Lower East Side: A Neighborhood’s Photographs

March 27, 2020


The Lower East Side, one of the most densely populated, multiethnic, and modern places in the country, has been mined by photographers for more than 100 years. While late 19th-century social reformers attempted to show “how the other half lives,” later photographers had a different, and often more personal, relationship with the neighborhood.

Ilse Bing, New York. El and Straw Hat, 1936. © Estate of Ilse Bing

International Center of Photography (ICP) opened its new integrated center at Essex Crossing on Manhattan’s Lower East Side with “The Lower East Side: Selections from the ICP Collection”, one of four inaugural exhibitions. It is on view at ICP at 79 Essex Street from January 25 to May 18, 2020.

Drawn from ICP’s rich holdings of mid-20th-century works, this exhibition examines the role images play in creating narratives about this first port of entry for generations of immigrants. It features more than 40 prints by photographers including Ilse Bing, Arnold Eagle, Otto Hagel, Lisette Model, Jacob Riis, Lee Sievan, Weegee, Dan Weiner, and Bill Witt.

Lee Sievan, Orchard & Rivington Streets—Pushcarts, 1946. © Estate of Lee Sievan

“Many of the social documentarians and street photographers of the 1930s and 1940s were first-generation Americans born on the Lower East Side, who created sensitive and nuanced portraits of their neighbors and shared environment. As ICP moves to our new home in the LES neighborhood, we are committed to engaging with the many visual histories of the dynamic place that has been seen as ripe for reform and reinvention for more than a century,” said Erin Barnett, ICP’s director of exhibitions and collections.

Lower East Side: Selections from the ICP Collection

January 25– May 18, 2020
International Center of Photography
79 Essex Street
New York, NY 10002


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