Posts Tagged ‘New York: An illustrated History’

Is this really Bowling Green in 1776?

November 29, 2010

This French print depicts an event that occurred on the eve of the Revolutionary War at Bowling Green, way downtown at the end of Broadway.

After George Washington had the Declaration of Independence read, citizens and soldiers defiantly tore apart a statue of King George that had been erected there by colonists seven years earlier.

That actually happened, true. But so much of this print seem totally off because—in absence of any visual description or knowledge of what New York looked like back then—the print maker invented so many of the details.

“The statue of King George was in fact an equestrian piece, not a standing figure; the oddly turbaned, half-naked ‘Indian’ rioters resembled no known American patriots,” explains the caption to the print in New York: An Illustrated History, by Ric Burns and James Sanders.

“And the surrounding buildings were those of a grand European capital rather than the modest brick dwellings of colonial New York.”

“Sixth Avenue North From 47th Street”

October 26, 2010

The old and new city collide in this 1936 dreamy depiction of two girls at the edge of the Sixth Avenue El by John J. Soble.

“Filled in the foreground with dark tenement buildings, rooftop life, and elevated train tracks, the painting gives way in the distance to Rockefeller Center’s soaring masses, rising from the older skyline,” reads the caption under the painting in New York: An Illustrated History.

Is this the oldest photograph of New York?

December 23, 2009

It just might be, according to New York: An Illustrated History, by Ric Burns and James Sanders. Taken at Broadway between Franklin and Leonard Streets, it’s believed to date to May 1850.

Looks like workers have torn up the street. On the far left, at 360 Broadway, is a building advertising carriages, and a block down Broadway is an ad for “Moffat” on the side of a taller structure. 

Who was Moffat? John Moffat was a doctor whose “Moffat’s Life Pills and Phoenix Bitters” made him quite wealthy in the mid-19th century. He and his family lived on Union Square, but he also owned the building that bore his name, at 337 Broadway.