An 1890 spring morning in the heart of the city

Frederick Childe Hassam’s “Spring Morning in the Heart of the City” gives us an overcast, lush view of Madison Square Park’s (yes, once the center of New York!) carriage traffic and well-dressed pedestrians.

Hassam frequently painted Madison Square; this elite area of the Gilded Age city was near his studio on 17th Street.


“While discussing the picture in 1892, Hassam said his intention was to focus upon the group of cabs in the foreground and to have ‘the lines in the composition radiate and gradually fade out from the centre.'” states the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“He also noted that ‘all those people and horses and vehicles didn’t arrange themselves for my especial benefit. I had to catch them, bit by bit, as they flitted past.'”

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8 Responses to “An 1890 spring morning in the heart of the city”

  1. William Krause Says:

    Lovely Hassam cityscapes recall all sorts of memories. An older cousin of that near-vintage once told me of his first NYC job as a youngster—at dusk, to go from one street lamp to another, turning on its electricity as he went, using a long-handled key.
    Later the cousin got a bike, enabling him to finish his assigned route much quicker. That, in turn, impelled his adult boss to lengthen the assigned lighting route.
    More pay?? “No, just do it, lad.” So my cousin quit, on the spot.

    • trilby1895 Says:

      Thank you for that anecdote; would love to hear more of your cousin’s reminiscences! How lucky you were to have heard first-hand accounts of life in THAT New York!

  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Love that little anecdote, a slice of New York life long gone. Thanks!

  3. arcruz34481 Says:

    Reblogged this on She Blogs Daily and commented:
    I love the vintage photos of New York’s Past on your blog, this beautiful painting highlights Victorian life in NYC

  4. velvethead Says:

    Union Square West looks like the width of the Hudson River!!

  5. trilby1895 Says:

    And, of course, at the upper right-hand corner would be Stanford White’s magnificent Madison Square Garden; would love to see that depicted in a painting!

  6. A New Year’s night in a wintry Gilded Age city | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Childe Hassam painted his lovely and mysterious “New Year’s Nocturne” in 1892. He gives us a […]

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