Oddly unsettling

Have you seen these photographs? This is downtown New York in the early 1940s, photographed in colour. Does it look real to you? While World War II raged on distant shores, an amateur photographer from Indiana, Charles Weever Cushman, took a holiday in New York. He took his holiday snaps on a rare and expensive Kodachrome camera, in colour.

Somehow this doesn't quite seem real to me. Maybe it's the soft, hazy, vintage wash in some of the pictures. Or maybe it's because I'm just not wired to picture life in the 40s in colour. Not real life, at least, just movies.

And yet here they all are, these New Yorkers from decades before I was born, going about their lives, walking the streets I walked, entering the doorways I entered. Suddenly, generations of the past are just like me. I feel connected. Neighbourly, almost. Who knew our grandparents' lives were lived in colour?

Take a look through Cushman's incredible collection here. He travelled widely, throughout the US and Europe, and seems to have always carried the trusty Kodachrome with him. It is only by an extreme act of self restraint that I haven't posted in multiplicity of urchins on farm gates from the 1930s, all captured in that oddly unsettling colour.

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