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Barry Lewis, architectural historian
If George Bellows and his colleagues wanted to paint "le tout New York," he had fertile ground in the New York of a century ago. Times Square in the "city" and Coney Island on the ocean shores of Brooklyn were emerging in the 1900s to serve this new world capital that, unlike the old ones, catered to everyone. We were creating a society for the masses, and New York's two emerging entertainment districts of the early twentieth century saw carpenters and their families mingling with accountants, and theirs with perhaps a Rockefeller or two thrown into the mix. We will look at the architectural frameworks that New York created where the new mass society could have fun, and where Ash Can sensibilities—whether Bellows's or Weegee's—had plenty of material as subjects for their art.
Above: Luna Park, Coney Island, Brooklyn © Frederic Thompson, 1903, New York Historical Society
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