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Brooklyn Bridge, Water and Dock Streets, looking southwest, Brooklyn


Berenice Abbott's introduction to New York in 1929 was a rude, energizing awakening. "I came to New York on a visit and I got a little homesick," she said once. "It's like a novelist who gets a bug in his head. How does any artist get his ideas, his sunburst out of the blue? There is such a bang. There it was, for better or for worse. I was shocked and excited by New York, its changes." Primed by this "bang," Abbott went about the city finding perches and angles from which to capture a city in flux and dealing strategically with the realities of being one of two women shooting on the street. "There were women, like Margaret Bourke-White, but there weren't many women photographers and that didn't make it easier. Women did not wear slacks then; they wore skirts. When I photographed New York, I put on ski pants. Truck drivers yelled at me, 'Lady, take that off.' It bothered me, it even bothered me when people gathered around as I was setting up my camera in the street. But I found in New York the best way is to ignore them, as if they weren't there."
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