William P. Chappel (American, 1801–1878)
Oil on slate paper
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 in. (15.6 x 23.5 cm)
The Edward W. C. Arnold Collection of New York Prints, Maps, and Pictures, Bequest of Edward W. C. Arnold, 1954
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.