From the 1870s to the early 1890s, the Empire City became the prevailing center of American finance and culture. Fueled by a flourishing capitalist economy and patronized by a burgeoning elite citizenry, New York’s built environment would be dramatically transformed. Yet, as recent scholarship has begun to consider the concept of “culture” more broadly, New York’s status as a cultural capital needs to be reevaluated not only in terms of its buildings and landscape, but in its social composition and in the institutions and organizations that played a pivotal role in the metropolis’s projection of itself. This session seeks papers that focus on New York’s cultural and material production in the 1880s, including art and architectural projects of all media, as well as a consideration of the dynamics underlying their creation and patronage. We encourage a broad range of approaches from the historical and archival, to the theoretical.