This site, which I started in November of 2008, is a work in progress. It crashed recently and I lost every post and page; I’m in the process of putting it back together.
The site is dedicated to the work of Charles W. Cushman, a man who took approximately 14,500 color photographs around the globe from the late 1930s — when Kodachrome was first introduced and perfected – through the 1960s. His photographs are available thanks to the Indiana University’s Digital Library Program, which owns the rights to them. The University was kind enough to grant written permission for the purpose of posting his photographs on this site. You can learn more about Charles Cushman here.
The focus, of course, is on the color photographs he took of New York City. Disappointingly, he took only 156 shots. Even more disappointing is that this number is reduced to 115 when the shots he took of paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, duplicates of the same shot, close ups of people, etc. are excluded (please refer to the Log of Photographs for a complete chronological listing). I am nevertheless thankful for the shots he did take as authentic color photographs of New York City from this period are rare. And the fact that he captured everyday life (as opposed to planned/posed shots) make them rarer still.
The aim of this site is to show how New York City has changed since Cushman’s time and to provide some additional background and context regarding the subject matter of each shot. Where relevant, I refer to a number of sources used either to assist in identifying the location of a given shot or to help explain why Cushman focused on the areas of Manhattan that he did. Other sources have helped me form my opinion with respect to the changes that have taken place since 1941-42 and 1960, respectively. Please click here to see the list of sources.
As you will see, some of the images from these years look virtually identical today; others look somewhat the same; but there are a number of shots that are impossible to replicate because all of the buildings (or the entire block or blocks) comprising the shot no longer exist, or because the description of the photograph is too vague and I have yet to find the spot (although I’ll keep trying until I do).
I hope you enjoy the site and welcome any comments you may have. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org