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History of NYC - 1860s

The 1860s were a time of reconstruction after the Civil War in 1865. The nation completed its first transcontinental railroad in 1868, the same year NYC completed its the first elevated train. This era also marked the beginning of the Skyscraper Age which would define the skyline for ages to come.

1868: A Bird's Eye View of Manhattan

An artist's panoramic illustration where lower Manhattan, New Jersey and both Hudson and the East Rivers, Brooklyn and Queens are visible in the distance.

Artist Credit: Unknown. Reprinted with permission.

1867: Brooklyn Bridge Under Construction

Photograph show men on the scaffolds during the construction of what was known at the time as the Great East River Bridge.

Artist Credit: Unknown. Reprinted with permission.

1860: Jack Frost in Brooklyn

Photograph of a frozen fountain in a Brooklyn neighborhood during the winter.

Artist Credit: Deloss Barnum. Reprinted with permission.

1865: Aerial View of Broadway

Photograph shows traffic and businesses along Broadway, one of the busiest streets in the city. Taken by George Stacy in 1865.

Artist Credit: George Stacy. Reprinted with permission.

1860: Instantaneous Broadway View

A slightly elevated perspective of a bustling street known as Broadway, which remains a hub of commerce and culture to this day.

Artist Credit: Unknown. Reprinted with permission.

1865: Broadway and the Bank of the Republic, NYC

Photograph taken in 1865 shows the "National Bank of the Republic" (NBR) surrounded by other commercial buildings, pedestrians and traffic on Broadway.

Artist Credit: George Stacy. Reprinted with permission.

1860: View of Chatham Square

A photograph of Chatham Square shows storefronts, pedestrians and horse drawn wagons.

Artist Credit: Unknown. Reprinted with permission.

1865: Aerial View of General Worth Square

Aerial View of General Worth Square on 25th Street between Broadway and Fifth Avenue. It is the second oldest monument in any New York City park.

Artist Credit: George Stacy. Reprinted with permission.

1860: Police Officers in Uniform

Group portrait of policemen, standing in rows in front of a Metropolitan building with their hands crossed in front of them and guns resting at their sides.

Artist Credit: Silas A. Holmes. Reprinted with permission.

1860: Aerial View of Union Square

A view of 14th Street and 4th Avenue looking northwest over the Washington's Equestrian Statue at Union Square, New York City.

Artist Credit: Surdam & White. Reprinted with permission.

1863: Church of the Ascension, Fifth Avenue and Tenth Street

The Church of the Ascension is an Episcopal church in the Diocese of New York. It was completed in 1840-41, the first church to be built on Fifth Avenue.

Artist Credit: George Stacy. Reprinted with permission.

1863: Trinity Church

An early photograph of Trinity Church on Broadway next to Wall Street. Taken by George Stacy in 1863.

Artist Credit: George Stacy. Reprinted with permission.

1869: Scene of Squatters Living near Central Park

An artist's rendering of Squatters near Central Park living among farm animals in their shacks.

Artist Credit: Celia Orgel. Reprinted with permission.

1865: Prospect Rock at Prospect Park

Photograph of a man in a suit perched atop one of the prominent rock formations at Prospect Park, Brooklyn.

Artist Credit: Unknown. Reprinted with permission.

1865: Hudson River Highlands

This amazing photograph of the Hudson River in the year 1865 gives us a glimpse into the ancient topography of New York City.

Artist Credit: John Coates Browne. Reprinted with permission.

1865: Elevated View of Central Park

A photograph of Central Park in its pristine and far less developed stage, compared to what we know today.

Artist Credit: George Stacy. Reprinted with permission.

1865: Archway and Footpath in Central Park

Photograph of a man in a suit standing pensively on a bridge overlooking the arched footpath beneath.

Artist Credit: George Stacy. Reprinted with permission.

1865: Central Park Stonework

A unique perspective revealing the ornate patterns of Central Park's stonework designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux.

Artist Credit: George Stacy. Reprinted with permission.

1865: Central Park Terrace Stone Work

A detailed view of Central Park's terrace masonry. The terrace was one of the very first structures to have been built in the park.

Artist Credit: George Stacy. Reprinted with permission.

1865: Music Pavilion in Central Park

A photograph of the Music Pavilion on a quiet and overcast autumn day. Taken by George Stacy in 1865.

Artist Credit: George Stacy. Reprinted with permission.

1869: Manhattan Market on West 34th Street

The Manhattan Market was located on 34th to 35th Streets and 12th Avenue (future site of the Jacob Javits Convention Center).

Artist Credit: Celia Orgel. Reprinted with permission.

