Only in New York
Photographs from Look Magazine
Publication Date: October 27, 2009
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In the aftermath of World War II, New York emerged as a world-class city and the de facto national financial capital, becoming a magnet for moguls and strivers. At the same time the city remained a collection of small towns made up of people going about their daily rounds. No other publication captured this twin identity as successfully as Look magazine.
In the pre-television era, the editors of Look recognized the great demand for photographs of all kinds—politicians, titans of industry, and unsung heroes, glamorous events and intimate moments, society matrons and showgirls, violent crime and courtroom drama—that provided entertainment and diversion to voyeuristic subscribers to the magazine. Reaching a peak circulation of nearly 8 million in the late 1960s, Look was a national publication with a focus on the fascination and allure of New York.
The magazine's New York images—more than 200,000 in all—were donated to the Museum of the City of New York. Only in New York draws from that astonishing archive to present the tapestry that was New York in the 1940s and 1950s.
Donald Albrecht is the curator of architecture and design at the Museum of the City of New York. His exhibitions there include The Mythic City: Photographs of New York by Samuel H. Gottscho 1925–1940 and Paris/New York: Design/Fashion/Culture/1925–1940.
Thomas Mellins is an architectural historian and independent curator specializing in New York. He is the co-author, with Robert A. M. Stern, of New York 1880, New York 1930, and New York 1960. He has organized exhibitions at the Museum of the City of New York, the National Building Museum, and Yale University.
"smartly packaged book . . . heartening. It reminds you that drastic changes in visual culture can spawn successful magazines — and hints that strong images, in some form or another, will always have a place."
—The New York Times
"Only in New York . . . shines a light on Look’s incredible archives and speaks to this also-ran’s strong suit: artful and deeply personal coverage of New York City."
—The Daily Beast