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 Age” – a time of radical progress but also great instability as the city’s population continued to grow beyond its capacity. This era would also see the nation’s first Centennial Anniversary, which was the cause of much fanfare and festivities as America reached a new milestone.
An aerial view of the southern tip of Manhattan during the early morning hours. Illustration includes the shores of Brooklyn and New Jersey.
A bird's-eye view of New York with Central Park in the foreground.
A painting which shows New Yorkers enjoying the foliage and scenery at Central Park.
The Lake Manahatta Reservoir was built between 1858 and 1862 as a temporary water supply for the city, receiving water from the Croton Aqueduct.
Views of Union Square, including the park, equestrian statue of George Washington, and the rustic buildings which once inhabited the neighborhood.
An elevated perspective of the Washington Statue at Union Square, surrounded by crowds of people and decorated for Decoration Day.
Washington Statue at Union Square, decorated with foliage and flags for Decoration Day.
New York City - improved project of a covered atmospheric elevated railway for city transit, by Dr. R.H. Gilbert
Print shows portion of a St. Patrick's Day parade at Union Square with a float in the center bearing a bust of Daniel O'Connell.
Photograph of a row of buildings and storefronts taken from the perspective of Madison Square Park.
The Grand Central Depot was built by Cornelius Vanderbilt in 1871 on the site we know today as Grand Central Terminal.
Photograph of an elevated railroad station constructed by the Manhattan Railway Company.
View looking southwest from the intersection of 33rd Street and Broadway. The Sixth Avenue Elevated Railway is shown on Sixth Avenue where it crosses Broadway.
A photograph of the waiting room at Ellis Island, where recently arrived immigrants await examination.
Photograph of a bustling street market below the overpass of the Brooklyn Bridge
1870: The population of New York City reached 942,292, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This figure maintained its status as the most populous city in the United States at the time. The construction of the Erie Canal in 1825 enhanced New York City's position as a center of commerce and transportation, connecting the city to the Great Lakes and the Midwest, providing a vital trade route for goods and fostering economic growth. The development of the city's transportation infrastructure, including the expansion of railroads and the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883 was another significant milestone in the city's transportation history. The bridge, spanning the East River, provided a crucial link between Manhattan and Brooklyn, improving connectivity and facilitating the movement of people and goods between the two boroughs.
1870: The first section of the elevated West Side and Yonkers Patent Railway, later known as the Ninth Avenue El, began operation in New York City in 1870. This event marked the start of elevated rapid transit in the city. The West Side and Yonkers Patent Railway was initially a short line that connected the Battery at the southern tip of Manhattan to 30th Street. The line used steam locomotives to pull passenger cars on tracks elevated above street level. The success of the West Side and Yonkers Patent Railway paved the way for the construction of additional elevated railways in New York City. In the following years, the Third Avenue El (1878), the Second Avenue El (1879), and the Sixth Avenue El (1879) were built, creating a network of elevated transit lines throughout Manhattan.
1871: The Great Chicago Fire prompted New York City officials to implement stricter fire codes and regulations to prevent similar disasters. In the aftermath of the fire, cities across the country recognized the need for better fire prevention measures. New York City, which had experienced several significant fires in its history, was particularly concerned about the potential for a similar disaster. New York City officials and architects took several steps to improve fire safety in the city:Updating building codes, Improving firefighting infrastructure, Strengthening fire safety regulations and Training and expanding the fire department.
1871: The notorious political organization, Tammany Hall, was implicated in the Tweed Ring scandal, which exposed widespread corruption in city government. Tammany Hall was a powerful Democratic political machine in New York City, which controlled much of the city's government and the organization was known for its patronage system, which allowed its leaders to maintain power by providing jobs and favors to their supporters. In response to the scandal, several members of the Tweed Ring, including Boss Tweed himself, were arrested and prosecuted. Tweed was convicted on charges of forgery and larceny in 1873 and sentenced to 12 years in prison. His sentence was later reduced, and he was released in 1875. However, he was subsequently rearrested on civil charges and died in jail in 1878 (a jail that he actually built while in office).
