Between 1957 and 1965 W. Eugene Smith made approximately 40,000 exposures both inside the loft building at 821 Sixth Avenue, of the nocturnal jazz scene, and of the street below as seen through his fourth-floor window. In a November 1958 letter to his friend Ansel Adams, Smith wrote: “The loft is a curious place, pinned with the notes and proof prints . . . with reminders . . . with demands. Always there is the window. It forever seduces me away from my work in this cold water flat. I breathe and smile and quicken and languish in appreciation of it, the proscenium arch with me on the third stage looking it down and up and bent along the sides and the whole audience in performance down before me, an ever changing pandemonium of delicate details and habitual rhythms.”

All photographs are courtesy of the W. Eugene Smith Archive, Center for Creative Photography, The University of Arizona and © The Heirs of W. Eugene Smith. Master prints are marked MP and archival work prints are marked WP.