On the evening of April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was mortally wounded by gunshot while attending a play at Ford’s Theatre. Actress Laura Keene (1826-1873) was on stage that fateful evening, starring in “Our American Cousin.” A witness to one of the most infamous moments in American history, Keene is believed to have been the first to identify the assassin as fellow actor John Wilkes Booth. It is also widely claimed, though often contested, that the actress rushed to the President’s side just moments after the shot was fired, cradling his head in her lap as her dress became drenched in his blood.
John Matthews (1808-1870), known as “The Soda Fountain King,” is famous for popularizing carbonated beverages in the United States. Though others had attempted carbonation before him, Matthews was the first to create a process that was simple and economical. In 1832 Matthews patented his “apparatus for charging water with carbon dioxide gas.” The apparatus he designed could be kept on a countertop, making it possible for a pharmacist to easily dispense carbonated drinks to the masses. Matthews also introduced the first flavorings for carbonated beverages, contributing to their booming popularity. By the time of his death, more than 500 establishments in New York City alone were using his products.
Living in New York City in the early twentieth century, artist Henry Ives Cobb Jr. (1883-1974) was inspired by the energy of the City around him. Working primarily in watercolor and oil, Cobb painted scenes of life in and around Manhattan. Jumping Rope near Cleopatra’s Needle, Central Park, pictured here, is exemplary of Cobb’s style. He whimsically depicts a group of school girls at play in the park on an early spring day. Just beyond them is the New York City landmark “Cleopatra’s Needle,” an Ancient Egyptian obelisk erected in New York during the nineteenth century.
Henry Bergh (1813-1888) was an activist who advocated for the humane treatment of animals. He proposed the first laws protecting animal welfare in the United States. In 1866, just three days after the legislation passed in New York, Bergh founded the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or ASPCA. Outraged by the blatant and horrific abuse of horses too weary to pull carriages, Bergh made it his mission to protect animals from suffering and injustice. His efforts raised awareness of animal welfare in the United States and by the time of his death 39 states had enacted laws prohibiting cruelty to animals.
Park Slope was one of the earliest residential neighborhoods to develop in Brooklyn, attracting New Yorkers who could easily commute to thriving Manhattan via ferry service. This course of development can largely be attributed to Edwin Clarke Litchfield (1815-1885). During the 1850’s he purchased large tracts of farmland in the area and sold them off to residential developers. His legacy lives on in Brooklyn through his mansion home, Litchfield Villa, located in Prospect Park. Litchfield’s elegant estate, designed by Alexander Jackson Downing, became city property after his death. Today it is the headquarters of the Brooklyn Parks Department and a beloved Brooklyn landmark.
This stereoview card shows a couple setting out in a small boat at the edge of Arbor Water. One of many glacial ponds to be found across Green-Wood’s original landscape, Arbor Water was located in close proximity to Green-Wood’s Gothic revival main entrance arch. The pond was filled in to make way for Green-Wood’s Historic Chapel, completed in 1911. In this view, the Receiving Tomb is featured prominently across Arbor Water. Today, the Receiving Tomb stands in its original location and can be seen nearby the Chapel.
Imre Kiralfy (1845-1919) was a theatre enthusiast who produced a series of stage spectaculars during the late 19th century. Kiralfy became famous for his extravagant dance-based theatrical productions, featuring large coordinated dance groups, innovative special effects, and elaborate high-quality sets and costumes. In 1891, Kiralfy produced what was perhaps his most unique and remarkable show, Venice in London, a combined spectacular play and exhibition. Staged at the Olympia Theatre in London, Kiralfy replicated the bridges and canals of Venice using machinery, water and electricity.
James Ryder Van Brunt (1820-1916) was an American artist and Brooklyn native. Born on his family farm in old Gowanus, land that is now part of Green-Wood Cemetery, Van Brunt was of Dutch heritage, his ancestors having settled in the area as early as the seventeenth century. Van Brunt took inspiration from the Dutch heritage of the region, specializing in watercolors of local farmhouses and churches. The work pictured above, Peacock in an Architectural Setting, demonstrates Van Brunt’s artistic skill, even when working outside of his usual subject matter.
Francis Wupperman, better known by his stage name, Frank Morgan (1890-1949), will forever be remembered for his role as the title character in the Wizard of Oz. An eccentric and jovial character actor, Morgan was already a well-respected long before his 1939 role as “The Wizard.” His first film was released in 1916, over a decade before the first “talkies” were introduced. Sound films enabled Morgan to really flourish as an actor and he became highly sought after for both comedic and dramatic roles. In the accompanying photo, Morgan demonstrates his juggling ability, a skill he learned for a scene in his 1938 film “The Crowd Roars.”
During the second half of the nineteenth century, Edward Anthony (1819-1888) played an important role in the advancement of photography. He founded what would become the largest supplier of photographic supplies in the United States, E. & H.T. Anthony & Co. The company sold everything from photographic chemicals to studio backdrops. The magazine, “Anthony’s Photographic Bulletin,” was published by the company from 1880 through 1902. The publication included a variety of articles pertaining to the art of photography as well as advertisements for all sorts of photographic supplies.