The men on the riverfront overshadowed by the modern city

Martin Lewis made this etching, “From the River Front,” in 1916. What a turning point in New York City history: skyscrapers have started going up in Lower Manhattan, changing the scale and feel of the streets beside the East River.

But on Belgian-block South Street, the low-rise buildings don’t overshadow the men working and congregating there. This horse-powered part of Manhattan is doing business as it always has. Meanwhile, the 20th century looms.

Here’s more of Martin Lewis’ enchanting and haunting etchings of New York’s pockets and corners.

[Source: Invaluable]

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7 Responses to “The men on the riverfront overshadowed by the modern city”

  1. Mykola Mick Dementiuk Says:

    I love his loose-skirted women traipsing and hurrying down the NY’s streets. Always love his Art, brings a kick to my life!

  2. Dave Richard Says:

    I love these etchings by Martin Lewis: highly evocative and sometimes somewhat mysterious.

  3. velovixen Says:

    I love the etching. It’s a juxtaposition, however unwitting, of worlds: a skyscraper looms behind smaller buildings and people that look almost Victorian.

  4. countrypaul Says:

    Interesting examination of a transition period, but as it’s almost always illustrated and remembered in black and while, it’s sometimes hard to recall that it was lived in color. Still, my limited growing-up memories of that part of town always seem to have a grey pallor over them.(YouTube offers a variety of colorized and time-corrected movies of the period, some better than others, which bring it to “more life,” although by their artificiality I find many err on the cherry side. Still, they make for fascinating glimpses in to what things possibly were.)

    By the way, the Astoria arch in the linked page could possibly be under an approach to the Hell Gate Bridge before the trackbed got high enough to warrant grander supports. I don’t have first-hand experience with the area, but it’s the only geographical feature that makes sense in the time period of the illustration. Others may be able to come to a better-educated identification. That all said, Martin Lewis is a new discovery for me, but I’m now a fan. Thank you!

  5. Bill Wolfe Says:

    Thank you for the link to other examples of Martin Lewis’s work. I’d never seen anything by him before and I enjoyed it a lot. I’ve learned about many good artists here!

  6. tommy bklyn Says:

    good stuff

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