Empire City: The Making and Meaning of the New York City Landscape imagined Victorian New York as a symbol of progress towards the nation’s imperial destiny and shaped the built environment to fulfill this particular vision.
New York had emerged as the financial capital of the United States by the middle of the nineteenth century. From 1845 to 1875, the population of New York grew from 370,000 to more than one million people. Scobey writes that “New York seemed swept up in changes of almost seismic proportions.” Victorian New Yorkers viewed these urban transformations as symbols of the city’s and the nation’s progress.
Although the Victorian planners did not always realize their ambitious goals, they did transform the built environment of New York, creating lasting monuments to American idealism.
(Bottom photo: New York: Ditson, C. H., 1883. Courtesy Library of Congress)
- Posted by Penny King