Duane Street like you’ve never seen it before

If you’re used to thinking of Duane Street as an affluent downtown street stretching from Foley Square to Tribeca, then this 1877 depiction of a dingy, down and out Duane Street will come as a surprise.

The painter is Louis Comfort Tiffany. Before he made his name by creating stained glass pieces, he studied painting.

The title is “Old New York,” and the painting is part of the collection at the Brooklyn Museum. I wish I knew what brought Tiffany to Duane Street and why he captured this image of rundown storefronts and two men—one busying himself with work and the other standing, perhaps waiting for business.

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14 Responses to “Duane Street like you’ve never seen it before”

  1. Shayne Davidson Says:

    Tiffany was quite a painter!

  2. tawpgk Says:

    You sure this isn’t 2020 after the riots and DiBlasio?

    On September 14, 2020 5:01:58 AM Ephemeral New York

  3. Ty Says:

    I see Hollywood didn’t invent casting the city in a dull brown to make it look ominous.

  4. sheryl harawitz Says:

    He is  holding tools of his trade.   Caught in the moment as he starts his work.

  5. Lady G. Says:

    This is a great painting. I really love the neutral color palette. When I look over Tiffany’s other images, he seems to favor the browns and beiges and sepia tints in most of them. Almost the opposite of his lamps.

  6. Tom B Says:

    Louis Tiffany might of said this is as close to “Five Points” as I want to get. I never knew he painted. There are a few famous notable people who also painted. Thanks for this post.

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      I’m just not sure which end of Duane Street this is. If it’s farther east, it certainly could be the fringes of Five Points.

  7. Bob Says:

    Apparently Tiffany listed and exhibited for sale a couple of other non-extant paintings in the late 1870s called “Duane and William Street, New York” and “Duane Street near William, New York City.”

    It is hard to visualize without a map, but at the time as it went east, Duane Street also went south of Chambers Street. Duane intersected William east of today’s Park Row, about as far downtown as the Tweed Courthouse.

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