Changing New York | An Exceptional Record of New York History

During the 1930s renowned photographer Berenice Abbott embarked on a five year documentation of the gritty streets of Depression Era New York City. Inspired by Eugene Atget's photo documentary series of Paris, Abbott sought to document the ever transforming streets of New York to serve as a record of the history of America. In 1935 she received a grant from the Federal Art Project to photograph, print and produce her landmark publication, New York Changing. In collaboration with her life partner, Elizabeth McCausland, who wrote the captions for the book, Abbott focused her lens on urban life, documenting the diverse people of the city, where they lived and their daily activities.

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Berenice Abbott, Changing New York, 1939, First Edition
Photography Courtesy of Auctionata, Rare & Exceptional Books Catalogue

Abbott set out on this project just as the skyscrapers of New York began transforming nineteenth century New York into an urban metropolis. Changing New York was intended to empower people; Abbott photographed this "Second Industrial Revolution" to illustrate the consequences of society's behavior.
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Berenice Abbott, Changing New York, 1939, First Edition
Photography Courtesy of Auctionata, Rare & Exceptional Books Catalogue

Along with over 300 iconic photographs, Changing New York, includes line drawings, period maps, and essays documenting the cultural history of the city. This book serves as a time-capsule of not only the architecture of the city but the diversity in culture and how urbanization shaped the daily activities of New Yorkers.
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Berenice Abbott, Changing New York, 1939, First Edition
Photography Courtesy of Auctionata, Rare & Exceptional Books Catalogue

Abbott believed she could capture as much about humanity from urban street scenes, as she could by photographing someone's face. Throughout Changing New York, Abbott examines the contrast between the old and new. Offered at Auctionata's Rare & Exceptional Book sale, this copy is inscribed to Eliot Elisofon, who was a staff photographer for Life magazine. Changing New York is an exceptional record of the most iconic images of the city's changing environment.
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Berenice Abbott, Changing New York, 1939, First Edition
Photography Courtesy of Auctionata, Rare & Exceptional Books Catalogue

Jocelyn Gurland, Auctionata New York