New York, New York. J. W./ SMITH HILL, G. W.
Superb Skyline of a Maritime Hub: Mid-19th Century New York City
New York City..
[New York, 1855]

New York, New York.

28 ¾ x 49 ¼ inches. Aquatint & etching with original hand color. Excellent condition; archivally framed.

This beautiful and vibrant view captures the essence of mid-19th century New York as a bustling hub of maritime trade. The variety of ships depicted – ranging from simple river fishing sloops to state-of-the-art steam packets – emphasizes the many facets of the sea’s importance to the city. By the mid 19th century, trade connections upriver made New York the conduit to trade with the Great Lakes and the western states while developments in steam-powered craft enhanced New York’s links overseas. Hence, New York in this view is celebrated as a vital international gateway.

New York is seen in the view from the shore of Brooklyn. The panorama extends beyond the Battery to New York Harbor itself and shows the piers and shipyards along South Street nearly to Corlears Hook. The length of Manhattan fades into the background between the Hudson and the East River, in which Blackwell’s Island can be seen in the distance. 

The most eye-catching structures on New York’s skyline are churches – notably Trinity Church to the left of the view – but not all. Close by Trinity can be seen the tower of New York’s City Hall, while further uptown the dome of what appears to be New York’s Crystal Palace can be glimpsed. This last was not present in the painted original of this view, which was completed in 1852 prior to the construction of the Crystal Palace; hence it appears that Hill’s composition was brought up-to-date in various particulars for the lithographed version. 

* Deak 643 state 3.


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