Scope and arrangement
Lawyer, public servant and real estate developer Samuel B. Ruggles was born on April 11, 1800 in New Milford, Connecticut. He graduated from Yale College in 1814, studied law with his father, Philo Ruggles, and established his own practice in New York City in 1821. By 1831 Ruggles had purchased land that he would develop as Gramercy Park and the surrounding residential area. He promoted the development of Union Square and worked for the city in laying sidewalks and installing sewers. His development efforts also included the construction of warehouses on the Atlantic Docks in Brooklyn. This project, undertaken with Edward Curtis, led Ruggles to financial failure in 1851 and marked the end of his interests in real estate development.
Throughout his life, Ruggles played an active role in civic affairs. In 1838 he was elected to the State Legislature where he served a one-year term and supported the development of the Croton Aqueduct system, which brought water to New York City from the Croton River. As Canal Commissioner (1839-1858) he worked to improve and enlarge the Erie Canal system. He was a delegate of the United States to the International Monetary Conference at the Paris Exposition of 1867. Ruggles also served as a trustee of Columbia College and the Astor Library. He was the author of numerous reports on transportation, commerce and monetary policy, including Report upon the Finances and Internal Improvements of the State of New York (1838) and International Coinage (1867).
Ruggles was married on May 15, 1822 to Mary Rosalie Rathbone (d.1878). Their children were John Rathbone (b.1823), Ellen Caroline (b.1825) and James Francis (1827- 1895). Samuel B. Ruggles died at Fire Island, New York in 1881.
The Samuel B. Ruggles papers are arranged in two series:
- 1832 - 1881
Samuel B. Ruggles's correspondence files contain incoming and outgoing letters regarding business, real estate, land purchases, the New York City water supply system, the Canal Board, monetary policy, the Paris Exposition of 1867, the International Statistical Congress of 1869, personal affairs and family matters. Correspondents include William Boyd Allison, S. Newton Dexter, Alfred Ely, Nathaniel Pitcher Tallmadge, Gulian C. Verplanck and Benjamin D. Silliman. Letters of Whig statesman and New York Governor Washington Hunt are of particular interest for their discussion of national politics, railroads and canals. Also included are items written by relatives of Samuel Ruggles, such as his son James, his daughter Eleanor, and several family cousins
- 1801 - 1878
Items filed in this series document the business affairs and professional activities of Samuel B. Ruggles. Included are receipts, contracts and other financial records, many of them dealing with sewer and sidewalk work done for the City of New York by Ruggles and his associate George A. Furst. There are also accounts and financial records related to the Atlantic Docks project and the Dauphin & Susquehanna Coal Company. Deeds, maps, receipts and tax records document the landholdings of the Ruggles family in New York City and New York State, including plots in the vicinity of today's Gramercy Park. The series also includes notes, drafts and manuscripts of writings by Samuel B. Ruggles on such topics as international monetary policy, agricultural production, commercial transport, the census of 1860 and German history. Other miscellaneous items include a list of books in Samuel B. Ruggles's home library, his Yale diploma and a lock of his hair