More New York Illustrations From Around 1870
Part II – Familiar Names – Vanished Sites
We continue our look at New York of 150 years ago from Reverend J.F. Richmond’s New York and Its Institutions 1609-1871 (E.B. Treat; 1871).
The names may be familiar, but possibly not the building or site.
While Central Park has remained a constant presence in New York City for over 160 years, it has constantly changed.
There were always developers looking to infringe upon the park with buildings and schemes. A fair portion of Central Park has managed to keep its original spirit, but many of its early additions have changed or no longer exist.
The Children’s Playground in Central Park. There was no “Great Lawn” when Central Park was built. The Great Lawn opened in 1937, the result of filling in one of the two receiving reservoirs located within the park. The Central Park Playground seen above is an open field where children can play within its great expanse. This section was located in the southern end of the park, now site of the Heckscher playground and ballfields. Continue reading
Illustrations Of New York As Seen By Artists Around 1870
Part I – Demolished & Mostly Forgotten
Demolition of anything old goes on every day without regard for New York’s history. I believe a day will come when all the pre-20th century buildings not given landmark protection will be gone. Demolished in the name of progress. Real estate values rule, not history values. That’s always been the way of New York.
When a historic structure like The St. Denis Hotel is obliterated instead of renovated it is a shame.
I see more and more ordinary tenement and commercial buildings falling at an astonishing rate. So I look around trying to see vestiges of things my great-grandparents might have known and been familiar with.
What did they see?
Recently I took out my copy of Reverend J.F. Richmond’s New York and Its Institutions 1609-1871 (E.B. Treat; 1871) and started to re-read it. I had forgotten how many excellent illustrations were in the book. Belying the name, New York and Its Institutions is not solely focused only upon hospitals, asylum, charity and worship facilities. The book thoroughly covers other important sites and buildings with their respective histories. Though it was not written as a guide book, it essentially is one.
What my ancestors saw were these historic buildings which are now not even memories to most New Yorkers, most having been taken down over a hundred years ago,
Let’s take a look at what New York City looked like around 1871 and take in what the visitor and native New Yorker would have seen.
Part I – Buildings No Longer In Existence
Very few lamented the loss of the old Post Office at the corner of Nassau and Liberty Street – — until they saw what replaced it in 1875.
The Grand Central Hotel stood on the west side of Broadway opposite Bond Street between Amity and Bleecker Street. Illegal alterations caused a major collapse of the Broadway facade on August 3, 1973. Incredibly only four people were killed. The remaining section of the hotel was soon demolished. Continue reading
The New York Crystal Palace Gave Americans A Building To Be Proud Of
On the site of the future Bryant Park on 42nd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues stood The New York Crystal Palace. It was only there for a little more than five years. Built of cast iron, timber and glass the building was unlike anything previously built in America.
Edwin G. Burrows book, “The Finest Building in America The New York Crystal Palace 1853-1858” Oxford; (2018), is a short, entertaining account of the impact the building and the wonders displayed inside, had on the city. Continue reading
Hugely Popular Author William T. Adam’s Wrote Over 100 Children’s Books All Under Pseudonyms
When William T. Adams of Dorchester, MA died on March 27, 1897, obituaries pointed out, “as Oliver Optic, he was known to every child in this country that reads story books.” The Kansas City Star said, “no public library is thought complete by younger readers unless it has a large number of duplicates of all his works.”
William Taylor Adams (1822-1897) was the pioneer in juvenile fiction. Unlike our modern “look at me” society, he was apparently not interested in fame, at least as William T. Adams. He wrote 126 books and over 1,000 articles and never signed his name to any of them. Continue reading
80 Years After The Civil War Ended, Confederate Ammunition Killed Two Soldiers
7 Strange Facts Concerning The Civil War
Tens of thousands of books have been written about the American Civil War. The book that I recently read was not a penetrating analysis of a battle or biography of a soldier. Rather it was a book containing some unusual stories about the Civil War. Well written and researched, I think a small portion of the book is worth sharing here.
In no particular order here are 7 quick stories from the book The Civil War Strange & Fascinating Facts by Burke Davis, Fairfax Press (1982) (previously published as Our Incredible Civil War, 1960): Continue reading
These 59 Books About New York City Were Recommended To Anyone Who Was Considering Working For The City
In 1936 New York librarian Rebecca Rankin was asked to compile a list of books with good stories which have New York as a background by the Municipal Service Commission. Along with Miriam Mayer of the Municipal Library, the two came up with a list of hundreds of good books that they would recommend to anyone considering working for the city. Continue reading
Twice A Year Allentown Hosts A Collectibles Show That Has A Bit Of Everything
It’s about a 95 mile drive from New York City to Allentown, PA. Leave by 7:00 a.m. and drive through the traffic free streets of New York, you can arrive in under two hours at Agricultural Hall. Because of Allentown’s location, visitors arrive in large numbers from the surrounding states. If you get there a few minutes before the doors open — you will then see this sight – lots of people waiting in line to begin an odyssey at the Allentown Paper Show.
For the over 100 dealers at the show, it is not just paper they are selling. Because whatever you collect, there is a good chance that at least one dealer, if not several will have what you are looking for.
Collectors know this and that is why they line up early to get in. Continue reading
While rare books abound at the Brooklyn Antiquarian Book Fair, you can spend as little as $10 for something very readable and collectable.
Or you can plunk down as much as $85,000 and walk away happy with your purchase. The Brooklyn Antiquarian Book Fair, going six years strong, is currently at the Brooklyn Expo Center in Greenpoint, 72 Noble Street.
Greenpoint, if you haven’t been there recently, is worth the trip alone. It is hip and revitalized with many unique shops and trendy restaurants filled with customers. The pubs in the area lure you with sweet aromas of barley and hops with their Brooklyn craft beers. Flea markets are nearby and you have great views from the waterfront.
Getting back to the fair, I didn’t spend $85,000 which was the asking price of a magnificent first edition copy of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Continue reading
Book Review: Maverick In Mauve The Diary Of a Romantic Age
Lifelong New Yorker, Florence Adele Sloane kept a diary from 1893 – 1896. That in itself is not unusual. What is out of the ordinary is that the diary covers Florence’s life from the age of 19 through 23 and her observations on life and her surroundings are written with astute wisdom beyond her years. Continue reading