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1860s NYC: The Civil War Era, Metropolitan Advancement & Cultural Evolution

The 1860s were a pivotal decade in New York City’s history, marked by profound transformation and resilience. This era was significantly influenced by the city’s role in the Civil War, which had extensive impacts on its economic and social framework. New York City became a vital hub for manufacturing and commerce during the war, playing an essential role in supporting the Union army.

During this period, the city’s urban landscape experienced substantial transformations. The completion of Central Park in 1858, officially opened in 1861, introduced a revolutionary concept for urban public spaces, harmoniously integrating natural beauty with city life. Additionally, this decade saw the expansion of the city’s infrastructure, including the development of its comprehensive street grid system, a characteristic feature of modern New York.

Culturally, the 1860s in New York City were a period of remarkable diversity. The city remained a prime destination for immigrants, significantly contributing to its cultural richness. This influx brought diverse languages, traditions, and customs, greatly enriching the social fabric of the city. However, the era also presented challenges, including issues of inequality and social strife, alongside the complex aftermath of the Civil War.

In summary, the 1860s in New York City were years of notable change, establishing a foundation for the city’s evolution into a global metropolis. The advancements in infrastructure, culture, and industry during this decade were pivotal in shaping New York City’s unique identity. These developments contributed significantly to its lasting legacy as a center of innovation, diversity, and resilience.

1860’s Timeline of New York City’s History, USA

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

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.

Explore George Stacy's ca. 1865 photograph of Central Park, featuring a man on a bridge above an arched footpath, showcasing historic NYC

1865: Central Park Archway: Capturing NYC's Historic Essence in George Stacy's Lens

Explore George Stacy's ca. 1865 photograph of Central Park, featuring a man on a bridge above an arched footpath, showcasing historic NYC

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

1865: Central Park Stonework

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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).

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

Uncover the pivotal role of NYC's Equitable Building, from its 1870 elevator innovation to driving the 1916 Zoning Resolution

1870: The Equitable Building: 1870 Innovation to 1916 Catalyst for Zoning Laws

Uncover the pivotal role of NYC's Equitable Building, from its 1870 elevator innovation to driving the 1916 Zoning Resolution

General post office on Broadway and Park Row. The building is characterized by arched windows and columns on each level.

1860: New York Post Office

General post office on Broadway and Park Row. The building is characterized by arched windows and columns on each level.

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

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.

Painting by Richard Morris Hunt shows a conceptual sketch of a potential new home for The New York Historical Society, where the current Parks Department is located.

1860: New York Historical Society and Museum Proposal

Painting by Richard Morris Hunt shows a conceptual sketch of a potential new home for The New York Historical Society, where the current Parks Department is located.

Timeline of New York City: 1860-1870

1860: New York City's population surged to 813,669 in 1860, fueled by European immigration, notably from Ireland, Germany, and Italy, making it the largest U.S. city. This demographic shift, part of a broader 19th-century migration wave, led to vibrant ethnic enclaves like Little Italy and the Lower East Side. These groups infused the city with diverse cultures and traditions, defining its identity. Despite challenges such as overcrowding, poverty, and disease, efforts to improve living conditions emerged, including the creation of public parks and the establishment of an education system.

This influx catalyzed cultural enrichment, economic growth, urban development, and social reforms, laying the foundations for modern urban planning and public health. Consequently, NYC's transformation during this era solidified its global stature as a nexus for commerce, culture, and immigration, profoundly impacting its historical and cultural evolution.

1860: Established on October 10, the New York World newspaper quickly rose to prominence in American journalism. It originated in New York City, becoming a defining voice in the media landscape through the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This publication marked the start of its significant influence in shaping public narratives and political discussions.

The inception of the New York World was a key moment in New York City's journalistic and cultural history. It played an instrumental role in molding public opinion, chronicling major events, and steering political conversations, thereby cementing its legacy as a vital contributor to the city's heritage and the broader progression of American journalism.

