Earlier this summer, Peter Pehrson acquired for his Stoddard Corner Bookshop the remaining inventory from New York Bound, the bookshop dedicated to rare, out-of-print, and new books and ephemera related to New York history, located, until 1997, in the lobby of 50 Rockefeller Plaza. Among the treasures in that collection, Pehrson recently discovered this stereoscopic view of Promenade Hill, back in the day when it was called Parade Hill.
Gossips has shared this image before, although not in stereoscopic form, then focusing on the stairs that appear to be going down the face of the bluff. That stair or ladder and the absence of the iron fence led to the conclusion that the men in the picture are masons and laborers working on the retaining wall and this picture was probably taken in 1878, the year the retaining wall was constructed and the iron fence installed.
The stereoscopic image seems to draw more attention to this mysterious object in the background and makes one wonder what it is. Pehrson mused that the picture is too early for this to be a radio tower and the structure seems too small to be a fire tower--even if it's possible to believe that such a thing would ever have been sited on Parade Hill. Gossips' guess is that this structure is some kind of elaborate scaffolding around a flag pole--either one in the process of being erected or one that had been there for a while and required some additional support.
The colorized engraving below, from Wade & Croome's 1846 Panorama of the Hudson River from New York to Albany, discovered and published by The Valley Alliance back in 2011, shows a flag pole on Parade Hill in 1846. A newspaper article discovered by Gossips indicates that in 1898, there was no flag pole on Promenade Hill and the Common Council seemed uncertain about who had the responsibility or authority to put one there. One wonders what the situation of the flag pole was in 1878, if the picture that inspired this rumination was in fact dates from 1878.