© 2011 New-York Historical Society logo

Guide to the Andreas Feininger Photograph Collection
[1939]-1954, 1970-1984
  PR 207

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Jennifer Lewis

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on August 06, 2014
Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

 
Creator: Andreas Feininger
Title: Andreas Feininger Photograph Collection
Dates [inclusive]: [1939]-1954, 1970-1984
Abstract: The collection consists of Andreas Feininger's depictions of New York City from 1939 through 1954, and the 1970s through early 1980s. 1940s views depict Times Square, Fifth Avenue, elevated railroads, the Brooklyn Bridge, the waterfront and river traffic, shops and shop owners in a variety of neighborhoods, and a variety of street, park, and skyline views. 1970s and 1980s views depict graffiti, signs, murals, posters, billboards, reflections, water tanks, fire escapes, and especially the Times Square area with its characteristic erotic film venues and advertisements.
Quantity: 9.0 Linear feet (7 boxes, 2 flat files)
Location note: Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections
Call Phrase: PR 207

Return to Top »


Biographical Note

Andreas Feininger (1906-1999) was born in Paris to American painter and teacher Lyonel Feininger and Julia Berg. He attended public school and Gymnasium in Germany, and from 1922 through 1925 apprenticed as a cabinetmaker at the Bauhaus in Weimar, where his father was head of the Graphics Workshop. Between 1925 and 1928, Feininger studied architecture, first at the Staatliche Bauschule Weimar and then at the Anhaltische Bauschule zu Zerbst, from which he graduated summa cum laude. While studying architecture, he developed an interest in photography and set up his own darkroom.

While working as an architect in Germany between 1928 and 1931, Feininger developed his photographic skills and saw his photographs published in Der Photospiegel and other magazines and newspapers through the Dephot agency. By 1932, as an American, Feininger was barred from working in Germany by Hitler's regulations on foreign workers. He traveled to Paris, working for Le Corbusier for ten months before finding barriers to getting a French work visa during the depression. He moved on to Sweden in the summer of 1933, and in 1934 had set up a photography firm catering to architects. His work began being published in Swedish architectural journals, and published the first of several technical photography books he would write between 1934 and 1939,  Menschen vor der Kamera.

In 1934, Feininger met and married Gertrude Wysse Hägg, and their son Tomas was born the following year. In December of 1939, the family emigrated to the United States to escape the war, settling in New York. Feininger worked as a freelance photographer for the Black Star agency from 1940 through 1941, and then briefly for the U.S. Office of War Information in 1941 and 1942. He began doing some work for Life magazine in 1941, and in 1943 he was appointed staff photographer, a position which would garner him fame and recognition; he remained with the magazine until 1962. Feininger's first one-man exhibition,  The Anatomy of Nature, came in 1957 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Feininger continued to be a prolific writer and photographer, producing over 50 books, both technical and photographic, as well as writing columns for  Popular Photography and  Modern Photography. He has been the subject of several retrospective exhibitions, including one at the International Center of Photography in New York in 1976. Feininger died in New York on February 18, 1999 at the age of 92.

Return to Top »


Scope and Content Note

The Andreas Feininger Photograph Collection consists of ca. 775 gelatin silver photographs, and primarily contains photographs depicting New York City throughout the 1940s, 1970s, and 1980s. Feininger's photographs from the late 1950s and 1960s are not available in this repository. Also included is a series of photographs of historical prints, maps, and copies of earlier New York photographers' depictions of the city. The collection is divided into three series: New York in the Forties; Historical Photographs for  The Face of New York; and New York in the 1970s and 1980s.

Copyright Note: Researchers should be aware that Andreas Feininger worked as a photographer for Life magazine between 1941 and 1962; AOL Time Warner, Inc. owns the copyright to those photographs. Many of the photographs in Series I were originally taken by Feininger for Life magazine; a note on the verso of the title of page of  New York in the Forties indicates that at the time of publication, photographs on the following page numbers were used with permission of Life and copyrighted by Time, Inc. (now AOL Time Warner, Inc.): 24, 25, 26, 27, 30, 34, 54, 56-57, 66, 67, 68-69, 78, 79, 80, 81, 98, 142-143, 161. Both the photographs and the folder listing for this series have been annotated with page numbers; permission to reproduce these photographs must be sought from the copyright owner. Some photographs for Series II were taken for Life as well. Researchers should investigate copyright of these images.

Arrangement

Within each series, photographs are arranged alphabetically by subject or geographic location.

