40th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, from Salmon Tower 11 West 42nd Street, Manhattan.
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In this Berenice Abbott image, we find ourselves high above the bustling streets of New York City. Our view is that of a bird perched on Salmon Tower at 11 West 42nd Street, looking southwest toward 40th Street.
To the left of the image is the iconic, Beaux-Arts styled Bryant Park Studios. The building has previously been home to several artists, and now functions as a hub for retail stores, design studios, and more. On the right, the gothic World's Tower is dwarfed by the surrounding skyscrapers. Constructed in 1913, it was considered tall at 30 stories, but as commerce in the area grew, so did construction.
Ever so slightly out of view in this photograph is Bryant Park, situated between the photographer and her architectural subjects. In Berenice Abbott's time, Bryant Park was not the verdant respite it is today. The Sixth Avenue elevated railway ran noisily nearby, shaking the buildings and shedding ash, oil, and cinders on pedestrians underneath. The park was neglected and considered disreputable. Robert Moses headed a redesign in 1933 as a public works project, but by the time this photo was taken in December 1935, the El was the subject of a controversial removal campaign that eventually caused the park to shut down while the replacement underground line was built.
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