Fifth Avenue, from the St. Regis

Accession Number

Fifth Avenue, from the St. Regis

Alvin Langdon Coburn

Artist Nationality
British (modern)

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
photogravure on paper

7 3/8 in x 5 7/8 in (18.7 cm x 14.9 cm);14 3/8 in x 19 3/8 in (36.5 cm x 49.2 cm);7 7/8 in x 6 1/4 in (20 cm x 15.9 cm)

Credit Line
Museum Purchase

Label copy
The soft-focus that dominated pictorialism was employed by Coburn in this image looking down Fifth Avenue from the St. Regis Hotel. In the gathering gloom, the spires of St. Patrick’s Cathedral on the left and the tower of St. Thomas Episcopal Church at the right create an evocative atmosphere that belies the reality of New York in 1910. In his foreword to New York, H.G. Wells noted that this image of the City was his least favorite. He stated that he’d never seen New York look hazy, and Fifth Avenue, from the St. Regis represents the City in an uncharacteristically reflective mood. The towering energy of Wall Street is more in keeping with New York, but this elegiac view of Fifth Avenue may signal the disappearance of the City that would have been familiar to Henry James and Edith Wharton.
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)
This image of Fifth Avenue is reproduced (pl. 18) in Coburn's "New York," published in 1910.

Subject matter
This photograph frames an elevated view down Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Glowing orbs from the street lamps below dot the sides of the avenue, which diagonally bisects the vertical image. Buildings, churches, and cathedrals are sillouetted against the foggy atmosphere that envelope the cityscape. This image, made from the high vantage point provided by the St. Regis Hotel, served as Plate 18 in Coburn's book New York

Physical Description
Elevated and angled view down Fifth Avenue from the St. Regis Hotel in New York City.

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area

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cathedrals (buildings)
churches (institutions)
cityscapes (representations)
hotels (public accommodations)
modern and contemporary art
multistory buildings
street lighting units

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& Author Notes

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