The Jazz Loft

The Jazz Loft

Rachael Grad
Dec 14, 2009

Ever wondered what it was like to live in a New York city artists loft back in the day? NPR and WNYC report on photographer W. Eugene Smith's 4,000 hours of reel-to-reel tape recordings and 40,000 photos of his loft apartment. In the '50s and '60s, jazz musicians stopped by his building (821 Sixth Avenue) at all hours for jam sessions.

W. Eugene Smith, a Life magazine photographer was assigned to take 30 photos of the jazz loft. He ended up leaving his family in a small upstate New York town, and moving in to the building. He took 40,000 photos of the musicians, the loft space, and his many cats (the original inspiration for his tape recordings). The loft cost $40 a month and had little electricity or water. At the time, the neighborhood (west 20s along Sixth Avenue) was strictly commercial and deserted at night. Smith's photographs and recordings give an amazing picture of living in The Jazz Loft.

The Jazz Loft Project website
The Jazz Loft Project: Sights And Sounds series on NPR

Images: W. Eugene Smith

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