Photographs are arranged in three series:

  1. Series I: New York in the Forties
  2. Series II: Historical Photographs for The Face of New York
  3. Series III: New York in the 1970s and 1980s

Return to Top »


Access Points

Document Type

  • Gelatin silver prints
  • Photographic prints

Subject Topics

  • Blackouts in war
  • Jews -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Posters, American
  • Railroads, Elevated -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Signs and signboards

Subject Places

  • Chinatown (New York, N.Y.) -- Pictorial works
  • Fifth Avenue (New York, N.Y.) -- Pictorial works
  • Lower East Side (New York, N.Y.) -- Pictorial works
  • Manhattan (New York, N.Y.) -- Pictorial works
  • New York (N.Y.) -- Pictorial works
  • Times Square (New York, N.Y.) -- Pictorial works
  • World Trade Center (New York, N.Y.) -- Pictorial works

Return to Top »


Administrative Information

Provenance

Gifts of Andreas Feininger in 1976, 1979, and 1990.

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers.

Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to ten exposures of stable, unbound material per day. (Researchers may not accrue unused copy amounts from previous days.) Researchers on site may print out unlimited copies from microfilm reader-printer machines at per-exposure rates. See guidelines in Reading room for details.

Use Restrictions

Permission to quote from this collection in a publication must be requested and granted in writing. Send permission requests, citing the name of the collection from which you wish to quote and a transcription of your quote, to

Library Director
The New-York Historical Society
Two West 77th Street
New York, NY 10024

The copyright law of the United States governs the making of photocopies and protects unpublished materials as well as published materials. Unpublished materials created before January 1, 1978 cannot be quoted in publication without permission of the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as: Andreas Feininger Photograph Collection, PR 207, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, The New-York Historical Society.

Related Material

Major collections of Andreas Feininger's photography are held by the Time Inc. Picture Collection in New York, the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, Arizona, and the International Museum of Photography and Film at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York. Feininger's papers are on deposit at the Center for Creative Photography.

Return to Top »


Container List

Series I: New York in the Forties

Scope and Contents note

Series I consists of a series of 162 gelatin silver photographs, ranging in size from 8 x 10 to 13 1/4 x 22 inches, that were published in Feininger's 1978 volume New York in the Forties. Photographs are arranged alphabetically by subjects which were assigned during processing. Photographs depict New York City neighborhoods, buildings, street life, shops, bridges and elevated railroads between ca. 1939 and 1954. His classic telephoto views of the New York skyline, the crowds of 42nd Street, and the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge rising above its pedestrian traffic make up the bulk of this series. In the introduction to  New York in the Forties, John von Hartz notes that the "the 40s linger in the collective consciousness of New Yorkers as 'the good old days,'" and while Feininger's photographs show the grandeur of the towering cityscape, he also points his camera at a more ominous side of New York in his portraits of men at tattoo parlors on the Bowery, the poor shoeshine man on Fifth Avenue, desperate men lined up outside an employment agency at the tail end of the depression, and the dark skyline of the World War II dimouts.

Feininger often focused his lens on the shops, vendors and other market places of the city. His series of photographs on the Jewish Lower East Side shows the preponderance of the Yiddish language on signs and the variety of religious Judaica and kosher food shops catering to the needs of the local community. Views of Chinatown shops portray men lined up to read the latest war-related headlines on the window of a Chinese language newspaper, as well as Chinese groceries and vendors. Other views show Italians on Mulberry Street and grocery stores in Harlem.

Views of New Yorkers engaging in leisure time activities are included in Feininger's photographs of Coney Island and Central Park. Other subjects include the elevated railroads, ship traffic, passengers boarding ocean liners on the Hudson River, and the lights and theaters of Times Square. Snow covered land- and cityscapes can also be found under the subjects South Street and Lower Manhattan Waterfront, Central Park, and Fifth Avenue.

One folder of oversize hinged views from this series is housed at the end of the collection in Flat Files, Folder 87. Notes have been provided throughout the folder listing for this series to lead researchers to pertinent items.

Most of the photographs in this series are stamped, dated, and signed by the photographer. Photographs from this series were exhibited in The New-York Historical Society exhibit New York in the Forties: Photographs by Andreas Feininger in 1978.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 42nd Street (86, 87, 88, 94, 95)
1940, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Bowery (100, 101, 102, 103)
1940
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Brooklyn Bridge (20, 28-29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34)
1940-1954
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Brooklyn Waterfront and Brooklyn Navy Yard (24, 25, 26, 27)
1946
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Central Park (138, 139, 140, 141)
1940
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Churches and Cemeteries (71, 170, 180-181)
1940, 1952
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Coney Island (142-143, 144, 145)
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Delivery Trucks and Carts (112, 113)
1940
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Downtown Skyport (14, 15)
1940
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Elevated Railroads and Elevated Highways (146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 151, 152, 153, 154, 155, 156, 157, 158, 159)

