[Bethesda Fountain.]Bethesda Terrace, 1870s. Photo by Augustus Hepp from Museum of the City of New York

A few years after Central Park was completed, Augustus Hepp, the head gardener for the park was commissioned by the U. S. Secretary of State William Maxwell Evarts to create a portfolio of images – which appear today in a striking blue color. These images, available in the collection of the Museum of the City of New York, were originally used to American politicians to “convince their Continental counterparts that New York was not just an industrial powerhouse but also a mature and cultured city that could create great urban parks on par with those in Europe,” writes Sean Corcoran from the Museum. These photographs were even given as a gift to the French government in 1879.

[Metropolitan Museum of Art.]Original Metropolitan Museum of Art building in Central Park. From Museum of the City of New York.

The images are digitized from 40 large format cyanotypes, and the chemical process gives it the blue tinge. Among the photographs, you’ll see the original Romanesque revival-style Metropolitan Museum of Art in Central Park (which is still enclosed within today’s Neoclassical building), Belvedere Castle, Bethesda Terrace, and much of the landscaped grounds.

Central Park-Augustus Hepp-Blue Cyanotype Large Format Photo-Museum of the City of NY-NYC-11The Bow Bridge. From Museum of the City of New York.

Central Park-Augustus Hepp-Blue Cyanotype Large Format Photo-Museum of the City of NY-NYC-9The Swedish Cottage. From Museum of the City of New York.

[Belvedere Castle, looking north.]Belvedere Castle. From Museum of the City of New York.

You’ll also see buildings and bridges that no longer exist, like McGown’s Pass Tavern that closed in 1915, the original boathouse designed by Central Park designers Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux, the lost Marble Arch (literally buried), and the first version of the Gapstow Bridge, an iron and wood structure by Jacob Wrey Mould. It was replaced in 1897.

Central Park-Augustus Hepp-Blue Cyanotype Large Format Photo-Museum of the City of NY-NYC-13McGown’s Pass Tavern. From Museum of the City of New York.

Original boathouse which was replaced by the current boathouse in 1954. From Museum of the City of New York.

Central Park-Augustus Hepp-Blue Cyanotype Large Format Photo-Museum of the City of NY-NYC-17Lost Marble Arch, located across from Bethesda Terrace. From Museum of the City of New York.

Central Park-Augustus Hepp-Blue Cyanotype Large Format Photo-Museum of the City of NY-NYC-12The original Gapstow Bridge. From Museum of the City of New York.

Here are some additional photographs:

Central Park-Augustus Hepp-Blue Cyanotype Large Format Photo-Museum of the City of NY-NYC-16Cleopatra’s Needle, the Obelisk Moved from Egypt. From Museum of the City of New York.

Central Park-Augustus Hepp-Blue Cyanotype Large Format Photo-Museum of the City of NY-NYC-15Bethesda Terrace staircases. From Museum of the City of New York.

Central Park-Augustus Hepp-Blue Cyanotype Large Format Photo-Museum of the City of NY-NYC-14The Lake with The Dakota and the original building of the American Museum of Natural History in the background. From Museum of the City of New York.

Central Park-Augustus Hepp-Blue Cyanotype Large Format Photo-Museum of the City of NY-NYC-8A wooden bridge. From Museum of the City of New York.

Central Park-Augustus Hepp-Blue Cyanotype Large Format Photo-Museum of the City of NY-NYC-10The Conservatory. From Museum of the City of New York.

Central Park-Augustus Hepp-Blue Cyanotype Large Format Photo-Museum of the City of NY-NYC-7The Mineral Springs Pavilion. From Museum of the City of New York.

Central Park-Augustus Hepp-Blue Cyanotype Large Format Photo-Museum of the City of NY-NYC-6The Bandstand. From Museum of the City of New York.

Central Park-Augustus Hepp-Blue Cyanotype Large Format Photo-Museum of the City of NY-NYC-18From Museum of the City of New York.

Uncover the secrets and hidden histories of Central Park on our upcoming Secrets of Central Park Walking Tour!

Secrets of Central Park Walking Tour

Next, check out the Top 10 Secrets of Central Park and vintage photographs of NYC Museums Under Construction.

 Augustus Hepp, central park, museum of the city of new york

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