Saturday, January 9, 2016

Photos of 1930s New York City by Berenice Abbott [feedly]



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Photos of 1930s New York City by Berenice Abbott
// PetaPixel

nypl.digitalcollections.510d47d9-4fb3-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99.001.w

The Federal Art Project was a Depression-era program that launched in 1935 to fund projects by visual artists in the US. That same year, American photographer Berenice Abbott received funding for a "Changing New York" photo project to document New York City.

She shot 305 photos for the project between 1935 and 1939, and her work was published in a photo book and distributed to public institutions in New York.

A portrait of Berenice Abbott taken by Hank O'Neal in New York City, 18 November 1979.

A portrait of Berenice Abbott taken by Hank O'Neal in New York City, 18 November 1979.

Abbott's goal with her NYC photos was to capture the diversity of people in NYC, the places they're found, and their daily lives. Many of her photos are lasting documentations of old buildings as they stood before being torn down and replaced with modern constructions.

Here's a gallery of Abbott's "Changing New York" photos:

Harlem Street: II. 422-424 Lenox Avenue, Manhattan. Women sit on steps of house that serves as a church, with barber- shop below, white man talks to barber, beauty shop, and auto school next door.

Harlem Street: II. 422-424 Lenox Avenue, Manhattan. Women sit on steps of house that serves as a church, with barber- shop below, white man talks to barber, beauty shop, and auto school next door.

Penn Station, Interior, Manhattan. Massive steel uprights in the center and to the left, with lighter steel tracery and windows above; men stand near stairway to trains.

Penn Station, Interior, Manhattan. Massive steel uprights in the center and to the left, with lighter steel tracery and windows above; men stand near stairway to trains.

Jay Street, No. 115, Brooklyn. Three generations of African Americans on stoop of brick home with iron rails on steps.

Jay Street, No. 115, Brooklyn. Three generations of African Americans on stoop of brick home with iron rails on steps.

Oyster Houses, South Street and Pike Slip, Manhattan. George M. Still and N.P. Housman Oyster Co.'s with piles of oyster shells in front and the Manhattan Bridge above.

Oyster Houses, South Street and Pike Slip, Manhattan. George M. Still and N.P. Housman Oyster Co.'s with piles of oyster shells in front and the Manhattan Bridge above.

Manhattan Skyline: I. South Street and Jones Lane, Manhattan. Looking from pier toward Manhattan, tugboats moored left, Downtown Skyport, right, skyscrapers in the background.

Manhattan Skyline: I. South Street and Jones Lane, Manhattan. Looking from pier toward Manhattan, tugboats moored left, Downtown Skyport, right, skyscrapers in the background.

Hester Street, between Allen and Orchard Streets, Manhattan. Looking down from window on street scene including peddlers, women sitting on stoop, baby carriages, fabric and clothing stores and pedestrians.

Hester Street, between Allen and Orchard Streets, Manhattan. Looking down from window on street scene including peddlers, women sitting on stoop, baby carriages, fabric and clothing stores and pedestrians.

Pike and Henry Streets, Manhattan. Looking down Pike Street toward the Manhattan Bridge, street half in shadow, rubble in gutters, some traffic.

Pike and Henry Streets, Manhattan. Looking down Pike Street toward the Manhattan Bridge, street half in shadow, rubble in gutters, some traffic.

Fulton Street Dock, Manhattan skyline, Manhattan. Men walk on pier where sailing vessels are moored, skyline beyond.

Fulton Street Dock, Manhattan skyline, Manhattan. Men walk on pier where sailing vessels are moored, skyline beyond.

Waterfront, South Street, Manhattan. Brooklyn Bridge span as it reaches land above South Street near James, tall buildings rise beyond.

Waterfront, South Street, Manhattan. Brooklyn Bridge span as it reaches land above South Street near James, tall buildings rise beyond.

Radio Row, Cortlandt Street, Manhattan. Men window shop in store selling radios, elevated railroad station, Ninth Avenue line, right center, subway entrance visible.