1871: The New York City Department of Docks and Ferries was established to oversee the city's waterfront infrastructure, including docks, piers, and ferry services. New York City's waterfront played a critical role in the city's growth and development, as it served as a major hub for commerce, trade, and transportation. As the city's population and maritime activities expanded in the 19th century, the need for a centralized authority to manage and regulate the waterfront became increasingly apparent. The creation of the Department of Docks and Ferries in 1871 was an effort to address this need. The department was responsible for Planning and construction, Maintenance and repair, Regulation oversight and Promoting commerce. The department was later reorganized and eventually became part of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, which continues to oversee waterfront development and management today.
1872: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, commonly known as the Met, was officially established in New York City in 1870. However, the museum did not open to the public until February 20, 1872. Initially located in a building at 681 Fifth Avenue, the museum displayed a collection of art that had been acquired by a group of businessmen, financiers, and artists. The museum's collection grew rapidly through donations, purchases, and bequests. As the collection expanded, so did the need for larger facilities. In 1880, the museum moved to its current location on Fifth Avenue and 82nd Street, where it occupies a vast complex of buildings. Today, the Met is a major cultural landmark in New York City, attracting millions of visitors each year. It houses a wide range of artworks, including paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, photography, and artifacts from around the world. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions, educational programs, and public events.
1872: Victoria Woodhull became the first woman to run for President of the United States. Alongside her sister, Tennessee Claflin, Woodhull also operated a Wall Street brokerage firm in New York City. A prominent figure in the women's suffrage movement and an advocate for women's rights. She believed that women should have equal opportunities and representation in all aspects of society, including politics and finance. In addition to her political aspirations, Woodhull, along with her sister Tennessee Claflin, also made a mark in the financial world. In 1870, they established a brokerage firm on Wall Street known as Woodhull, Claflin & Company. This was a groundbreaking endeavor as it was highly unusual for women to be involved in the male-dominated financial industry at the time. Woodhull and Claflin's brokerage firm challenged traditional gender norms and became a symbol of women's empowerment and financial independence.
1874: The annexation of the Bronx to New York City on January 1, was a significant event in the history of both the Bronx and New York City as a whole. Prior to the annexation, the Bronx was part of Westchester County, a separate entity from New York City. With the annexation, the Bronx became the fifth county of New York City, joining Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. However, at that time, the term "borough" was not used to describe these divisions. Each county had its own local government and operated relatively independently. It's worth noting that the formal term "borough" was not used until the consolidation of New York City in 1898. During this consolidation, the various counties, including the Bronx, were reorganized into five boroughs. The consolidation aimed to streamline governance and create a more unified administration for the city.
1874: The Tompkins Square Park Riot took place on January 13th and was a significant event in New York City's labor history. At the time, the United States was in the midst of an economic depression caused by the Panic of 1873. The protest in Tompkins Square Park was organized by the Workingmen's Party of the United States and the purpose of the protest was to advocate for the rights of the unemployed and the implementation of a public works program. The police response to the protest was indeed violent, leading to clashes between the protesters and law enforcement. The violent response by the police did generate outrage within the community and throughout the country. The incident became a symbol of the labor movement's struggle for workers' rights and better living conditions. While the protest did not lead to immediate changes, it did contribute to the ongoing labor movement and efforts to improve workers' conditions and rights in the United States.
1875: The New York Athletic Club was established on September 8, with the goal of promoting amateur sports and fostering physical fitness among its members. It was founded by a group of prominent athletes and sports enthusiasts who sought to create a space where individuals could engage in athletic activities, compete, and improve their physical well-being. The club's early years were marked by a focus on track and field events, as well as other popular sports of the time, such as rowing and boxing. In fact, the NYAC played a crucial role in organizing and hosting the first indoor track and field championships in the United States.
