Program Recap: Book Talk “Walkers in the City”

October 10, 2023
by Rebeca Miller

This program originally aired on September 28th, 2023 and was co-sponsored by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research and New Lehrhaus.

Author Deborah Dash Moore sat down with Manhattan Borough Historian Robert W. Snyder to discuss her new book, Walkers in the City: Jewish Street Photographers of Midcentury New York. Jews gravitated to photography largely because the artform and technology was relatively new, and the profession did not include the same barriers of other mediums. The accessibility of the medium, combined with new technology that produced smaller and lighter cameras, saw a rise in popularity of Jewish street photographers that eventually organized to become the New York Photo League. Photography helped these artists understand the city and their place in it. The camera gave women a ‘license to stare’ previously only afforded by men; delivering us images of children playing, the diversity of the city, and moments of tension. The content of these images was often of the artists peers, working class and middle class New Yorkers in everyday life.

Topics covered in this program: Berenice Abbott, Morris Engel, Sol Libsohn, Vivian Cherry, Louis Stettner, Esther Bubley, camera technology, New York City, Jews as image makers, working class and middle class life, street culture prior to television, photojournalism, anti-Semitism in mid-century New York.