as she was in the year eighteen hundred and thirty one.

All of the following engravings and accompanying texts are from a book called Views in New York and its Environs, subtitled: From accurate, characteristic, & picturesque drawings taken on the spot, expressly for this work. It was put out in 1831 when the population of Manhattan Island was about 203,000 and horse-drawn stages were still the dominant form of mass transit. Hope you enjoy.


When the renowned Captain Hendrick Hudson, in the year 1609, sailed through the Narrows, and approached the Island of Manahatta, he beheld a solitude almost as deep as that of the primeval ages. His vessel penetrated into the broad Bay breaking in upon the wide loneliness of nature, and heralding a mighty people into the recesses of a new world. It was in the fall bloom of summer. The shores were covered with forests; massive grape vines were wreathed like serpents among the branches of the aged trees, and their purple fruit hung clustering in the sun. The song of innumerable birds came from the land, and along the wave glided the rapid Indian canoe. The island itself, now occupied by the city, was of a wild and rough aspect.


New York. (Click for full size.)


Broadway from the park. (Click for full size.)


Navy Yard, Brooklyn. (Click for full size.)


Shot Tower, East River. (Click for full size.)


“As the morning advances, the din of labour augments on every side; the streets are thronged with man and steed, and beast of burden; the universal movement produces a hum and murmur like the surges of the ocean. As the sun ascends to his meridian, the hum and bustle gradually decline; at the height of noon there is a pause; the panting city sinks into lassitude, and for several hours there is a general repose. The windows are closed; the curtains drawn; the inhabitants retired into the coolest recesses of their Mansions.” -The Alhambra.


City Hotel, Trinity & Grace Churches, Broadway. (Click for full size.)


Lunatic Asylum, Manhattanville. (Click for full size.)


Merchants room, Exchange, Wall-Street. (Click for full size.)


At such a time, while the eye dwells upon the mass of buildings which compose the thriving city of Manahatta, we cannot forego the pride and pleasure of rejoicing that the thousands within her limits have no great national cause for mourning. They are convulsed with no awful revolution, they cringe beneath no despotic power, they dread no foreign foe. Freedom, peace, and plenty are in their dwellings, and their destiny is as unclouded as the glorious vault of heaven which stretches with all its stars above their heads.


Washington Institute and City Resovior. (Click for full size.)


Coffee-House Slip, foot of Wall-Street. (Click for full size.)


The Hudson River from Hoboken. (Click for full size.)


In closing our brief and cursory survey, we are again impressed with surprise at the revolutions which have taken place in the city within the memory of many yet alive. We continually meet the venerable relics of the last generation, who recount strange things of the old town of Manahatta. Such a one, as he totters along, with silver head and feeble steps, through the scenes of splendor which have arisen so unexpectedly around him, is full of curious but mournful recollections.  He lingers over the past with mingled pride, regret, and wonder. He speaks of canals, swamps, and ponds long since filled up; of lanes and commons which live only in his remembrance; of hills now levelled; forests cut down; and bridges forgotten, with the streams which they crossed. Of a thousand of the gay and the beautiful he will point out the graves, he will tell you that even the magnificence which has thus grown up under his eye, only makes him feel like a stranger. All his old haunts are broken up, his friends have passed away, and he murmurs with the poet, “Earth encloses them. The grass grows between the stones of their tomb. I often sit in the mournful shade. The wind sighs through the trees. Their memory rushes on my mind.”


05.31. filed under: art. !. books. history.