GLOUCESTER FISHERMAN AND FULTON FISH MARKET, 1943 - Photography Archive - The Gordon Parks Foundation

Lorenzo Scola Pilots the Ship, Gloucester, Massachusetts, 1943.

Another of Parks’s five assignments for the Office of War Information involved the fishing industry on the Atlantic coast, as part of a larger documentary project on food production and war mobilization. The assignment led him to Gloucester, Massachusetts, one of the nation’s oldest fishing communities. Its historic port and rugged workers inspired a series of images of patriotic Americans hard at work supporting the war effort despite the harsh conditions of their lives. Parks accompanied the men in flat-bottomed, double-ended rowing skiffs to sea, where they laid nets by hand; in town, Parks shot quiet, poised portraits. 

In the spring of 1943, after photographing fishing crews in Massachusetts, Parks went to New York City to record the bustling Fulton Fish Market on Manhattan’s southeast waterfront. Placing himself in the thick of the working pier, he captured the fast-paced transfer of fish from boats to market and the expressive faces of workers, often against the backdrop of an emerging city skyline in which 40 Wall Street (now the Trump Building), the American International Building, and 20 Exchange Place are visible.