Since we are in the second day of the 70th year since the publication of Naked City…
“A Book is Born
One just doesn’t go up to strange men, women, children, elephants, or giraffes and say, “Look this way please. Laugh- cry show some emotion or go to sleep underneath a funeral canopy.” They would have called me crazy and called a cop who would have called the wagon with the guys in white and I would have wound up in the psychopathic ward at Bellevue Hospital in a strait jacket.
For the pictures in this book I was on the scene; sometimes drawn there by some power l can’t explain, and l caught the New Yorkers with their masks off. . . not afraid to Laugh, Cry, or make Love. What I felt I photographed, laughing and crying with them.
I have been told that my pictures should be in a book, that they were a great social document. As I keep to myself, belong to no group, like to be left alone with no axe to grind, I wouldn’t know. Then something happened. There was a sudden drop in Murders and Fires (my two best sellers, my bread and butter). I couldn’t understand that. With so many millions of people, it just wasn’t normal, but it did give me a chance to look over the pictures I had been accumulating. Put together, they seemed to form a pattern. I pasted the photographs up into a “dummy” book and left it with the publishers with a note “This is my brain child . . . handle care please.”
The people in these photographs are real. Some from the East Side and Harlem tenements, others are from Park Avenue. In most cases, they weren’t even aware they were being photographed and cared less. People like to be photographed and will always ask “What paper are you from, mister, and what day will they appear,” the jitterbugs and the Sinatra bobby-sock fans even want to know on what page it will appear. To me a photograph is a page from life, and that being the case, it must be real.”
Naked City, pp. 11-12