Posts Tagged ‘New York City in the Depression’

The transients of Depression-era New York City

August 1, 2016

Raphael Soyer, a Russian-born painter who moved to the Bronx in 1912, stuck to the social realist style of painting popular at the turn of the century, as exemplified in his sympathetic 1936 piece, Transients.


“Soyer developed his subjects from New York City’s poorer sections,” states one biography.

“Unlike the painters of the Ashcan School 25 years earlier, Soyer and his contemporaries did not view the city as a picturesque spectacle. Instead, they dwelt on the grim realities of poverty and industrialization.”

A winter view of the Depression-era East River

February 9, 2015

“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.


“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.