Here’s something that DPI does not present too often. To start off your work week, “Last of the Buffalo Hunters“, c.1881. It is not too often that we showcase a 140 year old photo, but there are always exceptions. They were actually bison, of course, but the name “buffalo hunters” just stuck.
With respect to the conversation regarding immigration at our southern border we present “Immigrants: The New Americans“, c.1915. Taken somewhere on the Atlantic Ocean let us not forget that many of our ancestors who came here were escaping from discrimination and worse over a century ago. Also, let us not forget the contributions they made to our country in helping it to become what we all enjoy today. For many their next stop would be Ellis Island. At the height of the wave of European immigration more than 5,000 people were processed daily at Ellis Island.
With all eyes focused on the current humanitarian crisis on our southern border let us not forget that U. S. citizens were once also migrants living in squalor in relocation camps during the Great Depression. The power of the still photograph is clearly evident and on display with the recent, tragic photo of the migrant Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez and his daughter Valeria who drowned in the Rio Grande at Matamoros while seeking asylum in the United States. I think that it is fair to say that that image will clearly be in the running for the next Pulitizer Prize.
If you say that this photo is far from technically perfect I would have to agree. It feels good to break the rules once in a while. Remember that this is photojournalism not studio photography. A good deal of photojournalism has its roots in conflict photography. War photography. Photos are taken under extreme conditions. In photojournalism the message is what is important not necessarily the technical expertise of the photographer.
Which brings us to this photo we call “Turn of the Century“. After much research we assess that this photo was taken in lower Manhattan c. 1914. Lower west side to be more precise. Somewhere between Houston and West 23 Street and possibly Christopher Street. The hat shops in that area are prolific. Also notice the battle scars on the boy from a recent fight as well as the Adrien Brody lookalike that he is standing with. We do not need perfection in this photo to understand the circumstances and the setting. Sometimes less is actually better as the mind fills in the scene what the eyes cannot see.
Who will remember us after we are gone? In part, perhaps folks will remember DPI by the images we have left behind.
“…I wish my life was a non-stop movie show
A fantasy world of celluloid villains and heroes
Because celluloid heroes never feel any pain
And celluloid heroes never really die…” – The Kinks (1972)
Forgive us for using the film title, but it just seemed appropriate. The lead photo is a Spirit airplane one of several produced based on the Spirit of St. Louis, “Spirit Airplane“; New York State c.1929. How far airlines have come. Below are two photos; “Mexican Railroad Station“, Mexico c.1935 and “The 1929 Reo“; U. S. (1935). A fine automobile to drive during the Great Depression. The Mexican Railroad Station could never be confused with rush hour on the L.I.R.R.
An image worthy of those taken by the Farm Security Administration photographers during the Great Depression. We think that this is one of those special images. There is a lot to digest in this photo. The milk cans in the truck, the visible gas pump, Davis grocery store with the Coca Cola sign, the man sitting in the chair in the shade and the pinball machine next to him. The truck’s grill sets the time frame. One of those great images from the 1930s, “The Milk Delivery Truck“, Austin, Texas (May 5, 1934).
We at DPI believe that this is a very special image and worthy of further examination in a blog. This was the scene in front of the “American National Bank“; Atlanta, Georgia c.1916. American was soon to go out of business, but we see the unloading of paper money in these coils of in front of the bank. Workers and security personnel. Direct deposit? If I were a banker I would want to display an image such as this in my office.
If you are not familiar with the term Gandy Dancer you should be. The term is not used strictly for section crews in the South, but it covers other areas of the United States for workers of many nationalities over many decades. The songs and cadence used have their origin from Southern black workers laying track. What is also similar is the cadence used in the military during training as anyone who has ever served in the military will remember.
Located within DPI’s Documentary collection is the Americana gallery on page one. This gallery contains two extensive Event collections which we want to bring to your attention. On page two in this gallery in the “1930s” event which includes many images taken during the Great Depression. There are 66 pages within this event providing hundreds of images. Likewise in this gallery located on page five is our “People” event. Here there are 99 pages displaying hundreds of images. Both events should provide numerous selections for your needs.