Not a fan of the chilly wet days that characterize a New York winter? Let these shimmering images from Saul Leiter of the city in the 1950s and 1960s give you a different perspective.
Leiter, a longtime East Village resident who died in 2013 at age 89, was one of Gotham’s greatest (and mostly unheralded) street photographers, capturing the color of the mid-century metropolis in a subdued, tender glow.
His soft-focus photos show us seemingly random, ordinary street scenes: pedestrians at a newsstand, a worker taking a break on the sidewalk, the visual poetry of people and buildings reflected in glass, around corners, and through a misty lens.
Perhaps his most evocative photos showcase New York during wintertime. In a season when shades of gray typically mark the sky and sidewalks, Leiter’s camera manages to draw out the magnificent colors of the winter city.
Yellow taxis, red umbrellas, and the white and red signage on a city bus contrast with snowed-in and rained-out streets.
“I may be old-fashioned,” Leiter says in a 2014 documentary about his art and life, In No Great Hurry. “But I believe there is such a thing as a search for beauty—a delight in the nice things in the world. And I don’t think one should have to apologize for it.”
He found that beauty in the slush, snowfall, and puddles of New York’s anonymous streets.