Manhattan in the Dark

Last week, when millions of people in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut lost electricity due to Hurricane Sandy, we were reminded of earlier times, when the lights of New York weren’t quite as bright as they are today. Those outside of Manhattan saw a different skyline in the evenings, and thousands of tri-state area residents were compelled to document their storm experiences photographically. #Sandy was used more than any other tag in Instagram’s history as amateur photographers documented their experiences on a local scale, while professional photographers sought out iconic views of the city.

One such image made it to the cover of New York magazine. Iwan Baan’s recognizable, yet eerie and unfamiliar image of lower Manhattan in the dark, with a clear line of delineation around 34th Street where the city reemerges into brightness makes for a striking cover. 

Frank Soltesz, TWA / Constellation / Sky Coach, circa 1952.
Estimate $3,000 to $4,000.

It’s a familiar angle of the city in a unique moment, and we were amused to find, coming back to Swann after the storm, that today’s Rare & Important Travel Posters sale features a poster that shows a similar, yet again, altogether different view of our city. Frank Soltesz’s 1952 image for TWA shows the city at sunset, and even still, it is clear that those lights aren’t as bright as they are today. The geography is also different from Baan’s image: 60 years ago, the Battery, the World Trade Center site, wasn’t developed.