As the 1860s dawned upon New York City, it was a bustling metropolis, full of life, energy, and innovation. The city was rapidly expanding, and many new technologies and developments were emerging. In 1860, the city’s population had already surpassed 800,000 people, making it the largest city in the United States and one of the largest in the world. The city was a hub of commerce, finance, and culture, and it was home to some of the most influential people of the era.
Throughout the 1860s, New York City experienced many significant events and changes that shaped its history and helped to define its identity. One of the most important was the Civil War, which raged from 1861 to 1865. The city played a crucial role in the conflict, as it was a major center for recruiting soldiers, manufacturing weapons and supplies, and financing the war effort. The war also had a profound impact on the city’s social and economic fabric, as it spurred waves of immigration, led to the growth of the city’s manufacturing sector, and fueled debates over issues such as slavery and states’ rights.
Despite the challenges posed by the war, New York City continued to grow and evolve throughout the 1860s. The city saw the establishment of many new institutions, including the American Museum of Natural History, which was founded in 1869, and the expansion of existing ones, such as the New York City Police Department. The city also witnessed major advances in transportation, with the introduction of the first elevated train in the United States in 1867, which helped to revolutionize urban travel. By the end of the decade, New York City had cemented its position as one of the most dynamic and influential cities in the world.
A photograph of Central Park in its pristine and far less developed stage, compared to what we know today.
Photograph of a man in a suit standing pensively on a bridge overlooking the arched footpath beneath.
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.
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).
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.
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.
A photograph shows a famous intersection of downtown Manhattan, lined with trolleys and a vastly different urban landscape.
The Equitable Building was completed in 1870 and is part of history for being the world's first office building to feature passenger elevators.
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.
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: The population of New York City reaches approximately 813,000, making it the most populous city in the United States at that time. This is largely due to immigration, with many people coming to the city from Europe and other parts of the world in search of jobs and opportunities. The majority of immigrants to New York City during this time period are from countries such as Ireland, Germany, and Italy. These immigrants often settle in ethnic enclaves within the city, such as Little Italy and the Lower East Side. The influx of immigrants brings a diversity of cultures and traditions to the city, which helps shape its identity and character. It is also worth noting that the population growth in New York City during this time period is not without its challenges. The city struggles with issues such as overcrowding, poverty, and disease. However, the city also makes great strides in improving living conditions and providing services to its residents, such as the creation of public parks and the establishment of a public education system.
1860: The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art is founded by the industrialist Peter Cooper. The institution is located in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan, and its mission is to provide a high-quality education in the fields of art, architecture, and engineering to students from all backgrounds, regardless of their ability to pay. At the time of its founding, the Cooper Union is unique in that it offers free tuition to all of its students. This is a revolutionary idea, as many other universities and colleges of the time charge high tuition fees that are out of reach for many working-class students. The Cooper Union is able to offer free tuition thanks to Peter Cooper's philanthropy and his belief in the power of education to uplift individuals and society as a whole. Over the years, the Cooper Union becomes known for its excellence in the fields of art, architecture, and engineering. It produces many notable alumni, including architects, artists, and engineers who make significant contributions to their respective fields. The institution remains committed to providing a high-quality education to all of its students, regardless of their background or financial situation.
1860: The "Great Eastern" makes its first voyage to New York City, arriving in the city's harbor to great fanfare. The steamship is designed by the British engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. At the time of its launch it is the largest ship in the world, measuring over 680 feet in length and weighing over 18,000 tons. The ship is an engineering marvel, featuring many cutting-edge technologies of the time. It is powered by a combination of steam engines and paddle wheels, and it has a double hull that makes it more stable in rough seas. The ship is also outfitted with luxurious amenities, including a dining room that can seat 400 people and a music room that features a grand piano. The "Great Eastern" is intended to be used for transatlantic travel, and it makes several voyages between England and the United States during its career. However, the ship is not a commercial success, and it is eventually converted to a cable-laying vessel before being scrapped in 1889. Nonetheless, the maiden voyage of this record breaking vessel remains an important symbol of the technological progress and ambition of the 19th century, and its first voyage to New York City is a significant moment in the city's history.
