One of the great moments in New York City history took place the month Theodore Roosevelt turned two. In October 1860 the Prince of Wales made his visit to New York. Theodore’s great uncle, Judge James I. Roosevelt was one of the arrangers of the event. Peter Cooper was another organizer. John Jacob Astor was the committee chairman. The prince stayed at the Fifth Avenue Hotel. This grand hotel had been completed just a year earlier on 23rd Street three blocks from the Roosevelt birthplace.
The prince was all of eighteen and his North American visit was as a kind of diplomatic coming out party. The heir apparent visited Canada in addition to the many American cities on his schedule. It all became complicated quickly when the simple dinner the New York organizers had planned proved unsatisfactory. Instead there would have to be a full gala ball. Improvising quickly the organizing committee threw something together in time for the function, which was held at the Academy of Music on October 12.
That was not all. The entire city—or most of it—turned out to see the prince during his stay. Many New Yorkers marched in his honor at a parade. Not everyone came. Colonel Michael Corcoran, commander of the predominantly Irish 69th New York State Militia, refused to march his men in honor of the British monarch. Corcoran was court-martialed but the American Civil War began before his trial took place and the charges were dropped.