Rediscovering Old New York

Rediscovering Old New York

Meet the pioneering 19th-century artist Eliza Greatorex and uncover her efforts to preserve Old New York!

  • Encounter some of the most improbable residents of Old New York including Louis Philippe, duc d’Orleans and future King of France
  • Behold where George Washington tied up his horse on the grounds of the Morris-Jumel Mansion
  • Perambulate W. 72nd Street to see The Dakota rising out of the “wilderness”
  • Witness the outrage of New Yorkers when Renwick’s historic Church of the Puritans was torn down after standing on Union Square for a mere twenty years
  • Step inside Old Tom’s at the end of our tour, push aside the cobwebs and join the city’s bohemian literati for a relaxing pint

About the event:

Travel back in time to 1869 when the post-Civil War building boom is in full swing. Broadway is being extended, rural areas at the northern end of Manhattan are being transformed into urban blocks, and the old Dutch farmhouses are being demolished. Downtown historic churches and beloved landmarks are being razed to make way for modern stores and apartment buildings. Witnessing the destruction of her beloved New York, artist Eliza Greatorex mourned. But as grief turned to outrage she picked up her portable sketching materials and headed out to record the buildings, often just as the wrecking crews arrived. She drew over eighty structures, reproduced and published them in a remarkable folio volume — Old New York. From the Battery to Bloomingdale (1875) — complete with descriptive text. Ten years in the making, Old New York provides the basis for our virtual tour, led by author Katherin Manthorne, around a barely-recognizable Manhattan.

About Katherine Manthorne

Katherine Manthorne is on the art history faculty at the Graduate Center of City University of New York and prior to that she was Director of the Research Center at Smithsonian’s American Art Museum. Eager to better highlight the role of women within the visual culture of the Americas, she authored two recent books: Women in the Dark: American Female Photographers 1850-1900 (Schiffer Publishing, 2020) and Restless Enterprise: The Art and Life of Eliza Pratt Greatorex (U. of California Press, 2020). She lives in New York City and the Champlain Valley with her husband James Lancel McElhinney and their cat Maeve.

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