I can't remember exactly when was the first time I saw Todd Webb's gorgeous photograph "6th Avenue Between 43rd and 44th Streets, New York, 1948," but it was years ago, maybe at MOMA, and I immediately fell in love with it. More than anything, I wanted to fall into it.
Now the photograph has been blown up nearly to life-size, and hung in the windows across the length of the International Center of Photography.
Stretching across several panels, the panorama reveals the entire west side length of the block from 66 years ago. It's incredibly crisp, showing every detail of the record shops, art supply stores, and bookstores, the light lunch joints and neon-sign restaurants. The second-story businesses specialize in typewriter repairs, a school for "talking picture operating," a Spanish-American billiard parlor.
Most of the people walking on the sidewalk are men, with only two or three women among them, and they're almost all in hats.
Gazing at it, the image feels like a window into the past, a fantasy disturbed only by the passersby of 2014, looking down into their phones, not paying attention to what's in front of them. If only you could step through the glass and into that lost world.