Life on the Lower East Side: Photographs by Rebecca Lepkoff, 1937-1950

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9781568986067: Life on the Lower East Side: Photographs by Rebecca Lepkoff, 1937-1950

A young Rebecca Lepkoff, camera in hand, navigated the streets of the Lower East Side of New York in the 1930s and 1940s, before the Alfred E. Smith housing project largely demolished and forever changed its character. She captured the lives and times of a vibrant, close-knit, and functional multiethnic community. Through her lens, she documented street scenes a woman stopping in front of a tenement to share some news, a fruit seller peddling her wares, a woman hanging laundry on a clothesline. Stoops, rooftops, fire escapes, and sidewalks in front of candy stores and delis were the preferred social and recreational locales. In the absence of playgrounds, children improvised outdoor play areas and congregated Saturday afternoons in front of the Loew's Canal.

Life on the Lower East Side, the first monograph of Lepkoff's works, highlights the lost neighborhood between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges from the Bowery to the East River. With over 170 beautifully reproduced duotone photographs and essays by Peter Dans and Suzanne Wasserman, the book reveals the dynamic community of Italians, Irish, Jews, Greeks, Spaniards, Chinese, Puerto Ricans, and African Americans. Lepkoff's images uncover a forgotten time and place and reveal how the Lower East Side has both stayed the same and changed forever.

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About the Author:

Rebecca Lepkoff's work has been the subject of solo and group exhibitions and is held in numerous museum collections, including the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. She lives in New York City.

Rebecca Lepkoff's work has been the subject of solo and group exhibitions and is held in numerous museum collections, including the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. She lives in New York City.

Review:

...anyone, certainly anyone who has ever visited the constantly receding remnant of the old Lower East Side, will find this book affecting...a unique volume of art that breathes life from every page. -- Science & Society

Any art director from Hollywood could only pray for the detail and inspiration contained in Lepkoff's pictures. -- Washington Sunday Times, Dec. 31, 2006

She managed to cast a fresh eye on her familiar streets. Indeed, they became her muse. . . (Her) photography captured the ever-changing community in a way that paralleled the change in her life. -- The New York Times, October 22, 2006

The book is a virtual walking tour--a surprise waits as you round each corner . . . A student at the Photo League, Lepkoff's curious eye documented everything from dock workers at the South Street Seaport to endearing pictures of children playing. Lepkoff's New York moments are delightful revelations. -- B&W Magazine, October 2007

The book succeeds, in part, by telling a pictorial history of the Lower East Side and reminding viewers of the inevitable change that takes place in communities... Highly recommended. -- Choice, Feb. 2007

The living conditions were deplorable, but Lepkoff's subjects transmit a keen vitality as they go about their daily lives. -- Newsday, Dec. 10, 2006

if you look hard at Lepkoff's pictures... you can just about hear the snap of laundry on clotheslines, the laughter of girls skipping rope, and the shouts of fruit vendors rolling their pushcarts on the cobblestones. -- Columbia, Winter 2006-07

"photographer Rebeccca Lepkoff captured scenes from ... daily life in the 1930s and 1940s: butches and bakers at work; housewives hanging laundry; children playing in the streets." --Italian America, Summer, 2007

"These photos are a portrait of these immigrants strugggles." -- Tonia Steed --The Villager, November 1, 2006

"Pays homage to the multiethnic community on New Yorks Lower East Side." --Publishers Weekly, August 14, 2006

"The first monograph of photographs by Rebecca Lepkoff, who cronicled life in this vibrant, multi-ethnic neighborhood before its buildings were razed in 1950 to make room for the Alfred E. Smith housing project." -- Catherine Pierre --John Hopkins Magazine, February, 2007

"Through their black-and-white photos, readers can visit an America that no longer exists, a Depression-era society of musical movies and Burma-Shave sign. Petrov and Ilf . . . captured scenes of everyday America and history in the making." --Library Journal, Oct. 2006

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