Central Park Transverses 1863
Central Park Transverse 79th St looking east 1863
Central Park Transverse (which one?) 1863
Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux, the designers of Central Park, had amazing foresight to build transverses through the park so that omnibus, carriage and horse traffic, could get crosstown without disrupting the flow of the landscape. Users of the park today are the beneficiaries of the uninterrupted paths and vistas as automobile traffic crosses the park out of sight and mind.
These two photographs are from stereoviews taken in 1863 by E. & H.T. Anthony & Co. who took some of the best images of mid-nineteenth century New York. They show the recently opened Central Park with little activity and just a few buildings in the background.
The photo on the left shows transverse number two (I never knew they had numbers assigned to them) that cuts across the park from East 79th Street to West 81st Street. On the left can be glimpsed the southern edge of the Croton reservoir, one of two reservoirs that were in Central Park. The Croton reservoir was drained and filled-in in 1931 and the former reservoir located between 79th and 86th Streets became the Great Lawn, opening in 1937. The second reservoir above 86th Street remains in place today and joggers frequently circumnavigate its perimeter.
The photograph on the right is another one of the transverses but it is not identified on the stereoview itself. It looks to be the 65th Street transverse but I am unsure of the orientation and surroundings. Which one do you think it is?
The Menagerie Or Animals In Very Small Cages
These photographs taken by an amateur photographer in 1901 show the Central Park Menagerie, more commonly known as the zoo. The cramped quarters and cages the animals were kept in lasted until the 1970’s. Click on any photo to enlarge.
Bears Central Park Zoo 1901
Leopard Central Park Zoo 1901
Hippopotamus and baby Central Park Zoo 1901
Buffalo and baby Central Park Zoo 1901
Camels Central Park Zoo 1901
The Easter Parade, circa 1900
This view of Fifth Avenue at the turn of the century shows New York City holding its famous Easter Parade. The parade, famous for its display of beautiful bonnets and fancy hats, has been occurring since the 1870’s in New York.
One of the first places crowds gathered to dispaly their Easter finery in New York City was not Fifth Avenue, but Central Park. The New York Times of April 21, 1873 reported:
“In the afternoon the crowds began to arrive. By every line of cars they swarmed into the Park. And, strange to say, there was a full fair sprinkling of the comparatively aristocratic classes, besides those who habitually make the Park their paradise on fine Sundays. Many couples were promenading who had certainly come from St. Thomas’ and other Fifth avenue churches, for their prayer-books were still in their hands. It seemed to be a universal exodus. Their were ladies in the most delicate Spring attire, poor sewing and shop girls in their Easter finery, ragged little children playing tag, to the great scandal of the straight-laced. And their were gentlemen in fine Spring overcoats and in heavy Winter overcoats, in Spring suits and Winter suits. Their were ladies in heavy silks and warm furs, and beside them others in the latest varieties of cameo fabrics. It was evident that if some had come to parade their finery, the great majority had been perfectly surprised by such kindness on the part of Spring, but had determined, like sensible folk, to enjoy the fresh air and the glorious day in their old clothes It would be impossible to calculate the crowds that swarmed over the Park like emigrating bees.”
By 1879 the Easter Parade was officially taking place on Fifth Avenue according to The New York Times. The newspaper on April 14, 1879 commented “that Fifth Avenue was crowded with promenaders” and “Spring bonnets were worn by every lady promenader.”
The tradition of the Easter Parade on Fifth Avenue continues in the 21st century and is no longer an aristocratic event, but one open to anyone wishing to show off their sense of style (or lack of it).
Is This Some Rural Area in Upstate New York?
A logging community possibly? Actually it is Fifth Avenue and 101st Street. These are squatters huts in Central Park circa 1870.
Fifth Avenue Looking North from The Plaza (59th Street) 1930
Two way vehicular traffic is probably a shocking thing to see on Fifth Avenue, but in 1930 it was the norm. Also note: no traffic lights or policemen directing traffic. Pedestrians cross at their own risk.
Early Birdseye View of New York 1888
Looking North up Fifth Avenue from 52nd Street.
Church steeples are among the tallest structures in the photo. The closest steeple belongs to the original St. Thomas Episcopal Church on Fifth Avenue and 53rd Street, which was destroyed by fire in 1905. The new St. Thomas was completed in 1913. The steeple two blocks north belongs to the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church at 55th Street, which was completed in 1875 and is still standing today.
Mansions line Fifth Avenue, as this section of Manhattan had not been encroached by the tide of merchants who were steadily creeping north with commercial developments.
In the center of the photo past the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church are the trees of Central Park. On the left of the photo the tall building on near Sixth Avenue and 59th Street, lining up with the center of the park, is the luxury duplex apartment building The Dalhousie. Opened for occupancy in October 1884, The Dalhousie was demolished in 1930 and replaced by a modern apartment building in 1941. In the upper left hand corner the light colored tall building in the distance is the Henry Janeway Hardenbergh designed Dakota Apartments.