Mercedes Autobus, Fifth Avenue and 38th Street, New York

Accession Number

Mercedes Autobus, Fifth Avenue and 38th Street, New York

Karl Struss

Artist Nationality
American (North American)

Object Creation Date
circa 1912

Medium & Support
sepia-toned platinum print on paper

15 15/16 in x 19 5/16 in (40.5 cm x 49 cm);18 3/16 in x 22 1/8 in (46.2 cm x 56.2 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of the artist

Label copy
In addition to the quiet grandeur of his images of the New York Public Library and Pennsylvania Station, the attractions and bustle of New York’s street life also appealed to Struss. His view down Fifth Avenue, with the figures on the upper deck of the Mercedes bus silhouetted against the haze of the background, has an almost cinematic quality. Struss, in fact, had no difficulty making the transition from traditional still photography into moving pictures. He went on to a successful career in Hollywood, winning the first Academy Award for cinematography for his film Sunrise.
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
This photograph depicts a slightly elevated view of the traffic-filled intersection of Fifth Avenue and 38th Street in Manhattan. Automobiles are silhouetted by a strong light that illuminates the building facades in the background. A double-decker bus transports a group of individuals, while pedestrians pack the sidewalks on either side of the avenue. The photographer's use of selective focus in combination with the filtered light and sepia-toning serve to soften the hard edges of the city buildings. 

Physical Description
Elevated view of traffic on an urban street. 

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area

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cityscapes (representations)
double-deck buses
high-rise buildings
modern and contemporary art
street scenes

& Author Notes

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