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History of NYC - 1870s

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

1873: Sunrise Over New York Harbor

An aerial view of the southern tip of Manhattan during the early morning hours. Illustration includes the shores of Brooklyn and New Jersey.

Artist Credit: Ferd. Mayer & Sons. Reprinted with permission.

1873: Central Park and Midtown Manhattan

A bird's-eye view of New York with Central Park in the foreground.

Artist Credit: George Schlegel. Reprinted with permission.

1874: Central Park, New York

A painting which shows New Yorkers enjoying the foliage and scenery at Central Park.

Artist Credit: Unknown. Reprinted with permission.

1871: Lake Manahatta Reservoir

The Lake Manahatta Reservoir was built between 1858 and 1862 as a temporary water supply for the city, receiving water from the Croton Aqueduct.

Artist Credit: Unknown. Reprinted with permission.

1873: View Over Union Square

Views of Union Square, including the park, equestrian statue of George Washington, and the rustic buildings which once inhabited the neighborhood.

Artist Credit: Unknown. Reprinted with permission.

1876: Washington Equestrian Statue from Above on Decoration Day

An elevated perspective of the Washington Statue at Union Square, surrounded by crowds of people and decorated for Decoration Day.

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

1876: Washington Equestrian Statue on Decoration Day

Washington Statue at Union Square, decorated with foliage and flags for Decoration Day.

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

1871: St. Patrick's Day at Union Square

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.

Artist Credit: Lucian Gray. Reprinted with permission.

1870: Madison Square Park

Photograph of a row of buildings and storefronts taken from the perspective of Madison Square Park.

Artist Credit: Unknown. Reprinted with permission.

1875: Grand Central Depot

The Grand Central Depot was built by Cornelius Vanderbilt in 1871 on the site we know today as Grand Central Terminal.

Artist Credit: Unknown. Reprinted with permission.

1870: Elevated Railroad Station

Photograph of an elevated railroad station constructed by the Manhattan Railway Company.

Artist Credit: Unknown. Reprinted with permission.

1870: Elevated Station on a Busy Street

A train is stopped at an elevated station on a street filled with pedestrians and horse drawn coaches.

Artist Credit: William H. Rau. Reprinted with permission.

1870: Immigrants Just Arrived at Ellis Island

A photograph of the waiting room at Ellis Island, where recently arrived immigrants await examination.

Artist Credit: Underwood & Underwood. Reprinted with permission.

1875: Market Under The East River Bridge

Photograph of a bustling street market below the overpass of the Brooklyn Bridge

Artist Credit: Unknown. Reprinted with permission.

1876: Lincoln Monument at Union Square on Decoration Day

An elevated view of celebrations at Union Square Park on Decoration Day, or as we would currently know it, Memorial Day.

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

1871: Frederick Douglass at The Brooklyn Navy Yard

Frederick Douglass with The Commissioners to Santo Domingo, Brooklyn Navy Yard, January 1871

Artist Credit: Unknown. Reprinted with permission.

1870: Brooklyn Navy Yard

Silver photographic print of Brooklyn Navy Yard dry dock, which will be flooded as soon as the ship is completed and seaworthy.

Artist Credit: Unknown. Reprinted with permission.

1877: Demolition of Buildings for East River Bridge

Artist's rendering of numerous buildings in Manhattan which were demolished to clear a path for the the East River Bridge, known today as the Brooklyn Bridge.

Artist Credit: Unknown. Reprinted with permission.

1879: The Great East River Bridge

A color lithograph of what we know today as the Brooklyn Bridge, which was constructed over the course of this decade.

Artist Credit: Currier & Ives. Reprinted with permission.

1873: Downtown Manhattan from Above

A bird's-eye view of New York with Battery Park in the foreground and the Brooklyn Bridge on the right.

Artist Credit: George Schlegel. Reprinted with permission.

1876: The Centennial 4th of July at Union Square

A drawing which shows a night of celebration in Union Square on July 4th, 1876, exactly 100 years since the nation's founding.

Artist Credit: Unknown. Reprinted with permission.

1873: The Great Financial Panic

Illustration depicting the sub-treasury overrun by the public on Friday Sept. 19th at the Intersection of Nassau and Broad Streets with Wall Street.

Artist Credit: Unknown. Reprinted with permission.

1875: The Tribune Building

The Tribune Building, on the site of two previous Tribune buildings, was announced in 1873 and completed in 1875 to designs by Richard Morris Hunt.

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

1874: The Staats-Zeitung Building

The Staats-Zeitung Building was the headquarters of a German newspaper located in what was referred to as Printing House Square due to the number of publishers.

Artist Credit: Unknown. Reprinted with permission.

1870: B.T. Babbit Factory

Drawing by James A. Shearman featuring a soap factory in lower Manhattan, from West St. looking northeast, with the Equitable Building in the background.

Artist Credit: James A. Shearman. Reprinted with permission.

1872: Homeless New Yorkers at Five Points

Life sketches in the metropolis depicting the city's homeless poor during the early morning hours in Donovan Lane, near the Five Points.

Artist Credit: Unknown. Reprinted with permission.

1872: Water Street Lodging for the Homeless

A portrait drawn from life by Matt Morgan depicting his midnight visit to one of the cheap lodging houses in Water Street.

Artist Credit: Matt Morgan. Reprinted with permission.

1870: Washington Market Butchers

A group of butchers pose together in front of their shop in what is known today as Tribeca.

Artist Credit: Unknown. Reprinted with permission.

1874: Manhattan and Governor's Island

Elevated perspective of New York showing the waterfront, Brooklyn Bridge, with Battery Park and Governors Island in the foreground

Artist Credit: George Schlegel. Reprinted with permission.

Next Chapter: History of NYC - 1880s

The 1880's NYC would see increased commerce and growth in outer boroughs with the completion of both the Brooklyn and George Washington Bridges. Other iconic moments during this... Continue Reading

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History of NYC - 10,000+ Years Ago

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