In 1955, after resigning from his job at Life magazine, where his World War II combat photos and groundbreaking photo essays made him a legend, W. Eugene Smith drove to Pittsburgh to work on an epic study of the city for journalist Stefan Lorant's book commemorating Pittsburgh's bicentennial. What was supposed to be a three-week stint turned into a yearlong project, during which Smith compiled approximately 17,000 photographs. It turned out to be the most ambitious photographic essay of his life, a portrayal of mid-century, postwar America as seen through the lens of one representative American city. Until now, little of this work has been seen. Sam Stephenson, a writer and research consultant at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University and a scholar specializing in Smith's work, has assembled the core images from this project in a new book, Dream Street: W. Eugene Smith's Pittsburgh Project. He will discuss the book Monday, Dec. 17 at 7:30 p.m. at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh. Call 828-1588 for details.