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Two Sides of the Same Street: Depression-Era Photography of Central Park and Fifth Avenue


During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the spaces of Central Park and Fifth Avenue were canonized in literary works, musical productions, and various forms of visual culture. Over this time, they came to embody two of the most recognizable and iconic places in the nation’s cultural and commercial capital, each representing key values associated with the country’s identity: Central Park, a symbol of democracy and Fifth Avenue a symbol of capitalist enterprise. Their significance cannot be satisfactorily understood as merely points on a map, but must instead be examined as spatial realms mediated by social and political considerations and whose meanings shifted as the city and its people evolved. While there has been ample scholarship written on these spaces individually, there has been very little research that brings them into direct dialogue with one other. The central aim of this thesis is to draw them into a dialectic that explores their mutual influence and associations while revealing their role in shaping and casting visions of a modern New York.

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