“Freezing The City That Never Sleeps”: A Brooklyn Chemist’s 1800s Photos Capture New York In Motion

"Freezing The City That Never Sleeps": A Brooklyn Chemist's 1800s Photos Capture New York In Motion
June 26, 1886. Jamie Swan jumps off a short stone wall at Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn. IMAGE: WALLACE G. LEVISON/THE LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES

Wallace G. Levison was a chemist, inventor, and lecturer who founded the Departments of Mineralogy and Astronomy at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences in the latter half of the 19th century. He was also an avid photographer, using the new technology both as a scientific tool and a recreational activity. As the dawn of the 20th century approached, newer, more sensitive film emulsions were developed that allowed pictures to be taken with faster and faster shutter speeds.

Levison’s photographs, snapped amid the hustling crowds of Manhattan and the frolicking bathers of Coney Island, display an obsession with motion and a delight with freezing actions that could previously only be recorded as a blur.

h/t: mashable

"Freezing The City That Never Sleeps": A Brooklyn Chemist's 1800s Photos Capture New York In Motion
Nov. 6, 1884. Crowds of men outside the New York Tribune building in lower Manhattan. IMAGE: WALLACE G. LEVISON/THE LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES

"Freezing The City That Never Sleeps": A Brooklyn Chemist's 1800s Photos Capture New York In Motion
1886. Uniformed officers in riding boots walk down a street. IMAGE: WALLACE G. LEVISON/THE LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES

"Freezing The City That Never Sleeps": A Brooklyn Chemist's 1800s Photos Capture New York In Motion
Oct. 14, 1886. Mr. Stokes jumps off a wall in Fort Greene Park. IMAGE: WALLACE G. LEVISON/THE LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES

"Freezing The City That Never Sleeps": A Brooklyn Chemist's 1800s Photos Capture New York In Motion
May 10, 1886. Nathan Abbott and a young girl walk through Copps Hill Cemetery. IMAGE: WALLACE G. LEVISON/THE LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES

"Freezing The City That Never Sleeps": A Brooklyn Chemist's 1800s Photos Capture New York In Motion
May 22, 1886. Girls jump off a stone wall in Fort Greene. IMAGE: WALLACE G. LEVISON/THE LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES

"Freezing The City That Never Sleeps": A Brooklyn Chemist's 1800s Photos Capture New York In Motion
June 1, 1891. An elephant from the Barnes Circus walks down Atlantic Street in Brooklyn. IMAGE: WALLACE G. LEVISON/THE LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES

"Freezing The City That Never Sleeps": A Brooklyn Chemist's 1800s Photos Capture New York In Motion
May 22, 1886. Isabel Harter rides a tricycle while her sister Nellie rolls a hoop in Fort Greene. IMAGE: WALLACE G. LEVISON/THE LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES

"Freezing The City That Never Sleeps": A Brooklyn Chemist's 1800s Photos Capture New York In Motion
May 28, 1886. J.M. Cornell jumps in the backyard at 314 Livingston Street. IMAGE: WALLACE G. LEVISON/THE LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES

"Freezing The City That Never Sleeps": A Brooklyn Chemist's 1800s Photos Capture New York In Motion
May 28, 1886. J.M. Cornell jumps in the backyard at 314 Livingston Street. IMAGE: WALLACE G. LEVISON/THE LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES

"Freezing The City That Never Sleeps": A Brooklyn Chemist's 1800s Photos Capture New York In Motion
June 19, 1886. Zelma Levison jumps in the backyard of her home at 314 Livingston Street. IMAGE: WALLACE G. LEVISON/THE LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES

"Freezing The City That Never Sleeps": A Brooklyn Chemist's 1800s Photos Capture New York In Motion
June 20, 1886. Mildred Grimwood jumps in the backyard at 314 Livingston Street as brother Victor Grimwood and pal Zelma Levison look on. IMAGE: WALLACE G. LEVISON/THE LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES

"Freezing The City That Never Sleeps": A Brooklyn Chemist's 1800s Photos Capture New York In Motion
June 27, 1886. Five men compete in a walking race. IMAGE: WALLACE G. LEVISON/THE LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES

