Sunday, June 26, 2011

Skating On Lake, Central Park - 1902

American Mutoscope and Biograph Company
Camera: Frederick S. Armitage
An interesting view of Central Park before there was a skyline of buildings. All along the length of the park on both sides and to the north, with the exception of the Dakota Apartments located at 72nd Street and Central Park West, It was virtually impossible to see anything other than sky above the trees. In the nineteenth century when people went to visit the park, they really were leaving the ''city.'' By 1900, except for the townhouses and tenements all along the length of the eastern side and along Central Park West, buildings taller than four to six stories were located near Herald Square and further south.
On 74th Street on the west side of the park the apartment building known as the "Dakotas" (built 1880-1884) acquired the name because it was so far up the island where there wasn't much else around, that people would say "It might as well be the Dakota Territories." It would be a few years beginning in 1904 with the opening and expansion of the subway that the boom in building would take off in the city's outer boroughs (The Bronx and Queens). Speculators began constructing entire city tenement blocks in earnest anticipation of arriving subway stations and a growing population.
Recommended reading:
The Park and the People / A History of Central Park
- Roy Rosenzweig, Elizabeth Blackmar
(This is the best history available)
Central Park - John S. Berman
(A good collection of photos from the Museum of the City of New York)

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