The New Yorker: Butchery on Bond Street

The New Yorker
Briefly Noted

August 27, 2007

Butchery On Bond Street, by Benjamin Feldman (Green-Wood Cemetery Historic Fund/New York Wanderer Press; $24.95. In January, 1857, Harvey Burdell, a dentist with a taste for lowlife, was found stabbed to death in his quarters, on Bond Street, igniting one of the most famous murder scandals in New York City’s history. Suspicion immediately fell upon Burdell’s mistress (and landlady), Emma Cunningham, with whom he had been arguing violently over his ongoing refusal to marry her. The newspapers covered the case in salacious detail, and, at Cunningham’s trial, more than twelve times the usual number of prospective jurors were summoned, so that the case could be heard without prejudice. Feldman collates popular accounts with archival research–the coroner, he finds, brought witnesses to the murder site and interrogated them in Burdell’s dentist’s chair–and tells the story like a gaslight-era episode of “Law & Order.”

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