Like many other nostalgia-crazed bloggy types, I tend to focus my weepy, sepia-toned ruminations on the eras of my particular youth, thus lionizing and pining for the Manhattan of the the late 70’s, 80’s and 90’s -–the years wherein I was still young and spry, and not the grumpy curmudgeon I am today. I miss the days when SoHo’s walls were covered in eye-catching street art, record stores still lined West 8th Street and there were plentiful places to see live music and blah blah blah. That was my era, so to speak, so that’s what I’m often reminscing about.
By the same token, I’m also enchanted by invocations of an even grittier New York, that being the city I was born into a half-century ago in the late 60’s. And one of the single greatest windows onto that particular era of the city is the photography of storied Village Voice photojournalist, Fred McDarrah.
Prone to documenting the antics of period-specific iconoclasts like Susan Sontag, Normail Mailer, Andy Warhol, Abbie Hoffman and the like, when McDarrah wasn’t snapping portraits of beat poets, pop artsts, beatniks and yippies, he was effortlly capturing stunning and stark images of New York City.
McDarrah’s pics of Manhattan from the 60’s and into the early 70’s are predominantaly black and white, suggesting sooty, weathered facades and drab, empty streets. These are the same byways many of you might walk down today. You sometimes might have to look twice to even recognize the locations. It’s technically the very same city, but it feels lightyears and lifetimes away.
A simple Google search ought to summon up a selection of what I’m talking about, but you can find a nice collection by clicking right here. Step back into a time before the weekender bottomless-brunchers and the woo girls and explore the Manhattan of a different age and different sensiblity.