Art and the Empire City: New York, 1825–1861

September 19, 2000–January 7, 2001

The Empire City

By mid-century, New York had assumed the status of "Empire City," as the tenth gallery, displaying the large-scale 1851 map of New York City published by Matthew Dripps (Library of Congress) and city views drawn from numerous private collections and public archives, attests. Frederick Law Olmsted's presentation boards (Municipal Archives) depicting proposals for Central Park, which was under development at this time, are featured. Each board juxtaposes Olmsted's "Greensward" plan of 1857 with Mathew Brady's photographs of the existing, somewhat barren topography, and Calvert Vaux's lush oil sketches that convey a vision of what Central Park was to become. Architectural drawings of churches, public buildings, the Croton Water Works, and private houses, now in a variety of styles ranging from Gothic Revival to polychromatic Venetian, are intermingled with rare urban views captured in the new medium of photography, including early cityscapes owned by The J. Paul Getty Museum, many of them seen publicly for the first time. A stained-glass window (1844–47) by William Jay Bolton and John Bolton (St. Ann and the Holy Trinity Church, Brooklyn) represent the first major program of stained glass made in America; it complements Miriam and Jubal, the monumental organ window from the same church, which is on permanent view in the Metropolitan Museum's American Wing.