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Guide to the Steinway & Sons Photograph and Print Collection
1858-1949
 PR 166

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


© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Ricky Hunter, Jennifer Lewis, and Jenny Gotwals

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on January 05, 2012
Description is in English.

Historical Note

The Steinway & Sons piano manufacturing company was founded in New York City in 1853 by German immigrant Henry Engelhard Steinweg (who later legally changed his name to Steinway) and his sons.

The business began at 85 Varick Street, but moved to 88 Walker Street by the next year. The success of the business required expansion. By 1856 the factory moved to 91 Mercer Street, and the showroom and business offices to 84 Mercer Street. The next year the showroom expanded into 82 Mercer Street and this remained the main showroom until Steinway Hall was built in 1864. In 1860, a new and larger factory opened on Park Avenue between 52nd and 53rd Streets. A new wing was added in 1863, as well as townhouses for the Steinway family along 52nd Street. The Steinway operation, mindful of its need to expand, acquired land in Astoria, and by 1879 moved all manufacturing operations to Queens.

The Steinway soon became the American piano of choice for the discerning, especially after garnering the Grand Gold Medal of Honor at the Paris Exposition of 1867. Steinway Hall, built to showcase the pianos and their sound, was a 2,000-seat auditorium on Union Square that also served as a general-purpose meeting space. It doubled as the home of the New York Philharmonic until the opening of Carnegie Hall in 1891. Steinway Hall was closed in 1925.

In 1871, Henry E. Steinway, Sr. died and control of the firm passed to his sons Henry, William, Charles G., and Albert. The family sold Steinway & Sons in 1972.