New York. New Yorkers
Newfound Colors for a Portrait of New York
“It was fundamental that we found images that people haven’t seen before,” said Reuel Golden, the editor and author of the newly published “New York, Portrait of a City” (Taschen). The goal, Mr. Golden said, was to “unveil hidden gems that would excite even the most jaded New Yorkers and then print them big and bold.”
© Evelyn Hofer
What is your proudest ‘get’; that is, the photo that emerged from the most arcane source or took the most negotiating to secure?
I think my two proudest ‘gets’ — and they weren’t necessarily the most arcane nor did they take the most negotiating to secure — are the 1950s color work by Esther Bubley (Slide 11) and the amazingly prolific and versatile photographer Evelyn Hofer (Slides 1 and 14), who died last year.
I knew that Bubley had a rich black-and-white archive, but it was Sean Corcoran, curator of photographs and prints at the Museum of the City of New York, who told me about her color series on the el train taken in the very early 1950s. I visited the archive in Park Slope, run by her niece, and indeed I saw these wonderful color slides.
I wasn’t familiar with Hofer’s New York work, and it bowled me over. The photograph “Arteries,” taken on the West Side in the early 1960s, is so ahead of its time. It is art photography. It is very evocative of that period in the city’s history when Robert Moses was trying to recklessly turn New York into something it clearly wasn’t: a city of endless highways.
Hofer’s work is seriously underrated. I can’t say the same thing about Robert Moses.
New York, Portrait of a City
More than just a remarkable tribute to the metropolis and its civic, social, and photographic heritage, New York: Portrait of a City pays homage to the indomnitable spirit of those who call themselves New Yorkers: full of hope and strength, resolute in their determination to succeed among its glass and granite towers.
Mulberry Street, 1900.
© Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.