1860: Launching in 1860, the "Great Eastern," engineered by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, embarked on its first voyage to New York City. As the world's largest ship then, spanning over 680 feet and weighing more than 18,000 tons, it boasted pioneering features like combined steam and paddle wheel propulsion, and a double hull for stability. Its opulence included a 400-seat dining hall and a grand piano-equipped music room.

The ship's arrival in New York City, a testament to 19th-century technological ambition, underscored the city's emerging status as a global maritime center. Though it didn't succeed commercially and later served as a cable-layer, the "Great Eastern's" New York debut significantly enriched the city's maritime legacy. Decommissioned in 1889, its inaugural journey remains a pivotal moment in the city's history.

1861: On April 20, the "Great Union Meeting" at Union Square became one of New York City's largest Civil War-era public gatherings, with 100,000 participants. It showcased the city's shift towards Union support, featuring Mayor Fernando Wood and others urging for unity and military enlistment, accompanied by patriotic songs and speeches. This event marked a pivotal change in the city’s stance on the war.

Preceding this, on April 19, the Sixth Massachusetts Regiment's arrival in New York, post a confrontation with a pro-secessionist mob in Baltimore, was met with a celebratory parade down Broadway. These two events underscored New York's crucial role in the Civil War, not in battle, but through significant political backing and troop contributions, reflecting its impact on the Union's effort.

1861: Founded in 1861 by Gustav Schirmer, Sr., G. Schirmer Inc. quickly established itself as a prominent force in America's music publishing sector. Based in New York City, the company specialized in distributing a diverse range of music, spanning classical to contemporary genres. Its emergence significantly enhanced the city's cultural and artistic tapestry, particularly in music.

G. Schirmer Inc.'s influence from its inception played a crucial role in solidifying New York City's reputation as a key center for musical arts and commerce. Known for supporting and promoting musicians and composers, the company enriched New York's cultural scene. Its enduring presence and achievements underscored the city's role as a bastion of creativity and artistic expression within the music industry.

1861: The American Civil War, sparked by Abraham Lincoln's 1861 presidential election, led to the secession of 11 southern states and the formation of the Confederacy, opposed by the 25-state Union. The four-year conflict, mainly fought in the South, ended in 1865 with the Union's victory, the Confederacy's surrender, and the nationwide abolition of slavery.

Throughout the war, New York City's economic prowess and port status were instrumental in supporting the Union's efforts. Marked by events like the significant Draft Riots of 1863, the city experienced profound social changes. Post-1865, it evolved into a more dominant urban hub, spearheading economic and societal advancements in the post-war era.

1861: Established in 1861, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) emerged as one of the United States' earliest performing arts venues, conceived by Brooklyn citizens aiming to rival Manhattan's cultural institutions. Initially located on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights, the venue was designed by architect Leopold Eidlitz, showcasing the community's commitment to a rich cultural environment.

BAM's history includes transforming the 1904 Majestic Theater, one of Brooklyn's initial movie theaters, into the BAM Harvey Theater. Facing demolition by the 1970s, BAM preserved and renovated this historic building, thereby continuing its tradition as a pivotal cultural and performing arts hub. This effort not only conserved a significant architectural piece but also reinforced BAM's status as an integral part of New York City's cultural landscape.

1862: New York City witnessed a pivotal shift in urban transport with the New York and Harlem Railroad introducing horse-drawn streetcars, a significant upgrade from the previous horse-drawn omnibuses. These new streetcars, known for their smoother, more efficient rides, quickly gained popularity. Operated by regularly rotated horses housed in route depots, they marked a key development in the city's transit history.

This innovation set the stage for future advancements like electric streetcars and subways, despite challenges like managing horse waste and controlling runaway horses. These streetcars, critical to the city's transport for decades and peaking at over 1,000 in operation, left a lasting legacy visible in the historic tracks along New York City's renowned thoroughfares, symbolizing a transformative era in metropolitan transportation.

1863: The New York Draft Riots, starting on July 13, 1863, during the Civil War, stand as one of the deadliest civil disturbances in U.S. history, with over 100 casualties. Sparked by a federal conscription law favoring the wealthy, the riots rapidly escalated, showcasing deep class and racial tensions. Rioters, mainly from the working class and immigrant communities, targeted government and draft buildings and African Americans, expressing their dissent against perceived injustices.

