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Illustration Art, New York City, Frederick Elmiger, Elgin Botanic Garden, Rockefeller Center, Vintage Watercolor, c. 1960s


Frederick Elmiger (1890-1975)
Elgin Botanic Garden
American: c. 1960s
Watercolor, gouache and/or acrylic on artist’s board
Signed lower right
21.75 x 30.25 inches overall
This is from a series of scenes from New York history —┬ásearch our site for “Elmiger.”

Original painting of the Elgin Botanic Garden from a series by the artist Frederick Elmiger imagining scenes from New York City’s early history. The colorful scene depicts the garden on a sunny spring day with elegantly dressed New Yorkers strolling the paths: men in top hats, women in hoop skirts and sunbonnets carry parasols, a little girl carries a basket of flowers and a boy holds a play hoop. In the distance is a building with tall windows, presumably a conservatory for growing plants indoors.

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A hand-lettered exhibition label accompanies the painting as issued. The label explains that the garden no longer exists, and is the current site of Rockefeller Center:

The Elgin Botanic Garden once occupied the site of the present Rockefeller Center. Established in 1802 by Dr. David Hosack, it was bought some years later by the State, which in turn granted it to Columbia University as it’s [sic] portion of State aid. In 1929 John D. Rockefeller, Jr. leased the ground at an annual rental of $3,800,000 for 85 years, after which time it reverts back to Columbia.

Dr. David Hosack, a prominent physician as well as a botanist and mineralogist, founded the garden, and sold it to the State of New York in 1810. The state granted the 14-acre site to Columbia four years later, and it became known as the Columbia Upper Estate. After acquiring the property, John D. Rockefeller financed the development of the large scale building complex there that was officially named Rockefeller Center in 1932.

Frederick Elmiger was an American illustrator. He frequently produced series on historical themes for Donald Art Company in Port Chester, New York, publishers of posters, lithographs, and artists’ prints. These included scenes from American history, Revolutionary war uniforms and vintage automobiles. At the time of his death he was living in Larchmont, New York.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning and wear. Outer margins with some glue residue, staining and abrasions from former matting, apparently intended by artist to be matted out as originally issued, and now to be rematted out when reframed. Small puncture in grey roof of building to be professionally restored. Original title card very good with overall light toning and wear.


Nelson, Lee W. “Rockefeller Center in New York City.” 2001-2007. (26 April 2007).

Additional information


20th Century