New! Abbott's Ever-Changing New York June 09 2015
Blossom Restaurant, The Bowery by Berenice Abbott
8"x10" ($24) | 11"x14" ($60) | 16"x20" ($240)
Cities have a life all their own: extending this way and that, growing taller into the sky, sprawling even far beyond the limits of the land. And New York City is perhaps the most alive of them all. With millions of hearts beating, constantly regenerating streams of energy running every which way, it feels as though the city breathes in and out as one entity, pulsating to the sounds of infinity. In this way, looking at Berenice Abbott’s photographs is like looking beneath the skin: allowing us to see the bits and pieces that make up our city, that keep it running, that give it its soul.
Blossom Restaurant, The Bowery, from Abbott’s Changing New York series, gives you not only a glimpse into the city long before any of us got here, but a look into how people lived. The handwritten menu on the windows boasts three large pork chops for 30 cents and two eggs with potatoes and coffee for ten. A man stands in the doorway wearing a suit and tie. Behind a column, another man leans on a barricade, his hand on his face, lost in thought. The physical city may no longer be recognizable, but the looks on its inhabitants’ faces remain relatable—an unmistakable part of our present.
New Yorkers live in a catch-22: we thrive on always having access to the newest and latest, but we despise seeing the city’s history torn down, replaced with coffee chains, frozen yogurt spots, and sky-high shiny luxury condo boxes. It is this paradox that keeps many living here and it was, in fact, the inspiration behind Changing New York. Strangely enough, the little slice of New York captured in Blossom Restaurant, The Bowery has somehow still resisted the full force gentrification that threatens to sterilize the city. Today, 103 Bowery holds a small Chinese supermarket. In another 80 years, perhaps we’ll check in again to see what remains and what stories people will tell of the history there. We like to imagine Berenice wandering down the street, smiling to herself as she realizes that as quickly as this city can change, sometimes it doesn’t change very much at all.
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