WPA Writers at Work

Feeding the City offers a behind-the-scenes look into an extraordinary project and documents the painstaking work Federal Writers’ Project authors undertook to provide a complete picture of New York City as part of global food systems.

Exhibited for the first time are examples of the research and original manuscripts, galley proofs, and a sampling of the diverse types of material collected by the researchers.

“The text is based upon comprehensive and for the most part original research into all phases of the production, transportation, and marketing of all food commodities forming the yearly supply for the Metropolitan Area of New York, a district contained within a 50-mile radius of Columbus Circle, Manhattan.”

—“Outline and Plan of Text, Development of the Book” Feeding the City manuscript

Sample potatoes chapter layout for Feeding the City.

These materials represent thousands of hours of research and writing, hundreds of miles traveled to all parts of the city, ports and warehouses, restaurants and wholesale markets, countless hours of discussion with New Yorkers of all stripes who play some role in feeding this great city. There was no stone left unturned to understand how food shapes the activities of every neighborhood and community—from the waterways and railroad tracks, to hospitals and almshouses, to the homes of New York’s residents.

“No previous attempt has ever been made to include all of this data in a single book, written in simple, readable style, and heavily illustrated.… The material collected for FEEDING THE CITY gives the complete story for the first time.”

—“Outline and Plan of Text, Other Publications in the Field” Feeding the City manuscript