The pageantry of The Drive in Central Park, 1905

As a social realist painter, William Glackens often depicted scenes of day-to-day life he witnessed in city parks, particularly Washington Square Park. (Makes sense; he lived on Washington Square South in the early 1900s.)

This time, he took his inspiration from Central Park. “The Drive, Central Park” was completed in 1905 and likely shows the East Drive, long the site of carriage parades among the wealthy.

It’s part of the collection at the Cleveland Museum of Art. “In this canvas [Glackens] recorded the weekday ritual of wealthy Manhattanites parading through the park in their elegant horse-drawn carriages,” the caption states. “This tradition drew spectators eager to witness the pageantry, and for all involved, it was an opportunity to see and be seen.”

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5 Responses to “The pageantry of The Drive in Central Park, 1905”

  1. Anthony Gosse Says:

    Thanks for posting this. I used to give walking tours for the Central Park Conservancy and referenced this but had forgotten about it. Ironically I was giving tours around 2005, a century after the picture was painted, and would point out that only the fashions changed but the Park functioned the same. My grandmother could have been a model for one of the little girls in the picture: right age, lived in that neighborhood and her parents would have definitely been spectators in this.

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      I love your connection to Central Park; first through your grandmother and then via your own tours!

  2. beth Says:

    what a wonderful depiction of this scene

  3. Kenny Says:

    1905 Central Park seems very bucolic here. Washington Sq Park already had the permanent arch built and thru automobile traffic by then. Crazy.

  4. George Quinn Says:

    I love Washington square park. I hung out there in the 70s. NYC allowed pot smoking and gambling. The Frisbees flyin around made it seem like a space movie and the local singing groups singing under the bridge was quite rewarding. I used to think about some of em. “Why aren’t these singers famous?” My friends lived on 3rd street across from The Hells Angel’s building and one lived on Wooster in a 4 story swet shop made into work spacers…some with apartments built inside them. I also loved the enormous street fair & swap meet. I make knives and the catholic church who founded the street fair would not let me sell my knives there because one had a penis shaped handle. Catholic priests…can’t live with em…can’t get rid of em…such is life. BTW, I have about 900 of your posts saved in a folder.

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