An altogether extraordinary 1868 map of New York City's Central Park and the Upper West Side prepared and printed for inclusion in the Thirteenth Annual Report of the Board of Commissioners of the Central Park
. This is an extremely rare variant on the map of Central Park that originally appeared in the 1862 Commissioner's Report
. This map depicts the park as a whole and includes pathways, lakes, buildings, trees and topography. The streets and avenues surrounding the park are labeled as are the various landmarks of Central Park – Harlem Lake, The Ramble, the Mall, and several others. Also features the Old Croton Reservoir. The streets and avenues surrounding the park as well as the streets as far north as 154th street are noted.
The inclusion of the Upper West Side as far as the Hudson River and Riverside Park, another Olmsted project which is also beautifully illustrated, is particularly significant. The park commissioners recognized that the construction of Central Park would transform the Upper West Side plateau into some of the city's most valuable real estate. Though the grid structure of the Upper West Side had been laid out in the Commissioners Plan of 1811, when the present map was drawn the Upper West Side plateau was sparsely inhabited and largely given over to farms and squatter communities. The streets and avenues shown here existed only in concept, making this, in essence, the first specific map of the Manhattan's Upper West Side.
This extraordinary map reveals Central Park as conceived by the Landscape Architects, and indeed 'artists,' Vaux and Olmsted. Vaux and Olmsted were awarded the task of designing Central Park in 1853 by the City Common Council. Olmsted's vision drove the overall design while Vaux concentrated his attentions on bridges, buildings, and other structures within the park. The creation of Central Park, which was to consist of some 800 acres of public forest, pathways, promenades, lakes, bridges, and meadows, was a seminal moment in civic urban design. The park itself was designed as a whole with every tree, pond, and bench meticulously planned. Olmsted wrote: 'Every foot of the parks surface, every tree and bush, as well as every arch, roadway, and walk and been placed where it is for a purpose.'
Historian Gloria Deak writes,
There was a staggering amount of work to be done to transform the area into a blend of pastoral and woodland scenery. This involved the design and construction of roadways, tunnels, bridges, arches, stairways, fountains, benches, lamp posts, gates, fences and innumerable other artifacts. It also involved the supervision of an army of about five thousand laborers…Olmsted, to whom most of the credit goes, insisted on seeing the multidimensional project as a single work of art, which he was mandated to create. For this purpose, he ventured to assume to himself the title of 'artist.'
Today, because of Vaux and Olmsted's efforts, New York Yorkers, ourselves included, have the privilege of enjoying what is, perhaps, the finest example of a planned urban public recreation area in the world.
Napoleon Sarony (March 9, 1821 - November 9, 1896) was a dashingly handsome Canadian-American lithographer and publisher active in New York in the mid to late 19th century. Sarony was born in Quebec and emigrated to New York City in 1835. He apprenticed under Henry Robinson (fl. 1830/33 - 1850) before working as a lithograph artist for Nathaniel Currier (1813 - 1888). In 1846, he partnered with Currier's apprentice lithographer Henry B. Major to establish the firm of 'Sarony and Major.' From offices at 117 Futon Street, they published under this imprint until roughly 1853, when Sarony split off on his own under the imprint 'Sarony and Co.', still at 117 Fulton. At the time 'and Co.' probably meant Joseph Fairchild Knapp (1832 - 1891), Sarony's apprentice, and Richard C. Major, possibly Henry Major's son. In 1857, a new imprint was established as 'Sarony, Major and Knapp'. According to an advertisement in the New York Times (Feb 16, 1864), Sarony had invested in the business at founding, but was not an active partner, possibly because he was traveling in Europe. It is unclear why Sarony's name was maintained, possibly to capitalize on his fame, as a honorific, or possibly because he owned a major stake. They published under this imprint until 1863, becoming a major concern at 449 Broadway. Sarony's name was formally removed from the partnership in 1863. At the time he was traveling in Europe, mastering the most advanced color lithography and photographic techniques. He is known to have worked in France, Germany, and England. He returned to New York in the 1860s, establishing a photography company at 37 Union Square that became famous for its portraits of late-19th-century American theater icons. In 1891, Sarony, hoping to capitalize on Sarah Bernhardt's fame as 'Cleopatra', paid the stage actress 1,500 USD to sit for a photo session, the modern-day equivalent of 20,000 USD - suggesting a highly prosperous business. His son, Otto Sarony (1850–1903), continued the family business as a theater and film star photographer. As an aside, Sarony's second wife, Louie Sarony, was a known eccentric who would reportedly dress in elaborate rented costumes to walk around Washington Square each afternoon. More by this mapmaker...
Thirteenth Annual Report of the Board of Commissioners of the Central Park, (New York) 1868.
Very good. Minor wear along original fold lines. Minor creasing at joint. Left margin partially extended. Professionally flattened and backed with archival tissue.