New York

Artist: Helen Levitt (American, 1913–2009)

Date: 1938

Medium: Gelatin silver print

Dimensions: 13.6 x 19.3 cm (5 3/8 x 7 5/8 in.)

Classification: Photographs

Credit Line: Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, and Gift of William and Mimi Levitt, by exchange, 1996

Accession Number: 1996.2.1

Rights and Reproduction: © Estate of Helen Levitt


An expert at capturing the enigmatic ballet of her neighborhood's myriad subcultures—the world of children, the coffee klatches of women on stoops, the gangs of young men lounging on the corners—Levitt was one of the more influential and elusive members of New York's community of postwar street photographers. This photograph demonstrates her eagle eye for everyday wit while at the same time alluding to the impenetrable escalation of secret maneuverings that would shortly subsume the city and the world in a devastating war.