What Brooklyn looked like in summer 1820

Landscape artist Francis Guy painted “Summer View of Brooklyn” in 1820 from the vantage point of 11 Front Street in today’s DUMBO.

That means this collection of tidy barns and houses would be located under the Brooklyn Bridge. That even looks like a nascent Manhattan skyline, with steeples, in the distance.


Things have changed a lot in 195 years. A summer view of today’s Brooklyn from Front Street would look more like this, with crowds sweltering on line at Grimaldi’s pizza.


Guy painted the same scene from Front Street in winter 1820 as well. The winter scene is more detailed, with various residents working and going about their day.

Who were the hardy Brooklynites he depicted? This key from the Brooklyn Museum decodes their names and which house belonged to who.

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9 Responses to “What Brooklyn looked like in summer 1820”

  1. Monit Khanna Says:

    Reblogged this on monitkhanna and commented:
    Amazing discovery… loved reading it! This makes me love New York Even more

  2. Untapped Staff Picks: Imagining The Shape of NYC’s Skyline, Brooklyn Construction Murals | Untapped Cities Says:

    […] What Brooklyn Looked Like in Summer 1820 [Ephemeral New York] […]

  3. Catherine Says:

    I have a deep fondness for Brooklyn. My dad was a Brooklynite..and as a NYC Police officer always waxed poetic about his days growing up in Brooklyn. It sometimes goes full circle. My oldest son is now living in Williamsburg and I treasure every visit back. Nice post–thanks!

  4. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Thank you!

  5. Lady G. Says:

    Reblogged this on The Realm Of Olde Brooklyn and commented:
    I love these old paintings. If only I had a time machine, Brooklyn was quite a beautiful land way back then.

  6. Linkage: Resurgent Homeless?; Tishman Speyer’s LIC Megaproject | LIBERTY ALLIANCE Says:

    […] “increasing” homeless population [JVNY] · How Trump spends his money [TRD] · Brooklyn in the summer of 1820 [ENY] · Chris Christie says he would revisit Hudson River tunnel [Gothamist] · Pics from […]

  7. ReadingOtherPeople Says:

    Reblogged this on Reading Other People.

  8. fultonferrylandingassociation Says:

    Since the view from his studio at 11 Front Street was in a southerly direction, the steeples in the background could not have been located in Manhattan, and were probably from churches on Sands Street. St Ann’s was located at Sands and Washington Streets, and was demolished in 1880 to make way for the Brooklyn Bridge terminus.

  9. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Thanks Fulton Ferry, cool info.

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