From 1896 to 1915, the publisher of the view, Moses King, celebrated the city in his Views of New York, an impressive photographic survey that chronicled the streets and skylines of Manhattan and Brooklyn. King exulted in New York’s superiority in the realms of commerce, culture and technology, asserting “New York stands unsurpassed anywhere on the globe.” King’s views books were immensely popular and remain a fascinating record of New York’s evolving skyline. He also published King’s Views of the New York Stock Exchange in 1897, with numerous half-tone photographic views of streets and buildings of lower Manhattan, and portraits of prominent bankers of the era. This book was subtitled: “A history and description with articles on financial topics illustrated with more than four hundred portraits and sixty-five views of the exchange and vicinity.” Although the Rummell view is not present in this book, the photographic portraits in the larger print apparently are the same (at least in some measure) as those in the book.
Richard Rummell was an American artist who specialized in panoramic bird’s-eye views of cities, towns and campuses, which he executed in watercolor for reproduction as prints. Rummell produced an aerial view of Manhattan for the 1896 edition of King’s Views of New York. Speaking of that image, the art historian Douglas Tallack notes that Rummell’s style “mixes genres and aims for artistic effects while sitting easily within the popular culture of the period, including photography and early film” (Brooker et al.). Although the Wall Street print offered here is a street level view, this description of Rummell’s style holds true for it. The Stock Exchange is in the foreground, but it is off to the side. The movement of carriages and the deep perspective of the street view leads the eye away from its façade to an atmospheric rendering of the tall spires of Trinity Church a block away, as if the city’s past is presiding over its future as a bustling center of commerce. In addition to having been a regular contributor to King’s New York City books from the outset, Rummell is also well known for his series bird’s-eye views of colleges and universities that were published as prints around the turn of the 20th century, including Harvard University, Yale University, Cornell University, Hamilton College and Lehigh University.
Publication information: “Copyright 1903 by Moses King. Photogravure by A.W. Elson & Co., Boston.” Titled lower center. Portrait lower left captioned, “G[eorg]e B. Post, Architect.” Seal of publisher Moses King lower right.
Brooker, Peter and Andrew Hacker, eds. Geographies of Modernism. New York: Routledge, 2005. pp. 112-117. Online at Google Books: http://books.google.com/books?id=mNP2pnowSMkC (12 February 2013).
“The New York Stock Exchange, Trinity Church and Wall Street.” New York Public Library Digital Gallery. 25 March 2011. http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/id?1659373 (11 February 2013).