Hundreds of black and white photographs by Berenice Abbott (1898-1991) from her
Changing New York Works Progress Administration/ Federal Art Project. The Library's
collection holds about 80% of the project's 302 images; this presentation includes
variant and discarded images, plus other work Abbott produced as a project employee.

The Library's Changing New York archive contains more than 2,200 duplicate and
variant prints representing about three-quarters of the 302 images contained in Abbott's
definitive version of the project. The Library's holding also contains images that
continue the project's negative numbering but fall outside its scope. These anomalous
images are included here for historical and pictorial purposes. The Library's archive
contains contact and enlarged prints, primarily from the 1930s, from several sources
within NYPL that were united in 1989, supplemented by occasional purchases and
generous gifts beginning in 1988.
Quiz #137 Results
Quiz #137 - December 2, 2007
1. Where was this picture taken?
2.  What date was it taken on?
3.  Who took it?
Thanks to Stan Read for suggesting this quiz.
1. Blossom Restaurant, 103 Bowery, Manhattan, New York
2.  Either October 03 or October 24, 1935
3.  Berenice Abbott
While the last 2 or 3 didn't inspire me to do them, this one was really neat because it led
to some wonderful work and a great website. Thanks for the excuse to escape my
"box" for a little while each week! I tend to overfocus on my own stuff and forget
there's a broader history lurking out there :)                                    
Marjorie Wilser

I don't think I would want to let that barber ("Jimmy") loose on my face with a straight
razor. In that rough area, he could probably cut someone's throat he did not like and get
way with it<g>.                                                                                
Bill Utterback

While the last 2 or 3 didn't inspire me to do them, this one was really neat because it led
to some wonderful work and a great website. Thanks for the excuse to escape my
"box" for a little while each week! I tend to overfocus on my own stuff and forget
there's a broader history lurking out there :)                                      
Marjorie Wilser

When Bob first looked at this picture he thought it would be difficult although he did
guess the correct decade. I decided to check out Blossom Restaurant and found all the
answers on my first search.                                                
Venita and Bob Wilson

Wow! Was this one easy to find!  I am in shock.                                Carol Haueter

I thought this would be very difficult...turns out I just googled "Blossom Restaurant"
and the whole story tumbled out in one of the first couple of hits.  I did take some time
to learn about Berenice Abbott, which was very interesting.                    
Mary Osmar

I had a hard time finding this one until finally I searched "Blossom Restaurant" along
with the street number, 103 -- then up popped the photo!          
Sarah Jane Herbener

After further review:  I speculate that the gentleman standing in the stairwell ane
wearing a smock over a jacket is in fact "Jimmy the Barber" who can provide you with
a shave including hot towel for ten cents. Of course it could be Sammy, or Tommy but
not Toney.                                                                                           
Jim Kiser
Comments from Our Readers
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Berenice Abbott
Jul 17, 1898 –Dec 9, 1991
Seventh Avenue looking south
from 35th Street
Dec. 5, 1935
metropolitan area, plus the State Library in Albany. Throughout the project, exhibitions
of the work took place in New York and elsewhere. After decades of lapse, the
founding of the National Endowment of the Arts in 1965 revived the FAP's ideals.

To see more of Berenice Abbott's photographs, go to and
corporate executives. She found her subjects
dislikable. In 1932, she was forced to leave her
expensive studio. Despite her financial troubles, she
gained a reputation in New York too and found
support from a group of young Harvard alumni
who patronized modern art, especially
from Lincoln Kirstein and Julian Levy. In
November 1930, her photographs were shown in
an exhibition at the Harvard Society for
Contemporary Art, organized by Kristein. In 1932,
her work was shown at the Albright Art Gallery in
Buffalo and the Brooklyn Museum.

