Image: Tiny on Pike Street, Seattle
(Philadelphia, Pennsylvannia, 1940 - 2015, New York, New York)

Tiny on Pike Street, Seattle, from "Streetwise" , 1983 (printed 2004)

Selenium toned gelatin silver print
8 11/16 in. x 12 15/16 in. (22.07 cm x 32.86 cm)
Knight Purchase Fund for Photographic Media
In 1983, Mary Ellen Mark was sent by LIFE magazine to photograph street kids in Seattle.  There, she met thirteen-year-old prostitute Erin “Tiny” Blackwell.  Tiny became one of the central subjects not only of Mark’s photographs, but also of the documentary film Streetwise which followed in 1984.  Mark has unflinchingly documented Tiny’s life for nearly three decades, illustrating her struggles with poverty, substance abuse, and abusive partners and family, but also capturing moments of joy and intimacy.

“She has grown up quite a bit since she’s been on these streets.  She’s fourteen going on twenty-one.”  –Tiny’s mother, Pat (from the transcript of the 1984 documentary film Streetwise, by Martin Bell)

Teenage prostitute Erin “Tiny” Blackwell stands on Pike Street in downtown Seattle, a few blocks from the famous Pike Place Market.  A graffiti-covered wall on Pike Street between 1st and 2nd Streets, near where this photograph was taken, was a popular hangout spot for Tiny and her friends.  The Market was (and still is) a hub for underserved Seattleites, boasting a free clinic, low-income housing, a food bank, and a childcare center, all administered by the nonprofit Pike Place Market Foundation.
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