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24 Frames per Second, NYC Neighborhoods

Lower East Side Heritage Film Series, Season 3, Part 1: Rebecca Lepkoff in Photographs & Conversation

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[img_assist|nid=229849|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=240|height=300]Photography is a sort of homecoming — to twist a line from poet Paul Celan — and the woman who has captured so much of the Lower East Side through her lens, and those same photographs, is coming back home.

Much has been said about Rebecca Lepkoff's ability to encapsulate the character of a neighborhood and its inhabitants in her photography--most recently, of her involvement with the Photo League through a travelling exhibit, "The Radical Camera: New York's Photo League, 1936-1951" that began at the Jewish Museum last year. Both of these are truly great things. But to bring these works back home to the streets where she was raised and to give a place and context to the current wave of library users is truly awesome. Many of the photos she will present are from the streets surrounding the Seward Park Branch Library. Among these we can see many of the stores and buildings that still stand, though their signs may have changed—transforming the neighborhood yet again.

The Seward Park Branch Library is very excited to announce the first program of its 2013/2014 Lower East Side Heritage Film Series, Tuesday, October 15th at 6:30 p.m. in our Community Room.

Rebecca Lepkoff: [img_assist|nid=229848|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=239|height=300]

In photographs and conversation.

This installment of our FREE monthly series we will be a Q&A session with New York City photographer and nonagenarian, Rebecca Lepkoff, who will present a series of prints from the streets of the Lower East Side ca. 1930-1980. Many of these photos are unpublished and document the presence of Yiddish signs and storefronts on the streets surrounding the Seward Park Branch Library.

We will also be projecting the first reel of our 16mm Seward Park film that covers these same streets from 1934 to 1935.

The Seward Park Branch and the Neighborhood It Serves
(1934-35, 1941, 1959; 25 min., 16mm)

[img_assist|nid=167248|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=300|height=225]The Seward Park Branch and the Neighborhood It Serves highlights the central role of the New York Public Library within a diverse, vibrant, and ever-changing community. View and experience Seward Park as the portrait of the neighborhood changes from crisp black and white to vivid color, as streets once filled with pushcarts become lined with sharp-finned cars, and as children sled on snowy sidewalks before sitting down for "story time" in a green park.

The earliest footage, from 1934–5 and 1941, was captured and edited by Grace Hardie, a former Seward Park Branch staff member. In 1959, Bill Sloan, head of the Donnell Library Center’s Film Library,and his wife Gwen shot the color section using a 16mm Bolex. At this time, Donald W. Fowle, a clerk at the Seward Park Branch, created the script as part of the branch’s 50th anniversary celebration. His narration has been read aloud at screenings of the film ever since. Mr. Fowle and the Sloans were assisted by Jean E. McIntosh, assistant branch librarian at Seward Park. A detailed account of the action — a shot list — was prepared by Tara D. Kelley of the Reserve Film and Video Collection in 2012.


The Seward Park Branch and the Neighborhood It Serves film courtesy of the Reserve Film and Video Collection of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

The Seward Park Branch and the Neighborhood It Serves has been preserved by the Reserve Film and Video Collection of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, with funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

This is a FREE monthly series held at Seward Park Branch Library. Documentary and feature films (both 16mm and DVD) shot on location in lower Manhattan are presented every month.

Previously: Lower East Side Heritage Film Series, Season 2, Part 8.
Follow us on Facebook: Lower East Side Heritage Collection

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