Inspired by Eugène Atget’s photographs of a disappearing Paris, in which she found “the real world, seen with wonderment and surprise,” Berenice Abbott set out to chronicle the look and life of New York City. Her decade-long project, which began in 1929 after an eight-year sojourn in Paris and culminated in her 1940 book Changing New York, ultimately comprised more than 700 images carefully exposed with an 8x10-inch camera. At the Pilgrim Pentecostal Church of God, a storefront church at 25 East 132nd Street in Harlem, Abbott brought together in a single picture her interest in New York’s architecture, people, and activities. Reverend Elder Johnson, seen descending the church steps, was pastor to the congregation’s 28 members.

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Berenice Abbott, American, 1898–1991
Church of God
December 8, 1936
Gelatin silver print
Image: 7 5/8 × 9 5/8 in. (19.4 × 24.4 cm) Sheet: 7 15/16 × 9 7/8 in. (20.2 × 25.1 cm)
Credit Line

Bequest of Morgan Garwood

Current Location
Not on view
Accession Number

Morgan Garwood, New York; bequeathed to MFAH, 2014.