Court of First Model Tenement House in New York, 1936
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New York City's swanky Upper East Side is not where one would expect to find low-income tenement housing today. But that's just where, in 1936, on a blustery winter day, photographer Berenice Abbott photographed the Court of the First Model Tenements (post reform), for her Changing New York project. Front and center in the image is a five-story pole, which was embedded in concrete and, with the aide from pulleys, supported laundry lines for the tenement dwellers. Clotheslines marked many an urban landscape in New York City's history, often seen as a characteristic of its working class, lower-income denizens. In this beautiful shot, the diagonal laundry lines (of which Berenice said the clothes were frozen stiff) create geometric abstractions while speaking to the intersection of the buildings' myriad cultures. Meanwhile, children huddle for warmth in the distant background (at the base of the second pole).
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