Alice Austen


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Photographer. Christened Elizabeth Alice following her birth on Staten Island, she continued to live in that New York borough for most of her life. Although she began to develop her skills with a camera while still a child, photography remained an amateur activity. However, she pursued it with the instincts of a born photojournalist. Her most notable photographs document two categories of social experience at odds with each other in turn-of-the-century New York. Much of her work focuses on the individuals and daily life of her upper-class community, but she also numbered among the first to record the life of lower Manhattan's immigrants and poor. She published a portfolio of these street images in 1896. Austen also took photographs during many trips to Europe. Already slowed by arthritis, then financially ruined by the Depression, she ceased photographing in the 1930s. Overlooking New York Bay and today a National Historic Landmark, the Victorian-style cottage where Austen lived from childhood is today a museum devoted to her work and its context.

Subjects: Art.

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