City Hall & The Pulitzer, aka World Building c 1897
New York’s quaint City Hall is seen here from a circa 1897 stereoview. According to the clock below its cupola it is 4:07 in the afternoon. An open plaza beckons the stroller to walk across Now, because of security concerns. without a pass, you can’t get within 100 feet of a building that supposedly belongs to the public.
Looming across the street at Park Row and Frankfort Street is the Pulitzer Building also known as the World Building, headquarters of newspaper magnate Joseph Pulitzer.
French’s Hotel stood on the site from 1849 until 1888. Pulitzer paid $630,000 for the 115 by 135 foot plot of land, Demolition of the hostelry started July 2, 1888 and preliminary work for the new building’s foundation began June 20, 1889.
Young Joseph Pulitzer Jr. lays the cornerstone
Pulitzer’s four-year-old son, Joseph Jr. smacked the cornerstone with his silver trowel on October 10, 1889 to commence construction and said, “It is well done.”
In a bizarre speech at the cornerstone laying, one of the honored guests, New York Governor David Hill mocked the newspaper and its staff. Continue reading →
A New York City Tree Lined Street With A Church – Where Is This?
At first glance you might think this would be some rural village scene, not New York City.
But this old stereoview photograph has identification which says, American Scenery; N.Y. City & Vicinity and 1285.
I do not know where this is. The photograph appears to be from the late 1860s / early 1870s, based upon the sparse surrounding scenery and architecture. Below is the original stereoview: Continue reading →
Broadway Looking North From Broome Street On A Rainy Day C. 1870
Our scene is a rainy day in New York City and that is what makes this photograph a little unusual. Setting up the large bulky cameras then available required patience, time and usually nice weather. The last thing you’d want is to get your expensive camera wet!
The photographer for this 1870s stereoview set his camera up on the 2nd floor of a building on Broome Street and Broadway. Perhaps an overhang protected him from the elements. Broome Street was named after John Broome, a veteran of the Revolutionary War and later a city alderman. Continue reading →
Things You Didn’t Know About Divorce, Statues and Rapid Transit In New York City
Washington statue Union Square unveiled in 1856, an 80 year gap between public statues in New York City
Under English rule there was never a divorce in New York until 1787
When the Dutch founded New Amsterdam they allowed divorce but it was a rare occurrence. The English captured New Amsterdam in 1664 and after a brief retaking of the city by the Dutch in 1673, the English took permanent possession of the colony of New York until the Revolution. Over the next 100 years there was no divorce in New York.
Isaac Governeur became the first New Yorker granted a divorce in 1787. Up until then there had been no legal way of separating from your spouse. Alexander Hamilton created the law that allowed divorce in New York. The sole basis for being granted a divorce was adultery. Those who were desperate enough, went to another state that did allow divorce for other reasons. Incredibly, until 1966, adultery remained the only grounds for getting a divorce in New York.
The first successful manned flight in New York took place in 1819
A Frenchman, Charles Guillé who had made many successful balloon ascensions in France arrived in the United States in the summer of 1819. Continue reading →
Central Park was once young and so were its trees. We are looking south from 72nd Street in this rare circa 1870 stereoview photograph. You can see the American elm trees along both sides of the Mall that had been planted only a decade before. If you’ve been along this famous stretch of the park, you know that the trees are a constant – always the same year after year for over 100 years. To see the trees at this height is a startling sight. Continue reading →
A View Of New York From The Steeple of Trinity Church
In mid-19th century New York City if you wanted to be above it all and get a sweeping view of the city there was one place to go: the steeple of Trinity Church on Wall Street.
The steeple of Trinity rose 281 feet into the air and gave New Yorkers and visitors alike an unobstructed view of the city as far as the eye could see.
Trinity Church was originally constructed in 1696 and was burned down by the British in 1776 during the Revolutionary War.
If you’ve ever seen the Nicholas Cage movie National Treasure, you can be assured that there is no treasure buried under Trinity Church as the British troops sacked the original building before burning it. Continue reading →
What could be a provincial European river city in the 19th century is in fact the southern portion of New York City in 1875.
This stereoview photograph of Battery Place, a street that ran for only three blocks along Battery Park, was taken from Broadway looking west towards the Hudson River and New Jersey.
Battery Place & vicinity 1852 Atlas of New York
The building to the extreme right is 1 Broadway, the Washington Hotel. The original building which stood on the northwest corner of Broadway was a house occupied by General Israel Putnam and used by General George Washington as his headquarters during the early days of the American Revolution. After the war’s completion it became the Washington Hotel. Continue reading →
Central Park – A Winter Oasis of Sleighing and Skating in 1863
Central Park after the snow February 5, 1863. Woodcut from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper January 30, 1864.
New York City received its first significant snowfall this winter on January 7, 2016 with about 6 inches of snow covering Manhattan. That day and the next, Central Park had children sleighing down its various hills. Ice skating was available for all at Wollman Rink.
Would anyone today recognize Central Park 154 years ago with similar activity?
Reproduced here for the first time since it appeared in the January 30, 1864 edition of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, is this fantastic woodcut Illustration of Central Park. Unfortunately there is no artist attribution.
At first glance you would think this rural scene is not even in New York City, but the telltale signs are evident that this is indeed Central Park.
In the distant background, buildings can be seen. In the foreground is a proverbial one horse open sleigh. Other sleighs race past one another as their riders are covered in warm blankets and animal skins. One sleigh is named, the “Snow Bird.”
If you look carefully on the right you can see a familiar Central Park balustrade that onlookers are leaning against and taking in all the action. Skaters glide across the frozen lake which begs the question: if you did not own ice skates, where could you get them from?
There was a structure called the “skating tent” in the southern portion of Central Park that rented out skates. Continue reading →
A 19th Century Mystery Building In New York City That Eludes Identification
Many times I’ll come across stereoviews of 19th century New York City that I have never seen before. Usually they are of buildings or scenes I am acquainted with either by name or written anecdote. But here is a a stereoview that leaves me stumped.
As you see, it is clearly labeled New York City & Vicinity. Beyond those words under the right panel of the view, there is no other information. I do not recognize the large building which is the stereoview’s centerpiece, the surrounding structures, or an approximate year it was taken.
Maybe the view was labeled incorrectly by the stereoview manufacturer (which I highly doubt) or it is a scene in the “vicinity” of New York. It is a mystery building and I have been unable to determine anything. Continue reading →