Sotheby’s is set to auction one of the oldest existing photographs of New York City and one of the only that depicts life beyond lower Manhattan:
“A half-plate daguerreotype of A Country Home Along ‘A Continuation of Broadway’ (est. $50/70,000), made in October 1848 or earlier, may be one of the earliest photographic views of New York City extant. This surprisingly detailed image of what is now Manhattan’s Upper West Side shows a stately home atop a hill with its vast lawn spread before it, newly planted with evergreens and surrounded by a crisply-rendered white picket fence. In the foreground, the daguerreotype shows what is almost certainly the old Bloomingdale Road, referred to as ‘a continuation of Broadway‘ in the New York City directories of the day.
The date and location of this image have been taken from a manuscript note which was folded and placed behind the daguerreotype plate in its original leather case.
Early daguerreotypes showing parts of New York City are exceedingly rare. Of the handful that can be dated to the 1840s and 1850s, all but the image offered here show buildings in Lower Manhattan, and only one is believed to precede the present daguerreotype in date. This image provides a unique glimpse into a hitherto unknown Manhattan: the country estates beyond the grid of downtown streets, the busy traffic of Broadway just beginning.”
Just look at that yard!