These three-day riots exposed New York City's profound social and economic divides and led to a critical reassessment of the draft system. The unrest necessitated intervention by the Union Army, directed by city officials. This pivotal event in the city's history not only underscored the societal challenges of the era but also catalyzed efforts to address inequality, shaping the social and political landscape of both New York City and the nation.

1863: Founded in 1853 as the Academy of the Holy Infancy, Manhattan College was incorporated in 1863, evolving into a prominent Roman Catholic liberal arts college. Situated in the Bronx, this institution became a key player in New York City's higher education scene, offering diverse academic programs.

Manhattan College's establishment significantly enriched the city's educational and cultural landscape. Its growth as a liberal arts college with Roman Catholic roots has played a crucial role in shaping the social and cultural dynamics of New York City. Contributing to the city's economic and intellectual diversity, the college's alumni have made notable impacts in various fields, reflecting the institution's broad influence.

1863: Founded by George Huntington Hartford and George Gilman, the Great American Tea Company, later known as A&P, emerged in New York City as a trailblazer in the retail and grocery sector. This enterprise marked the onset of a significant transformation in the U.S. retail industry, eventually becoming a leading grocery entity.

A&P's establishment in 1863 catalyzed retail innovation in New York City, notably pioneering the modern supermarket model. This revolutionized the city's retail scene and set national trends. The company's expansion bolstered employment and enhanced consumer access to diverse, affordable products, significantly impacting New Yorkers' lifestyles and consumer behaviors, thereby contributing to the city's economic growth and standard of living.

1863: Enacted on February 25, the National Currency Act was a landmark U.S. legislation, initiated under Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase. It responded to the Civil War's economic upheaval by establishing a uniform national currency, thereby standardizing and stabilizing the monetary system. This Act revolutionized U.S. banking by introducing government-backed banknotes, ensuring reliable financial transactions and enhancing economic stability.

Simultaneously, the Act led to the creation of national banking associations, including the influential First National Bank of New York City. This legislative move marked a significant evolution in the U.S. banking system and laid the groundwork for modern financial structures like the Federal Reserve. In New York City, a key financial center, it fortified economic security and shaped the contemporary banking landscape, catalyzing a new chapter in American financial history.

1863: On October 14, at Brooklyn's Capitoline Grounds, a landmark baseball game captivated over 20,000 spectators, showcasing the Eckford Club of Brooklyn and the Union Club of Morrisania. Amidst the Civil War, this match, under the National Association of Base Ball Players, became a significant form of escapism and entertainment, reflecting baseball's growing appeal in American culture, especially among the working class.

The Eckford Club triumphed with a 23-11 victory over the Union Club, a celebrated event in Brooklyn, marking a critical juncture in baseball history. Though not "official" by contemporary standards, this game was instrumental in elevating baseball's national prominence, contributing to its evolution as a beloved American pastime and shaping modern baseball. The 1863 match at the Capitoline Grounds remains a key milestone in the sport's development.

1865: Founded in 1792, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) significantly influenced New York City's rise as a financial center. Initially operating from various temporary sites, its 1865 move to 10-12 Broad Street marked a milestone, establishing the first permanent headquarters. This location, tailored for NYSE's operations, included a large trading floor, offices, and a securities vault, integrating modern amenities like gas lighting and telegraphy to boost trading efficiency.

This relocation to Broad Street propelled New York City's economic growth, solidifying its stature as a major financial hub. It attracted additional financial institutions to Lower Manhattan, catalyzing the financial district's development and increasing job opportunities. The NYSE's expansion also enhanced the city's global financial influence. Currently at 11 Wall Street, the NYSE's proximity to its original and first permanent locations underscores its lasting impact on global finance.

1865: New York City transitioned from volunteer fire companies to the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, a professional paid fire department. This transformation, led by Chief Engineer Alexander Shaler, introduced modern equipment like steam-powered fire engines and hose carts. It marked a significant shift in firefighting, addressing inefficiencies and corruption, and was essential for the city's rapidly growing infrastructure and public safety needs.