"Freezing The City That Never Sleeps": A Brooklyn Chemist's 1800s Photos Capture New York In Motion
June 11, 1886. Ethel Merritt jumps in the air at Coney Island. IMAGE: WALLACE G. LEVISON/THE LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES

"Freezing The City That Never Sleeps": A Brooklyn Chemist's 1800s Photos Capture New York In Motion
July 20, 1886. Zelma Levison and her aunt Jo Grimwood throw a ball back and forth on a lawn in Prospect Park. IMAGE: WALLACE G. LEVISON/THE LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES

"Freezing The City That Never Sleeps": A Brooklyn Chemist's 1800s Photos Capture New York In Motion
Aug. 23, 1886. A group of young male bathers walk single file along the beach. IMAGE: WALLACE G. LEVISON/THE LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES

"Freezing The City That Never Sleeps": A Brooklyn Chemist's 1800s Photos Capture New York In Motion
Aug. 24, 1886. An actor talks with bathers on the beach. IMAGE: WALLACE G. LEVISON/THE LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES

"Freezing The City That Never Sleeps": A Brooklyn Chemist's 1800s Photos Capture New York In Motion
Dec. 9, 1886. H.B. Leckler’s dog Mace poses atop a chair in Fort Greene. IMAGE: WALLACE G. LEVISON/THE LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES

"Freezing The City That Never Sleeps": A Brooklyn Chemist's 1800s Photos Capture New York In Motion
May 15, 1887. Edith Poey jumps off a wooden pole onto the sand at Coney Island. IMAGE: WALLACE G. LEVISON/THE LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES

"Freezing The City That Never Sleeps": A Brooklyn Chemist's 1800s Photos Capture New York In Motion
June 24, 1887. Edgar J. Taylor jumps off a barrel. IMAGE: WALLACE G. LEVISON/THE LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES

"Freezing The City That Never Sleeps": A Brooklyn Chemist's 1800s Photos Capture New York In Motion
July 24, 1888. Maggie Ward stands on the end of a diving board at Coney Island. IMAGE: WALLACE G. LEVISON/THE LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES

"Freezing The City That Never Sleeps": A Brooklyn Chemist's 1800s Photos Capture New York In Motion
1888. Miss Brown holds a cob of maize for a squirrel to eat. IMAGE: WALLACE G. LEVISON/THE LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES

"Freezing The City That Never Sleeps": A Brooklyn Chemist's 1800s Photos Capture New York In Motion
c. 1890. A woman swings on a rope at Coney Island. IMAGE: WALLACE G. LEVISON/THE LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES

"Freezing The City That Never Sleeps": A Brooklyn Chemist's 1800s Photos Capture New York In Motion
Sept. 8, 1897. A man in a barrel does a push up at the beach. IMAGE: WALLACE G. LEVISON/THE LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES

"Freezing The City That Never Sleeps": A Brooklyn Chemist's 1800s Photos Capture New York In Motion
April 15, 1900. Dr. Ernest Palmer and wife join hands to make a bar so that their dog can jump over it. IMAGE: WALLACE G. LEVISON/THE LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES

"Freezing The City That Never Sleeps": A Brooklyn Chemist's 1800s Photos Capture New York In Motion
Aug. 26, 1904. Acrobats perform a balancing act on the backs of a pair of horses as crowds watch at Coney Island’s Dreamland. IMAGE: WALLACE G. LEVISON/THE LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES

"Freezing The City That Never Sleeps": A Brooklyn Chemist's 1800s Photos Capture New York In Motion
Sept. 8, 1897. A woman swims at the beach. IMAGE: WALLACE G. LEVISON/THE LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES

"Freezing The City That Never Sleeps": A Brooklyn Chemist's 1800s Photos Capture New York In Motion
Sept. 8, 1897. Gertrude Hubbell, Ruth Peters, and Mildred Grimwood play near the water at Arverne, Queens. IMAGE: WALLACE G. LEVISON/THE LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES

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