MrJumbo’s New York: Berenice Abbott

Union Square Dawn, 2000
(Click on the picture for an enlargement;
click here for a much bigger version,
here for a detail from that version.)

Between 1929 and 1939, Berenice Abbott documented New York City in hundreds of classic black-and-white photographs. She took pictures of rich and poor districts, of high architecture and broken-down slums, of neighborhoods up and down Manhattan. She photographed buildings, roads, ships and public works. Some of her subjects are still around; some have changed; some have vanished, victims of the wrecking ball.

Her still images were collected under the title Changing New York, first as a museum exhibit in 1939, then as a book, published in 1997 by the Museum of the City of New York, which owns the images. They are a high water mark of American photography

They are also a record of a city large enough to be majestic and downtrodden in the same swoop, a moment in the history of New York (during the Depression) when luxury hotels stood beside soup kitchens, when grand theaters were being consigned to ruin, when tenements offered bleak hope and yet skyscrapers kept vaulting toward the heavens. New York is caught in Abbott’s pictures at a moment between the architecture of the 1800s and the Space Age.

These pictures are a few homages to Berenice Abbott, reframing some of her classic shots in modern light. If I had copies of her pictures to put beside these, I would, so you could see what has changed (and how much better she often was at capturing detail).

Instead I’ll post these alone, as my photographs, with the credit placed where due: The original images were Berenice Abbott’s. These are mere mimics.

The Chelsea Hotel, 2000
(Click here for a moderately larger version, here for a color enlargement.)

461-463 West 18th Street, 2000
(Click here for a much larger version, here for a much larger color version.)

This is the only picture on this page that’s not a copy of a Berenice Abbott original.
(Click on the picture for a larger version.)

Jumbo New York Links

World Trade Center Disaster September 11, 2001 . . . Page 2

Chelsea . . . *Chelsea by Night . . . More Chelsea . . . *Night in New York
*Empire State Building . . . *and Friends . . . *Where’s the Fire Escape?
Waterfront . . . Water Towers . . . West Village . . . Statue of
In House . . . Out of House . . . Midtown . . . Architecture . . . Blizzard of ’96
*The B.M.W. . . . *Y2K New Year’s Eve 1 . . . *Y2K2 . . . *Berenice Abbott

*New and Improved (April 2000)

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