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Guide to the John F. Ahearn Papers
 MS 3074

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400

New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Joseph Ditta

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on December 20, 2018
English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Scope and Contents

This small collection of papers documenting the Manhattan borough presidency of John F. Ahearn (1853-1920) contains three volumes of letterpress copybooks, an album of photographs, and five volumes of scrapbooks.

The letterpress copybooks, spanning 1904–1905 and 1908–1909, preserve typescripts of responses sent by Ahearn and his subordinates (some are drafted and signed by secretaries) to fellow government officials, institutional administrators, prominent clergy, and private citizens, who wrote to request his consideration for job appointments, or to invite him to preside at civic and social functions.

The album of photographs, taken in 1907, records one of the largest public works projects of Ahearn's tenure as Manhattan Borough President: the extension of Riverside Drive between West 135th and 158th Streets. Engineer F. Stuart Williamson's name appears on the album cover alongside Ahearn's. The images capture construction of the drive's massive stone retaining walls, lookouts, and terraces, as well as some of the existing apartment dwellings along this western edge of upper Manhattan. And the final view shows the northernmost end of the project, where Riverside Drive curves to meet West 158th Street near Broadway; the visible steeple marks the 1872 Church of the Intercession at 3801 Broadway (replaced in 1911–1914 by the current Church of the Intercession in Trinity Cemetery, three blocks south).

In addition to transmitting Ahearn's achievements as Manhattan Borough President, the five scrapbooks of newspaper clippings, spanning mid-1906–1907 and 1909, cover the contentious period near the end of his administration, when the courts ruled that his reelection—after his dismissal by Governor Hughes—had been illegal.


The collection's nine volumes are grouped by format:

Volumes 1-3: Letterpress copybooks, 1904-1905, 1908-1909.

Volume 4: Photographs, 1907.

Volumes 5-9: Scrapbooks, 1906-1907, 1909.