A native of New York, Alfred Mira studied at the National Academy of Design and at the Art Students League. Mira was particularly fascinated with the city streets and their frenetic energy. After travelling throughout Europe in 1928, Mira realized that the bustling avenues of New York afforded him the profound inspiration he was attempting to find in Europe. Returning to New York, Mira devoted himself to painting its streets, avenues and squares. In 1929, Mira exhibited his first street scene at the National Academy of Design. Over the next few decades, Mira continued exhibiting paintings at the National Academy of Design devoted to New York such as The Heart of the Village (1941), Rain: Greenwich Avenue and Eighth Street (1943) and Sheridan Square (1945).
In MacDougal Alley from 1942, Mira captures with great attention to light, color and detail, the myriad of comings and goings around MacDougal Alley, MacDougal Street and West 8th Street in Greenwich Village. MacDougal Alley is located off MacDougal Street between West 8th Street and Washington Square along the North East side. MacDougal Alley was built in the 1830s to access stables servicing Washington Square North. By the turn of the century, cars were quickly replacing horses and the stables were remodeled into artist's studios. The artist Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney and the poet Edward Arlington Robinson were among the many famous artists who resided at MacDougal Alley.