1876: The completion of the New York Mutual Life Insurance Building. The Building played a significant role in revolutionizing urban architecture. It was one of the first tall office buildings constructed in the city, and it utilized advanced construction techniques and innovative design elements for its time. The building's construction and subsequent success helped pave the way for the development of skyscrapers and the transformation of urban landscapes. The use of passenger elevators in tall buildings, including the New York Mutual Life Insurance Building, was a key factor in making such structures practical and desirable. Elevators allowed for vertical transportation, which made it possible for people to access upper floors with ease and made tall buildings more functional and efficient.
1876: Alexander Graham Bell, a Scottish-born inventor and scientist, showcased his newly-invented telephone at the Centennial Exhibition held in Philadelphia in 1876. The exhibition was a world's fair held to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence. During the exhibition, Bell demonstrated the capabilities of his telephone by transmitting sound over a distance using electrical signals. The successful demonstration generated significant interest and excitement among attendees, and it marked a crucial moment in the history of communication technology. Following the exhibition, the development and installation of telephone lines expanded rapidly. New York City, as a major center of commerce and population, became one of the early locations where telephone lines were installed. This led to the establishment of the first telephone exchanges and the widespread adoption of telephone communication in the city.
1877: Completion of the Great Hall at the American Museum of Natural History. The Great Hall served as the centerpiece of the museum, welcoming visitors with its impressive architecture and housing iconic exhibits that showcased the diversity of the natural world. Its grandeur and the captivating displays within it captured the imagination of visitors and established the museum as a destination for education, exploration, and discovery. Following the success of the Great Hall, the museum embarked on a series of expansion projects to accommodate its growing collections and provide more space for research, exhibitions, and public programs. Throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, additional wings and galleries were added to the museum complex, each contributing to its reputation and providing a home for new discoveries and scientific advancements. Through subsequent expansions and advancements, the museum has become an iconic symbol of scientific discovery, cultural enrichment, and a testament to humanity's fascination with the natural world.
1877: The first Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show takes place at Gilmore's Garden, which later became known as Madison Square Garden. The dog show was organized by a group of sportsmen and dog enthusiasts who founded the Westminster Kennel Club in 1877. The show aimed to showcase and celebrate purebred dogs, providing a platform for breeders and owners to exhibit their dogs and compete for prizes. It featured various dog breeds and categories, including Best in Show, where the top dog is selected as the overall winner. Since its inception, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show has become one of the most prestigious and well-known dog shows in the world. It has been held annually, with the exception of a few years during World War II. The show continues to attract a large audience and media attention, with thousands of dogs competing in different categories. The event has become a tradition in New York City and is considered a significant event in the dog show world.
1878: The first commercial telephone exchange in the United States was established in New York City, marking a significant milestone in the development of telephone communication. The exchange was operated by the District Telephone Company of New Haven, Connecticut. The exchange initially connected 21 customers, allowing them to make telephone calls to each other within the local network. This development was a crucial step in expanding telephone services beyond individual connections and creating a centralized system that enabled multiple users to communicate with one another. The successful implementation of the commercial telephone exchange in New York City set the stage for the ongoing advancements in telecommunication technology, leading to the development of more sophisticated telephone systems, the expansion of networks, and the eventual emergence of global telecommunications networks that we rely on today.
1878: The first Chinese-language newspaper in the United States, "The Chinese American," was published in New York City and served as an important source of news and information for the Chinese community living in the city. The newspaper played a crucial role in providing a platform for Chinese immigrants to express their views, share information, and stay connected with their community. It covered a range of topics, including news from China, local events, cultural content, and practical advice for Chinese immigrants adjusting to life in the United States. The publication of "The Chinese American" was significant not only because it was the first Chinese-language newspaper in the United States but also because it marked an important milestone in the history of Chinese immigrant press in America. It paved the way for the establishment of more Chinese-language newspapers and publications in different parts of the country, further strengthening community ties and cultural exchange.
