The New York that existed during the 1970’s is often spoken of in folkloric terms, bringing up images of grit and glamour, as well as nostalgia for an era whose door has been irrevocably shut. For those of us too young to have experienced this New York of antiquity, it’s a good thing we have photographs.
The most recent artist to gain notoriety for his depictions of the period is Jeff Rothstein, a street photographer whose recently published book, Today’s Special: New York City Images 1969-2006 contains a treasure chest of candid images taken between those fateful years. The pictures provide an intimate window into the beauty and chaos of urban street life before gentrification had a chance to make its lasting marks.
To give you a taste of the sorts of images Rothstein captures, here’s one of three dirt-stained children using a lamppost and a mailbox as a makeshift jungle gym:
And here’s another of unspecified protestors donning riot gear helmets, fists raised defiantly in the air:
And finally, a shot of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, photographed as if they were any other anonymous couple strolling the streets of Manhattan:
As a native Brooklynite, it’s no wonder that Rothstein was able to paint such a vivid and loving portrait of the city he calls home. On his official website, the artist writes,
“I consider myself an urban observer. I try to capture the city’s environment – structures, signs and, most of all, the fleeting moments of people on the streets that will soon disappear into thin air.”
The entirely black-and-white series succeeds in eliciting a sense of ephemeral beauty and fondness for urban moments lost in time.
To view other images from the series, click here.