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A Rare, Early View of Brooklyn
Centered on Brooklyn Heights
WHITEFIELD, E./ MICHELIN III, F. [New York, 1846]
View Of Brooklyn, L. I. From U. S. Hotel, New York. .
Tinted lithograph with delicate period hand color. Lightly abraded area left of center, else excellent condition with a subtle tonal quality.
A superbly detailed, animated, panoramic view of Brooklyn facing directly on to Brooklyn Heights from a vantage point overlooking the Fulton Ferry Terminal. Although Brooklyn appears in the view quite well developed with sizable municipal and industrial structures, the view makes clear that it was still largely clustered along the shoreline. Just right of center can be seen in Brooklyn Heights the massive earth and stone embankment that served as a buttress to protect the wharves and warehouses below. Dominating the Brooklyn skyline is the steeple of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the Trinity (now the Diocesan Church of Saint Ann), which was erected from 1844 to 1846. It still stands today but without the steeple. The Brooklyn Navy Yard can be seen just left of center, and slightly further to the left of it is the Brooklyn ferry terminal.
Some of the structures to the right of the Fulton Ferry Terminal still exist as part of the South Street Seaport restoration. As noted in the title, Whitefield's vantage point was from the U. S. Hotel, which was crowned by a 134-foot dome, affording the artist a superb perspective. It occupied most of the block enclosed by Fulton, Water and Pearl Streets.
A fascinating aspect of the view is the number and variety of nautical craft in the river, many of them named. Notable is the four-masted Great Western, one of the first ships to cross the Atlantic under steam power. In addition to the larger packet ships, smaller commercial vessels are depicted that use both sail and stream. Several ferries of various sizes are also shown.
Deak, G. G. Picturing America, no. 548; Reps, J. Views and Viewmakers, no. 2451.
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