Featuring: Berenice Abbott, E.M. Bofinger, Sam Brody, Andrew Herman, Dorothea Lange, Clifford Sutcliffe, James Suydam and other photographers employed by the WPA Federal Writers’ Project and Federal Art Project.

The Municipal Archives presents an exhibition drawn from a collection of more than 5,000 photographs taken or collected by the New York City Unit of the Federal Writers’ and Art Projects of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Inspired by a 1980 show curated by Barbara Millstein, later curator of photography at the Brooklyn Museum, the exhibition documents workers in New York City during the late 1930s and early 1940s: factory workers, construction workers, blacksmiths, tattoo artists, barbers, musicians, actors, garment workers, pushcart peddlers, fishmongers, teamsters, telephone operators, restaurant helpers, knife grinders, policemen, etcetera, the lifeblood of the City.

The W.P.A.—established in 1935 to address massive unemployment, hunger, and despair caused by The Great Depression—provided useful work to millions of Americans, which preserved their skills and dignity, while enriching communities throughout the country. The New York City Unit of the Federal Writers’ Project made it possible for talented photographers to document New York and its industries during this tumultuous period.

Straightforward and precise, the photographs’ appeal today stems from this forthright approach; there was no attempt to deceive or glamorize. They are images of individuals, places, occupations, and life as it was 80 years ago.


  • NYC Department of Records & Information Services

    NYC Department of Records & Information Services

    Established in 1977, the Department of Records and Information Services (DORIS) preserves and provides public access to historical and contemporary records and information about New York City government. They operate the Municipal Archives, the Municipal Library, and the Records Center.

NYC Work and Working: Photographs from the WPA Federal Writers’ Project

 archive : 2018

Featuring: Various Artists

Curated by: Michael Lorenzini Matthew Minor

Presented by: NYC Department of Records & Information Services
  • NYC Department of Records & Information Services


View Location Details Brooklyn Bridge Park – Emily Warren Roebling Plaza

1 Water St
Brooklyn, NY 11201

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This location is part of Brooklyn Bridge Park
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