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New York Historical Society

170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024


Neighborhood: Upper West Side

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Founded in 1804, when several New York merchants, politicians and professionals set out to preserve the history of the United States and of the State of New York in particular, the society operates the city's oldest museum. The collection of 1.6 million objects includes fine examples of painting, furniture, prints, maps, books and manuscripts. There is also an assortment of late 19th-century carriages, numerous paintings by artists of the Hudson River School, works by early New York silversmiths and all but one of the original watercolors used by John James Audubon for his book The Birds of America. The dramatically lit Neustadt Collection provides a breathtaking overview of the lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany. The Luman Reed Gallery, which recreates the private exhibition rooms of a New York collector of paintings in the 1830s, includes many American masterpieces, Thomas Cole's five-part Course of Empire among them.

The society's library possesses some of the country's more important documents: the correspondence between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr leading up to their 1804 duel; George Washington's proposed plan for retaking British-occupied New York City; and a copy of Freedom's Journal, the first newspaper published by African-Americans. In 1904 construction was completed on the neoclassical style structure, designed by the firm of York and Sawyer, in which the society still resides. North and south wings, designed by Walker and Gillette, were added 30 years later. In 1995 NYHS reopened after extensive renovation.

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