Bridge Across Harlem River
Bayard H. Tyler’s painting of a bridge under construction juxtaposes the leisurely activity of the straw-hatted boatman in the foreground with the labor of the construction workers in the background. Infrastructural subjects were rare for American artists of this period, and Tyler looks forward in more ways than one. His subject may not be as symbolically potent as the Brooklyn Bridge (completed in 1883), but the Washington Bridge, completed five years later, no less significantly linked upper Manhattan with the Bronx across the East River.
With its combination of stone arches and steel girders, the bridge spans not just the East River but also time— rooted to the historic riverbank, it nonetheless steps broadly toward the future consolidation of New York City to occur a decade later.