New York’s Printing House Square

I collect architectural and street views of New York City, and one of the more unusual places of the late 19th C was Printing House Square, near City Hall. It was the site of the major newspapers (before they moved uptown) and the typefoundries (before the consolidated and moved out of town). A statue of Benjamin Franklin was erected in 1872, and a book was printed to commemorate that event. From Bigmore and Wyman, A Bibliography of Printing, v.1 p.168:

“Printing-house Square, in the centre of New York, is the head of the newspaper industry of that city. It is surrounded by the palatial offices of some of the morning, and several of the weekly journals. It was thought appropriate that in the centre of the square there should be erected a statue of Benjamin Franklin, America’s famous patriot-printer, and a wealthy citizen, Mr. Albert De Groot, came forward and defrayed the expense of the erection. The monument was inaugurated amid great rejoicings, and in the presence of some of hte most eminent citizens, the proceedings throughout on the most hearty and interesting character. Among those who took a prominent part in the affair was Mr. De Vinne….”

Bigmore and Wyman were citing this book: Theodore L. De Vinne. Record of the Proceedings and Ceremonies Pertaining to the Erection of the Franklin Statue in Printing-house Square, New York, presented by Albert De Groot to the Press and Printers of the City of New York. New York: 1872 8vo. pp. 104.

Printing House Square
Printing House Square, New York City (NY: E. & H.T. Anthony, ca. 1877)



Above: Printing House Square, N.Y. (Gelatine-Bromide series) (New York: E. & H.T. Anthony, [ca. 1880]). Author’s collection. [The Anthony Gelatine-Bromide series used an innovative dry-plate technique. While important in the history of photography, the Gelatine-Bromide views lack the sharpness of prints made from wet-plate processes and are thus often neglected by collectors. This is one of (at least) two views in the series of Printing House Square, near Park Row. William C. Darrah writes of some being 30 views, but so many variants have appeared on eBay that I’d guess there must have been 40 or more negatives marketed by Anthony.]

Park Row, by E. and H.T. Anthony
AbovePark Row from Tryon Row, City Hall Park on the right, showing the Times Building, and a distant view of St. Paul’s Chapel (Anthony’s instantaneous views no. 313) (New York: E. & H.T. Anthony, [ca. 1868]). Author’s collection (Ex-Treadwell).  (See high-resolution with verso and blow-up.)]

By Paul Romaine

Paul Romaine is a grant writer and independent curator in New York City.

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