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Arthur Scheiger Photography: Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?
For all the talk and fear about economic calamity, New York City today does not yet look or feel like New York City in the 1930’s. Still, skyscrapers are skyscrapers, and New Yorkers are New Yorkers. Arthur Scheiger was an art director or graphic designer at a New York ad agency during the Great Depression. He lived in Garden City, Long Island, and I was at an estate sale at his house about a dozen years ago. The house was chock-full of stuff, including advertising renderings, photo albums, and photo accessories.
Scheiger was merely an amateur photographer, but he had a good eye, a good camera, and apparently the time and inclination to take a lot of pictures in and around the city. I chose two albums at the sale: one of the 1939 World’s Fair, the other of New York scenes from the mid to late 1930’s.
Wittingly or not–and I suspect wittingly–Scheiger captured the moods and textures of the era. Occasionally, (as with the discarded doll) his images can be unsettling or haunting; more often, they are reassuring. Despite hard times, the city still bustled, New Yorkers persevered, and Arthur Scheiger watched and recorded.
All images by Arthur Scheiger.