House Raising

Artist: William P. Chappel (American, 1801–1878)

Date: 1870s

Culture: American

Medium: Oil on slate paper

Dimensions: 6 1/8 x 9 1/4 in. (15.6 x 23.5 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: 54.90.512

Not on view
As Manhattan’s population expanded in the early nineteenth century, many working-class residents relocated to the city’s more rural northern wards to escape rising downtown rents. This tenth-ward scene takes place on Grand between Eldridge and Allen Streets (in today’s Lower East Side). A master builder and several journeymen, some with long pike poles, work to raise one side (called a "bent") of a timber-frame house. For years, New York had tried unsuccessfully to prohibit wood structures in favor of more fire-friendly brick or stone. At right, what are possibly the flames from a forge can be seen through the window of a blacksmith’s shop.
Inscription: B. Smith; [on the back]: No 26 / House Raising / in Grand St / Between 3d now Eldrege & Allen St / 1810 Ny / W P Chappel
Edward W. C. Arnold, New York, until died 1954