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George Bellows and New York, 1900–1930

Joseph Pennell
American, 1860–1926

Times Building

1912
Charcoal on paper
Museum purchase, 1916.1

Joseph Pennell brought avigor to his drawings, a feeling of excitement and audacity, through his practice of drawing on the street amongst the hustle and bustle of the city. Pennell’s hurried sketch of the New York Times Building captures this vivacity through quick, staccato strokes that express the essence and energy that fills the streets of New York.

The Times Building was opened in 1904. At 24 stories it was recorded as “scrap[ing] higher clouds than any other building,” although it was actually the second tallest building in the city at the time. The left side of the image encroaches on our view of the Times Building, with the height and structure of the buildings and scaffolding showing us more construction is underway. This narrowness of viewpoint mimics the “canyon effect” of walking down a city street lined with tall buildings. This glimpse of constant construction and overlapping buildings characterizes the ever changing and developing skyline and push of industrialization of the new New York of the early 20th century.