“An Oyster House Millionaire About to Retire” (January 7, 1857)


This article, published in the New York Herald on January 7, 1857, conveys the news of Thomas Downing’s retirement and the final “blow out” celebration before his lease expires. Downing owned and operated Downing’s Oyster House, one of the most successful eating houses and catering companies in New York during the nineteenth century. His reported value of $100,000 made him one of the richest Black men in antebellum New York City.




A Grand Soiree to be Given.—A New York correspondent of the Springfield Republican makes the following announcement in regard to the intentions of our old friend, Thomas Downing, Esq.:—

Downing, the great oyster man, (and who has not heard of him?) retires from business in the spring, he having accumulated a $100,000 fortune in the oyster trade. He has kept an oyster cellar in Broad street for near twenty years and as his lease is about expiring, the owner of the property has decided to pull down and rebuild, thus ousting the oyster dealer from his popular eating house. Downing is a gentleman of color, and is greatly esteemed by the business men of Wall street and vicinity, and his loss will be seriously felt. Before he winds up, he intends giving a grand “blow out” at one of the hotels, to which entertainment his old customers are to be invited.


“Oysters!—Oysters!—Oysters!”, New York Herald, Morning Herald (New York, New York), Friday, March 30, 1838, page 3.[/future url]

“The Annual Congratulation” (December 30, 1841)[/future url]

“Extraordinary Turtle at Downing’s.” (July 26, 1838)[/future url]

“Eating-Houses in New-York.” (October 7, 1845)[/future url]

“From the Journal of Commerce.” (February 26, 1841)[/future url]

“Downing and the Fine Collector.” (December 21, 1855)[/future url]

“Town Gossip.” (May 5, 1866)[/future url]

APA Citation:
Herald, New York. “An Oyster House Millionaire About to Retire” (January 7, 1857). (2022, November 01). In Encyclopedia Virginia.
MLA Citation:
Herald, New York. "“An Oyster House Millionaire About to Retire” (January 7, 1857)" Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (01 Nov. 2022). Web. 18 Apr. 2024
Last updated: 2023, September 11
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.