Skip to main content

City Intelligence

image 1image 2image 3image 4cropped image 1


VIEW OF BROOKLYN, L.I.; FROM U.S. HOTEL, N.Y.; drawn from nature, and on stone, 1 by E. Whitefield.—This is a picture, about forty inches by fourteen, printed in colors, of the view which Brooklyn presents from the top of the U.S. Hotel, near Fulton ferry N.Y. It brings in the whole outline of the city, and though impossible, of course, on such a limited surface, and with the arrangement for producing the more important effects, to give every thing in detail, the view is one which can not easily be surpassed. The artist has done his work well.2 —All of the general features of Brooklyn are preserved with great truth, particularly those on the shore.—The Heights, the Atlantic Dock, and the hills to the south—with the Navy Yard, and the elevations to the east, are all truthfully given. 3 No one can look on this picture without realizing that Brooklyn is indeed a beautiful city; and that she only needs ordinary care, (in the way of planting and preserving trees, constructing a park on Fort Greene, &c.) to clinch her reputation as the city of this part of the United States.

A picture like this of Mr. Whitefield's may well, of course, be in the possession of every Brooklynite; and perhaps there is hardly a more appropriate ornament for the walls of our dwelling rooms than such a neatly framed "View of Brooklyn."4


1. Lithographs, like View of Brooklyn, are drawn on finely polished limestone. [back]

2. The artist was the English-born Edwin Whitefield (1818–1892) who specialized in views of North American cities. With its elevated vantage point and attention to detail, Whitefield's View of Brooklyn, executed early in his career, is characteristic of his city views. Whitefield would go on to produce views of sixty other cities, including New York, Albany, Boston, Chicago, Quebec, and Montreal. Cheaper than paintings and affordable to a rapidly expanding middle class, these lithographic views exhibited the delicate coloring of a water color. See John W. Reps, Views and Viewmakers of Urban America: Lithographs of Towns and Cities in the United States and Canada, Notes on the Artists and Publishers, and a Union Catalog of their Work, 1825–1925 (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1984), 215–16; Whitefield's View of Brooklyn is reproduced on page 130. [back]

3. These are features that Whitman would have seen from the Fulton ferry that he regularly took between Manhattan and his home in Brooklyn. [back]

4. For Whitman's views on the importance of art in the home, see "Polishing the ‘Common People,'" March 12, 1846, Brooklyn Daily Eagle. [back]

Back to top