Taking in the view from East River Park in 1902

William Glackens contrasts the calm quiet of a lower Manhattan park with the smoke-choked industrial Brooklyn waterfront across the river in his 1902 painting “East River Park.”

Is this the same East River Park that exists today south of East 12th Street? According to the NYC Parks Department, the current park was conceived by Robert Moses in the 1930s.


The painting is part of the collection at the Brooklyn Museum. “William Glackens found ample subject matter in the parks of New York and the city dwellers who frequented them,” the museum website explains.

“Here he depicted the natural features of the East River Park, and the pastimes of its inhabitants, in sharp contrast to the bustling industrial setting of Brooklyn’s waterfront visible across the water. For the many immigrants living in small, cramped quarters, the urban parks of Brooklyn and Manhattan served as a refuge from the poor conditions and overcrowding of tenement life.”

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4 Responses to “Taking in the view from East River Park in 1902”

  1. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    There is a hilly section below Grand Street that may have been a river park at that time. Walking downhill looks just like the picture, in a way.

  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Thanks Mick. That would be near the bandshell, I think. Definitely a possibility.

    I was also thinking maybe the vantage point is from Corlears Hook, a bit to the south.

  3. EV Grieve Etc.: Mourning Edition | NYC Real Estate News Says:

    […] East River Park in 1902 (Ephemeral New York) […]

  4. Gary Wright Says:

    To me, the downhill aspect of this scene makes it look like the area in Carl Schurz Pk. overlooking Hellgate…just in back of Gracie Mansion – making the buildings across the way be Astoria rather than Brooklyn.

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