El at Columbus Avenue and Broadway by Berenice Abbott (c. 1935-39)

The photograph “El at Columbus Avenue and Broadway” was taken by Berenice Abbott, approximately between the years 1935 and 1939. This image captures a scene from above, where the elevated train tracks (El) are visible, and hints of urban life are scattered below.

The composition of the photograph is intriguing and evokes a sense of life in motion from an era approached artistically. The contrast between the shadows and the light areas creates strong visual lines that guide the viewer’s eye across the frame. There appears to be a silhouette of a horse protruding from the edge of the shadow of the elevated tracks, adding to the urban narrative captured by Abbott in her work. Below this are individuals who seem to go about their day, casting long shadows on the sunlit ground, a signature of the overhead perspective and the time of day when the photograph was taken. The presence of pedestrians and the positioning of objects provide a glimpse into the historical context and daily routines of the era. The artistic choice of capturing the moment from such a vantage point produces a striking and almost abstract portrayal of early 20th-century city life.

Other Photographs from Berenice Abbott

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