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1869 Knapp View of Bethesda Terrace, Central Park, New York City

The Terrace

1869 Knapp View of Bethesda Terrace, Central Park, New York City




The Terrace
  1869    8 x 14.5 in (20.32 x 36.83 cm)


An unusual little view of Bethesda Terrace, Central Park. Bethesda Terrace is located at roughly 72nd street in the heart of New York City's Central Park. Depicts the Terrace from a south facing perspective over 'the Lake' towards the Bethesda Fountain and the sculpture, 'Angel of the Waters.' The arched double staircase behind the fountain was designed by Jacob Wrey Mould. 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 Waters' by Emma Stebbins, was not completed until 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. This view was published for inclusion in the 1869 13th Annual Report of the Commissioners of Central Park . On the Central Park: 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.' 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 privlidge of enjoying what is, perhaps, the finest example of a planned urban public recreation area in the world.


Napoleon Sarony (1821-1896), Henry B. Major and Joseph Fairchild Knapp (1832-1891) founded the Sarony, Major & Knapp publishing firm in 1857. The firm specialized in portraits, government reports, book illustrations, and architectural and scientific plates. Sarony, Major and Knapp remained in business for ten years finally closing its doors in 1867 when Napoleon Sarony left the firm to follow his interest in photography. In addition to their public sector business, the firm also printed most official maps of New York City, including, between 1860 and 1867, some of earliest maps of Central Park.


Very good condition. Original folds. Hand color. Blank on verso.


Deák, Gloria Gilda. Picturing America: 1497-1899. Vol. 1. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1988. pp. 535-536; Peters, Harry T. America on Stone. U.S.: Doubleday, Doran, 1931. pp. 350-356. (Sarony, Major & Knapp).
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