News | April 16, 2024

New-York Historical Society Explores Bygone Landmarks of Lost New York

Patricia D. Klingenstein Library, New-York Historical Society

Unidentified photographer, Manhattan: the Hippodrome, Sixth Avenue between
43rd Street and 44th Street, 1905.

The New York Hippodrome (1905–1939) once dominated the city’s Theater District. Billed as the largest theater in the world with a seating capacity of 5,300, it stood out in red brick with Moorish-style towers topped by electrified globes. The structure was demolished in 1939, and the lot remained vacant for a decade. An office building now stands on the site.

The New-York Historical Society will present Lost New York, a new exhibition exploring the places that once defined New York City from April 19 until September 29, focusing on the city’s lost landmarks such as the original Penn Station, Croton Reservoir, Chinese Theater, and river bathhouses. 

Made up of more than 90 photogaphs, paintings, lithographs, and other objects, the exhibition offers glimpses into the city’s rich architectural heritage. Highlights include:

* François Courtin’s lithograph displaying the grandeur of New York’s Crystal Palace during the 1853 Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations. Rising majestically in what is now Bryant Park, this once hosted technological wonders from across the globe

* the original Croton Reservoir, built to increase the city’s water supply, depicted in an 1850 lithograph by Charles Autenrieth with its massive Egyptian-style walls that became a popular promenade spot for New Yorkers. Parts of the original stone structure can still be seen on the lower level of the New York Public Library on 42nd Street, which rose in its place.

* Jules Crow’s vivid depiction of the Pennsylvania Station Interior in 1906, a watercolor capturing the grandeur of the original Beaux-Arts masterpiece designed by McKim, Mead, and White. Opened in 1910, the building stood for only 54 years. Its demolition spurred the creation of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission two years later.

The exhibition is curated by Wendy Nālani E. Ikemoto, vice president and chief curator of New-York Historical, who said: “Lost New York delves into the many and deep layers of this city. I hope visitors will delight in discovering the landmarks that once defined the places they know but also consider the serious issues, like gentrification and environmental devastation, that drove their loss and reflect upon the importance of preserving our past."

Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of New-York Historical, added: "Lost New York invites visitors to wander through the echoes of a city unfamiliar to what they know now. We’re excited to welcome visitors throughout the run of the exhibition and especially on Friday nights when the galleries will be filled with vibrant music, nostalgia, and good cheer.”