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June 16, 2020

25 Black-and-White Photos Capture Life in NYC in the 1950s

Ernst Haas is considered one of the pioneers of color photography and one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century. Taking up photography after World War II, his early work on the returning prisoners of war caught the attention of LIFE magazine.

Haas later declined their job offer as a staff photographer, deciding that he did not want to be limited by the magazine’s restrictive scope. Instead, in 1949, he joined the international photographic cooperative Magnum Photos at the invitation of another acclaimed photographer, Robert Capa. In 1953, his groundbreaking 24-page photo essay on New York City in color was published by LIFE.

Crowds on a street.

Below are 25 vintage photographs of the city, its people and life during the 1950s, taken in black and white Haas:

A man bends down to examine an item in a shop window.

Two couples on the deck of a ferry.

A young woman rests against her boyfriend on the deck of a ferry.

Two people take a nap on the benches of a ferry.
A Coca-Cola advertisement brightens the gloom of a street.

Reflections of traffic and passers-by in the window of a shop.

A girl, who has just arrived at Ellis Island, curls up on a packing case to sleep.

A boy wearing his identification looks up in awe at his surroundings as he arrives at Ellis Island.

A teenager combing his hair in the window of a cleaner's shop.

A young boy swinging a baseball bat on a boardwalk.

Families enjoying a couple of cartons of ice-cream on a day out in the park.

Two American sailors sitting by the harbour watching a pleasure cruiser sail by.

Customers seen through the window of a diner.

A young man slumped against railings blows on a battered toy trumpet during New Year's Eve celebrations in Times Square.

Two young boys dressed in cowboy suits out for a walk in a park with their family.

A group of women enjoying an ice cream in a park.

Couples sitting on a bench by the lake in Central Park.

A playground.

Two little long haired dogs wait with their owners at Westminster Dog Show held in Madison Square Gardens.

People stretched out on the ground to enjoy the sunshine in Washington Square Park.

An elderly couple contemplate a chess game on one of the stone tables in Washington Square Park.

A man strums his guitar for a small audience in Washington Square.

A little girl sitting on a man's shoulders in Washington Square Park.

A group of eager photographers hoping to catch a glimpse of Queen Elizabeth II during her official visit.


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