1878: Famed inventor Thomas Edison founded the Edison Electric Light Company in New York City. The purpose of this company was to develop and promote Edison's invention, the incandescent light bulb, as well as the infrastructure needed to distribute electricity for lighting purposes. Edison had been working on improving electric lighting technology for several years, and the formation of the Edison Electric Light Company marked a significant step in the commercialization and widespread adoption of electric lighting. The establishment of the Edison Electric Light Company led to the installation of electric lighting systems in various locations, including New York City. Edison's work on electric lighting laid the foundation for the development of electrical power generation and distribution systems that would eventually bring electricity to homes, businesses, and cities across the globe. It's important to note that while the Edison Electric Light Company was a significant development, it eventually merged with other companies to form the General Electric Company (GE) in 1892, which continued to play a prominent role in the electric industry.
1878: The New York City Department of Street Cleaning (later the Department of Sanitation) was established with the goal of improving cleanliness and public health within the city. The department was responsible for managing the collection and disposal of waste, street sweeping, and other sanitation-related activities. At the time of its establishment, New York City faced significant challenges regarding waste management and cleanliness. The rapid growth of the city's population and urbanization led to increased amounts of waste and unsanitary conditions. It also oversaw the cleaning of public toilets and the maintenance of public health in regard to sanitation practices. Today, the Department of Sanitation continues to play a crucial role in maintaining the cleanliness and sanitation of New York City, ensuring the proper collection, recycling, and disposal of waste materials, and promoting public health and environmental sustainability.
1878: The Blizzard of 1878 was a severe winter storm that struck New York City and the northeastern United States in March 1878. The storm brought heavy snowfall, strong winds, and freezing temperatures, resulting in significant disruptions and hardships. In New York City, the blizzard caused widespread chaos and paralysis. The heavy snowfall made roads impassable and hindered transportation, including the suspension of public transportation services such as streetcars and horse-drawn carriages. The storm also affected railways, making travel difficult or impossible.The Blizzard highlighted the vulnerabilities of urban areas to severe winter storms and the need for improved emergency response and infrastructure resilience. It led to efforts to enhance snow removal and disaster preparedness in future winter storms.
1879: The first Madison Square Garden opened on February 11 and was originally located at the intersection of 26th Street and Madison Avenue in New York City. The venue was designed by architect Charles W. Clinton and built by William Kissam Vanderbilt as a sports and entertainment arena. The original Madison Square Garden had a Moorish architectural style and was primarily used for boxing matches, sporting events, and various exhibitions. It had an indoor track for bicycle racing and a seating capacity of around 10,000 spectators. Over the years, the original Madison Square Garden underwent multiple changes and relocations. It was demolished in 1889 to make way for the construction of a second Madison Square Garden, which was located nearby. The second Madison Square Garden, built in 1890, became an iconic venue and hosted numerous sporting events, concerts, and other entertainment performances. It stood at the same location as the original garden until it was demolished in 1925 to make room for the construction of the current Madison Square Garden, which opened in 1968.
1879: Electric arc lamps are installed on Broadway, specifically between 14th and 26th Streets, marking the beginning of the electrification of street lighting in New York City. This advancement in lighting technology, using an electric arc between two carbon electrodes to produce a bright and intense light. The installation of arc lamps was a groundbreaking development in street lighting. Prior to this, gas lamps were primarily used for street illumination. The introduction of electric arc lamps brought a more efficient and powerful lighting solution to the city. The technology quickly gained attention and became popular due to its brighter and more consistent illumination compared to gas lighting. It marked the beginning of a shift from gas-based lighting systems to electric lighting systems, which would eventually become the standard for street lighting. The electrification of street lighting had a significant impact on the urban landscape, enhancing visibility, safety, and the aesthetics of the city. It also paved the way for further advancements in electric lighting technology and the expansion of electrical infrastructure.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.