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Charles W. Cushman’s London

April 13, 2018
by the gentle author

American Photographer Charles Weaver Cushman (1896-1972) visited London only a couple of times and yet, alongside shots of landmarks such as Big Ben & Trafalgar Sq, he recorded these rare and unexpected images of markets and street vendors in Kodachrome. He bequeathed over 14,000 of his images to Indiana University, where the entire range of his work may be explored in the Charles W. Cushman Photograph Collection.

Aldgate huckster, April 30th 1961

Bell Lane, April 30th 1961

Petticoat Lane, April 30th 1961

Petticoat Lane, April 30th 1961

Petticoat Lane, April 30th 1961

New Goulston St, April 30th 1961

At St Botolph’s Bishopsgate, April 30th 1961

Liverpool St Station, June 26th 1960

Liverpool St Station, Sunday May 30th 1965

Liverpool St Station, Sunday May 30th 1965

Finsbury Sq, May 30th 1965

St Giles Cripplegate, June 26th 1960

Moorgate, April 30th 1961

Sunday morning on London Bridge, June 26th 1960

Gas lamp cleaners London Bridge, May 29th 1965

Looking east from London Bridge, May 29th 1965

Smithfield Market, May 2nd 1961

Leather Lane, April 28th 1961

Leather Lane, April 28th 1961

Leather Lane, April 28th 1961

Covent Garden, June 26th 1961

Covent Garden, June 26th 1961

Covent Garden, June 26th 1961

Covent Garden, June 26th 1961

Covent Garden, June 26th 1961

Covent Garden, June 26th 1961

Buskers, Leicester Sq, May 14th 1961

St. Martin in the Fields, Trafalgar Sq, June 19th 1960

Photographs copyright © The Trustees of Indiana University

You may also like to take a look at

Izis Bidermanas’ London

Marketa Luskacova’s Brick Lane

10 Responses leave one →
  1. Thomas Healy permalink
    April 13, 2018

    Dear G.A.
    As a long-time lurker on your site, I’m delighted that my alma mater is referenced in your delightful blog. I would like to suggest that the proper citation is Indiana University.

  2. Caroline Bottomley permalink
    April 13, 2018

    What a fantastic photographer!
    There’s a touch of Bob Mazzer wit in there too, slightly different variety.

    Where’s Chipstead Valley?! – ref bus, last picture

  3. mezlerara permalink
    April 13, 2018

    Love these so much. The colours from the film/developing are so evocative of the time

  4. April 13, 2018

    …..”It seems we stood and talked like this before
    We looked at each other in the same way then,
    But I don’t remember
    Where or when……”
    The photos show places I have never been, people I have never known, voices I have never heard.
    But the stories tumble out, I can feel the hustle/bustle, can imagine the street sounds, feel the impulse to buy one of those frothy pink crinolines (on Petticoat Lane, no less). These are more than photos — they are memories. I agree with the other reader — the color palette of the photos
    is a reminder of movies/magazines/photo albums of the era.
    Thanks for the time travel, GA.

  5. Ian Silverton permalink
    April 13, 2018

    The buskers in the pictures,where a husband and wife team,with her playing the accordion in the back ground, they would then come around with the hat,then shoot off in their car,parked in Soho,and head back to Chingford Essex, to their smart house. They also played Sunday mournings at my Dads pub,as well as others in Bethnal Green,nice people,always pleasant

  6. Ian Silverton permalink
    April 13, 2018

    Meat from Smithfield being unloaded from a un fridgerated lorry, was normal then,until my cousins got them into deep freeze lorries back in the 1960s, blood everywhere was a common site around the market then,crusted into your hands and overalls

  7. Ian Silverton permalink
    April 13, 2018

    School boys at water fountain,remind me of myself,and friends, same drinking spot!!!! We thought we looked a bit posh in our school uniforms when we got back home, socks with blood on, very common site back then,after all they had to last all week,happy days

  8. Ian Silverton permalink
    April 14, 2018

    The London Bridge picture, reminds me of catching the Banna Boat,docked to the right of the picture,down the steps side of Bridge, for a winters cruise,somewhere hot,think we made it twice, very small and make do,but good laughs with the crew.

  9. April 14, 2018

    In response to Caroline Bottomley, above: Chipstead Valley is south of London, beyond Croydon and Purley.

    Charles Cushman was an American advertising executive and accomplished amateur photographer, most active in the 1940s and 50s. He shot his wife; she survived, and bizarrely, so did their marriage. His unusual story is told in ‘The Day in its Color: Charles Cushman’s Photographic Journey Through a Vanishing America’, by Eric Sandweiss, Oxford University Press, 2012.

  10. Chris Webb permalink
    April 17, 2018

    The 20s/30s building in the background of the first photo made me realise that architecture of that era is currently in its “old rubbish, get rid of it” phase, the same way Victoriana was in the 60s and 70s.

    The more prestige art deco offices and flats are considered architecturally important and some are listed, but there are many commercial and industrial buildings of the era which are neglected and large numbers have no doubt been demolished over the past few decades. Most people wouldn’t give them a second glance, making them effectively invisible.

    I like the curved windows which are very much a hallmark of that period – I suppose they’d only just developed a process to manufacture large pieces of curved glass and wanted to show it off as much as possible.

    I wonder how long it will be before something “clicks” and people start to think a few might be worth preserving. Buildings of the type in this photo could be very useful if renovated and made into flats or offices.

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