1861: 100,000 people fill Union Square on April 20 in the "Great Union Meeting" - one of the largest public gatherings in the city's history. The rally was a public effort to encourage solidarity and enlistment in the military. Prominent speakers, including Mayor Fernando Wood, addressed the crowd, and there were patriotic songs and speeches. The meeting was seen as a turning point in the city's attitude towards the war effort. Another notable event was the arrival of the Sixth Massachusetts Regiment in New York City on April 19, 1861. The regiment had been attacked by a pro-secessionist mob in Baltimore, Maryland, and its members had to fight their way through the city to reach a train that would take them to Washington, D.C. When they arrived in New York City, they were greeted with a hero's welcome and a parade down Broadway. While there are no major battles or conflicts in New York City during the Civil War, the city plays an important role in the early stages of the conflict, both in terms of its political support for the Union and its contribution of troops to the war effort.
1863: The New York City draft riots go down as one of the deadliest civil disturbances in American history. The riots are sparked by the newly instituted draft for the Civil War, which requires men to register for military service. The draft is deeply unpopular, particularly among working-class New Yorkers who see it as unfair and unjust. The draft riots begin on July 13, 1863, when angry mobs begin attacking government buildings and symbols of authority in the city. The violence quickly escalates, with rioters setting fire to buildings, looting stores, and attacking African Americans throughout the city. The riots last for several days, and by the time they are over, at least 120 people have been killed and many more have been injured. The draft riots are a significant moment in the history of New York City and the United States. They highlight the deep divisions within American society over issues of race, class, and citizenship. In the aftermath of the riots, efforts are made to address some of the underlying issues that have contributed to the unrest, such as the draft system and economic inequality. The draft riots will continue to shape the social and political landscape of the United States for many years to come.
1861: The Brooklyn Academy of Music, also known as BAM, is established as one of the earliest performing arts venues in the United States. It is founded by a group of Brooklyn citizens who want to establish a cultural institution to rival the great theaters of Manhattan. The original building is located on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights and is designed by architect Leopold Eidlitz. Interestingly, the building that now houses the BAM Harvey Theater was originally a movie theater called the Majestic Theater, which opened in 1904. It was one of the first movie theaters in Brooklyn and played a key role in the early days of cinema. However, by the 1970s, the theater had fallen into disrepair and was in danger of being demolished. BAM stepped in and purchased the building, restoring it and turning it into one of their main venues. Another interesting fact is that the original building that housed BAM was not actually purpose-built as a theater. It was originally constructed as a venue for the Philharmonic Society of Brooklyn, then converted into a theater by the BAM founders. To this day BAM remains an important cultural center and a bastion of the performing arts in New York City.
1862: The New York and Harlem Railroad introduces the first horse-drawn streetcars in New York City. Prior to this, horse-drawn omnibuses were the primary mode of transportation. The new streetcars, with their smoother ride and increased efficiency, quickly become a popular means of travel. The streetcars are operated by horses, which are housed at depots located along the route. This way they are swapped out periodically to keep them fresh and rested. This innovation marks a major milestone in urban transportation history, paving the way for future transportation innovations, such as electric streetcars and subways. This new form of transportation is not without its challenges. One issue is the handling of horse waste, which accumulated on the streets and sidewalks. This creates job opportunities for manure collectors, a precursor to modern-day street sweepers. Another challenge is the occasional runaway horse, which could cause significant damage and pose a danger to the public. Despite these challenges, the streetcars remained a vital part of New York City's transportation system for several decades. At their peak, there were over 1,000 horse-drawn streetcars operating in the city. Their legacy can still be seen today in the historic streetcar tracks that run along some of New York City's most famous thoroughfares.
1863: The National Currency Act was passed by the U.S. Congress on February 25. The act was designed to create a uniform national currency for the United States and to provide a stable banking system for the country.Under the act, national banks were authorized to issue banknotes backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. This helped to ensure the stability and reliability of the nation's banking system, and it also helped to create a more stable currency for the country. The act also created a system of national banking associations, with the First National Bank of New York City being one of the earliest and most important of these associations. The First National Bank of New York City was founded in 1863 and was one of the largest and most powerful banks in the country at the time. The bank played a key role in financing the country's growth and development in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Overall, the National Currency Act of 1863 was a significant milestone in the development of the U.S. banking system, and it helped to establish the framework for the modern banking system that we have today.
