Monday, March 25

Desolation and isolation on the East River in 1909


"Social realist painter George Bellows completed 'Bridge, Blackwell’s Island,' in 1909, which is also the year of the opening of the Queensboro Bridge, as this span over the East River was called at the time. Like the East River waterfront, Blackwell’s Island (today’s Roosevelt Island) was to Bellows a place on the margin—where refuse, industry, and those who were edged out by 20th century urban life were relegated. This look at the bridge almost devoid of people seems to say something about the desolation and isolation of the contemporary city. Smokestacks belch, a tugboat speeds through the choppy river, a lone man not much bigger than a speck is tending to something on the dock—and four children shrouded in darkness peer across the water—perhaps contemplating the modern metropolis they’re part of."
Ephemeral New York

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