The Downtown Gallery was founded in 1926 by Edith Halpert, a former student at the Art Students League. Halpert promoted American artists such as John Marin, Arthur Dove, Max Weber, Charles Demuth, Charles Sheeler, Georgia O'Keeffe, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, and Stuart Davis. Among the more important shows held at the Downtown Gallery were the first exhibition for Ben Shahn in 1930, the first exhibition for William Harnett in 1939, and an exhibition of forty-one black artists in 1941. The University of Connecticut Museum of Art held a Downtown Gallery retrospective exhibit in 1968.
The Downtown Gallery papers are housed in the Archives of American Art.