1863: As the Civil War continues to take its toll on the economy, the need for a stable monetary system becomes a top priority for government officials, leading to the National Currency Act and paving the way for the development of paper currency. Prior to the act, paper money was issued by state-chartered banks, which led to a confusing array of currencies which did not facilitate transactions across state lines. With a national currency system in place, paper money becomes more standardized and widely accepted. This initiative is the brainchild of Salmon P. Chase - Secretary of the Treasury under President Abraham Lincoln. Chase was a strong advocate for creating a national currency system, and he oversaw the implementation of the act, which helped to stabilize the country's finances during a tumultuous time. His efforts would lay the groundwork for the Federal Reserve System. The National Currency Act establishes a greater measure of economic security and endures as a precursor to modern banking systems.
1863: The National Association of Base Ball Players holds a championship game that goes down in baseball history. On October 14, over 20,000 spectators gather at the Capitoline Grounds in Brooklyn to watch the Eckford Club of Brooklyn face off against the Union Club of Morrisania (the Bronx). With a Civil War dividing the nation, baseball has evolved into something more than just a game. It is a way of life and form of escapism for many working-class citizens. The air in the stadium is electric as the players battle out a tense game on the pitch, the roar of the crowd deafening at every home run and close call. The Eckfords eventually emerge victorious with a score of 23-11 - a victory caused much commotion and celebration throughout the borough of Brooklyn. While this is not an "official" game by today's standards, the match is a pivotal moment in sports history, drawing national attention and paving the way for baseball's future as a beloved, and decidedly American pastime.
1864: The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) moves to a new location at 10-12 Broad Street in Lower Manhattan. It becomes the first permanent home for the NYSE, which had previously been located in various temporary spaces around the city. The new building is designed by architect George B. Post and is built specifically for the NYSE. It features a large trading floor, offices for brokers and traders, and a vault for storing securities. The building is also equipped with modern amenities, such as gas lighting and a telegraph system, which helps to make trading more efficient and streamlined. The move to the new location is a significant step for the NYSE, as it helps to establish the exchange as a major financial center and hub of economic activity. Founded in 1792 by a group of stockbrokers who met under a buttonwood tree on Wall Street, and it had grown steadily over the years to become one of the most important financial institutions in the world. Today, the NYSE is still located at 11 Wall Street, just a few blocks away from its original location under the buttonwood tree. It remains one of the most important and influential financial institutions in the world, and it continues to play a key role in the global economy.
1864: The New York Academy of Medicine becomes one of the first medical schools in the United States to admit women. At the time, women are largely excluded from the medical profession and there were few opportunities for them to receive formal medical training or become licensed physicians. The decision represents a significant milestone, as it helped to break down some of the barriers that had traditionally prevented women from pursuing careers in medicine. It was a controversial decision as not everyone was in favor, but the Academy had made its choice. The first woman to graduate from the New York Academy of Medicine is Emily Blackwell, who goes on to become one of the most prominent female physicians of her time, playing a key role in establishing the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, a service which provided medical care for underserved populations in New York City. Her story represents a significant step forward for women's rights, helping to pave the way for greater gender equality in the medical profession.
1864: The New York City Metropolitan Police Department (NYPD) is established, and it quickly becomes one of the most important and influential police departments in the country. Prior to the establishment of the NYPD, law enforcement in New York City is fragmented and disorganized, with various local precincts and volunteer watchmen responsible for maintaining order. This leads to a lack of accountability and professionalism, as well as high levels of corruption and inefficiency. The establishment of the NYPD is a significant step forward for law enforcement in the city. The department is led by Superintendent John A. Kennedy, who is a former U.S. Army colonel and a veteran of the Mexican-American War. Kennedy implements a number of reforms to improve policing and reduce corruption, including the establishment of a system of promotion based on merit, the creation of a centralized detective bureau, and the implementation of a system of foot patrols. The NYPD quickly becomes one of the most respected and effective police departments in the country. Today, the NYPD is one of the largest and most complex police departments in the world, with over 35,000 officers and a wide range of specialized units and divisions.
