Jan 18, 2007

New York

New York

c. 1942

Helen Levitt

(American, 1913-2009)

Gelatin silver print

Image: 11.3 x 17.3 cm (4 7/16 x 6 13/16 in.); Matted: 35.6 x 45.7 cm (14 x 18 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1990.134



A traditional way to cool off from the New York City summer heat without leaving the neighborhood is to open the nearest fire hydrant and frolic in the spray. This practice, which goes back to the late 1800s, was usually initiated by residents, often children. It has perils: lowered water pressure makes it difficult to fight fires, and the runoff can flood basements. Helen Levitt here captured the bond between a young girl, overwhelmed by the excitement and cold water, and her mother, to whom she comes for comfort.

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