On Wall Street: Architectural Photographs of Lower Manhattan, 1980-2000


"I am not sure there is any other pair of monosyllabic words in the English language that evokes as powerful a sense of place as Wall Street, except, of course, New York itself." So writes famed architectural critic Paul Goldberger in his introduction to one of the most important photographic books on New York City to appear since 9/11: David Anderson's On Wall Street.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, a lot of glass-and-steel, boxlike buildings were going up in New York ...

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"I am not sure there is any other pair of monosyllabic words in the English language that evokes as powerful a sense of place as Wall Street, except, of course, New York itself." So writes famed architectural critic Paul Goldberger in his introduction to one of the most important photographic books on New York City to appear since 9/11: David Anderson's On Wall Street.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, a lot of glass-and-steel, boxlike buildings were going up in New York City. David Anderson realized that the architecturally elaborate and stylistic buildings of the early 1900s through the 1930s that defined Wall Street would never be made again. He thus embarked on a twenty-year project (from 1980 to 2000) to document Wall Street's classic architecture before further changes in the area were made, including the demolition and destructive renovation of too of its many historic structures.

Anderson's approach to photographing Wall Street is unique. He avoids people, vehicular traffic, and storefronts, and rarely does he present a view of an entire building. Instead, he focuses on the details or a certain profile in order to reveal a building's architectural form and energy and its larger sense of place within the city's urban fabric.

Anderson's photographs of Wall Street will forever be part of a visual record of a by-gone era that emphasized artistic craftsmanship rarely achieved in modern buildings. Like the historic skyscrapers and civic buildings that Anderson depicts, his photographs are equally solid, self-assured, and beautiful. Collectively, they capture the spirit, architectural genius, and harmonious elevated scale of this special place in the financial capital of the world.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
An architectural shift left Manhattan with an unusual blend of buildings. "On Wall Street: Architectural Photographs of Lower Manhattan 1980-2000" is a collection of black and white photography from David Anderson, snapping photos on the aftermath of the new construction past the 1970s, offering a snapshot of the twilight of the twentieth century with soulful black and white photography, capturing the details of these buildings. "On Wall Street" is a must for historical and architectural photography collections, highly recommended.

On Wall Street: Architectural Photographs of Lower Manhattan 1980-2000 by David Anderson, with Introduction by Paul Goldberger is a highly acclaimed black and white photography book which documents the historic and architecturally beautiful buildings on Wall Street district, which were designed and built by craftsmen of a bygone era of the Victorian Era. The images were made over a 20 year period, and the photographer ended his project with the bombing of the Twin Towers. The book is important not only for the expert photographs and excellent commentary about the photos, but also because 9/11 showed us that no matter how permanent structures appear they will not be here forever. Photographers, historians, architecture enthusiasts will want this book for their collection.

"The sturdiest structure in any small town is the bank—or the building it used to inhabit. Those hunks of columned limestone still anchor downtowns across the country, often converted into grocery stores or shopping arcades. And even on Wall Street, luxury apartments have colonized high-rise wonders like R.H. Robertson's 1899 building at 15 Park Row (looming in the foreground above)—once the tallest office building in the world. Drawn from David Anderson's 'On Wall Street: Architectural Photographs of Lower Manhattan, 1980-2000' (George F. Thompson, 123 pages, $50), this photograph from 1981 captures the upward and outward spiral of the financial industry over the centuries, from the steeple of St. Paul's (1796), to the Park Row building to the 1924 building (center) to the World Trade Center's south tower, stretching out of the frame a few blocks away. Shot in silvery black and white, the pictures emphasize the cool solidity of the often fortress-like subjects, as in the defensive turrets and machicolations of the Federal Reserve Bank. (It's only fitting: Wall Street got its name by marking the fortified edge of the young city.) But Mr. Anderson also has an eye for delicate details—he picks out the swirling grain in the facade of the Stock Exchange—and for whimsical decorations. On a high balcony at 67 Wall Street (now, too, converted into condos), a stone eagle surveys the street, secured by a chain that seems like a leash. These images—free of cars, signs and people—freeze the city in time. But everywhere you look are traces of bygone eras: the now-vanished Trade Center; a small 'First Class' sign on a former steamship terminal; and, carved in stone above a door on William Street, 'Lehman Brothers.'
—The Editors"

“David Anderson's poignant photographs capture the coldness, power, and impregnability of the mythical Wall Street. Devoid of the flux of movement and crowds, the monuments speak. Creatures keep watch, frozen in stone, while surprising traces of decay and delicate detail suggest the contingency, even frailty, of human existence. Paul Goldberger's masterful introduction guides us as well in seeing and appreciating this historic citadel of American finance."

"From 1980 to 2000, photographer David Anderson documented Wall Street's architecture as few others have. Through an extensive range of black-and-white images whose focus is equally on the historic and iconic nature of the buildings, a real sense of this famous place emerges. I compare the look and feel of Anderson's photographs to some of the great urban photographers of the twentieth century: Berenice Abbott, Eugene Atget, Paul Strand, and, more recently, Thomas Struth and Bob Thall. On Wall Street will be an immediate classic that not only appeals to the aesthetic of architects, historians, and photographers, but also functions at street level for those who love cities everywhere, and especially, New York."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781938086007
  • Publisher: International Publishers Marketing, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/15/2012
  • Pages: 128
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 11.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

DAVID ANDERSON was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1943 and raised there. At age seventeen, he showed his photographic work to Alfred Einsenstaedt at Life Magazine, who encouraged him to begin his photographic career at the New York Daily News, which he did. After serving the U.S. Army as a cameraman, including duty in Vietnam, from 1969 to 1983 he was a cinematographer based in New York City who specialized in commercials and documentaries. He also photographed two independent films directed by artist Nancy Graves, including Isy Boukir (1971), which was purchased for the collection of films at the Museum of Modern Art. Since 1983 he has worked as an architectural photographer and is represented by the Yancey Richardson Gallery, of New York City. His photographs are in numerous public and corporate collections, including American Airlines, AT&T, the Brooklyn Museum, the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal, Citicorp, Deutsche Bank, Equitable Life Assurance Society, the Museum of the City of New York, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, among others. After living in New York City for fifty years, Mr. Anderson moved in 2010 to the Hudson River valley of New York. His website is www.davidvanderson.com.

PAUL GOLDBERGER began his career as the executive editor of Architectural Digest. He then worked for twenty-five years at The New York Times, where in 1984 he won the Pulitzer Prize for his architectural criticism. He also has been the architecture critic for The New Yorker since 1997 and in 2004 became Dean of the Parsons School of Design at the New School University in New York City. He is the author of Why Architecture Matters (Yale, 2009), Up from Zero: Politics, Architecture, and the Rebuilding of New York (Random House, 2004), One the Rise: Architecture and Design in a Post-Modern Age (Times Books, 1983), The Skyscraper (Knopf, 1982), and The City Observed?New York: A Guide to the Architecture of Manhattan (Random House, 1979), among others.

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