A winter view of the Depression-era East River

“New York City goes about its varied daily businesses in [John] Cunning’s painting, despite the Depression,” explains the description of this evocative view of a wintry river and city, on the website of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Johncunningmanhattanskyline1934

“Whether or not their offices were full of workers, the Farmer’s Trust Building, 120 Wall Street, the Bank of Manhattan, 60 Wall Tower, and the Singer Building towered proudly against the gray sky,” states the site.

“Commuters who still had jobs had come from the outer boroughs in the ferry boats shown tied up at the Manhattan docks.”

“On the Brooklyn shore, cargo ships are tied up for loading or unloading. The men in the foreground are removing snow from the roofs of a coffee warehouse on Water Street near the Brooklyn Bridge.”

Cunning, a WPA artist, completed “Manhattan Skyline” in 1934.

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5 Responses to “A winter view of the Depression-era East River”

  1. Penelope Bianchi Says:

    What an evocative picture of what life was like trying to survive in those years. Yiikes! We have nothing to complain about compared to this!

    WOW!!!

  2. Walk About New York Says:

    We live with such a changed skyline today. NY Times is offering this week reportage on the questionable ownership of some of the condos in some of those newly-constructed towers that have changed the NYC profile. Thanks for posting your New York centric views; I find them interesting personally, as well as helpful for my tours.

    I have used your blog title “Ephemeral New York” as a tag for the blog section of Walk About New York’s website. Hope you do not mind. It is used for those entries that are here for a short time, and then gone.

  3. William Krause Says:

    John Cunning’s work shows how art can reflect the human experience. (And one can’t help but notice how little, or poorly, much contemporary art fails in that.). Thanks for the research.

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