Like so many of us do today, Todd Webb learned about a new city through the viewfinder of his camera—although back in 1945, his camera was hardly pocket-sized. Freshly discharged from the U.S. Navy following World War II, Webb landed in New York and, shouldering his heavy photography equipment, began to explore both the city and a fledgling career as a professional photographer.
In September of 1946, the Museum of the City of New York featured Webb’s intimate and curious shots of New York at a solo exhibition, I See A City. Now, 71 years later, the museum’s new retrospective revisits Webb’s postwar years. A City Seen: Todd Webb’s Postwar New York 1945-1960 is a chronicle of the city’s growth and humanity told through glimpses of everyday moments. In a press release for the first exhibition in 1946, museum curator Beaumont Newhall wrote, “Above all Todd Webb’s portrait of the city is dignified. It is revealing, it is not always pleasant, but it is a portrait which all New Yorkers will respect and appreciate.” The same holds true for Webb’s work in the years that ensued.
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