This establishment laid the groundwork for the modern FDNY, now one of the largest and most respected fire departments globally. Professionalizing fire services, the Brigade enhanced firefighting capabilities and set a precedent in urban fire protection. Today, the FDNY, with its advanced technology and skilled personnel, plays a crucial role in safeguarding New York City's residents, reflecting a successful evolution from its 19th-century origins.

1865: Beginning in Washington, D.C. on April 19, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln's funeral procession, carrying his casket and dignitaries, passed through several cities before arriving in New York City on April 24. Met by about 100,000 mourners, the city's profound mourning included closing public buildings and businesses, symbolizing respect for the late president. The procession's arrival highlighted Lincoln's impact on the nation and New York City's significant role in the collective mourning process.

This event, illustrating Lincoln's status as a cherished national leader, was a unifying moment in American history, deeply felt in New York City. The large turnout reflected the city's connection to the tragedy, further cementing Lincoln's legacy. New York City's involvement in this historical event underscores its relevance in national narratives and its commemoration of key figures in American history.

1865: In a year marked by emotional extremes for New York City, beginning with celebrations for the Civil War's end on April 9, but swiftly turning to mourning after President Lincoln's assassination by John Wilkes Booth on April 14. These events marked a dramatic transition in the city's atmosphere, from joyous relief to profound grief, reflecting the nation's tumultuous journey.

New York City's mourning culminated on April 24, as half a million people gathered when Lincoln's funeral procession reached the city, with his body lying in state at City Hall. This significant turnout highlighted the city's role in the nation's collective grieving and its connection to Lincoln's impactful presidency. The event underscored New York's pivotal place in American history, symbolizing the nation's shift from victory celebrations to mourning a fallen leader.

1865: First published in 1865, at the Civil War's end, "The Nation" is among America's oldest weekly magazines, known for its progressive perspective. Its debut during this transformative era in U.S. history established it as a significant player in shaping political and cultural discourse, contributing to public debate and intellectual thought.

Based in New York City, the magazine became a vital part of the city's journalistic fabric, bolstering its reputation as a hub for progressive journalism. "The Nation" added a unique voice to New York's media landscape, influencing discussions at both local and national levels on politics, society, and culture, and playing a key role in the city's intellectual and cultural evolution.

1865: Following the Irish Potato Famine (1845-1849), New York City saw a significant increase in Irish immigrants, notably boosting its Roman Catholic population. By 1865, Catholics, largely of Irish origin, formed a substantial part of the city's demographic, reshaping its cultural, religious, and social fabric. While precise figures remain debated, the influence of this demographic change on New York City's landscape was profound and lasting.

Concurrently, Catholic schools became prominent in New York's education sector, reflecting the growing Catholic community's needs. Although exact numbers of students attending these schools in 1860's are uncertain, their impact on the city's educational scene was undeniable. This growth in Catholic education mirrored broader shifts in the city's religious and educational development, marking a pivotal chapter in its history.

1866: Established in 1866, A.A. Vantine and Company, or Vantine's, was a key Oriental goods store in New York City, specializing in East Asian imports like art and decor. Its role in introducing Asian cultures to America significantly diversified NYC's cultural and commercial landscape, reflecting its status as a global trade center.

Conversely, Cedar Tavern, known for its mid-20th century prominence, became a Greenwich Village landmark, pivotal in the Abstract Expressionist movement. Although its establishment date in 1866 isn't precisely documented, its fame in the 1950s and 1960s linked it closely with key cultural figures, symbolizing NYC's vibrant art scene. Both establishments uniquely shaped NYC's cultural fabric in different eras.

1866: Steinway Hall constructed in 1866, significantly shaped New York City's cultural and musical landscape. As a top concert venue, it became integral to the city's musical scene, hosting numerous notable performances, thereby enhancing NYC's cultural stature. Architecturally, Steinway Hall stood as a landmark, contributing to the city's diverse heritage.