1863: George Washington Statue at Union Square, NYC

Photograph by George Stacy showing the bronze sculpture of George Washington by John Quincy Adams Ward, originally installed at Federal Hall National Memorial.

Artist Credit: George Stacy. Reprinted with permission.

1868: Aerial View of Union Square and 4th Avenue

Instantaneous Panoramic View of Union Square, flanked on the right side by the famous electric trolley cars that once served as mass transit.

Artist Credit: Peter F. Weil. Reprinted with permission.

1868: Union Square and 4th Avenue During Rush Hour

A northeast view of Union Square and 4th Avenue crowded by trolleys and pedestrians during peak hours.

Artist Credit: Peter F. Weil. Reprinted with permission.

1868: Light Traffic at Union Square and Broadway

Aerial view of Union Square on an overcast morning. The streets are sparsly dotted with pedestrians and street cars.

Artist Credit: Peter F. Weil. Reprinted with permission.

1868: Northern View of Union Square and Broadway

A photograph shows a famous intersection of downtown Manhattan, lined with trolleys and a vastly different urban landscape.

Artist Credit: Peter F. Weil. Reprinted with permission.

1869: The Original Equitable Building

The original Equitable Building was completed in 1870 and is part of history for being the world's first office building to feature passenger elevators.

Artist Credit: Unknown. Reprinted with permission.

1860: New York Post Office

New York City's original, Multi-storied post office building. The building is characterized by arched windows and columns on each level.

Artist Credit: Unknown. Reprinted with permission.

1861: Stores on the Corner of Pearl & Chatham

An illustration of a busy corner of downtown Manhattan. The corner of Chatham and Pearl Streets were home to many markets and storehouses.

Artist Credit: Unknown. Reprinted with permission.

1860: New York Historical Society and Museum

Painting by Richard Morris Hunt shows The New York Historical Society at its original location on the corner of 11th Street and 2nd Avenue.

Artist Credit: Richard Morris Hunt. Reprinted with permission.

1869: Underground Lodgings for the Poor at Greenwich Street

Illustration by Celia Orgel depicting a homeless shelter. Housing was often organized by local communities to provide food and shelter to those most in need.

Artist Credit: Celia Orgel. Reprinted with permission.

1869: South Street Seaport, Piers 17 & 18

Piers 17 and 18, located in the South Street Historic District Extension, stand as physical evidence of the water-oriented economy of NYC in its early years.

Artist Credit: Celia Orgel. Reprinted with permission.

1869: Wall Street Ferry, Brooklyn, New York in Distance

A lone silhouette under a shaded pedestrian overpass is captured against the backdrop of Wall Street's ferry and Brooklyn in the distance

Artist Credit: Celia Orgel. Reprinted with permission.

1865: 23rd Street and Broadway - Madison Square Park

Photograph of the Fifth Avenue Hotel, across from Madison Square Park, New York City.

Artist Credit: George Stacy. Reprinted with permission.

1860: The 5th Avenue Hotel

Photograph shows the Fifth Avenue Hotel, across the street from Madison Square Park, New York City.

Artist Credit: George Stacy. Reprinted with permission.

1860: Wall Street, New York

View of Wall Street with storefronts and Trinity Church in the distance. A sign of printer "Wm. D. Roe & Co." (at 59 Wall Street) is visible in the foreground.

Artist Credit: H. Hoyer. Reprinted with permission.

1860: Everett House on Park Avenue

Everett House was a first class hotel which opened in 1853 and used to exist among the private residences surrounding Union Square.

Artist Credit: George Stacy. Reprinted with permission.

1860: Parade on Broadway near Union Square

An aerial photograph shows a large crowd of spectators enjoying a parade on Broadway.

Artist Credit: Unknown. Reprinted with permission.

1863: The Stuyvesant Pear Tree

On this corner grew Peter Stuyvesant's pear tree which he planted as his memorial "by which my name may be remembered". The tree flourished for over 200 years.

Artist Credit: Jeremiah Gurney. Reprinted with permission.

1868: The Domestic P.M. Company Building

A photograph showing the building of the Domestic P.M. Company, located at Union Square, New York City.

Artist Credit: Peter F. Weil. Reprinted with permission.

1863: South Street Seaport

View south looking down Fulton Street at pier 17 and the north elevation of the Fulton Ferry Terminal at South Street Seaport, Piers 17 & 18, South Street.

Artist Credit: Celia Orgel. Reprinted with permission.

Next Chapter: History of NYC - 1870s

In 1870, Long Island City was formed in Queens. Four years later, New York City annexed the West Bronx, west of the Bronx River. This era would come to be known as "the Gilded A... Continue Reading

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