A Walker in the City

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Brownsville in amber, forever

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Read More From Alfred Kazin

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A Walker in the City — on Film | Documentary of the Week | WNYC

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Kazin has sought to recapture Brownsville -- the physical facts and the spiritual atmosphere of that community of immigrants and their children encamped at the city's back door. There, in damp and crowded tenements, Jews from Poland and Russia lived intimately together and regarded the rest of the world, whether the Italian section a few blocks away or the far mystery of Manhattan, as "Beyond.



His father was a house painter, a Socialist and a freethinker. His mother was a truly heroic woman who toiled incredible hours at her sewing machine. There was "no middle ground between despair and the fury of our ambition. Kazin, a damp sadness and an early hopelessness in Brownsville from which the young strove desperately to escape.

The rebellious might sink into crime. The talented and industrious might become good Americans, professional men, "alrightnicks" who did not have to live in Brownsville. Poignant Memories of Youth But if life in Brownsville was oppressed by poverty and the pressure for success, it was enlivened by immense vitality.