Fine Art Photography Daily

Matt Kapp: A Century Downtown: A Visual History of Lower Manhattan

ACD press 1918

Charlie Chaplin promoting Liberty Bonds at a pep rally on Wall Street, April 1918,Courtesy of the National Archives

Sometimes the research for one project inspires new ideas of disseminating the same information on other platforms. Film producer Matt Kapp, in his research for his documentary film, 16 Acres, about the rebuilding the World Trade Center, collected a significant amount of archival materials. His appreciation for New York history spurred him to then create a book, A Century Downtown, a project that looks at the last one hundred years of life in New York’s financial district. Published by powerHouse, the book presents and array of photographs, paintings, renderings, drawings, and other images culled from dozens of archives and individual collections worldwide.

“Catchphrases like “urban renewal” have a nice ring to them, but none measure up to the tectonic, often brutal metamorphoses that have remade Lower Manhattan over the last century. Downtown’s defining cataclysmic event is undeniably 9/11. Yet we often forget that the original World Trade Center grew out of the wholesale demolition of an entire neighborhood, home to more than 300 electronics businesses employing some 30,000 workers. We forget that the first “worst terrorist attack in American history”—the Wall Street bombing of 1920—claimed 38 lives and triggered a tsunami of anti-immigrant sentiment that swept Warren G. Harding into the White House. We forget that Washington Street was once home to the biggest Arab-American community in the country, known as Little Syria, eventually displaced by the transportation appetite of a burgeoning suburbia.

A Century Downtown raises these and other pivotal events—some mere footnotes to the city’s official history—into sharp relief. It’s a remarkable visual journey guided by a fascinating historical narrative that sheds new light on the evolution of Lower Manhattan over the past hundred years.”

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Cover for A Century Downtown

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Spread from A Century Downtown

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Spread from A Century Downtown

ACD press 1908

A group of “newsies,” as the newspaper delivery boys were known, February 12, 1908, Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Matt Kapp is an award-winning filmmaker and writer based in Brooklyn. Most recently he wrote and co-produced the critically acclaimed documentary 16 Acres, which told the inside story of the struggle to rebuild the World Trade Center in the decade after 9/11. Among his other producing credits are Valentino: The Last Emperor and The Education of Gore Vidal. Aside from his film and television work, he was a reporter-researcher and Web contributor for Vanity Fair for more than 15 years and has written frequently for Downtown magazine. He is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and a native of Burlington, Vermont.

Chris Mueller is an award-winning creative director and designer based in New York. His work for Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, and other brands has been recognized by the Society of Publication Designers, ASME, Folio, and the Webby Awards. He studied print and digital design at the Cooper Union, New York University, and the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. He divides his time between Westchester County and the Western Catskills with his wife, Mary, and their two sons, Oscar and Milo.

Wall Street bombing explosion - Overturned auto and crowd (Photo By: /NY Daily News via Getty Images)

Carnage in the aftermath of the Wall Street Bombing, September 16, 1920, Courtesy of Getty Images

circa 1925:  Curb Market traders gesture with their hands to trade stocks, on Wall Street, New York City. The Curb Market was for stocks not listed on the New York Stock Exchange.  (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Traders bidding at the New York Curb Market, 1925,Courtesy of Getty Images

ACD press 1940

Men gathered along Cortlandt Street’s Radio Row, circa 1940, Courtesy of Municipal Archives

On VE Day (Victory in Europe Day), a woman laughs as she throws tickertape over a balcony, New York, New York, May 7, 1945. (Photo by Frances McLaughlin-Gill/Conde Nast via Getty Images)

A woman tossing ticker tape over a balcony during the celebration of Germany’s surrender, May 7, 1945, Courtesy of Getty Images

Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy rides on a car with wife Jackie in a ticker tape parade. The parade followed the "Canyon of Heroes", the Wall Street area of Manhattan, and was an important part of Kennedy's campaign tour.

Senator John F. Kennedy and wife, Jacqueline, October 19, 1960, less than a month before he won the presidency,Courtesy of Getty Images

(Original Caption) 7/13/1962-New York, NY: The body of "Mr. Small Businessman" lies in state in front of a radio and television shop at 176 Greenwich St., in lower Manhattan's west side, July 13th. The dummy was a prop in the area businessmen's protest against Supreme Court condemnation proceedings by the New York, Port of Authority. The Authority wants to raze New York's "Radio Row" to build a proposed World Trade Center.

Shop owners protesting the proposed demolition of Radio Row, July 13, 1962, Courtesy of Getty/Bettmann Images

Governor Nelson Rockefeller looks at a model of the World Trade Center, with its architect Minoru Yamasaki, at the New York Hilton Hotel in Manhattan, January 19, 1964. (Photo by John Campbell/NY Daily News via Getty Images)

Architect Minoru Yamasaki and Governor Nelson Rockefeller view a model of the World Trade Center, January 16, 1964, Courtesy of Getty Images

USA. New York City. 1967. Brick crew on the west side. Bricks are salvaged and sold as antique brick for use in new homes.

Demolition of Radio Row, 1967, Courtesy ofMagnum/Danny Lyon

EXCLUSIVE: August 7, 1974, New York, New York, United States: Philippe Petit, a young Frenchman artist tight rope walker, gave the most spectacular high-wire performance of all time by crossing the span between Towers I and II of the World Trade Center eight times in one hour. Petit and his team had illegally rigged their cable under the cover of night and he was arrested by the Port Authorities and charged with "attempt(ing) to cause public inconvenience," and trespassing. (Jean-Louis Blondeau/Polaris) ///  Philippe Petit walks on wire across the towers of the World Trade Center

Daredevil Philippe Petit walking a wire between the Twin Towers, August 7, 1974, Courtesy of Polaris

ACD press 2001

Ground Zero, September 11, 2001, Courtesy of Polaris

ACD press 2002

One of site master planner Daniel Libeskind’s early sketches, 2002, Studio Libeskind

ACD press 2015

Workers on the glass TK roof of the Oculus, 2015, Courtesy of Joe Woolhead

ACD press 2018

The new World Trade Center and 9/11 Memorial, May 2018, Courtesy of Joel Woolhead

ACD press 2018b

3 and 4 World Trade Center above the Oculus, July 6, 2018, Courtesy of Joe Woolhead

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