1865: The New York State Legislature authorizes the creation of a paid fire department to replace the city's volunteer fire companies. The new department is called the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, and it is responsible for providing fire protection to Manhattan and parts of the Bronx. The Metropolitan Fire Brigade is staffed by paid firefighters, and it is led by Chief Engineer Alexander Shaler. The department has a centralized command structure and is equipped with modern firefighting equipment, such as steam-powered fire engines and hose carts. The creation of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade is seen as a major step forward in improving fire protection in New York City. Prior to the establishment of the department, the city's volunteer fire companies were often poorly trained, disorganized, and prone to corruption. The Metropolitan Fire Brigade helps to bring professionalism and efficiency to the city's firefighting efforts, and it sets the stage for the development of the modern New York City Fire Department, which remains one of the largest and most respected fire departments in the world.
1865: Abraham Lincoln's funeral procession begins in Washington, D.C. on April 19th, stopping in Baltimore, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and other cities before arriving in New York City on April 24th. The procession is accompanied by a massive funeral train that carries Lincoln's casket, as well as a large number of dignitaries and mourners. When the procession reaches New York City, it is greeted by thousands of mourners who line the streets to pay their respects. The city is draped in black, and many businesses and public buildings are closed in honor of the occasion. While it is difficult to estimate the exact number of people who attend, most historical accounts suggest that it is around 100,000, which is an enormous number of people. The procession is a somber and emotional event, and it helps to cement Lincoln's place in American history as one of the nation's most beloved and iconic leaders. Today, Lincoln's legacy continues to be celebrated and remembered in New York City and throughout the United States.
1866: A pivotal year for the NYPD as it undergoes significant expansion and modernization. One of the most notable developments is the introduction of telegraph communications and police call boxes, creating instantaneous communication between field officers and the department's central command. This drastically improves response times and coordination, leading to more effective policing throughout the city. The NYPD continues to expand and establish new precincts, allowed for more specialized units to be formed, such as the mounted police unit. Such rapid changes are not met without challenges. The department faces growing criticisms of brutality and corruption, particularly in relation to its treatment of minority communities. In response, reformers such as journalist Jacob Riis and police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt advocate for improved training and accountability measures to address these issues. Despite these challenges, the NYPD continues to be a leader in law enforcement, setting the standard for policing in the United States and beyond.
1867: The first elevated train in the United States begins operation in New York City, revolutionizing urban transportation. The West Side and Yonkers Patent Railway Company operates the train along Ninth Avenue in Manhattan, powered by a steam engine and running on tracks elevated above street level. This innovation enables the train to avoid congestion on the streets and provide a faster and more efficient mode of transportation for New Yorkers. The elevated train quickly becomes a popular choice, prompting other companies to follow suit, resulting in several elevated train lines operating throughout the city by the late 1800s. Despite their success, elevated trains are not without their drawbacks. They are noisy, smoky, and polluting, creating a significant divide between the upper and working-class residents. Nevertheless, the elevated trains remain a vital part of New York City's transportation infrastructure for several decades, laying the groundwork for the subway system that would eventually replace them in the early 1900s.
1868: Victoria Woodhull makes history by becoming the first woman to own and operate a Wall Street brokerage firm in New York City. She defies gender norms and challenges the male-dominated financial industry, setting the stage for future generations of women to succeed in the field. As a prominent suffragist and advocate for women's rights, Woodhull also blazes a trail in politics. In 1872, she runs for President of the United States on the Equal Rights Party ticket, making her the first woman to do so. While she does not win the election, her campaign raises awareness of women's issues and inspires future female candidates. Today, Woodhull's legacy continues to inspire women to break barriers and shatter glass ceilings in finance, politics, and other fields.
