City Lunch Counter by Walker Evans (1929)

The photograph titled “City Lunch Counter,” captured by Walker Evans in 1929, presents a candid scene inside what appears to be a diner or a luncheonette. At the forefront, taken from outside looking in through a glass window, we see three men seated at the counter engaged in the act of eating and drinking. The window bears the painted words “ICE COLD MILK,” framing the image and situating us as external observers to this moment in urban life.

In this black and white composition, on the left, a man in a light-colored suit and a straw boater hat is sipping a beverage through a straw. In the middle, an elder gentleman in a dark suit and bowler hat is deeply focused on eating a sandwich. The individual on the right, partially cut off from the frame, is in a dark suit as well, with his mouth open as if he is speaking or perhaps chewing. The countertop, covered in crumpled napkins and food items, along with the bustling atmosphere of the patron-filled diner in the background, evokes a busy, everyday setting typical of the era.

Walker Evans’ photo is an evocative depiction of a moment in time, reflecting the social dynamics and culture of city life in the late 1920s.

Other Photographs from Walker Evans

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