City of Ambition

Alfred Stieglitz at the Colby Museum

For [Alvin Langdon] Coburn, as for Stieglitz—a second-generation German Jewish immigrant who spent his student years in his ancestral homeland—the city of New York surfaces, symbolically, as a point of reentry, a place where the exhilaration and anticipation disintegrate, in Coburn’s words, into a “sudden . . . plung[e] into the rush and turmoil.”