Snapshots of New York City Street Scenes, 1936-1951

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For fifteen years the New York Photo League — a gathering of amateur and professional photographers, most of them Jewish, first-generation Americans — explored the streets of their metropolis, with camera in hand. They wanted to capture an off-the-cuff side to their urban landscape — a grittier slice of life. “Their solidarity centered on a belief in the expressive power of the documentary photograph and on a progressive alliance in the 1930s of socialist ideas and art.” Now, 61 years later, their works are being exhibited at The Jewish Museum in New York City. The Radical Camera: New York’s Photo League, 1936-1951 runs until March 25 and shares the League’s look at the ordinary people around them, who are fascinating to behold. You can learn more about the exhibition on The Jewish Museum website, but catch a preview of the show in our gallery below where street scenes and strangers are viewed with a wondrous eye.

Sid Grossman, Coney Island, c. 1947, gelatin silver print. The Jewish Museum, New York, Purchase: The Paul Strand Trust for the benefit of Virginia Stevens Gift. © Howard Greenberg Gallery.

Berenice Abbott, Zito’s Bakery, 259 Bleecker Street , 1937, from Changing New York, 1935–39, gelatin silver print. The Jewish Museum, New York, Purchase: Mimi and Barry J. Alperin Fund

Alexander Alland, Untitled (Brooklyn Bridge), 1938, gelatin silver print. The Jewish Museum, New York, Purchase: William and Jane Schloss Family Foundation Fund. © Estate of Alexander Alland, Sr.

Aaron Siskind, The Wishing Tree, 1937, printed later, from Harlem Document, 1936–40, gelatin silver print. The Jewish Museum, New York, Purchase: Lillian Gordon Bequest. © Aaron Siskind Foundation / Courtesy Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New York.

Weegee, Max Is Rushing in the Bagels to a Restaurant on Second Avenue for the Morning Trade, c. 1940, gelatin silver print. The Jewish Museum, New York, Purchase: Joan B. and Richard L. Barovick Family Foundation and Bunny and Jim Weinberg Gifts. © Weegee / International Center of Photography / Getty Images

Ida Wyman, Spaghetti 25 Cents, New York, 1945, gelatin silver print. The Jewish Museum, New York, Purchase: Photography Acquisitions Committee Fund. © Ida Wyman.

Bernard Cole, Shoemaker’s Lunch, 1944, gelatin silver print. The Jewish Museum, New York, Purchase: The Paul Strand Trust for the benefit of Virginia Stevens Gift. © Estate of Bernard Cole.

Jerome Liebling, Butterfly Boy, New York, 1949, gelatin silver print. The Jewish Museum, New York, Purchase: Mimi and Barry J. Alperin Fund. © Estate of Jerome Liebling.

Ruth Orkin, Boy Jumping into Hudson River, 1948, gelatin silver print. The Jewish Museum, New York, Purchase: Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Fund. © Estate of Ruth Orkin.