From 1934-58, she also taught photography at the
New School. During 1935-39, Abbott worked as a
"supervisor" for the Federal Art Project to create
Changing New York (her free-lance work and New
School teaching commitment made her ineligible
for unemployment relief) .
Photographer Berenice Abbott proposed Changing
New York, her grand project to document New
York City, to the Federal Art Project (FAP) in
1935. The FAP was a Depression-era government
program for unemployed artists and workers in
related fields such as advertising, graphic design,
illustration, photofinishing, and publishing. A
changing staff of more than a dozen participated as
darkroom printers, field assistants, researchers and
clerks on this and other photographic efforts.
Abbott's efforts resulted in a book in 1939, in
advance of the World's Fair in Flushing Meadow
NY, with 97 illustrations and text by Abbott's
fellow WPA employee (and life companion), art
critic Elizabeth McCausland (1899-1965). At the
project's conclusion, the FAP distributed complete
sets of Abbott's final 302 images to high schools,
libraries and other public institutions in the
Bernice Abbott, born Bernice Abbott,
was an American photographer best
known for her black-and-white
photography of New York City
architecture and urban design of the

Abbott was born in Springfield, Ohio, on
July 17, 1898 as Bernice. It was only in
Paris in the early 1920s that she adopted
the French spelling Berenice. In an
autobiographical sketch Abbott writes
about an unhappy childhood spent with
her divorced mother, separated from her
father and five siblings.

In early 1918 she left Ohio State
following her friends James Light and
Susan Jenkins to New York City where
she shared a room with them and
became part of the Greenwich Village
bohemia. She played parts in Eugene
O'Neill's plays and, according to Bonnie
Yochelson, was adopted as "the
daugher" of Hippolyte Havel, a legendary

In the winter of 1919, she almost died of
the influenza that took the lives of some
twelve thousand New Yorkers. Upon her
recovery, she moved out of the common
apartment. Abbott's first intention was to
study journalism at Columbia University.
Disappointed by the classes she had
attended she abandoned her plan to
become a writer and changed to
sculpture. She supported herself with
"odd jobs"

By 1920 she had befriended Dadaists
Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray. It was
the time of prohibition, illegal
speakeasies and real estate speculation.
Abbott like other aspiring artists who
had come to Greenwich Village to
escape America's increasing
commercialism felt alienated. Many left
for Europe. Berenice Abbott joined the
exodus in the spring of 1921, where she
spent two years studying sculpture in
Paris and Berlin.

Abbott's first became involved with
photography in 1923, when Man Ray,
looking for somebody who knew
nothing about photography and thus
would do as he said, hired her as a
darkroom assistant at his portrait studio
in Montparnasse.

Later she would write: "I took to
photography like a duck to water. I
never wanted to do anything else."  Ray
was impressed by her darkroom work
and allowed her to use his studio to take
her own photographs. Quickly, her
reputation rivaled his. Already while
working with Man Ray,she had managed
to establish herself as one of the leading
portraitists of intellectuals and artists.
She portrayed Eugène Atget, Jean
Cocteau, Janet Flanner, André Gide,
Peggy Guggenheim and James Joyce.
Manhattan Bridge, Manhattan
Quiz #129
October 7, 2007
Addie Card
The building at 103 Bowery was built prior
to 1904. Many of the city's transient labor
population as well as single men on relief
frequented the Bowery. The prices clearly
displayed by the restaurant and barber shop
are in keeping with the cost of 30 cents for
a night's lodging in the hotel above them.

The Blossom Restaurant occupied the
ground floor, and Jimmy's Barber Shop,
occupied the basement of the Boston Hotel,
a flophouse at this address in the Bowery,
a neighborhood famous as a refuge for the
downtrodden. The restaurant, which had
sawdust on the floors and eight wireback
chairs to each marble-topped table, was
called a "hash house" by its proprietor
Morris Gordon.

The hotel, at 103 and 105 Bowery,
contained 249 small doorless rooms, each
fit with a narrow cot and locker (with
lock). The rooms, which cost 30 cents a
night, were steam-heated but without light
fixtures. As a child, Al Smith, governor of
New York from 1919 to 1928, lived at 105
Bowery when it was a lodging house.
old before it was torn down and recording new construction.

Many friends thought she was crazy to give up her successful portraiture business and
reputation. Shortly after her return to NYC, the stock market crashed. Americans were
reluctant to pay $50 for a portrait photograph. Her financial outlook was grim. Through
the recommendation of Bourke-White, Abbott was hired by Fortune magazine to portray

In 1926, she had her first solo exhibition (in the gallery "Au Sacre du Printemps") and
started her own studio on the rue du Bac. After a short time studying photography in
Berlin, she returned to Paris in 1927 and started a second studio, on the rue Servandoni.

