Jewels in Her Crown: Treasures of Columbia University Libraries Special Collections

Exhibition Themes > New York City History > 46. Louis Prang

46.  Louis Prang (1824-1909).  Views in Central Park, New York. Boston: L. Prang & Co., 1863-1869. 5 series of 12 chromolithographic cards, (6.3 x 10.1 cm. each) Avery Library, Classics Collection

By the mid-nineteenth century, New York City had expanded northward at such a precipitous pace that the question of open space was addressed by legislators, who passed an act to create a large public park. In 1857, the same year that Columbia College moved uptown to Forty-ninth Street and Madison Avenue (where it remained until 1897), a competition was announced for the design of Central Park. The entry selected for the site (which originally extended from 60th to 106th Streets between Fifth and Eighth Avenues) was the now-famous Greensward Plan, created by Calvert Vaux (1824-1895) and Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903).

Today, it would be impossible to imagine Manhattan without this urban oasis. In the park's first decades, its distinctive blend of English picturesque and more rugged American style captivated the entire nation. Numerous prints, stereograph photographs, and souvenir books celebrated what quickly became one of New York City's major tourist attractions. These color lithograph album cards, issued in series for mounting in scrapbooks (a Victorian pastime), depict favorite landmarks. The first three series were published in 1863, and the last two in 1869, by the Louis Prang firm, one of the finest lithographic concerns in the United States. All five series in full are known to exist only at Avery.


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