John Bachmann's First Birdseye View
Decorative example of John Bachmann's finely engraved view of New York City from Union Square, looking to the south.
Published in 1849, the present view is the first view of New York by Bachmann, engraved shortly after his arrival in New York. Union Square was not only Bachmann's first American bird's-eye view, it was the first true view of the city, meticulously compiled from hundreds of sketches made on the ground, rather than being a single artist's rendering from a high point, just as was Brooklyn Heights of the steeple of a church.
The map looks southward from Union Square Park. Ships dot the rivers and the docks bustle with activity. Union Square Park had only recently opened in 1839, and upscale residences would soon circle the perimeter of this new residential district . The fountain in the center of the park was erected to celebrate the opening of the Croton Aqueduct, which brought clean water to the heart of Manhattan.
John Bachmann, a German-speaking Swiss printmaker, arrived in New York in 1848. Bachmann had previously produced views of Paris and other cities, before leaving Europe.