The Port of New York, Bird's Eye View from the Battery Looking South

Various artists/makers

Not on view

In this extraordinary aerial panorama of New York Harbor and its surroundings, a multitude of sailing ships and steamboats swarm in the waterways from the tip of Manhattan to the Narrows (between Brooklyn at the upper left and Staten Island at the upper right), then extending beyond to the Atlantic Ocean. Prominent in the central foreground is Battery Park and the Castle Garden building complex, which was then functioning as an immigration depot. Numerous pedestrians bustle along park pathways and sidewalks alongside the dense vehicular traffic on the broad roadway at the bottom of the image. The view also includes Governor's Island with Castle William (left middleground) and Bedloe's Island (later, the site of the Statue of Liberty) and tiny Ellis Island, near the shoreline of New Jersey at right. An extensive key is printed beneath the image across the bottom margin to identify various places (many being in the distance), including Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, Coney Island, Sandy Hook, Newark Bay and the Central Railroad of New Jersey. Such a grand vista broadcast to viewers the importance of New York City as a leading world port.

Nathaniel Currier, who established a successful New York-based lithography firm in 1835, produced thousands of prints in various sizes that together create a vivid panorama of mid-to-late nineteenth century American life. Expansion led, in 1857, to a business partnership with James Merritt Ives; subsequently renamed Currier & Ives, the firm continued until 1907. People eagerly acquired Currier & Ives lithographs, such as those featuring spectacular American landscapes, or rural and city views, hunting and fishing scenes, domestic life and numerous other subjects, as an inexpensive way to decorate their homes or business establishments. The artist team of Charles R. Parsons and Lyman Atwater, noted for their maritime scenes and city views, created over thirty images for Currier and Ives.

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