A View of the Federal Hall of the City of New York, as it appeared in the year 1797, with the adjacent buildings thereto (Valentine's Manual)

After John Joseph Holland American
Lithographer Charles Currier American

Not on view

Nineteenth-century New Yorkers were interested in pictures that provided glimpses of the city's early history. In this Lower Manhattan street scene as it looked in the late eighteenth century, Federal Hall with its cupola topped by a weathervane appears at the upper end of Broad Street, which was lined with adjoining colonial houses built in the Dutch and English periods. Originally erected before the American Revolutionary War, this stately building had been re-designed in a neo-classical style by Pierre Charles L'Enfant for the occasion of George Washington's inauguration as the first President of the United States on 30 April 1789, which took place on its iron grillwork balcony. In this view,the steeple of St. Paul's is visible above the rooftops at left; and the tip of the cupola of the First Presbyterian Church peeks over the gable of a tall house. Only three people are depicted: a man pushing a cart, a man on the sidewalk in the left middleground, and a third man on the steps of Federal Hall.

This popular print after a 1797 watercolor by John Joseph Holland was made by Charles Currier. His older brother Nathaniel Currier established a successful New York-based lithography firm in 1835, which produced thousands of prints in various sizes that together create a vivid panorama of mid-to-late nineteenth century American life and its history. In 1857, Nathaniel Currier made James Merritt Ives (Charles's brother-in-law) a business partner to handle financial matters. People eagerly acquired Currier & Ives lithographs of city views, picturesque scenery, rural life, ships, railroads, portraits, hunting and fishing scenes, domestic life and numerous other subjects, as an inexpensive way to decorate their homes or business establishments.

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