1869: Steinway & Sons piano factory opens in Astoria, Queens, quickly becoming one of the most important and influential piano makers in the world. The factory employs hundreds of workers, many of whom were skilled craftsmen from Germany. The workers lived in company housing and were provided with a range of benefits, including medical care and education for their children. This factory is operational and still producing world class instruments to this day. Perhaps the greatest achievement of the family legacy was Steinway Hall on East 14th Street - a majestic piece of architecture, designed not only to showcase the brilliance of artists, but also captivate the imagination of the public. From its inaugural performance on October 31, 1866 to its heyday in the 1890s, the hall stands as a beacon of culture, hosting the New York Philharmonic and providing a platform for diverse public gatherings. William Steinway also plays a crucial role in the development of Carnegie Hall, ensuring that the acoustics and design meet the highest standards, while convincing Andrew Carnegie to fund the project.
1869: The Hudson River School painter Frederic Edwin Church completes his masterpiece "The Heart of the Andes," capturing the breathtaking landscape of the Andes Mountains in South America. The painting is exhibited in a specially designed room at the Tenth Street Studio Building in New York City, which is the hub of the city's art scene at the time. The exhibit draws large crowds of visitors who pay 25 cents to view the painting. Today, "The Heart of the Andes" is a treasured masterpiece of the Hudson River School of painting, and it is displayed in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The work of Church and other Hudson River School painters establishes a uniquely American style of landscape painting that celebrates the natural beauty of the United States.
1869: The American Museum of Natural History is founded in Manhattan. Established by a group of prominent New Yorkers, including Albert Smith Bickmore, Morris K. Jesup, J. Pierpont Morgan, Andrew H. Green, and Joseph Choate, among others, the original purpose of the museum is to enhance public understanding of the natural sciences, while promoting scientific research and education. The museum first opened its doors to the public in April 1871, in the Arsenal building in Central Park. Since then, the museum has expanded significantly, adding new buildings and exhibits to its collection. Today, the American Museum of Natural History is one of the largest and most celebrated museums in the world, with a collection of more than 33 million specimens and artifacts across a range of scientific disciplines. The museum remains an iconic institution in New York City, continues to inspire and educate visitors of all ages from around the globe to explore its vast collection and to learn about the wonders of the natural world.
Welcome to the History of New York City - A Unique Online Gallery of NYC's Origins, Curated and Digitally Restored by Fine Print New York.
We're opening our archives to present this Collection of Vintage Photos, Historical Images and Rare Lithographs. This Exclusive Series of High Quality Art Prints are only Available for Purchase Exclusively on this Site.
Joseph Gornail, printer/photographer and founder of Fine Print New York. Joseph grew up in SoHo, Manhattan and is part of a long lineage of NYC printers, learning the family trade from his grandfather. While working for Dolo Records/Stretch Armstrong in 1996, Joseph founded All City Marketing & Printing, and in 1999 Co-Founded the legendary street wear company "Orchard Street " with lifelong friends Benjamin Holloway and Greig Bennett. Fine Print NYC was established in 2004 with a Nike project being the launchpad for a commercial printing company that has not only survived, but thrived in the digital age.
Steven Garcia, designer/illustrator and creative director of Fine Print New York. Born and raised in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Steven attended Fashion Industries High School and F.I.T. before building a successful career at Saatchi & Saatchi for as a professional retoucher and storyboard artist in 1995. Steven started ShinyDesign in 1998 and partnered with Fine Print in 2004 as the exclusive design firm for the company. Steven has independently worked on major advertising campaigns for many brands over the years, such as Snapple, The Waldorf Astoria and Sony to name a few.
Together, Joseph & Steven are responsible for the curation and direction of the History101.nyc project, which has been under development since 2006. They have a long history of collaborating together, going back as far as 2001 when Joseph was gallery manager and Steven was a curator at The New York City Urban Experience, an art gallery & museum that was located at 85 South Street and owned by Mike Saes of the Nike Bridge Runners and True Yorkers.
We cover a great portion of the city's history, ranging from its earliest days as New Amsterdam to the late 1980s. Artists are currently working on photos from the 90s to present day,
Here's a current list of what is covered:
There are currently 714 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.
Digital licenses are available for educational institutions (schools, universities, non-profit organizations). Please contact email@example.com 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.
History101.nyc 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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History101.NYC is an ad-free learning resource available to the public at no charge.
This project is dedicated to exploring New York’s fascinating heritage through the restoration of vintage photographs and prints.