Birds-Eye View Of New York 1870

A Panoramic View of Lower Manhattan Including The Unbuilt Brooklyn Bridge

Lower Manhattan Harper's Weekly 1870 Brooklyn BridgeOur view is from the November 19, 1870 Harper’s Weekly.  Entitled, “Bird’s-eye view of the southern end of New York and Brooklyn showing the projected suspension bridge and East River from the western terminus in printing house square, New York.”

That long title reflects a fairly accurate view of New York, Brooklyn and surrounding area drawn by Theodore R Davis. Marine traffic crowds the river and piers with ferries, paddle-wheelers, steamships, schooners and sloops of all descriptions. The building of the bridge would slightly alleviate this nautical congestion.

Construction on the bridge began on January 2, 1870.  When this view was drawn in 1870 work on the bridge was all below ground with the building of the caissons which support the bridge’s towers.

As you can see the bridge would become the dominate feature of the skyline. Until the 1870s the steeples atop Trinity Church and St. Paul’s Chapel remained the tallest structures in the city.

By enlarging the picture you will notice some interesting features. To the right of center is what looks like a smoke stack. This is one of New York’s long vanished shot towers located at 82 Beekman Street, where lead shot was produced by the Tatham Brothers. The building at the end of the bridge was not built as shown. The transportation terminal when finally constructed was a much more utilitarian and unattractive building dubbed “the shed.”

The wide street with horse drawn rail traffic is Park Row and several buildings housing newspapers are identified with signage. Among the buildings clearly seen are “The Star,”  “The Sun,” and “The Times.” Further south Park Row converges with Broadway marked by St. Paul’s Chapel.

Staten Island (top right) seems to have fewer inhabitants than Governors Island (near New York Bay channel leading to the ocean).

With the exception of the southern tip of Manhattan at the Battery, not one bit of park space is depicted.

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