Here's where the mystery begins. Who did it? The artist's signature is pretty indecipherable but I think it says 'Sutton' or 'Sulton.' -Haven't been able to find out anything about that name. The second question is the age. The style is that of WPA or Mid century itinerant artists and the subject matter definitely looks like 1930s or 1940s. Could it have been done much more recently by some art student in the style of the WPA period?
I don't think so because the foreground looks so authentically 1940s, it would be difficult to fake in my opinion. And look at the mid foreground. That mist seems like the sinking, heavy mist from smoke stacks. That looks authentic to me. Would an artist from our time think to put that in? I don't think so. -Not unless that person's quite good.
And that leaves the final question. What city does this scene depict? It seems clear from the number of smoke stacks, the early 20th Century building types and the activity on the streets, the time period is from a long-ago Northeastern city. But which one? My guess is Baltimore. The brick tower on the left of the picture bears an uncanny resemblance to The Bromoseltzer Tower in downtown Baltimore. The positioning of the brick tower and commercial district as it relates to the harbor also point to the picture depicting Baltimore. It's very plausible that the distant harbor structures represent beloved symbols of Baltimore's past like the Pratt Street Power Station and the Dominoe Sugar plant.
One more thing. The frame looks old to me. It seems to have 'old wear' and the style of the frame and paper backing look like what was popular in the 1950s and 1960s, not something framed in the 1990s or today. So, I think that it's likely a very nicely executed 1940s Baltimore city scape. What do you think?