Classic New York Streetscapes, Then and Now
WSJ re-shoots images from Berenice Abbott’s landmark photo project ‘Changing New York,’ some 80 years later
It is an essential paradox of New York City that its streetscapes seem both ageless and ever-evolving. Photographer Berenice Abbott captured that vibrant contradiction in the 1930s when she created her landmark series “Changing New York,” more than 300 black-and-white images of the metropolis shot with a large-format camera while she was working under the auspices of the Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration. Her visual time capsule documents everything from soaring skyscrapers to neighborhood storefronts, churches, tenements, warehouses and bridges.
The New York Public Library recently released free, high-resolution scans of the “Changing New York” portfolio, prompting one Wall Street Journal photographer to reshoot more than a dozen of Abbott’s images of Manhattan and Brooklyn. They reveal how much, and in some cases, how little, New York City has changed.