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The Steerage


Alfred Stieglitz, The Steerage, 1907. Photogravure, 13 3/16 × 10 7/16 in. (33.5 × 26.5 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of an anonymous donor  77.106
© 2009 Georgia O’Keeffe Museum/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
In 1907, while he was a passenger on a ship, Alfred Stieglitz saw a scene that he wanted to photograph. He called it The Steerage. The steerage was the lower deck where the steering machinery had been in older passenger ships. The long narrow compartments of the steerage were divided into cramped living quarters for people who could not afford to pay for better accommodation. The people at the bottom of the photograph are in the steerage.
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How Stieglitz saw this scene

“The scene fascinated me: a round straw hat; the funnel leaning left, the stairway leaning right; the white drawbridge, its railings made of chain; white suspenders crossed on the back of a man below; circular iron machinery; a mast that cut into the sky, completing a triangle.”

—Alfred Stieglitz

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