How Did We Get Here? NYC Design: 1780-1920


1780 – 1820: Federalist, Neoclassical and More

Abigail Adams' Home (1799), now the Mount Vernon Hotel, recently hosted haute-colonial installations by Manhattan revival doyenne, Bebe Winkler. The building was conceived as a carriage house in 1795 by Col. William Stephens Smith and Abigail Adams, daughter of President John Adams.

1780 – 1820: Federalist, Neoclassical and More

1815 – 1860: The Greek and Gothic Revivals

Neighborhoods achieved distinction back then with killer classicism. Wall Street’s Federal Hall (1833) became the look of capitalism, and Brooklyn got respectable by landing Richard Upjohn churches. The biggest commission: Frederick Law Olmsted unveils Central Park (1850)!

Federal Hall

Wall Street's Federal Hall, 1833. Image courtesy of the Jay Heritage Center.



central park


Olmsted's 1850 plan for Central Park. Image courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York.




NYC design 1815-1945


A rendering of Central Park in the 1850s. Courtesy of the Library of Congress' Prints and Photography Division.




1860 – 1920: Victorian and Beaux-Arts Meet Big Industry
Cigar-chomping industrialists bring assembly-line arches and ornament to the masses. McKim, Mead & White’s store for Tiffany & Co. (1906) reveals the intimate side of the epic Beaux-Arts proportions evident at club row, Grand Central Terminal, and the Custom House.

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The Cooper Union, 1899. Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York.




NYC design 1815-1945

Times Square in 1902. Courtesy of ablarc on Wired New York.


NYC design 1815-1945


Federal Hall in the context of the booming Financial District of 1904. Courtesy of ablarc on Wired New York.


NYC design 1815-1945

The Tiffany & Co. building in 1906. Courtesy of the Library of Congress' Prints and Photography Division.



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