ongoing series of photographs taken by Vivian Cherry on the Lower East Side
was made as a labor of love. This was her neighborhood and a constant source
of inspiration. She prowled it with her camera almost daily and as a silent
presence with her neighbors grew used to her pausing with her camera to record
a life that was lived principally on the city streets. The mixed ethnicity of
the population which still had strong roots in Italy, Ireland, Poland, and Russia
added great vigor to the city still recovering from World War 11 in the 1950s.
The last of a strong African American presence was still evident leading to
the popular philosophy that New York City represented a melting pot of people,
ideology, and customs which proved. irresistible to a professional street photographer.
Cherry also recorded the graffito on the tenement walls which signaled in chalk
and torn posters "love lost," "love affirmed," and political
changes in a growing population. By the late 1940s and early 1950s, New Yorkers
were informed that New York City was where seven and a half million people lived
in peace and enjoyed the benefits of democracy which was broadcast daily at
noon from City Hall in downtown Manhattan. These photographs proved later to
be of great interest to museums.
-Barbara Head Millstein, Curator of Photographs, Brooklyn Museum of Art
Cherry's gallery of the Lower E Side 1940's&1950's_ 1