Colorization

The kiss of Times Square: The Photograph that Immortalized the Joy of the End of the War.

Photograph taken in 1945.

The kiss of Times Square

On August 14, 1945, a historic event shook the world: Japan announced its unconditional surrender, marking the end of World War II. In the United States, the news unleashed a wave of spontaneous celebrations that flooded the streets of cities like New York. It was in the midst of this whirlwind of joy and relief that one of the most iconic images of the 20th century was captured: “The Kiss of Times Square.” 

The scene, immortalized by photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt, took place in the heart of Manhattan, at the intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue. In the midst of a jubilant crowd, a uniformed sailor, driven by the euphoria of the moment, leaned toward a young woman dressed in white and kissed her passionately. Eisenstaedt, always alert to visual opportunities, captured that ephemeral moment with his camera, without knowing that he was creating an image that would last forever in the collective memory. 

 

The identity of the protagonists of this snapshot has been a source of speculation and debate for decades. The sailor was identified as George Mendonsa in 1980, thanks to his own statement and a comparison of physical characteristics. However, the woman’s identity remained unknown for a long time. It was not until 2019 that investigators and forensic experts confirmed that it was Greta Zimmer Friedman, a dental nurse at the time, who, by her own account, was surprised by the stranger’s kiss while celebrating the end of the war.

The photograph, originally published in LIFE magazine, quickly became a symbol of the joy and hope that accompanied the end of the war. Capturing the spontaneity and emotion of the moment, “The Times Square Kiss” encapsulates the spirit of a nation emerging from years of sacrifice and suffering to embrace a future of peace and prosperity.

Over the years, this iconic image has been reproduced and reinterpreted countless times, becoming a cultural icon that transcends borders and generations. Its evocative power continues to resonate today, reminding us of the ability of love and joy to overcome even the darkest moments in human history.

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