East 100th Street.
Photographs by Bruce Davidson.
St. Ann's Press, Los Angeles, 2003. 166 pp., 145 tritone illustrations, 11¼x12¼".
East 100th Street in Harlem was one of New York's most neglected and infamous neighborhoods at the time that a young Davidson began to regularly visit and photograph with his 4x5 camera. This slightly revised reissue of that 1970 classic immediately grabs you with the elegance of the book materials and design. You're set up to expect something powerful, and that 'something' arrives on page 3, in the form of a foreword by Mildred Feliciano. A resident of East Harlem for generations, she speaks openly about what living conditions were like during the time these images were made (1966-68). "Our main bedroom was called the icebox because it was so cold that meat and milk were stored there." The images descry hardships yet evoke a stirring dignity. Most difficult perhaps are the images of children. Turn to page 19 and look closely. Gently holding a dead pigeon in his hands, the young boy's eyes carry the pain of one that cares desperately about even the smallest living creatures. Is not one of the roles of image-making to remind us of feelings as pure as this? Visit photoeye.com/east100thstreet for ltd. ed. image.
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