In the middle of the twentieth century, good cameras became smaller and lighter, enabling street photographers to roam alleyways, ride elevated trains and subways, and stroll beaches in the summertime to capture daily life with urgency and intimacy. Deborah Dash Moore’s book Walkers in the City showcases the distinct urban vision that working-class Jewish photographers produced with these new cameras on New York City’s streets and in public spaces.

Drawing on the experiences of and photographs by a generation of young Jewish photographers who belonged to the New York Photo League, Moore offers a new perspective on New York as seen through their eyes – a cityscape of working-class people and democratizing public transit. With their cameras, they pictured Gotham’s abrasive social milieu and its evanescent textures and light, creating an archive of vernacular images of city life and a distinctive tradition of street photography that would be widely imitated.

Moore will be in conversation about her book with Diana L. Linden, author of Ben Shahn’s New Deal Murals: Jewish Identity in the American Scene. 

Deborah Dash Moore is Frederick G. L. Huetwell Professor of History and Professor of Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan. She specializes in twentieth century urban Jewish history. Three of her monographs form a trilogy, moving from studying second generation New York Jews to examining the lives of Jewish American soldiers in World War II, and culminating in a history of migration that carried big city Jews to Miami and Los Angeles after the war. GI Jews: How World War II Changed a Generation served as the basis for a documentary. Her recent book, Walkers in the City: Jewish Street Photographers of Mid-Century New York (2023), winner of a National Jewish Book Award, extends her interest to photography. She serves as editor in chief of The Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization, a ten-volume anthology of original sources translated into English from the biblical period to 2005.

Diana L. Linden is an art historian who specializes in American art including New York Jewish art and visual culture. She is the author of Ben Shahn’s New Deal Murals: Jewish Identity in the American Scene, and the co-editor of The Social and The Real: Political of the 1930s in the Western Hemisphere. In 2020, the Smithsonian recognized Diana for excellence in American Art. She served as the Visual Essayist for the 3 vol. City of Promise: A History of the Jews in New York City, Deborah Dash Moore, general editor. A 3rd generation New Yorker who now resides in California, Diana remains a walker in the city.