New York Rises: Photographs by Eugene de Salignac
Eugene de Salignac
Williamsburg Bridge extensometer gauge, 20” capacity, reading being taken at northeast main lower leg, south side, December 24, 1913, 1913
Courtesy New York City Municipal Archives
From 1906 to 1934, Eugene de Salignac shot over twenty thousand 8-by-10-inch glass-plate negatives of New York City. As sole photographer at the Department of Bridges/Plant and Structures during that period of dizzying growth, he documented the creation of the city's modern infrastructure—bridges, major municipal buildings, roads, and subways.
For years these remarkably lyrical photographs have been used in books and films, but never credited to de Salignac. New York Rises is the first monograph to present them as an aesthetically coherent oeuvre by a photographer with a unique vision. As meticulous in his record keeping as he was creative in his photography, de Salignac left five handwritten logs that identify each negative by place and exact date. This information is complemented throughout the book by narrative captions expanding on themes such as accidents, bridges, workers, and the Depression. Michael Lorenzini has unearthed primary sources to reconstruct de Salignac's biography. Kevin Moore explores his work in the context of other photographers of the period, including Eugène Atget and Berenice Abbott.