Economically, it attracted musicians, performers, and audiences, bolstering local businesses and the surrounding area's economic growth. Furthermore, it was pivotal in promoting the arts, particularly music, supporting both local and international artists' careers. Steinway Hall's establishment didn't just mark a milestone for Steinway & Sons; it profoundly influenced NYC's cultural, architectural, and economic dynamics.

1866: New York City's 1866 cholera epidemic, part of a global pandemic, resulted in about 1,137 deaths. Cholera's impact was significant in 19th-century urban areas due to its contagious nature. The city's effective management of this outbreak was credited to the Metropolitan Board of Health, established that year.

Their enforcement of public health and sanitation laws played a crucial role in controlling the disease's spread. This response not only managed the immediate crisis but also set a precedent in public health policy and urban planning, shaping future health initiatives and infrastructure development in NYC, reflecting the city's adaptability in the face of public health challenges.

1866: During the mid to late 19th century, the NYPD underwent substantial modernization, notably introducing telegraph communications and police call boxes, enhancing response times and coordination. This period saw the department's expansion, with new precincts and specialized units like mounted police emerging. Concurrently, the NYPD faced challenges of brutality and corruption, particularly in interactions with minority communities.

Reform advocates, including journalist Jacob Riis and Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt (1895-1897), pushed for training and accountability improvements. These changes marked a transition to more efficient policing methods, influencing U.S. law enforcement evolution and addressing a growing, diverse city's challenges. These reforms and leadership set precedents for future policing, establishing the NYPD as a law enforcement pioneer and significantly impacting urban policing methods and challenges.

1867: New York City marked a transportation milestone in 1867 with the launch of America's first elevated train, operated by the West Side and Yonkers Patent Railway Company along Ninth Avenue, Manhattan. This steam-powered innovation, running on tracks above street level, offered an efficient solution to urban congestion.

The elevated train system rapidly became a popular transit choice, prompting the creation of more lines by the late 1800s, and played a vital role in the city's expansion. Despite challenges like noise and pollution, these trains were instrumental in shaping NYC's transit landscape, laying the groundwork for the subway system that emerged in the early 1900s, signifying a continual evolution in urban mobility.

1867: A group of actors, part of the Jolly Corks, met on Elm Street in New York City in 1867, laying the foundation for what became the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (B.P.O.E.). Initially a social gathering, this assembly evolved into a significant fraternal and philanthropic society across the U.S. by the early 20th century.

Elm Street, pivotal in the Elks' origin, was renamed Elk Street in 1939 to commemorate the first lodge's location, intertwining with NYC's transformation from Dutch New Amsterdam to a diverse metropolis. This evolution, capturing both the Elks' growth and the city's Dutch heritage, mirrors New York's cultural and societal progression.

1868: Pike's Opera House opened in 1868, located at 8th Avenue and 23rd Street, quickly became a crown jewel in New York City's cultural scene, hosting distinguished opera and theater performances. Its emergence as a cultural icon significantly enriched the city's late 19th-century arts landscape. The venue's architectural elegance added to New York's urban and architectural development, making it a social epicenter for the city's elite.

Economically, it spurred local business growth by drawing diverse audiences, underlining its role in boosting the city's economy. Pike's Opera House's legacy, integral to New York's transformation into a premier cultural and entertainment center, illustrates its enduring impact on the city's historical and cultural evolution.

1868: Proposed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in 1868, Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn introduced the concept of a "parkway" to urban planning. This innovative design diverged from traditional roads, emphasizing non-commercial use with public walks, seating, and landscaped areas. The creation of Eastern Parkway, along with Ocean Parkway, another Olmsted and Vaux design, marked a significant shift in city landscape development, prioritizing recreational and aesthetic aspects.

Recognized as a New York City Scenic Landmark, Eastern and Ocean Parkways have significantly influenced urban design. They enhanced Brooklyn's environment with green spaces and recreational areas while contributing to the city's cultural and historical fabric. These parkways set a lasting precedent in the development of urban green spaces, shaping New York City's and America's approach to urban planning and landscape architecture.

