Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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City Watchman

Artist:
William P. Chappel (American, 1801–1878)
Date:
1870s
Medium:
Oil on slate paper
Dimensions:
6 1/8 x 9 1/8 in. (15.6 x 23.2 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
The Edward W. C. Arnold Collection of New York Prints, Maps, and Pictures, Bequest of Edward W. C. Arnold, 1954
Accession Number:
54.90.500
Not on view
A watchman, armed with his stick and leather helmet, sets out on a snowy evening patrol from his Elizabeth Street sentry box. So-called leatherheads looked out for fires and criminal activity, such as break-ins and grave robberies. Before New York City established a professional police force in the 1840s, residents relied on a patchwork system of constables, marshals, and watchmen tasked with maintaining order in an increasingly unruly city. An inscription on the reverse of this image identifies the building to the right of the box as the Old Methodist Meeting House and those to the left as the homes of a cabinetmaker, a ward inspector, and a grocer.
Inscription: [on the back]: No 13 / one of the City Watchman / & his Watch Box in Elisabeth St / West Side house No 41 on the Left Occupyed [illegible] / Bedstead Maker named John [Jungerick] Next No 43 By / a Mr. Mount an Inspector of Ward No 45 by a / Quaker Lady named Piggot kept a [illeg.] Grocery at the Present Time is Built the Working Womans [?] house / Little to the Right is the Old Methodist Meeting House / where [preached?] Lorenzo Dow / 1809 New York / W P Chappel
Edward W. C. Arnold, New York, until died 1954
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