Radio Row, Cortlandt Street, Manhattan. Men window shop in store selling radios, elevated railroad station, Ninth Avenue line, right center, subway entrance visible.

Murray Hill Hotel, from Park Avenue and 40th Street, Manhattan. Looking up past fire escapes on hotel toward large light colored building, other buildings.

Murray Hill Hotel, from Park Avenue and 40th Street, Manhattan. Looking up past fire escapes on hotel toward large light colored building, other buildings.

Daily News Building, 42nd Street between Second and Third Avenues, Manhattan. Looking toward East River from tall building, News Bldg., brownstones, the Con Edison plant and an apartment building.

Daily News Building, 42nd Street between Second and Third Avenues, Manhattan. Looking toward East River from tall building, News Bldg., brownstones, the Con Edison plant and an apartment building.

Automat, 977 Eighth Avenue, Manhattan. Man takes pie out of Automat, stone counters and walls below metal and glass display.

Automat, 977 Eighth Avenue, Manhattan. Man takes pie out of Automat, stone counters and walls below metal and glass display.

Queensboro Bridge: I. From 63rd Street Pier, Manhattan. Crane and pier in foreground, bridge, East River and Roosevelt Island beyond.

Queensboro Bridge: I. From 63rd Street Pier, Manhattan. Crane and pier in foreground, bridge, East River and Roosevelt Island beyond.

Newsstand, 32nd Street and Third Avenue, Manhattan. Newstand next to State Coffee Shoppe, large display of magazines, ads for sundaes, Coca-Cola above, boxes of sodas below, man at left

Newsstand, 32nd Street and Third Avenue, Manhattan. Newstand next to State Coffee Shoppe, large display of magazines, ads for sundaes, Coca-Cola above, boxes of sodas below, man at left

Triborough Bridge, East 125th Street approach, Manhattan. Six cars visible on approach and bridge, street below, bridge superstructure, right, smoke-stacks of Hell Gate Con-Ed. power plant, left.

Triborough Bridge, East 125th Street approach, Manhattan. Six cars visible on approach and bridge, street below, bridge superstructure, right, smoke-stacks of Hell Gate Con-Ed. power plant, left.

General view, looking southwest to Manhattan from Manhattan Bridge, Manhattan. Looking down Monroe Street toward Municipal building and financial district; children play on corner near church, parking lot, left.

General view, looking southwest to Manhattan from Manhattan Bridge, Manhattan. Looking down Monroe Street toward Municipal building and financial district; children play on corner near church, parking lot, left.

Oak and New Chambers Streets, Manhattan. Festive lights in curlicue designs arch over street, men with tall ladder, wagons, cars, billboards; 'el' and Municipal Bldg. just visible.

Oak and New Chambers Streets, Manhattan. Festive lights in curlicue designs arch over street, men with tall ladder, wagons, cars, billboards; 'el' and Municipal Bldg. just visible.

Billie's Bar, 56th Street and First Avenue, Manhattan. Bartender stands behind bar, shelves arrayed with bottles, pitchers and beer spigots, tile floors, lights and mirrors.

Billie's Bar, 56th Street and First Avenue, Manhattan. Bartender stands behind bar, shelves arrayed with bottles, pitchers and beer spigots, tile floors, lights and mirrors.

Travelling tin shop, Brooklyn. Tinker looks over his shoulder at camera while he ties box to wagon already loaded with pans, brushes, basins, etc.

Travelling tin shop, Brooklyn. Tinker looks over his shoulder at camera while he ties box to wagon already loaded with pans, brushes, basins, etc.

Union Square, Manhattan. Looking up at statue of Lafayette from behind and left, S. Klein's store, a bank, a hotel and the Consolidated Edison Building, beyond.

Union Square, Manhattan. Looking up at statue of Lafayette from behind and left, S. Klein's store, a bank, a hotel and the Consolidated Edison Building, beyond.

