These vintage postcards depicting a 1910′s New York City and a futuristic look a the ‘City of Skyscrapers’ are but two from a mass of 9,000 picture postcards that were collected and classified by the American photographer Walker Evans (1903–1975), which is now part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Walker Evans Archive. The picture postcards represented a powerful strain of indigenous American realism that directly influenced Evans’s artistic development.
(1) Future New York, The City of Skyscrapers, 1910s
(2) Woolworth and Municipal Buildings from Brooklyn Bridge, New York, 1910s
In America, the 1910′s was the decade for great change. It was during this decade that the United States was first considered a world leader. Many historical events took place during this decade such as the sinking of the Titanic, Prohibition began in 1919, World War I raged from 1914 to 1918 and on a happy note the first Girl Scouts were formed.
In the art world Realism, Dadaism, Cubism, Fauvism, and symbolism gained influential status and in architecture, important buildings like the WoolWorth Building (seen on the postcard #2), The New York Public Library and Grand Central Station were built. Frank Woolworth commissioned Cass Gilbert to construct the Woolworth Building in 1910. When completed in 1913, it stood the tall building in the world, taking the title from the Metropolitan Life building.
As depicted on postcard #1, New York City did in fact live up to this futuristic vision and became the glorious skyscraper city we’ve all grown to love.
You can see more postcards from the Walker Evans Archive here.