“East Side Night, Williamsburg Bridge”

Martin Lewis’ 1928 etching illuminates some of the city’s mysterious layers, levels, and corners. This piece belongs to the Brooklyn Museum . . . which for some reason doesn’t have it on view, according to the website.

Memo to New York museum curators: An exhibit of Lewis’ etchings is long overdue!

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14 Responses to ““East Side Night, Williamsburg Bridge””

  1. “East Side Night, Williamsburg Bridge” | New York Blogs Says:

    [...] http://upcoming.current.com/nyblogs?format=rss [...]

  2. JP Says:

    The Brooklyn Museum (among others) has an enormous collection, and only so much physical space. They can’t display everything at the same time.

  3. oscar Says:

    where’s the tacky hot pink metal?

  4. wildnewyork Says:

    No bike lanes either!

  5. andrew Says:

    It will be displayed one place — my computer desktop.

  6. Joe R Says:

    These etchings are gorgeous and I don’t think I’ve seen them anywhere else besides in Ephemeral NY. (Many thanks to blog master wildnewyork.) A museum show would be greatly appreciated. Perhaps at the Museum of the City of New York (MCNY) if the Brooklyn is so hard pressed for space. The MCNY often exhibits art relating to the landscape of the city.

  7. wildnewyork Says:

    Thanks! I think Lewis’ etchings are treasures. A MCNY or other museum show would expose them to a new audience.

  8. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    I really like this one, brings back nice memories

    http://ephemeralnewyork.wordpress.com/2010/10/20/a-late-traveler-makes-her-way-to-the-subway/

  9. Lynn Says:

    Any idea as to where the man is standing in “East Side Night, Williamsburg Bridge”? I do not live in the NYC area and so am not familiar with eactly where he could be standing. What neighborhood is he looking out onto? Are any of the buildings in the distant skyline identifiable? Thanks for any help I can get with this.

    • Joe R Says:

      He would be looking downtown. It’s hard to guess what buildings are in the horizon since the downtown skyline has changed so much since 1928. I’m going to make a guess that the middle of the three tallest buildings is the Woolworth Building, at the time the tallest building in town.

  10. Lynn Says:

    Many thanks for your answer. So, he would be on the west end of the bridge? If you look at the etching, you will see that there is a light inside of the tower building. Note that the light is shining on the railing in an area to the man’s right. This would indicate an open door. At present, there is only one tower building that has a door in it and it is on the west end of the bridge on the south side. Also note the sign on the wall of the building: “Men Manner” and then there is something underneath that is not visible. I have seen a detail where the words could be seen but not what is under them, maybe some numbers. I wonder what the significance of that sign is–perhaps a men’s lavatory facility? Any ideas?

  11. Lynn Says:

    I believe I have figured out where the man was standing in this picture. I used Google Earth and Youtube to help me. It would appear that he is standing on the north tower building at the west end of the bridge. He would be looking down on Delancey Street on his extreme lower left (street, north side of bridge and parallel to the bridge; extreme lower bottom left corner of picture) and probably Tompkins St., Mangin St., Goerck St./Baruch Pl. and Lewis St. (all north of bridge and perpendicular to it) directly in front of him. There were formerly walkways attached to the tower buildings that have been removed during bridge restoration. The man is standing on one of these on the west side of the north tower building. If you view the movie clip from “The Naked City”, Part 10/10 (1948) on Youtube (http://tinyurl.com/3fclg9d), you will see the tower buildings on the west end of the bridge. The first building that the villain runs to is on the south side of the bridge. The second tower building he runs to over a catwalk over the traffic lanes leads to the north tower building. It would appear that Martin Lewis must have sat on this catwalk in order to draw his picture as you will notice that his view is from a height over the tower building. The tenements upon which the man is gazing have been replaced by apartment buildings. In addition, I believe that the man is looking towards uptown, not downtown, Manhattan. I have identified two buildings on the skyline. The first, on the left and appearing slightly illuminated, is the Con Ed Bldg., 4 Irving Pl. I do not know the identity of the tall, narrow building in the center. The next building to the right is the Met Life Insurance Tower, 1 Madison Ave. Using Google Earth, these buildings line up perfectly with the roof of the north tower building. Finally, when viewing the video clip, you will see that there is still a white placcard on the side of the north tower building in approximately the same position as in the drawing. There is another spot on the other end of this building that shows a trace of the outline of another placcard that has been removed. There is a door on the west side of the building so it could have been open and could have been the source of the light that shows up directly to the man’s right. I have come to the conclusion that Lewis did a very good job of showing us a glimpse into a long-forgotten time. Fascinating.

  12. Borrowind Says:

    Has anyone ever put on a good historical survey exhibition “New York at Night”, mixing painting and photography?

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