General note

See also: Flat files, Folder 87

[1939-1940]
Box: 1 Folder : 11 Empire State Building, one during the 1943 Dimout (1, 80)
1943-1944
Box: 2 Folder : 12 Ferries and Ferry Terminals (38, 39, 40, 41, 50, 55)
1940-1942
Box: 2 Folder : 13 Fifth Avenue, one during Blizzard of 1947 (66, 67, 68-69, 105)
Box: 2 Folder : 14 Flatiron Building (73)
1940
Box: 2 Folder : 15 Fulton Fish Market (21, 22, 23)
[1940], 1946
Box: 2 Folder : 16 George Washington Bridge (35)
1948
Box: 2 Folder : 17 Gravesend Bay (178, 179)
1946, 1948
Box: 2 Folder : 18 Harlem (104)

General note

See also: Flat files, Folder 87

[1940-1950]
Box: 2 Folder : 19 Hudson River and Riverfront (46, 47, 48, 49, 51, 52, 53, 60, 61, 64-65)

General note

See also: Flat files, Folder 87

1940-1950
Box: 2 Folder : 20 La Guardia Airport (174, 175)
1940
Box: 2 Folder : 21 Lower Manhattan (160, 161, 162, 163, 164, 165, 168, 169, 171)
1940, 1946
Box: 2 Folder : 22 Madison Square Garden, interior during Joe Louis v. Joe Walcott fight (98)
1947
Box: 2 Folder : 23 Manhattan Bridge (36)
[1940-1949]
Box: 2 Folder : 24 Metropolitan Opera House, interior (99)
[1940-1949]
Box: 2 Folder : 25 Miscellaneous Street Scenes (74,75, 166, 167)
1940-[1949]
Box: 2 Folder : 26 Pennsylvania Station, interiors (79, 172, 173)
1940-1943
Box: 3 Folder : 27 Rockefeller Center (70, 72)
1940
Box: 3 Folder : 28 Shops, Vendors, and Stands - Chinatown (134, 135, 136, 137)
[1940-1942]
Box: 3 Folder : 29 Shops, Vendors, and Stands - Jewish Lower East Side (118, 119, 120, 121, 122, 123, 124, 125, 126, 127)
1940-[1949]
Box: 3 Folder : 30 Shops, Vendors, and Stands - Miscellaneous (106, 107, 108, 109, 110, 111, 114, 115, 116, 117, 128, 129, 130, 131, 132, 133)
1940-[1949]
Box: 3 Folder : 31 Skyline Views of Manhattan (2-3, 6, 7, 8-9, 12, 76, 77, 84, 85)

General note

See also: Flat files, Folder 87

1941-1949
Box: 3 Folder : 32 South Street and Lower Manhattan Waterfront (13, 16, 17, 18, 19, 44-45, 54)

General note

See also: Flat files, Folder 87

1940-[1949]
Box: 3 Folder : 33 Statue of Liberty, during 1943 dimout (81)
1943
Box: 3 Folder : 34 Times Square (78, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93)
1940-1950
Box: 3 Folder : 35 Williamsburg Bridge (37)
1940

Return to Top »


Series II: Historical Photographs for The Face of New York

Scope and Contents note

Series II consists of a group of ca. 450 photographs 5 x 7 to 11 x 14 inches, that were taken by Feininger for his 1954 book The Face of New York: The City As It Was and As It Is, which contrasted photographs of historical depictions of New York with more modern photographs. This series consists of Feininger's photographs of historical prints, drawings, and artworks (some of which came from the collections of the Museum of the City of New York), and includes copy photographs of the work of earlier New York photographers such as William J. Roege, J.S. Johnston, Jacob Riis, and others. This series does not contain any of Feininger's modern photography used in the book. Photographs are arranged alphabetically by subjects which were assigned during processing. Numerous photographs within this series are duplicates; three folders of 11 x 14 inch duplicate prints are filed at the end of the series; other duplicates are filed together under the appropriate subject. Most of the photographs in this series are not dated and are presumed to have been taken generally in the years before the book's publication in 1954; the subjects depicted in the photographs date from as early as the 17th century, for example in a photograph of a 1651 drawing of houses in New Amsterdam.

