Friday, December 23, 2016


A holiday exhibit at The Museum of the City of New York confirms our annual post about the importance of Harlem resident Thomas Nast in the creation of the modern image of Santa Clause. Before photography became an everyday technology, illustrators were the most important image creators in popular culture during the 1800s and Mr. Nast who lived in a brownstone at 24 West 125th Street (the neighboring brownstone still stands as can be seen in the top photo) would become known as the man behind the image of the modern Father Christmas.  Below is our original post on uptown's Christmas connection: 

The above print from 1865 helped create the modern century's view of Santa Claus and was drawn in Harlem by one of most famous illustrators of the 1800s.  Back in the mid 19th Century, Thomas Nast wielded the power of what social media outlets like Instagram would have today since many at the time could not read and his drawings sent a stronger message in the papers than anything written.  Some have said that the political cartoons of the artist helped get President Lincoln re-elected during the Civil War in 1864 and an image a couple of years earlier showing a holiday elf with the northern troops started a new era of Santa imagery.  Mr. Nast would live uptown by 125th Street from 1864 to 1872 and from that time would create a world of Christmas that was more intricate than any have ever seen at the time.  Bigger companies would take the new Nast imagery in the decades to come and incorporate them into the world collective consciousness on what a modern day Santa would look like.  Read more about the history of Thomas Nast in our past post: LINK

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