Illustrations by Eric Rosner

Coming to New York City as a youth, I was dazzled by the excitement, chaos and historic significance of Manhattan. For the past twenty years, I have used illustration as a medium to recapture one of the city’s classic periods and present it to a new audience. With ink marker and digital enhancements, I seek to capture New York’s Gilded Age of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a stunning time period when the city’s collective imagination ran wild and magnificent structures soared to the sky.

The Puck Building

Built in 1885 on Houston Street in what is now called NoLIta, the Puck Building is a glorious example of the German Rundbogenstil style of Romanesque Revival architecture. It housed the famous Puck magazine, America’s first successful humor magazine, which featured colorful cartoons and political satire, playing an important role as a non-partisan crusader for good government and the triumph of American constitutional ideals. The magazine printed issues from 1871 to 1918. One can only imagine the whimsical characters and situations that must have filled the halls of the Puck Building. It’s one of my favorites.The building has been occupied by New York University since 2004.

Madison Square Garden

The building, commonly referred to as the “original” Madison Square Garden (though it was actually the second Garden, replacing one that operated from 1879 to 1890), stood on East 26th Street. An elaborate exhibition hall designed by superstar architect Stanford White, the second Garden was also the scene of White’s murder. He was shot by Harry K. Thaw over a scandal involving showgirl Evelyn Nesbit. The arena closed in 1925 and was replaced by the New York Life building, which still stands today. 

28th and Broadway

Back in 1890, this area was known as the “Entertainment District,”catering to the crowds coming uptown from vaudeville venues like the Palace Theater to enjoy the gambling halls, bordellos and fancy hotels that lined the sidewalks. The neighborhood was made famous by notable celebrities of the day such as Harry Houdini, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde and Diamond Jim Brady. I wish I could go back in time, just for a few hours, to tour this incredible intersection. 

The Fire on 18th Street

Horse-drawn fire engines rushed to a fire on 18th Street in 1901. A policeman tried to hold back onlookers, but some ran across the road. 

Brooklyn & Manhattan Bridges

Completed in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was the first structure to connect Manhattan and Brooklyn, and the longest suspension bridge of any kind in the world from its opening until 1903. Its neighbor, the Manhattan Bridge, is the newest of the three suspension bridges connecting the two boroughs, having opened in 1909. 

Grand Central Station Clock

A contender for top icon of New York City, the Grand Central Station clock was built in 1913 and still runs strong. This beautiful piece is partially made of opal, and it hides a secret staircase directly below it, perhaps leading to mysterious rooms below the station.

New York Central Building

Designed in the Beaux-Arts style by the architectural firm Warren and Wetmore, the architects of Grand Central Terminal, this mammoth structure preceded the nearby Pan Am building, towering over the city's second most prestigious avenue as the tallest structure in the great "Terminal City" complex around Grand Central and Park Avenue. It is known today as the Helmsley Building.

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Eric Rosner is a creative director at ERosner Illustration. His illustrations have appeared in CB2, FAB.com and the MoMA Design store.

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