Bowdoin College Museum of Art

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Image of Trolley—New Orleans, 1955 10308


Robert Louis Frank (Zurich, Switzerland, 11/9/1924 - 9/9/2019, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada)


Trolley—New Orleans, 1955

Creation Date



20th century


6 1/8 in. x 9 7/16 in. (15.6 cm. x 24 cm.)

Object Type


Creation Place

North America, United States

Medium and Support

gelatin silver print

Credit Line

Museum Purchase, Lloyd O. and Marjorie Strong Coulter Fund


This artwork may be under copyright. For further information, please consult the Museum’s Copyright Terms and Conditions.

Accession Number

This picture may be the most readily recognizable of the photographs that made the book featuring them an icon. For one thing, when the U.S. edition of The Americans was published in 1959, containing the revolutionary collection of Robert Frank photographs and an introduction by Jack Kerouac, Trolley—New Orleans was on the cover. Before you got to the others, then, you came to this, a searing image of passengers seated on a trolley car and staring out their windows, with whites in the forward seats and blacks in the rear. For another thing, as many of the book’s other photographs recede into time, becoming exotic records of how things were, Trolley remains all too topical and modern. New Orleans public transit is no longer segregated de jure, but the nation still struggles with de facto racial injustice. Russ Rymer Journalist, novelist, and Elizabeth Drew Professor of English Language and Literature, Smith College

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