Steven Siegel’s Photographs of 1980s New York

Last week we presented you with a selection of Stanley Kubrick’s photographs of New York in the 1940s, which have recently gained attention both in museum exhibits and across the internet. So we couldn’t help but notice when a similar set of photographs– just as representative of the city, though taken forty years later– began popping up on blogs and Tumblr accounts. Taken by photographer Steven Siegel, the flickr album titled simply “New York in the 80s” showcases a far grittier depiction of the city than one might recognize today.

Like Kubrick’s, these photographs present a candid view of children at play, the elderly, the homeless, nuns and street preachers, and a variety of human subjects the likes of which could only be found in New York City. However, Siegel’s focus on the “pre-Disney-fication” of Times Square (with sleazy peep shows and porno theaters still intact)  makes the set largely reminiscent of the work of another famous 70s film director– Martin Scorcese’s Taxi Driver (1976)

Siegel points out the following in his artist’s statement :

The New York of the 1980s differed in two fundamental ways from the New York of today.

First, 1980s-era New York was an edgier, riskier, dirtier, tenser, more dangerous and chaotic place. I think that fairly comes through in my images.

Second, 1980s-era New York had a sense of wide-openness and freedom that was lost following 9/11 … and likely never will be regained.

Howard Beach, Queens (1980)

He elaborates further on the nature of New York City both then and now, in summarizing “If my photos show anything about New York, it is New York’s astonishing diversity. New York is not one city. It is — and always has been — a collection of hundreds of neighborhoods. Each of these neighborhoods has its own delicate social fabric.”

the "Birdman of Howard Beach"

You can read the rest of Siegel’s essay, and view the complete collection of photographs here.

The Bowery and Houston St. circa 1980


View more after the jump:

Marquee poetry on 42nd St in Times Square

– via Flavorwire // Flickr