New York City in the 1860s

1868: Union Square and and 4th Avenue During Rush Hour

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

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.

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.

1869: The Original Equitable Building

Located at 120 Broadway, 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. The building was very popular and eventually occupied the entire block (Broadway, Cedar, Pine and Nassau Streets).

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.

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.

1860: New York Historical Society and Museum

The New York Historical Society was founded in 1804 and is the City’s first museum. Originally located on 11th Street and 2nd Avenue with land purchased from Peter and Julia Stuyvesant in early 1854.

1869: Underground Lodgings for the Poor at Greenwich Street

Housing was often organized by local communities to provide food and shelter to those most in need.

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 New York City in its developmental years.

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

New York City's Prehistoric Roots

Learn all about NYC’s fascinating past by exploring the natural forces that shaped the environment and landscape, along with the people who would transform the “Island of Many Hills” into the greatest and most influential city in the world.

Curated by Fine Print NYC

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