125th Street, September1946 by Todd Webb

If you study ...125th Street, September, 1946, it won't take you long to spot the key object. The young girl and her baby sister are sharing a snow cone, a paper cup filled with chopped ice and a squirt of fruit syrup. This precursor to water ice became a popular summer treat during the 1930s. But the snow cone isn't what your eyes fix upon. It's the shoes.

Webb did not have an overt political agenda in taking his photos. But the prominence of these scuffed, battered hand-me-down shoes asserts the hard lives of these children's family and community. The shortages of material goods in the US continued for only a short time after the war, but inflation in 1946 soared to a staggering level, 18.1%. The nation's poor, especially African-Americans, had to keep on "making-do." The shoes that the toddler wears were likely worn by her big sister. But the sneakers worn by this older child are unlikely to have survived much longer.
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