Court of the First Model Tenements in New York City, 361-365 East 71st Street by Berenice Abbott (c. 1935-39)

The photograph titled “Court of the First Model Tenements in New York City” was captured by Berenice Abbott.

The photograph shows a scene of numerous clotheslines densely strung across a narrow courtyard between apartment buildings. Sheets and various pieces of laundry are hanging to dry, creating a pattern of white and dark lines against the brick facade of the surrounding tenement buildings. The clotheslines are crisscrossed and heavily laden with laundry, indicating a communal space where residents have maximized the available area for this domestic task. The image portrays a slice of everyday life in urban New York and reflects the close-knit community structure as well as the practical use of shared spaces in densely populated areas. The backdrop shows the exteriors of the tenement buildings with rows of windows, some of which are open. It’s a clear day with the laundry being aired out in what appears to be pleasant weather.

Other Photographs from Berenice Abbott

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