BoW Title: Visualizing 19th-Century New York: Digital Publication
Institution: Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture
Designer: CHIPS-NY, Professor David Jaffee, and students at the Bard Graduate Center
Category: Digital Exhibition

Accompanying the 2014 Bard Graduate Center Visualizing 19th-Century New York exhibit is this digital publication that offers a spatial interface to the exhibit materials by placing objects, landmarks, and central themes on Matthew Dripps’ Map of the City of New York (1852). These spacial tags are connected to essays that explore objects and themes in the exhibition, like bird’s-eye city views and technical processes such as stereoscopic photography, as well as related historical topics, including the spectacle of Broadway or how oysters became a popular food among all classes of New Yorkers.

This digital publication includes two interactive microsites that further explore the evolving visual genres and technologies that were used at the time. “Behind the Scenes” examines the varying technical processes used to produce these popular products and the workers who made them. “Broadway and Ann” focuses on the key intersection where P. T. Barnum’s American Museum stood, along with other important urban attractions.

Visualizing 19th-Century New York, on view at the Bard Graduate Center Focus Gallery from September 19, 2014 to January 11, 2015, examined how New York’s cultural entrepreneurs turned to the production of woodcuts, aquatints, lithographs, and photographs to make sense of their booming metropolis, and to promote their own manufactures to a national and international market. The exhibit is anchored by Broadway, New York’s great thoroughfare, which dominated the burgeoning number of images of the city that poured out of commercial publishing firms and into American homes in the nineteenth century. Visitors who strolled through the gallery—in effect, along Broadway—encountered the storefronts and works of four of the nation’s leading visual entrepreneurs: Mathew Brady (daguerreotypes), E. & H. T. Anthony (stereoviews), Currier & Ives (lithographs), and Harper & Brothers (woodcuts in popular magazines and books). The final section presented a model middle-class, nineteenth-century parlor.