New York’s 1849 skyline seen from Union Square

The square itself looks different—it’s oval, first of all, and that’s some water spray from the new Croton fountain.

Bachmannlithographunionsquare

But amazingly, the streets are instantly recognizable in this 1849 bird’s eye lithograph by Swiss immigrant printmaker John Bachmann.

There’s Broadway, with that slight bend at Grace Church (built just one year earlier), and Fourth Avenue, which still curves east at about 12th Street.

Steeples and ship masts dominate Lower Manhattan. The George Washington statue has yet to arrive in at the southeast corner of Union Square (that comes in 1856), and the theaters and music halls that made 14th Street the city’s entertainment district are a decade or so away.

The level of detail is amazing and inspiring. And look at how built up New York is compared to this same view in 1828.

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10 Responses to “New York’s 1849 skyline seen from Union Square”

  1. Human Relationships Says:

    Reblogged this on Human Relationships.

  2. Christopher Says:

    Did Madison Avenue used to come all the way down to 17th Street? Three’s an extra street between Broadway and Park Ave South. Also it looks like Gramercy Park used to go all the way to Park?

    • ryan Says:

      The view is looking south. Left to right on this map, looking south, it goes 4th Ave, Bway and then University PL, with 5th on the far right hand side running into the park. Does that help?

  3. jveazue Says:

    Reblogged this on JANINEVEAZUE.

  4. Sid Wagner Says:

    If you really want a detailed description of how Union Square changed over the years, NYPL’s website has some incredibly detailed maps.

    For example, here’s a lot by lot diagram of Union Square West, circa 1903: http://maps.nypl.org/warper/maps/20795

    Here is the neighborhood east of Union Square (showing Academy of Music) circa 1920: http://maps.nypl.org/warper/maps/8877

    I haven’t located a map of the southern part of 14th street, but with a little bit of searching, not doubt it’s accessible. If you create an account, you should be able to see higher-resolution scans of these maps, to the point where you can read nearly every business name associated with each lot.

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