The 1940s Lower East Side salvage collectors

Charles Cushman was a statistician, not a professional photographer.

But he clearly had an eye for the enchanting and poetic. As he traveled the country from the 1930s to the 1960s, he took photos—many in color, bringing scenes we’re used to seeing in stark black and white in gorgeous, enchanting hues.


Many of his color photos capture ordinary street scenes in New York in the early 1940s. Here, some salvage collectors on a Lower East Side street in October 1941 recycle the old-fashioned way.

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