20 Stereoviews Of 19th Century Central Park
Some Long Vanished Scenes And Other Familiar Sites
Mount Saint Vincent Convent, east side of Central Park near 103rd street
Central Park is a constantly evolving mixture of landscape, architecture, buildings and people. Engineer Egbert Viele first surveyed the space encompassing the park. Landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, won the competition to design the park and construction started in 1858.
Over the last 150 plus years, the park has seen many additions and subtractions within it.
The 19th century version of Central Park has many things that a New Yorker today would find familiar and others that seem completely out of character; such as a convent located in the northern part of the park.
The Academy of Mount St. Vincent shown above in the 1860’s was a group of buildings which predated the park and contained a school and convent run by the Roman Catholic Sisters. The nuns left the buildings before construction started on the park and moved to Riverdale in the Bronx in 1857. The buildings they left behind remained for other uses such as a museum, storage and a rare plant conservatory. All the structures were destroyed by fire on January 2, 1881. The site of Mount St. Vincent at East 103rd Street is now the composting area for the park.
Here are some other views of Central Park from 1863-1896. Click on images to vastly enlarge.
Bethesda Fountain before sculptor Emma Stebbins famous bronze statue Angel of the Waters was installed in 1873.
Central Park’s original grand entrance on Fifth Avenue with policeman and guard house. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
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 looking north on Fifth Avenue taken at the turn-of-the-century shows New York City holding its famous Easter Parade. The parade, known for its display of beautiful bonnets and fancy hats, has been occurring since the 1870’s in New York. You can see how packed the streets near St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Anyone could walk Fifth Avenue on Easter, but it was generally the well to do who participated in the exhibition. Fifth Avenue being home to some of the most expensive homes made this a natural gathering spot for the wealthy. But is that where the tradition began?
One of the first places crowds gathered to display their Easter finery in New York City was not Fifth Avenue, but Central Park. Continue reading
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. Continue reading