THE NEW YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
On the block bounded by 76th and 77th Streets, Central Park West, just around the corner from the Museum of Natural History, stands the building of one of our oldest institutions—the Historical Society, founded by John Pintard in 1804. The building cover the entire front of the block and is a notable addition to our semi-public buildings. The Society will shortly mature plans for the completion of the building by the erection of two imposing towers at the north and south ends. The main structure may also be heightened. When completed, the Building Committee feels assured that the final result will be a notable achievement. While the Historical is open to free ad-mission to the public, it is nevertheless a private institution, supported entirely by its members.
In its rare prints of old New York, the society has undoubtedly the most comprehensive collection of items relating to New York, possessed by any organization, and in its maps, manuscripts and newspapers it has undoubtedly the finest pertaining to our city that exists. Its library is also of extraordinary value and contains nearly 450,000 volumes, including pamphlets.
Under the direction of Robert H. Kelby, Librarian, and his able •assistant, Alexander J. Wall, who is also well known as a popular lecturer and authority on local genealogy, the Historical co-operates in a hearty manner with writers and others, seeking assistance, and this Guide is in no small measure indebted to them for many courtesies.
It was among the first to endorse the movement to re-move the old post office and erect the old Liberty Pole as a war memorial, described elsewhere in this journal. It is ever in the forefront where New York City history is concerned and a visit to the building is well worth while. The Eighth Avenue cars pass the door. Steps are now being taken to complete the building with artistic towers on the vacant land both north and south of the present structure. When completed, it will be a wonderful addition to an already famous institution of learning and culture.
With the formal opening of the newest of our Museums, the Indian, Heye Foundation, the Quadrangle at Broadway and 155th Street is now completed. It would be hard to find a more beautiful or charming section in all New York. The Indian Museum has not yet been thrown open to the public, but the exercises will have been performed ere this book is published, and it is only for us to say that it adds another interesting and educational institution to the city of the highest importance.
The Hispanic Society of America forms the principal building in this distinguished group which is located on an elevation overlooking the Hudson, just where Riverside Drive makes a graceful curve as if to spare "Minniesland," the old home of Audubon, the great naturalist. It is devoted to the advancement of Spanish literature, art and history. The entrance proper is on Broadway between One Hundred and Fifty-fifth and One Hundred and Fifty-sixth Streets, and the Subway station is at One Hundred and Fifty-seventh Street. The Hispanic Society is thus conveniently reached, and the stranger who decides to spend an hour or two within its walls will have visited one of the most remarkable institutions not only in New York, but in the world as well.
In fact, the Hispanic Society probably is better known in foreign countries than it is at home, though in recent years its local fame has greatly increased, partly by reason of the splendid exhibition of Spanish art which it has given from time to time. Its late exhibition of Spanish tapestries is a case in point. Lovers of art were thus enabled to use the best examples of the most famous Spanish creations in this ancient art, and our country thus received the benefit. The growing influence of all things Spanish and Portuguese in this city has given the society an added importance that is rapidly growing as its usefulness becomes more widely known.
The collections of this society, though small, are of exquisite quality. No attempt has been made to include the varying grades of certain illustrative originals, the idea being to limit the exhibits to the very best specimen obtainable in each class, and also one other that might be described as generally typical. In this manner the society has gathered examples of wood carving, silver work, ivory plaques and combs of Phoenician origin, Hispano-Moresque plaques, Neolithic and Roman pottery, Buen-Retiro ware, azulejos or glazed tiles, Roman mosaics and ecclesiastical embroideries, etc. Most of them are of the greatest rarity.
As the society delights to encourage special research in literature and strives to promote new and original investigations so that the result may be literature by itself, it offers special facilities to those pursuing such studies, and its library is, without exception, the most important devoted to this particular field in America. Of its original manuscripts, first editions, etc., New York is justly proud. It includes a large collection of early hooks, including examples of Lambert Palmart, of Valencia, the first printer of Spain, with some specimens of contemporary printers of Germany and Italy for the purposes of comparison; first editions of important Spanish authors and a unique special collection, including nearly every known edition of "Don Quixote"—itself an item of absorbing interest and value; auto-graph letters of Charles the Fifth and the Duke of Wellington; manuscripts of George Borrow and Robert Southey; ancient maps and rare old prints and beautifully illumined mediaeval liturgical books.
The society gives its cordial co-operation to sincere workers and upon application to the library the treasures of the library are freely placed at the disposal of readers. Reader's cards may be had from the Librarian. It is doubtful if a similar collection of Spanish memorabilia is .extant in any other country of the world.
Its famous paintings are undoubtedly entitled to the high praise bestowed upon them as they are of exceptional importance. The Spanish Painter, El Greco, is best represented by The Holy Family.
Valesquez, the greatest, is represented by the Portrait of a Little Girl, Portrait of a Cardinal, and a full-length, life-size portrait of the Duke of Olivares.
Morales: Madonna and Child, and Goya: The Second of May, The Duchess of Alba and General Foraster. Also paintings by Moro, Zubaran, etc., and by Sala, Fortuny, Domingo and Rico.
Of the great living Spanish painters, Sorolla and Zuloaga, there is Leonese Peasants; ' Portraits of Jose Echegaray and of Vincente Blasco Ibañez, the Spanish novelist now so popular for his "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, by the former and family of a Gipsey Bullfighter, and portrait of the painter by himself of the latter.
Sorolla, by the way, was introduced to the art public of the new world by the Hispanic, whose notable exhibition of his work is still pleasantly remembered in New York.
The Hispanic is constantly growing in influence.
A bronze bust of Collis P. Huntington, father of the founder and to whom the building is a memorial, is of special interest. It is on the right as you enter. The building is open from 10 to 5 every day of the week, but the library is closed on Sundays and Mondays.
There are, of course, dozens of other institutions, all doing great work for the city, like the Genealogical and Biographical Society, which devotes itself to family history. The Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen, at 16 West 44th Street, one of the oldest bodies (1785); the Society Library, our first public library, on University Place, and dozens of others. We can only enumerate those likely to have some interest for the visitor.
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