Work of the Week — “Wall Street, NY” by Margaret Bourke-White

Monday, January 22, 2018

by Sadie Allen

Ever since I was a little girl, New York City (or any large city for that matter) appealed to me. Growing up in Western North Carolina, the most excitement I faced was my usual daydreaming, often about the illustrious life I planned to live once I escaped my rural world. Cities were my every dream: the bustle and rush of human life would be everywhere, the breath of existence that spread like wind through the crowded streets would touch my face. All of my life I have craved to see skyscrapers outside of my window rather than the lush mountains I have been blessed with.

Margaret Bourke-White’s photographic piece, Wall Street, NY, evokes that same lust I had as a child. Looking down upon the workers and perhaps tourists from above, she captures that indescribable allure of the city: that every being walking below has their own life, their own secrets, and their own adventures ahead of them.

She was born in New York City in 1904 and continued to capture snippets of the metropolis’s vivacious life as one of the nation’s leading female photographers. She lived the life of my dreams, traveling the world and documenting her findings for the nation to see. She even had the privilege of being the first female war correspondent during World War II. Having a life so full and lush has always been an aspiration of mine. What makes her story even more incredible is how she consistently broke down barriers. Her role in photo-journalism as a woman paved the way for many other inspired girls to pursue this dream that otherwise would have not even been an option. Her fight for equality in the industry still holds prevalence today.
While I finish up my last few years of high school, I will push onward in my collegiate pursuits. Until then, I will continue to chase my aspirations in the journalistic realm, looking up to Margaret Bourke-White along the way.

Artwork above: Margaret Bourke-White, Wall Street, NY, 1936, Photograph, Black and White Silver Gelatin Print, 9.50 x 6.63 inches. Museum purchase with funds provided by 2009 Collectors’ Circle members Nancy Albyn and Fran Myers in memory of Dick Albyn and Nat Myers. Permanent Collection. 2009.34.91.