View of New York, Jersey City, Hoboken and Brooklyn

Charles Parsons American
Publisher Currier & Ives American

Not on view

Nineteenth-century Americans were eager collectors of pictures of their country, with city views being exceedingly popular. The most dramatic vistas were aerial, or "bird's eye," scenes rendered from an elevated vantage point -- from a hilltop, steeple, hot-air balloon, or even an imaginary height -- because such images permitted a detailed glimpse of landmarks in the foreground as well as in the distance. In this panoramic aerial view, New York City is seen from high above Governer's Island and New York Harbor. The entire island of Manhattan appears at the center, lined with many ships at port along the Hudson River (left) and the East River (right), while numerous other marine vessels travel along New York City's waterways. Large sections of Brooklyn (several smokestacks belching smoke) are shown at the right side of the image, while New Jersey extends into the distance at the left. In the lower left corner, beside a row of seven treetops in the foreground, is the round structure of Castle William on Governor's Island.

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. As the firm expanded, Nathaniel included his younger brother Charles in the business. In 1857, James Merritt Ives (the firm's accountant since 1852 and Charles's brother-in-law) was made a business partner; subsequently renamed Currier & Ives, the firm continued until 1907. People eagerly acquired Currier & Ives lithographs of 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.

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