From Clarence Cook’s Description of the Central Park, a limited-edition book published in 1869. Engraving by the painter Albert Fitch Bellows. A very rare depiction of the region soon after the Meer was built.
The front of the “museum” (the former Mount St. Vincent’s chapel) faces directly toward Fifth Avenue, so we must be looking down from a spot near Fifth Avenue, just below 110th Street.
“…the visitor observes with pleasure that this building which, not a great while ago, was a forlorn barracks, has been made by the hand of care and taste to assume a very agreeable appearance, a truly domestic air, to which its irregular shape and rambling rooms are found quite conducive.”
It looks as though the museum is festooned with opening-day pennants, but that’s just the line of the roof with some finials poking up from the far side.
Go back just a few years, to the pre-Meer days in this nice colored litho. Here we are looking south from Sixth Avenue and 110th. This would be between 1863 and 1865 when the buildings on the hill were still that “forlorn barracks” (i.e., Civil War hospital and soldiers home).
The line of 1814 earthworks from Nutter’s Battery over to Fort Clinton is very distinct. The north-south road in the middle, running past the fortifications, is approximately the old Post Road (Kingsbridge Road). This roadway has been widened and graded for Central Park, but it won’t last long because it’s about to be dug up for the west end of the Meer!
Just to the left of the little tree in the center of the picture we see the remains of the old barrier gate (McGowan’s Pass gatehouse) from 1814.