New York Nocturne: The City After Dark in Literature, Painting, and Photography, 1850-1950
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New York Nocturne: The City After Dark in Literature, Painting, and Photography, 1850-1950

by William Chapman Sharpe
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691133247

ISBN-13: 9780691133249

Pub. Date: 10/13/2008

Publisher: Princeton University Press

As early as the 1850s, gaslight tempted New Yorkers out into a burgeoning nightlife filled with shopping, dining, and dancing. Electricity later turned the city at night into an even more stunning spectacle of brilliantly lit streets and glittering skyscrapers. The advent of artificial lighting revolutionized the urban night, creating not only new forms of life and

Overview

As early as the 1850s, gaslight tempted New Yorkers out into a burgeoning nightlife filled with shopping, dining, and dancing. Electricity later turned the city at night into an even more stunning spectacle of brilliantly lit streets and glittering skyscrapers. The advent of artificial lighting revolutionized the urban night, creating not only new forms of life and leisure, but also new ways of perceiving the nocturnal experience. New York Nocturne is the first book to examine how the art of the gaslit and electrified city evolved, and how representations of nighttime New York expanded the boundaries of modern painting, literature, and photography. Exploring the myriad images of Manhattan after dark, New York Nocturne shows how writers and artists took on the city's nocturnal blaze and transformed the scintillating landscape into an icon of modernity.

The book traces key metaphors of the nighttime city: a seductive Babylon in the mid-1850s, a misty fairyland colonized by an empire of light in the early twentieth century, and a skyscraper-studded land of desire that became a stage for the voyeurism and violence of the 1940s and 1950s. The epilogue suggests how these themes have continued to shape our vision of nighttime New York ever since. Abundantly illustrated, New York Nocturne includes original readings of works by Whitman, Poe, Whistler, Riis, Stieglitz, Abbott, O'Keeffe, Stella, Hopper, Weegee, Ellison, Jacquette, and many others. Collectively, they tell a fascinating story about the relationship between night, art, and modern urban life.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691133249
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
10/13/2008
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
456
Product dimensions:
7.40(w) x 10.10(h) x 1.50(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations xi
Acknowledgments xvii

Introduction The Dream Site 1
Seeing in a New Light 10
Dark Arts and the Urban Sublime 14
Getting Acquainted with the Night 26
One Story of the Night 32

Chapter One: Gaslit Babylon 37
New York Lights Up 39
Walking the Night 42
Terror and Taming 46
Morality and Light 55
The Country and the City 60
Night People, Night Prowling 63
The Devil, the Moralist, and the Voyeur 66
Police Take Note: The Fl"neur Flummoxed 70
Gaslit Barbary 73
Lullaby for Babylon 76

Chapter Two: The Nocturne: Moonlight, Metamorphosis, and Modernism 80
Contemplating the Moon 82
The Softer Satellite in Eclipse 86
No More Than I Wish 91
As with a Veil 97
Fireworks in Court 100
Everywhere I Looked I Saw Whistlers 105
Unrecorded Miracles 112
The Photo-Nocturne 118

Chapter Three: Colonizing the Night 132
Conquering Some Realms for the Night 136
A Mighty Woman with a Torch 138
Armies of the Night 143
Lightning Powder 148
Living Like the Other Half 157
The Poor En Masse, the Rich One by One 161
Moonlight Reservation 165

Chapter Four: The Empire of Light 170
The Lesson of the Moth 171
Nightlife Goes Native 177
Beneath the Singer Tower 184
Electric Eden 189
Empire of Signs 194
Picturing the Imperial City 199
The Apotheosis of Electricity 208

Chapter Five: Skyscraper Fantasy 217
Lights, Height, Sex, Romance 222
Manhattan, the Night-Blooming Cereus I Am Seeing Great Things 230
The Body of a Skyscraper 240
Down-Gazing I Behold 243
I'll Make Them Big: O'Keeffe's Exhibitionist Androgyny 249
Nobody to Say: Pinholes 257
Lamé with Lights 262

Chapter Six: Staging the Night: Theater, Voyeurism, Violence 266
Night Windows 272
The Feel of the Night 277
Nighthawks 285
Balcony Seats at a Murder 292
Darkness Invisible 304
Then See It! 313

Epilogue Night Now 319
Whose Night? 321
Fairyland Still? The Aerial View 330
The City of Dreadful Light 340

Notes 349
Index 393

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