Bring back some good or bad memories


September 5, 2021

Chatham Square, New York, ca. 1853–55

This chaotic street scene shows Chatham Street, now Park Row, from below its intersection with Pearl Street, northeast to Chatham Square.


Unlike the period’s printed views, which were generally designed for clarity and filled with drafting table anecdote, this photograph shows the city as an inelegant confusion of traffic, commercial signs, and pedestrians. It captures the spirit of the street, of “downtown,” where the busy, unmannerly commerce in furniture and feathers, window shades, tea, and even daguerreotypes gave rise to New York’s prominence as the “Great Emporium.”




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