Attempting to stave off a herculian hangover this morning, (don't ask), I thought it might be a fine idea to keep my headache at bay via some fresh air and a spirited stroll around Soho. Generally speaking, Soho is usually a must-to-avoid on weekends, as the streets become clogged with the precise variety of whistleheaded tourist that makes me foam at the mouth with abject loathing. Still, it's a lovely day so who cares?
Turning west on Prince Street, I encountered a gent selling photographs at a little table. Now, it's not at all uncommon to encounter people selling photographs of New York iconogaphy around the city, but those pics are usually crappy, mass-produced shots of the usual yawnsome landmarks and the sellers rarely know anything about the background or circumstances of the image, much less who took them. These photographs, on the other hand, stopped me dead in my tracks. Here I am moaning on and on about "my vanishing downtown" of the early 80's, and this gentleman -- one Ned Otter -- was selling beautifullly presented, black & white photographs of a downtown NYC that is long gone.
A genuine labor of love project, Ned has compiled the work of his father Robert, a giftted photographer who passed away in 1986. Spanning 1962 through 1972, Otter's photographs capture moments from a Greenwich Village of the 60's that seem both inexplicably foreign and timelessly familiar. I was completely captivated. I'd only intended to peruse for a moment, but ended up chatting with Ned for a long while and couldn't leave without buying a print (a brilliant shot of a mailbox on the south-west corner of 14th Street & University Place). In a just world, these photographs would be bound in handsome coffee table book. If you harbor even the slightest affinity for archival photography and/or have a similiar fascination with vintage New York City, please check out their website by simply clicking here. Actually, the image I purchased serves as the opening shot on their splash page.