Part of a Paper Micrscope series, Zoomology
Michael Beschloss posted this remarkable photograph of the Lower East Side on Mulberry Street, a rare color photo made around 1900. There is a lot of life going on here--people posing for the photographer (standing on an elevated platform with a large view camera, no telling who or what he was imaging), people caught in their daily lives, people. Under the Paper Microscope the image reveals all sorts of sub-images, photos-within-photos, making it a fascinating exercise in exploration.
For example, the two men hiked-up on the back of a moving wagon on the bottom-right seem to be enjoying themselves in expectation, the man on the left about to toss something underhanded, the guy on the right in a bow tie getting ready with a smile to enjoy what was going to happen. To their right: a man with a sales platform draped from his neck, watching a girl rush by, his pocket stuffed with paper.
And in the bottom left segment the scene is semi-dominated by the two men standing behind a barrel, one with hands on hips, the other with a jauntily-cocked bowler with his hands in his pockets with one pinky out. The men in the background are seated very closely together, maybe enjoying a coffee, with one prominent man with a long tie and shining shoes who I guess would be the Principle Player, with a woman with a baby standing behind him. There are about 25 people in this part of the very crowded photo.
I particularly like the man-boy with the beer (?) in the middle of the segment, and of course the Don-like figure in the rear with the over-the-shoulder cloth and his audience of children. There's even a Vermeer-y redheaded girl at left.
In all of the action, in the middle of the street in the middle of the scene, a man has stopped to look at the photographer. He's the Man in the Middle: