Rockwood's Location, Rockwood Photographs, Rockwood and Roosevelt

George Rockwood

Photographer (1832-1911)


Taken at his gallery, 1881


George Gardner Rockwood was a 19th-century New York City photographer. He was born in Troy, New York on April 12, 1832, went to school in the Troy area and supposedly graduated with a Ph. D. from the University of Chicago (An obituary in Wilson's Photographic Magazine (August 1911) says it was Columbia University in New York). In 1853, he married Araminta Bouton of Troy and then started as a newspaper reporter for the Troy Daily Times. At 23 he became the managing editor of the Troy Daily Post. Around 1855 his professional interest developed in photography (the Wilson's obituary says he began his photographic career in St. Louis, Missouri in 1853). In 1857 he opened a studio with his brother, Elihu, in New York City at 839 Broadway. Elihu was a colonel during the Civil War and maintained a partnership with his brother throughout his life. He died in 1908.

Rockwood has been credited with introducing the carte-de-visite format of photography to the United States from France. He claimed the first card photograph made in this country of Baron Rothschild was taken at his gallery around 1859. George Rockwood competed with many well known and highly popular photographers during his time, such as Mathew Brady. He was a member of elite photographic societies during the 1870s and 1880s and contributed articles to their published journals.  According to an obituary in the Washington Post (July 12, 1911), Rockwood had taken photographs of more than 350,000 people.  When he first moved to New York he was a tenor in the Plymouth Church Choir in Brooklyn--the church headed by Reverend Henry Ward Beecher.

The New York Times had an amusing article about Rockwood in 1900.  He was sued for libel by a Dr. Ruffin North because Rockwood called him in a letter "a gilded bubble--nothing substantial."  Rockwood was trying to persuade a close friend of his, singer Hortense Pierse, to give the doctor "a frosty breath" and not to marry him.  Rockwood argued that the letter, along with a telegram, were private communications between he and Mrs. Pierse and couldn't be used as evidence in court.  The judge agreed and dismissed the case.  Hortense married the doctor anyway. 

Rockwood filed for bankruptcy at about the same time of his brother's death, claiming he owed over $20,000.  Some of his few assets were in stock shares, 383 of which were in his own company, George G. Rockwood Inc., which he incorporated in 1906.

George Rockwood died at his country home in Lakeville, Connecticut on July 10, 1911, at the age of 80.

A rare Rockwood photograph taken in 1874 of "Wild Bill" Hickok recently sold at auction for over $34,000.


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