1868: Victoria Woodhull made history in 1868 as the first woman to own and operate a brokerage firm on Wall Street, New York City, challenging gender norms in the male-dominated financial sector. Her entry into finance symbolized a significant breakthrough for women's participation in business, particularly in areas previously restricted to them.

In 1872, Woodhull expanded her influence to politics, running for U.S. President on the Equal Rights Party ticket, a first for a woman. Although her presidential bid was unsuccessful, it raised awareness of women's issues and inspired future female candidates. Woodhull's pioneering contributions in finance and politics have been recognized as milestones in women's rights, motivating ongoing efforts to break barriers and reshape societal norms.

1869: Frederic Edwin Church, a prominent Hudson River School artist, completed "The Heart of the Andes" in 1869, a masterful depiction of South America's Andes Mountains. Exhibited at New York City's Tenth Street Studio Building, a then-artistic epicenter, the painting drew large crowds, reflecting its appeal and the public's burgeoning interest in fine art.

Today, it is a highlight of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection, symbolizing the Hudson River School's contribution to American landscape painting. This movement, centered around the natural beauty of the northeastern U.S., significantly bolstered New York City's status as a 19th-century cultural and artistic hub, marking a pivotal moment in the evolution of American art.

1869: New York City's meteorological progress began in 1869 with the opening of its first public observatory in Central Park Arsenal, spearheaded by Professor Daniel Draper. Draper's innovations in automatic weather data recording significantly boosted the field's accuracy and efficiency. The observatory, a linchpin in meteorological advancement, transitioned under the United States Weather Bureau's management in 1911.

In 1912, it was relocated to Belvedere Castle, Central Park, enhancing the city's cultural and historical milieu. This observatory has played a crucial role in weather monitoring and forecasting, contributing to both the city's and the nation's meteorological development, and continues to be a functional landmark in Central Park.

1869: Founded by notable New Yorkers like Albert Smith Bickmore and J. Pierpont Morgan, the American Museum of Natural History was established in 1869 to enhance public natural science knowledge and research. Initially opened in Central Park's Arsenal building in April 1871, its significant official opening, attended by U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes, occurred on December 22, 1877. By 1879, the museum transitioned from the Arsenal to a debt-free status.

The museum, a New York City landmark, now houses over 33 million specimens and artifacts, ranking among the world's largest in its field. Continually attracting global visitors, it contributes significantly to science education and research. Renowned for its diverse exhibits, it reflects New York City's commitment to cultural and scientific progress, inspiring and educating a worldwide audience.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Defines Explore NYC's Historical Journey

Welcome to "History101.NYC," an unparalleled online gallery featuring the beginnings of New York City, exquisitely restored by the experts at Fine Print New York. This exclusive collection vividly resurrects key historical moments, celebrating the city's rich history and diverse cultural heritage. Each meticulously crafted piece in our gallery offers a genuine look into NYC's past, embodying exceptional artistic skill and meticulous attention to detail.

Dive into our archives for a selection of exclusive, premium-quality art prints, encompassing a range of vintage photos, historical images, and rare lithographs unique to our site. These curated artworks narrate the dynamic evolution of the Big Apple, providing history enthusiasts and art collectors with a rare opportunity to own a part of NYC's illustrious legacy. Don't miss the chance to explore and acquire these captivating representations of New York City's historical journey.

Who Are the Founders of Discover the Creators

Joseph Gornail, a printer/photographer and founder of Fine Print New York, grew up in SoHo, Manhattan. Part of a long lineage of NYC printers, he learned the craft of printing as a teenager. Joseph's pivotal role in the New York printing industry began while working for Dolo Records/Stretch Armstrong in 1996. He then founded All City Marketing & Printing, and in 1999, co-founded the iconic streetwear brand "Orchard Street" with Benjamin Holloway and Greig Bennett. In 2004, Joseph established Fine Print NYC, a top-tier commercial printing company in New York. It launched with a major project for Nike, showcasing resilience and innovation in the digital age.