Some of the photographs in this series bear Feininger's stamp, but many do not, although they were donated by Feininger as a set from The Face of New York book project.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 4 Folder : 36 Aerial Views of Manhattan
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 37 Bird's Eye Views of Manhattan
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 38 Brooklyn Bridge
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 39 Chinatown
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 40 Churches and Cemetaries
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 41 Coney Island
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 42 Crystal Palace and Latting Observatory
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 43 Elevated Railroads
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 44 Fifth Avenue
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 45 Fire Fighters
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 46 Grand Central Terminal
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 47 Greenwich Village
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 48 Lower East Side
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 49 Lower Manhattan
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 50 Manhattan Bridge
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 51 Maps
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 52 Park Avenue above 94th Street
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 53 Park Views
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 54 Residences
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 55-57 Ship and Harbor Views
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 58 Shops, Stores, and Markets
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 59 Streetcars
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 60 Theaters and Arenas
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 61 Miscellaneous and Unidentified Views
undated
Box: 5 Folder : 62-64 Oversize duplicates
undated

Return to Top »


Series III: New York in the 1970s and 1980s

Scope and Contents note

Series III consists of ca. 154 of Andreas Feininger's photographs of Manhattan taken from the early 1970s through the 1980s, many of which were exhibited in The New-York Historical Society's shows Manhattan Now: 14 Photographers Look at the Form of the City (1974),  Manhattan Observed: Fourteen Photographers Look at New York, 1972-1981 (1981-1982), and  The Deuce: Photographs of Times Square by Andreas Feininger (1998). Photographs are filed alphabetically by subject.

Photographs focus on a variety of subjects, the largest of which are Times Square; Graffiti; Signs, Murals, Posters, and Billboards; and Reflections. Many of the photographs of graffiti feature a life-sized black painted figure Feininger refers to as "Shadowman," painted in a variety of locations and variations on buildings and walls. Photographs of signs, murals, posters and billboards depict everything from hand-painted signs in foreign languages to explicit posters for strip clubs. Photographs on security and vandalism reflect Feininger's descriptive annotations on his photographs of a security gate and locked and vandalized bicycles. Feininger's photographs depicting construction, fire escapes, reflections, and water tanks focus on structure and pattern in the architecture of the city. The largest group of photographs depict the Times Square area, especially the signs for sex shops, strip clubs, and theaters of the 1970s and 1980s.

Most of the photographs in this series bear Feininger's stamp and a number reflecting the type of film and date; most are also signed and dated by the photographer.

At the end of this series are a group of oversize exhibition photographs printed for The New-York Historical Society and Raffi Custom Photo Lab, Inc. from Feininger's negatives for several of the aforementioned exhibits. Subjects include billboards, signs, Times Square, skyscrapers and reflections; notes are provided under subjects in the folder listing to lead researchers to pertinent exhibition photographs.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 5 Folder : 65 Art Galleries and Museums, interiors
1975-1983
Box: 5 Folder : 66 Central Park
1975-1984
Box: 5 Folder : 67 Chinatown
1981
Box: 6 Folder : 68 Construction
1980-1984
Box: 6 Folder : 69 Empire State Building
1981
Box: 6 Folder : 70 Fire Escapes
1981
Box: 6 Folder : 71 Graffiti
1981, 1983
Box: 6 Folder : 72 Grand Central Terminal
1981
Box: 6 Folder : 73 Madison Avenue at 25th Street
1981
Box: 6 Folder : 74 Reflections

General note

See also: Flat files, Folder 88, Oversize Exhibition Photographs

1975-1984
Box: 6 Folder : 75 Rockefeller Center
1981
Box: 6 Folder : 76 Security and Vandalism

General note

See also: Flat files, Folder 88

1979-1984
Box: 7 Folder : 77 Signs, Murals, Posters and Billboards

General note

See also: Times Square and Flat files, Folder 88, Oversize Exhibition Photographs

1978-1983
Box: 7 Folder : 78 Sixth Avenue
1975-1984
Box: 7 Folder : 79-81 Times Square Area

General note

See also: Flat files, Folder 88, Oversize Exhibition Photographs

Box: 7 Folder : 82 Water Tanks
1984
Box: 7 Folder : 83 West Side, 20s through 50s
1975, 1981
Box: 7 Folder : 84 World Trade Center
1981, 1984
Box: 7 Folder : 85 Unidentified Building
1981
Box: Flat files Folder : 86 Oversize Exhibition Photographs, unmatted
[1970-1981]
Box: Flat files Oversize Exhibition Photographs, matted
[1970-1981]

Return to Top »


From Series I: New York in the Forties

Scope and Contents note

Oversize photographs from Series I

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: Flat files Folder : 87 Elevated Railroads and Elevated Highways (176-177)
1950
Box: Flat files Folder : 87 Harlem - show at Elk's Rendezvous, nightclub at 133rd Street and Lenox Avenue (96-97)
1940
Box: Flat files Folder : 87 Hudson River and Riverfront (56-57, 58-59, 62-63)
1947, 1950
Box: Flat files Folder : 87 Skylines (4-5, 10-11, 82-83)
[1944], 1947
Box: Flat files Folder : 87 South Street and Lower Manhattan Waterfront (42-43)
1947

Return to Top »


Return to Top »