1868 Shannon View of Bethesda Terrace and the Lake, Central Park, New York City

Central Park. The Lake from the Terrace. - Main View

1868 Shannon View of Bethesda Terrace and the Lake, Central Park, New York City


An idyllic vision of New York's Bethesda Fountain in Central Park.


Central Park. The Lake from the Terrace.
  1868 (undated)     5 x 7.5 in (12.7 x 19.05 cm)


This is a charming 1868 view of the Lake in Central Park, by Shannon and Rogers. This view of the Lake is seen from the Bethesda Terrace, located roughly at 72nd street in the heart of New York City’s Central Park. This view beautifully depicts the Bethesda Fountain in the foreground with visitors strolling nearby. A colorful rainbow can be seen over the fountain. In the background, we see the Lake with a couple of boats in the water. It is important to realize that this part of the park was merely planned, not completed, when this view was made. The central sculpture, ‘Angel of the Water’ by Emma Stebbins, in not included in this view and would only be completed in 1873. Vaux and Olmstead envisioned the terrace as a meeting place in the heart of the park. Today it is one of the most picturesque parts of the park and a popular hangout for artists and musicians.
A Planned Pastoral Work
Vaux and Olmstead were awarded the task of designing Central Park in 1853 by the City Common Council. Olmstead'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. Olmstead 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.'
Urban Art
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 Olmstead'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.
Publication History and Census
This image was prepared for inclusion in the 1868 edition of Joseph Shannon's Manual of The Corporation of the City of New York. The Manual is well represented in institutional collections; this view is listed separately only in the Clements Library of the University of Michigan.


Joseph Shannon (fl. c. 1850 - 1869) produced a series of New York City almanacs and fact books entitled Manual of the Corporation of The City of New York . Shannon's Manual is very similar to the more common manual issued by Valentine. The production of this annual manual was the responsibility of the Clerk of the Common Council of the City of New York, a position held at different times by both Shannon and Valentine. The manual included facts about the City of New York, city council information, city history, and reported on the progress of public works such as Central Park. Learn More...

William C. Rogers (fl. c. 1860 - 1873) was a New York based lithographer active in the mid to late 19th century. His is best known for his engravings issued in conjunction with Joseph Shannon's Manual of the Corporation fo the City of New York. Rogers issued several maps of New York City in the 1860s and 1870s. Learn More...


Shannon, J., Shannon's Manual of the Corporation of the City of New York, (1868 edition).    


Very good. Minor creasing outside printed area, else excellent.


OCLC 921167960. New York Public Library, Art and Picture Collection, b17537253.