Artist and Hell’s Kitchen resident Harry Wickey etched this dark, moody moment in time on Ninth Avenue circa 1923.
The Ninth Avenue El, dismantled in 1940, looms large in the background. It was the city’s first elevated railway, starting at Greenwich Street and traveling up Ninth Avenue to Columbus Avenue and 155th Street.
Wickey, who switched to sculpture after etching acids damaged his sight, wrote in his autobiography about how he “changed from an Ohio farm boy into an enthusiastic resident of Hell’s Kitchen, New York’s tough area along the Hudson River,” according to a Life article from 1942.
“There Wickey now lives with his wife in three rooms where he can watch the slum kids, housewives, tramps, and tavern topers whom he has transformed into bronze.”