Madison Square, looking northeast, Manhattan. Policeman stands in front of Seward statue, shoe-shine man lounges on railing, right, Metropolitan Life building rises above park.

Madison Square, looking northeast, Manhattan. Policeman stands in front of Seward statue, shoe-shine man lounges on railing, right, Metropolitan Life building rises above park.

Herald Square, 34th and Broadway, Manhattan. Looking down on busy intersection, people crossing, buses, trucks, cabs, other autos, Macy's entrance just visible with union picket in front.

Herald Square, 34th and Broadway, Manhattan. Looking down on busy intersection, people crossing, buses, trucks, cabs, other autos, Macy's entrance just visible with union picket in front.

Whelan's Drug Store, 44th Street and Eighth Avenue, Manhattan. Man waits on customer in background, displays of electrical appliances, clocks, and a Valentine's Day display of candy.

Whelan's Drug Store, 44th Street and Eighth Avenue, Manhattan. Man waits on customer in background, displays of electrical appliances, clocks, and a Valentine's Day display of candy.

Willow and Poplar Street. Laundry wagon, cars, along sloping street lined with rowhouses, skyline of Manhattan visible above buildings at end of the street.

Willow and Poplar Street. Laundry wagon, cars, along sloping street lined with rowhouses, skyline of Manhattan visible above buildings at end of the street.

Wall Street, from roof of Irving Trust Co. Building, Manhattan. Looking down on edge of Irving Trust Bldg., pyramidal roof of building across street and Customs House, most of immage mass of buildings.

Wall Street, from roof of Irving Trust Co. Building, Manhattan. Looking down on edge of Irving Trust Bldg., pyramidal roof of building across street and Customs House, most of immage mass of buildings.

Blossom Restaurant, 103 Bowery, Manhattan. Men stand at entrance to barbershop, pole in front, under the Blossom Restaurant, which has menu painted on windows and board out front.

Blossom Restaurant, 103 Bowery, Manhattan. Men stand at entrance to barbershop, pole in front, under the Blossom Restaurant, which has menu painted on windows and board out front.

Huts and unemployed, West Houston and Mercer Street, Manhattan. Men share a light in front of hut with open door, milk can and washtub inside, hut to left has pictures in frames adorning the outside of it.

Huts and unemployed, West Houston and Mercer Street, Manhattan. Men share a light in front of hut with open door, milk can and washtub inside, hut to left has pictures in frames adorning the outside of it.

Seventh Avenue looking south from 35th Street, Manhattan. Low winter sun illuminates Seventh Avenue and the harbor brightly, buildings along avenue almost silhouettes.

Seventh Avenue looking south from 35th Street, Manhattan. Low winter sun illuminates Seventh Avenue and the harbor brightly, buildings along avenue almost silhouettes.

Department of Docks and Police Station, Pier A, North River, Manhattan. Long building wtih clock tower at far end housing Dept. of Docks and a Police station; man walks toward camera near newsstand in foreground.

Department of Docks and Police Station, Pier A, North River, Manhattan. Long building wtih clock tower at far end housing Dept. of Docks and a Police station; man walks toward camera near newsstand in foreground.

Mulberry and Prince Streets, Manhattan. Building with gambrel roof, dormers on corner, small houses along street where man pushes cart, large buildings topped with water towers beyond.

Mulberry and Prince Streets, Manhattan. Building with gambrel roof, dormers on corner, small houses along street where man pushes cart, large buildings topped with water towers beyond.

A & P (Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co.), 246 Third Avenue, Manhattan. Window display showing can goods, eggs, crackers, etc. and signs for sale items, ads with Kate Smith inviting you to try 2 different coffees.

A & P (Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co.), 246 Third Avenue, Manhattan. Window display showing can goods, eggs, crackers, etc. and signs for sale items, ads with Kate Smith inviting you to try 2 different coffees.

You can view all 300+ of Abbott's photos from this project over in the New York Public Library's Digital Collections website.


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Robert Gallagher
Photography by Gallagher
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