West 8th Street, Looking East from Sixth Avenue

Accession Number

West 8th Street, Looking East from Sixth Avenue

Berenice Abbott

Artist Nationality
American (North American)

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
gelatin silver print on paper

8 in x 10 1/16 in (20.32 cm x 25.56 cm);7 11/16 in x 9 5/8 in (19.53 cm x 24.45 cm);8 in x 10 1/16 in (20.32 cm x 25.56 cm);19 7/16 in x 14 3/8 in (49.37 cm x 36.51 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Harry H. Lunn Jr.

Label copy
Abbott's interest in recording the changing neighborhoods of New York can be seen in this image of shops and apartment buildings on a quiet intersection. The building in the distance, the 1928 Art Deco building at One Fifth Avenue, is poised at the same height in the image as the building containing Whelan Drugs, establishing an equivalence despite the discrepancy in scale. The arched street lamp occupying the space between the buildings acts as a visual bridge between the four-story buildings in the foreground and the more monumental twenty-five-story building down the street.
Carole McNamara, Assistant Director for Collections & Exhibitions
on the occasion of the exhibition New York Observed: The Mythology of the City
(July 13 – September 22, 2003)

Subject matter
In this photograph of downtown Manhattan at the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 8th Street, looking east towards the imposing skyscraper at One Fifth Avenue, Abbott mobilizes two competing viewpoints to enliven the strict grid of New York City. The façade of the drugstore on the corner, seen frontally in the foreground, is disrupted by the oblique view of West 8th Street, which cuts across the composition from the lower right corner and disappears in the middle of the image. The Art Deco skyscraper, built in 1927 and therefore a recent arrival when Abbott photographed it, looms large in the distance, lightly cloaked with atmospheric mist (or, more likely, smog). Though relegated to the background, this new building is at the center of the composition and Abbott offers it some breathing room by positioning it at the end of the open path provided by West 8th Street. Our view is interrupted only by a handful of pedestrians captured crossing the street as they go about their daily tasks.

Physical Description
View of a skyscraper on Fifth Avenue, seen from the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 8th Street.

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area

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cityscapes (representations)
documentary photographs
modern and contemporary art

12 Related Resources

Architecture in Photography 1900-1948
(Part of 7 Learning Collections)
New York City
(Part of 3 Learning Collections)
Technology and Modernity in Photography 1900-1948
(Part of 3 Learning Collections)
The City in Photography 1900-1948
(Part of 8 Learning Collections)
The Modern Metropolis
(Part of 7 Learning Collections)
WPA Woman Artists
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& Author Notes

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