" was given, and the entire force, perhaps a hundred and fifty strong, fell in one solid mass on the mob, knocking men over right and left, and laying heads open at every blow. The panic-stricken crowd fled up Chatham Street, across the Park, and down Spruce and Frankfort Streets, punished terribly at every step. The space around the building being cleared, a portion of the police rushed inside, where the work of destruction was going on. The sight of the blue-coats in their midst, with their uplifted clubs, took the rioters by surprise, and they rushed frantically for the doors and windows, and escaped the best way they could.
This ended the heavy fighting of the day, though minor disturbances occurred at various points during the evening. Negroes had been hunted down all day, as though they were so many wild beasts, and one, after dark, was caught, and after being severely beaten and hanged to a tree, left suspended there till [Police Commissioner] Acton sent a force to take the body down. Many had sought refuge in police-stations and elsewhere, and all were filled with terror.
* Printing-house Square (aka Chatham Street)
is today's Park Row, across from City Hall Park.
The pillaging of entire black neighborhoods that had begun the previous night continued on Tuesday. On Sullivan and Roosevelt Streets**, where blacks lived in great numbers, boardinghouses, a grocery, and a babershop burned down since they either were owned by blacks or catered to them. Some blacks were chased all the way to the rivers and off the ends of piers.** Roosevelt Street ran where the Brooklyn Bridge now stands.
[S]oon from the crowd arose shouts, amid which were heard the shrill voices of women, crying, "Break open the store." This was full of choice goods, and contained clothing enough to keep the mob supplied for years. As the shouts increased, those behind began to push forward those in front, till the vast multitude swung heavily towards the three police officers. Seeing this movement, the latter advanced with their clubs to keep them back. At this, the shouts and yells redoubled, and the crowd rushed forward, crushing down the officers by mere weight. They fought gallantly for a few minutes; but, overborne by numbers, they soon became nearly helpless, and were terribly beaten and wounded, and with the utmost exertions were barely able to escape, and make their way back to the station. The mob now had it all its own way, and rushing against the doors, burst bolts and bars asunder, and streamed in. But it was dark as midnight inside, and they could not distinguish one thing from another; not even the passage-ways to the upper rooms of the building, which was five stories high. They therefore lighted the gas, and broke out the windows. In a few minutes the vast edifice was a blaze of light, looking more brilliant from the midnight blackness that surrounded it.