Monday, June 1, 2009

Lewis W. Hine’s photographs of Hastings in the George Eastman House collection

Part II

Photo courtesy of George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film

In last Monday’s post we showed you three of Lewis Wickes Hine’s photographs of our town, and here are a few more. They were all taken after 1917, when Hine moved his family to Hastings. Over time, the Hines became a true Hastings family. Lewis was a member of the Chamber of Commerce and the local Rotary Club. His wife Sara joined the Garden Club and the Literature Club. And their son Corydon went to the Hudson River Day School, and later to the public high school. They also made many friends in Hastings, and this network helped support the Hines during the 1920s and 1930s when the family had to struggle to make ends meet. One of Hine's friends was Louis Finkelstein.

The photograph above, taken possibly around 1931, shows Rose and Louis Finkelstein sitting in their living room with their children Rita and Gerald. It is an important historical document for us because the little boy depicted in it grew up to be the first president of the Hastings Historical Society. Louis Finkelstein was a dentist, and he often accepted goods from his neighbors in trade for his services. Those goods included photographs taken by Lewis Hine.

Photo courtesy of George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film

We can be more precise in the date of this photograph. It appears in a booklet published in 1929 by the Chamber of Commerce called “Our Home Town in Word and Picture.” 1929 was an important year for Hastings-on-Hudson – the 50th anniversary of its incorporation in 1879 – and the booklet was printed to commemorate this event. It was part community directory and part telephone directory for those 900 or so individuals and businesses that had the instrument. Hine was a member of the Chamber of Commerce himself and contributed 8 photographs to the booklet, five of which are included in George Eastman House’s collection. This one shows the complex of school buildings on Farragut Avenue. In the foreground is the 1904 Farragut Building, and at the right is the “new” High School building, which had been completed in 1927.

Photo courtesy of George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film

Thomas F. Reynolds was a glove importer who lived in the big house on the northeast corner of Villard Avenue and Broadway. In 1910 he became a village trustee and then village president in 1917. If you combine all his terms in office, he spent a total of fifteen years as leader of the village, first as president and then as mayor. Reynolds Field was named in his honor in 1924.

George Eastman House has twelve of Hine’s portraits of Reynolds and an additional twenty of other Hastings village officials: William Ward Tompkins (president 1895-1897), and village trustees Frederick H. Charles, Francis E. Curry, and James C. Magee. These photographs ended up adorning the interior of the Municipal Building, and most likely they were taken for that purpose.

One of Hine's 1929 photographs of the Municipal Building, as it appeared in "Our Home Town in Word and Picture."

The Municipal Building, too, was built in 1929, and Lewis Hine is recorded as having been the official photographer for the cornerstone dedication ceremony in April of that year. He seems to have been just as careful in shooting a building as in taking a portrait. “Mr. Hine,” the Hastings News reports, “was hindered by his timing somewhat and many thought he was shooting a “talkie.” It seemed that the kids were making too much noise for the “shot” or they were closing in on the celebrities, but at Mr. Hine’s request, room was cleared for a complete view. This snap held up proceedings a short time. Luckily for those on the platform that it was not a “talkie” for many of the remarks among the jokesters there were not appropo to the occasion.” Wouldn’t we love to get hold of the photographs Hine took that day?

There are many other interesting images of Hastings-on-Hudson in George Eastman House’s “Lewis Wickes Hine Negative Series.” If you want to explore them, click this link, which will take you to the thumbnail view at the end of the series. Most of the Hastings related images are grouped toward the end of the series, so the best way to approach the photographs is to start at the end and work your way backward using the “Previous” link at the top and bottom of the page. Many are not identified as Hastings, so keep your eyes open!
DiggIt!Add to del.icio.usAdd to Technorati Faves

No comments:

Post a Comment