Steven Garcia, esteemed designer/illustrator and creative director at Fine Print New York, hails from Bushwick, Brooklyn. An alumnus of Fashion Industries High School and F.I.T., Steven's impressive career trajectory includes his tenure as a sought-after professional retoucher and storyboard artist at Saatchi & Saatchi in 1995. His entrepreneurial spirit led to the inception of ShinyDesign in 1998, later aligning with Fine Print in 2004 as their primary design partner. Steven's portfolio boasts collaborations with high-profile brands like Snapple, The Waldorf Astoria, and Sony, making him a prominent figure in New York's advertising and design landscape.

Together, Joseph & Steven spearhead the project, a groundbreaking digital archive since 2006. Their longstanding partnership dates back to 2001, when Joseph managed The New York City Urban Experience, an influential art gallery & museum at 85 South Street, and Steven curated, both contributing to New York City's vibrant cultural scene. This venue, owned by Mike Saes of the Nike Bridge Runners and True Yorkers, was a cornerstone for urban art and history enthusiasts.

What Time Periods, Eras, Decades of NYC History are available?

We cover a vast span of New York City's history, from its inception as New Amsterdam to the vibrant late 1980s. Our artists are actively working on expanding our collection to include photos from the 90s up to the present day.

Here's our current coverage list, showcasing the city's evolution:

Dutch Era: When New York Was New Amsterdam

NYC in the 1600s

Georgian Era

NYC in the 1700s • NYC from 1800 to 1840NYC in the 1840s • 

Victorian Era

NYC in the 1850s • NYC in the 1860s • NYC in the 1870s • NYC in the 1880s

Progressive Era

NYC in the 1890s • NYC from 1900 to 1905 • 1905 to 1910 • 1910 to 1915 • 

World War 1

NYC from 1915 to 1920

Art Deco

NYC from 1920 to 1925 • NYC from 1925 to 1930

Depression Era

NYC from 1930 to 1935 • NYC from 1935 to 1940

World War 2

NYC from 1940 to 1945

MidCentury Modern Era

NYC from 1945 to 1950 • 1950 to 1955 • 1955 to 1960 • 1960 to 1965 • 1965 to 1970

Energy Crisis

NYC from 1970 to 1975 • 1975 to 1980

Reagan Era

NYC from 1980 to 1985 • 1985 to 1990

Each period is richly represented through a variety of art mediums, offering a comprehensive and immersive historical journey of NYC. This chronological approach provides enthusiasts and scholars a unique lens into the city's architectural, cultural, and social developments.

How many historical Images are on this site?

There are currently 794 photos, lithographs, illustrations and maps on this site. Each one has been digitally restored and cleaned up by hand, which makes this collection truly unique.

Can I License Any of These Images?

Digital licenses are available for educational institutions (schools, universities, non-profit organizations). Please contact to discuss conditions for licensing.

NOTE: Any form of commercialization or redistribution of these images, either as tangible goods or third party licenses, is expressly forbidden.

Can I purchase prints of the historical images available on the site? is an ad-free and non-profit learning resource. We do not sell prints of these images. All operational costs are covered by Fine Print NYC

Do you accept admissions to this collection?

Absolutely! Feel free to send us an email with a preview of the image and we will let you know if it's a good fit for the archives.

How do you handle feedback or corrections regarding the historical context of images?

We welcome any feedback that you may have. If it proves to be historically accurate the changes will be reflected on the site shortly after our correspondence.

Do you collaborate with other historical societies or archives?

We have collaborated with NYC's Municipal Archives, The Tenemant Museum, Bronx Historical Society and a number of prominent NYC photographers to produce a series of limited edition postcards which free of charge, but only available via street distribution, primarily in Manhattan.

Do you also provide image restoration as a service for personal photos?

Yes, we can repair, restore and cleanup your old family photos, slides and negatives. You can either send us the digital files or the original photos to be professionally scanned.

Can you repair any type of image damage?

We can restore just about any level of damage or signs of aging, within reason. As long as most of the photo is intact we cn work with it. The one flaw we cannot fix is source material that is blurry. A poorly take photo can only be improved so much.


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