By the late 1800s trees along the streets of New York (as distinct from those in parks) were a dwindling urban resource, their shrinking numbers were a vivid mark of irrevocable alteration of Manhattan’s topography caused by commercial development. In this atmospheric image imbued with mood, a young tree is surrounded by an iron fence while a street sweeper works to safeguard it. The Street Cleaner is a sign not only of nature and the seasons but also of human intervention to reestablish this natural cycle in the city by planting new trees. Although Stieglitz refers to the street cleaner in his title, he took the photograph from a vantage point that made the slender young tree and its delicate branches more central to the elongated composition and more distinct than the human figure. 
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