Herewith a reasonably lengthy video from 1973. It meanders along at a fairly unhurried rate -- and spends inordinate amounts of time detailing inconsequential happenings in a recording studio -- but stay with it and you'll see some compelling footage of SoHo, Lafayette Street, West Houston and some other areas -- all steeped in fuzzy, edgeless grey.
I think the thing for me that's so striking about this clip is the attention to random detail. Every so often, the cameraman will zoom in on street sign or some architectural flourish or statue (like, say, Puck on the side of the Puck Building) and it suddenly seems so familiar, and I find myself being shocked that Puck was there in 1973. I mean, why wouldn't he be? I suppose I just associate certain sights and landmarks with my own experience, and it's weird to see them in earlier incarnations. When this film was shot, I was a 6-year-old living much further uptown.
There's also a nice moment when they zoom in on the mural at the intersection of Lafayette and Bleecker and remark how brilliantly colorful it is. When I first spied that mural in the mid-80's (a decade after this was shot), its colors were already dull and decaying.
There are other bits when the cameraman and his hirsute friend are walking down the street, and the camera focusses on their shoes, or on the cracked, filth-laden pavement, and I find myself barking at the screen: "Life up your camera and pan around! Slow down!!! Turn left....walk down Great Jones!!" It's sort of frustrating to find this document, but have it wander so aimlessly.
Anyway, enjoy this gritty slice of a downtown Manhattan circa 1973.