The “cliff dwellers” of Manhattan’s slums

“Cliff Dwellers” is the name Ash Can School painter George Bellows gave his 1913 depiction of lower Manhattan tenement life.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which owns the painting, describes Cliff Dwellers this way: 

“The people are poor, living in cramped apartments, with too many children to feed; the children have the character of untrustworthy street urchins. Yet scenes such as this were not intended to be critical of foreigners of their living conditions; indeed, the activity has a lighthearted, almost circuslike quality.”

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4 Responses to “The “cliff dwellers” of Manhattan’s slums”

  1. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    Is that a streetcar going by? Are the clothes lines going across a street? Doesn’t look like NYC at all.

  2. ds Says:

    This was at the Met recently, part of their American Life series. Some great NYC stuff there. If it’s still on, I recommend you see it.

  3. wildnewyork Says:

    I did see it; I agree, great show. It closed last month but there’s still examples online:

  4. Skinny-dipping off a broken East River pier | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Bellows always seems to have such empathy for his subjects, especially poor street kids—like the ones in his 1907 painting 42 […]

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