A returning WWII veteran captured an extraordinary photographic record of postwar NYC

In 1945, 40-year-old Todd Webb was discharged from the Navy and moved to New York City.

Webb had cycled through a litany of professions before his service in the war. He settled on photography after taking a class with Ansel Adams and meeting with Alfred Stieglitz on his way through the city in 1942.

With Stieglitz's encouragement, Webb decided to focus all his energies (and his modest savings) on photographing the booming postwar city.

He spent his nights sleeping in the kitchen of photographer Harry Callahan's Harlem apartment, and his days riding the Third Avenue El from 125th Street down to the towers of Midtown, the ethnic enclaves of the Lower East Side, and the historic buildings of the Financial District, capturing architecture, signage, and street life with a large format camera.=

%shareLinks-quote="Life goes on about me, and I am a living breathing part of it. I feel things, the people, the buildings, the streets, and I have something to say about them and my medium is photography." type="quote" author="Todd Webb" authordesc="August 5, 1946" isquoteoftheday="false"%

When he wasn't shooting, Webb was befriending and learning from some of the most accomplished photographers and artists in the city, including Berenice Abbott, Lisette Model, Georgia O'Keeffe, and Gordon Parks.

In 1946, after a year of tireless photography, the Museum of the City of New York gave Webb his first solo exhibition: I See A City.

This year, Webb's photos are once again on display at MCNY in A City Seen: Todd Webb's Postwar New York 1945-1960, on view through Sept. 4.

%shareLinks-quote="New York is now home to me. I can't imagine living anyplace else." type="quote" author="Todd Webb" authordesc="December 28, 1946" isquoteoftheday="false"%

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