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New Addition to Our Historic Image Archive Gives Intimate View of Greenwich Village and NYC in the 1940s and 50s

Police officer with a motorcycle in front of Washington Square Arch, mid-1950s.

We recently added a new collection, the Jean Polacheck Collection, to our historic image archive. This collection dates largely from the 1940s through the mid-1950s, and includes scenes of Washington Square Park, Midtown Manhattan, the interior of clubs and restaurants, and other Greenwich Village and NYC street scenes. Scroll down to see a sample of the collection, or click here to see all images.

Looking northwest along Greenwich Avenue, showing 26-70 Greenwich Avenue (r. to l.), with the Loew’s Theater and the old St. Vincent’s Hospital visible in the background. The four-story building in the center, five buildings from the right, is the old PS 41, demolished in the 1950s to make way for the new PS 41 and its schoolyard.
Manhattan Elevated Subway Station, with Metropolitan Life Headquarters (23rd Street and Madison Avenue) in the background.

Jean Polacheck was born in 1920 in Detroit. Interested in photography, she started shooting photos on assignment for local publications. She married and moved to New York City, where she continued to do freelance work for magazines, as well as baby portraits and headshots for actors. In her spare time, she travelled the city, shooting whatever caught her eye. She also worked as a darkroom technician for LIFE magazine, printing photos of famous photographers such as Maragert Bourke-White and Robert Capa.

Boys in suits playing cards on a stoop.

By the time her third child was born, Jean gave up professional work to raise her family, packing away her archive of prints and negatives. Rediscovered after her death, her photographs reveal a high level of artistic skill and a keen eye for her surroundings. You can purchase prints from Village Preservation, or original period silver gelatin prints from her son, Michael Polachek, at mikepolachech@gmail.com.

‘Danger’ — looking northwest from the corner of 39th Street and Seventh Avenue, towards 550 Seventh Avenue

Click here to see all images.

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