In January 1929, Abbott visited New York City, supposedly to find a publisher for
Eugène Atget's photographs. Atget was a French photographer who Abbott admired
and part of whose collection she had bought
after his death. During the eight years of
Abbott's absence from New York, the city
had experienced its second skyscraper
building boom which had dramatically
transformed the Big Apple's skyline. She was
intrigued by the contrasts between old and
new. She had only planned a short visit to
NYC, instead, Abbott took a new artistic
direction to tackle the scope (if not the scale)
in New York City of Atget's achievement in
Paris . During 1929-38, she photographed
urban material culture and the built
environment of New York, documenting the
103 Bowery, Manhattan, NY
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Everyware, Co., Inc.
Manhattan, 1998
103 Bowery bet Grand & Hester Sts
Submitted by Mark Ream
Newstand; 32nd Street and Third Avenue.
Nov. 19, 1935
Changing New York: Photographs by Berenice Abbott, 1935-1938
From 1939-60, Abbott photographed scientific subjects, concluding with her notable
illustrations for the MIT-originated Physical Sciences Study Committee's revolutionary
high school physics course. In 1954, she photographed along the length of US 1; the
work never found a publisher. In 1968, Abbott sold the Atget archive to the Museum of
Modern Art in New York, and moved permanently to her home in central Maine
(bought in 1956 and restored over several decades) .

1970 saw Abbott's first major retrospective exhibition, at the Museum of Modern Art.
Her first retrospective portfolio appeared in 1976, and she received the International
Center of Photography's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1989. She died at home in
Monson, Maine in December 1991.
According to one website (http://www.ibiblio.
org/fiddlers/GEO_GH.htm), the place was once a
tavern owned by "Owney Geogheghan, a New
York City saloon operator in the mid-1800’s. His
establishment, '…at 103 Bowery…was one of
the scurviest joints along that extensive and
crowded avenue.  It was a hangout much
esteemed by unprincipled beggars, who know
they could discard their superfluous glasses and
crutches in that understanding environment, and
it was so regularly the scene of gang brawls that
Geogheghan, a thoughtful host, kept a large
supply of police clubs on hand, to pass out
among his steady patrons in the event of a

This disorderly tradition was maintained right up
to and throughout Owney’s funeral, a ceremony
enlivened by the presence of two Mrs.
Geogheghans, each of whom, unaware until then
of the existence of the other, sought to assume
what she though was her rightful spot in the
funeral procession.  All the way from the Bowery
to Calvary Cemetery, two hacks bearing the rival
widow Geogheghans jockeyed for a position
directly behind the hearse, while their tearful
occupants exchanged ringing maledictions.'

(E.J. Khan, Jr.,
The Merry Partners: The Age
and Stage of Harrigan and Hart
, Random House,
1955, pgs. 130-131)."

Also from the
Brooklyn Eagle:

7 April 1885
Incidents of Minor Importance in Brooklyn
and Vicinity.
Found in a Bowery Dive by Her Father and
Detective Ennis: Clara ERNST, the 17 year old
girl who disappeared from her home in Walton
street, Eastern District, on the 1st of April, was
found last night and returned to her home.

A young man, who did not give his name, went
to Mr. ERNST's house on Wednesday night and
said that he believed his daughter was in a dive at
103 Bowery, New York, where she was
employed as a waitress.  He had read a
description of the missing girl in the papers and
was positive that it was she.

Detective ENNIS went over on Sunday night, but
failed to find her.  He went again last night in
company with her father and, after waiting an
hour or so, they saw Clara entering the place
with some companions.  When confronted with
her father she expressed penitence and consented
to return home.  She says that the reason she left
her father's house was that he was only earning
$7 a week, and that this was not enough to
support them both.  She concluded to go out and
seek work and made the acquaintance of an
elderly woman who induced her to go to the
saloon on the Bowery."

Interesting glimpses in to the history of what
would otherwise seem an ordinary place today.
Mark Ream
The Jim Rose Murder, 1878
103 Bowery, New York, NY
Submitted by Mark Ream

The Bowery Shooting Affray
The New York Times
January 15, 1878

Owen Geoghegan Discharged
The New York Times
January 22, 1878
Submitted by Mark Ream
Photo by RK Chin
Submitted by Mark Ream
Interesting Stories about 103 Bowery
Submitted by Mark Ream